The Heat Makes Everybody Crazy

First, a shout out to Cole T for calling me on not writing!  Thank you, and I am still alive indeed.  If it somehow makes it any better, I’ve been *thinking* that I really need to write something.  I do have to pay for this website and if it just sits here dormant, it’s not really doing anyone a whole lot of good.  

Part (MOST) of the delay has been that I’m in super end-game mode for my PhD, which occupies a fair bit of my time even outside of work hours. Then, when I’m not working in any capacity I’m trying to de-stress via woodwork or people or other things that aren’t always conducive to sitting down and writing for an hour.  It takes a fair bit of energy to put together something (hopefully) worth reading.  At the very least it takes that long to put together something that I feel like posting.

In the time between I’ve been slowing withering away to nothing due to the heat here in LA (it’s 90 degrees in my apartment as I write this, and it’s 6PM), stressing about my dissertation and the overbearing requests of my committee members (really just one), and woodworking.  While I could gripe for hours about the first two, I already have blood pressure spikes throughout the day regarding those two things, so I’ll talk about the latter.  

I really love woodworking.  I’m definitely not the best, and there’s a lot lot LOT that I still have to learn, but right now it’s the one thing that completely pulls me out of all the bullshit and dials me in to the work.  Nothing else really does that for me when I’m by myself.  In fact, the better part of my kitchen space right now is dedicated to it, despite the fact that I only have about 350-400 square feet or so.  I’ve posted a few pieces that I’ve built before such as the Beth bookshelf, the cantilever half bookshelf made out of the same wood as Beth’s shelf, sculptures, my little writing desk, and finally, the very first thing that I ever built that I would consider “woodworking”, my dining room table.  There are a few more things, but that's all I care to dig for right now.

I’ve made a fair bit since then though, but scaled-down because of the space that I have to work in.  

Small no?  The big black toolbox is now gone, so that helped a little bit. Still small.

I finished the cantilevered sister shelf to Beth’s shelf, which I finished this back at my old apartment:

The slab on top was the end piece of the giant 7-8' slab I took from for Beth's bookshelf

I moved, so I needed to make a new workbench:

New mini portable work bench.

and tool rack:

Adam Savage style rolling tool rack

and lumber/wood caddy:

Just banged this out a little under a week ago.  Sheets of stuff (plywood, MDF, etc.) go on the back and smaller stuff goes in the bins. Helps out immensely with all that bullshit you see in the background.

I met Nick Offerman and got to show him the bookshelves I made.  They were at least in part inspired by his “Nakashima table”:

He made a joke to me that I didn't get because I was so nervous.

I’ve made some boxes that ended up as anniversary gifts for my parents:

Bookmatched boxes for Mom and Dad.

A coat rack/shelf also for Beth:

This one is tough to photograph. It's a cool joint that holds them together that I then doweled in for a permanent fit.

and most recently got to fool around a bit with kumiko:

Square asa-no-ha pattern.  

Dunno what this one is called, but ended up on the front of the cabinet in the next photo

and built a cabinet for… you get one guess… Beth!

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with this piece, but now that it's done, more love than hate.  Definitely would change a couple of design things if I had another go, but I'll do it on the next one.

My latest thing, which was a very quick thing, was a sliding dovetail holder for my sharpening stones so that they can sit over the sink.

IMG_2857.jpg

I’ve also designed a dining room table for Jack and Floramae, but won’t have time to execute it until I’m done with my PhD.

Eventually....

 

There are a few more things on the docket for right now, but they’re mainly things to help me get all of my woodworking stuff a little bit more in order.  I also have done a lot of stuff recently that focuses on exposed joinery, where you can see how two pieces of wood are connected because one board pokes through another, but I think I’m going to dial this back a little bit a really concentrate on (1) the quality of the joinery and (2) only exposing the joinery where it really adds to the piece.  

To me, it seems like there’s a little bit of a trend in woodworking to push any one cool idea to its maximum and I don’t like that.  For instance, if you like rustic furniture, suddenly every single thing you make just looks like a  branch that *maybe* had the bark shaved off and a coat of shellac thrown on.  Or if you like joinery, suddenly every tabletop has 40 dovetail keys and 20 through tenons exposed.  Troll around Instagram for a hot second and you’ll see what I mean.  Now, I really love woodworking and am probably guilty of both the things I just named, however I really want to be thoughtful in the things that I make and above all want to make well-made, precise and conscientious things that people enjoy having in their lives.  I think a few people are really nailing this right now and I highly recommend you check them out.

  1. Mike Pekovich - http://www.pekovichwoodworks.com
  2. Brian P Holcombe - https://brianholcombewoodworker.com
  3. Matt Kenney - http://www.mekwoodworks.com
  4. Blank Woodwork - https://blank-japan.com

They also have excellent Instagram pages that shouldn’t be too hard for you to find if you just google “instagram” after their name.  There are tons more that I’m leaving out, but these are the four I consistently find myself coming back to and can’t stop looking at.  There’s obviously a little bit of a trend in the fact that all of these folks incorporate varying levels of japanese woodworking into their projects.  That’s not an accident, but it’s a post for another time.  

Hope everyone is doing well. 

<3,

John

P.S. This is Beth, basically my “wealthy” patron at this point (and by wealthy, I mean the one person currently paying me for my woodwork):

<3 <3 <3

(This is also probably my favorite picture from the last year of my absence)