With much surprise I find that today is December the 17th; if anyone had asked, I'd have hazarded a guess at the 12th.
This means that about ten days have gone by since my last post, and I'm left wondering where, more or less, they went to. Certainly the hall table was finished, and delivered earlier this week. That would have been on Monday, one day ahead of the season's first snow storm. The time before that is a bit hazy, but was undoubtedly concerned with the usual stressful uncertainties of "finishing", which involve sanding, scraping, sanding, dusting, staining, re-staining, sanding, oiling, re-oiling with steel-wooling, and waxing, polishing, and re-waxing and final polishing.
For many years my mother-in-law, Barbara, was an enthusiastic china-painter. One of the difficulties of china painting, she once pointed out, is that the pigments used change colour in the firing process; this means that the intended spray of pink roses may very well emerge from the kiln an angry and violent purple, and there is no power in the world that can amend the disaster.
Staining wood is not all that dissimilar. Oh, we can make samples - little slips of stained and finished wood cheerfully labelled "Georgian Brown 2:1", or "Puritan Pine/Maple Walnut 3-and-a-bit:1 +2 H2O", and then try to mentally extrapolate the results to an entire piece of furniture, with its verticals and horizontals, heartwood and sapwood, the piece of oak from the south bank of the river and the piece from the other side of the mountain.......and in the end we hope for the best. Despite the pretense of scientific method with samples and ratios, staining wood remains one of life's deep uncertainties, so much so that sometimes one is inclined to test the efficacy of prayer.
In the event, the staining and finishing of the table went off well, though not without some early nervousness. Photos will follow when the owners of the table send me some, since I forgot to take a camera for the delivery.
Since then I've been finishing off three small table-top bookstands in yew-wood for Duthie Bookcases. These are part of a range of book furniture I designed for our friends Celia Duthie and Nick Hunt. Their business (Salt Spring Woodworks) has expanded far beyond these modest starting points, but they still get occasional orders, which I make up for them as needed:
West Wind Hardwoods fortunately had some nice wide yew planks:
Just for interest, I've re-assembled the cut-up plank of yew into its original form. There's always lots of waste with yew, but it looks as though I'll be able to get all three stands from the one piece. More important is that each base can be made with a single un-jointed piece of wood - aesthetically a much preferred option.
Testing a base-blank for "wind" with "winding sticks" ("I" as in "whine" not as in "bin").
These are used by sighting across the top edges of the two battens: the rearmost batten has a dark strip to make it easier to see if the two edges are not parallel -which would indicate that the tested board is twisted or "in wind"
Component parts ready for waxing and polishing and final assembly.
Waiting to be collected and taken away.