Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Selkie in Selkie Wood Works

Good Morning,

I just recently had a birthday and as a present my buddy Diane sent me some really cool custom made perfume from Acorns and Alchemy. I got two small bottles, one named Mermaid and the other is Selkie. Here is a photo:

The scents are lovely and I appreciate the gift very much. Thanks Diane.

I've been asked a lot over the years about the name Selkie. I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned on the blog here why I selected that for a name. So now is as good a time as any to explain that:

I love Irish films and one of my favorite films of all times is the 1994 film The Secret of Roan Inish. Here is a quote from Wikipedia about the film:

"It is centered on the Irish and Orcadian folklores of selkies—seals that can shed their skins to become human. The story, set on the west coast of Ireland, is about Fiona, a young girl who is sent to live with her grandparents and her cousin Eamon near the island of Roan Inish, where the selkies are rumored to reside. It is a family legend that her younger brother was swept away (in a storm) in his infancy and raised by a selkie."

I'm always entranced by the music, the scenery, and most especially about the role of the selkie woman in preserving the life of Fiona's brother and returning him to Fiona and her family at the end of the film. There is also a selkie woman who is an important ancestor of Fiona's family and who is played by Irish actress Susan Lynch. This particular selkie had dark eyes and dark hair and she is the one who planted those traits in Fiona's family. The selkie also abandons her family and returns to the sea while her children are quite young, leaving them in the care of her husband and oldest daughter. I like to think this made her family strong and resilient enough to survive the harsh life that they lived and that this shared history gave her descendants a story to draw on when their own lives were challenged. And indeed Fiona learns of the story and taps into it for strength and direction and is ultimately successful.

We all have times when we're challenged-our lives change suddenly and the future, which once looked so clear, is suddenly clouded and uncertain. The Secret of Roan Inish reminds me of the importance of stories in life and the selkie woman symbolizes that for me and so I named the blog and other aspects of my wood working life after her. A fitting thing to do, I think.

Ok, back to the wood shop. I'm going to work on the chair over the next day or two so stay tuned for a posting about that.

Stay tuned,

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Lawn Chair Build continued-sawing the wood and sneezing up a storm

Hi Everyone,

Well, I've begun working on the chair now in earnest and I made the templates and cut the wood parts to length. Here's today's report:

Here's a photo of the templates. All this required was printing out the pages that contain the appropriate drawings and gluing them to some scrap plywood. I think if I could do this again, I would just use some foam backed paper board for this instead of plywood. It would probably be easier to cut the templates out. I used spray adhesive here and the paper stuck to the plywood easily:

And I just cut the 2x6s and 2x4s down to size. The parts here in the photo are the portions for the back arches, legs, and the seat supports which require thick wood. The seat and back supports and the arm rests all require 3/4" thick wood which is produced by re-sawing the 2x4s. Decision: do I really want to go through all the sawing that this would require or should I just go and purchase several 1x4 cedar boards and use them instead? It would be a lot simpler to do that. I'll give that some thought over the next day or two:

The plans call for western red cedar or white pine. The photos supplied with the plans show the chair made out of cedar. Cedar is a lovely wood but I seem to be a little allergic to it and I sneeze up a storm whenever I use it, which is rarely. I'm inside right now and I'm sneezing and a big puddle of snot at the moment so I'm going to stop and continue on tomorrow.

Every wood worker eventually comes across a species of wood that they just can't work with and I guess cedar is mine. Too bad.

Tomorrow I'm going to use the templates to cut out the chair parts and I'll also make a decision about the seat and back boards.

Stay tuned,

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Lawn Chair Build: Making Mattias Wandel's chair/discussion and plans

Hi Everyone,

Well, summer has arrived and this is the prime woodworking time of the year for me so it's time for a project.

I think I've mentioned Mattias Wandel on the blog before but for those of you who don't know who he is, he's a Canadian engineer who makes all sorts of precision machinery and other things out of wood. The items he makes are for the most part complex and they seem to work perfectly, which is amazing since the actual machinery parts are wood. Anyway, he put up plans for a lawn chair that has a contured back and seat which makes the chair comfortable to sit in and that sits upright more than an adirondack chair does. I've been wanting to build this for a couple of years now and now is the time to do it.

I'm going to build the chair for my husband for Father's Day which in the US is on June 21. I'm going to make it out of western red cedar which is commonly used to build decking here in the US. It's lovely wood, it's not hard, and it will hold up well out of doors. As my husband likes to sit out doors and read, this should be a perfect gift for him.

You can purchase a complete set of plans from Mattias' website by clicking here. And you can see a video of him making a chair on YouTube at: and you can see it right here on the blog:

During the build, which will take place over several blog postings, I'll refer to this video and I'll also post photographs of what I'm doing.

I bought a copy of the plans and I received a large file with the plans in both metric and inches. The plans contain instructions, tons of photos, a cut list, and templates which can be printed out over several sheets of paper to help cut out some of the more complex shapes. I read over all the material and I've printed out and placed into a notebook:

The cut list,
The lawn chair plans,
The file named Building the Frame,
And a file named Adding Boards to the Frame.

So the first thing I'm going to do is to assemble and make the templates for the framework out of some scrap plywood I've got. After that I'll purchase the lumber and cut out everything and then last of all I'll assemble the chair and apply a finish.

So this is our project for next week or so. So grab some coffee and drop by the wood shop. I'm at it again!

Stay tuned,

Monday, June 1, 2015

Cat Perches Continued-Renovating an Older Perch/discussion, plans, photos

Hi Everyone,

When we got our cats Biscuit and Rhubarb it didn't take long to realize that these two were the feline equivalent of a wrecking crew. They clawed and chewed and engaged in general mayhem with just about everything in the house. And they were just kittens at this point! What we needed was a big cat perch that they could claw and play on. And so my son Critter and I build on for them and for the last 3 1/2 years it worked well.

It stands in front of one of our living room windows so the cats can watch the birds at the bird feeder outside and it's held up fairly well. They play on it all the time and it's received a lot of heavy use.

Here is the cat perch at present:

I've rebuilt it 4 times over the years and now it's time for a total remodel on it. It's really dirty and completely coated in cat fur-see the next photo:

So the plan is to remove the old carpeting, clean and assess the underlying structure, and stain it with some exterior solid color wood stain and then haul it back indoors for the cats to resume their lives with.

So I spent several hours this afternoon pulling off the old carpet-wow, was it dirty!-and removing the staples. Nice weather outside today and of course I had the "foreman" keeping me company:

And here it is stripped down to bare wood. The underlying structure is still sound and strong so I'm just going to leave it alone and proceed with cleaning it and staining it:

And so just as I began to get ready to stain it, I put the foreman back in the house so he wouldn't get into the stain. He saw his beloved perch outside and began crying and running back and forth and generally had a huge upset over not being able to get to the perch:

With him inside, I started staining away. I used Behr exterior solid color wood stain. It's really thick and it fills in cracks and other problems in the wood. I used this color because I thought it matched the cat's fur really well and because, well, I couldn't find wood stain in wild purple. Oh well, perhaps the next perch:

Now I'm going to leave it outside to dry and bring it in late tonight. I'm going to go and shop around for a small scrap of carpeting and just apply carpet to the two upper decks, the center deck, and maybe the bottom if I can find enough. So drop by later this week for the finish photos.

Stay tuned,