Enter Woollven Studios

About 2 weeks ago I put out a call; a plea; across the vast series of tubes asking if any kind soul had access to a wood or metal shop that I could use. You see, despite the things that I could be doing: Façadomized (on Twitter) or my own blog project at Blipm-art.com, I am still bored out of my effing mind! I need a job. A purpose, per se, to extricate myself from my air mattress earlier than noon and even change out of my fashionable sleeping attire. In reasoning my solicitation for a shop I figured that perhaps if I could set my mind to building some furniture I could stave off the droves of boredom that are prone to overtake me as I sit in my graciously borrowed room (that, some days, feels distinctly closer to Inuit territory than to downtown Austin).
Enter Woollven Studios. I got a call from a former classmate from good ol’ James E. Taylor HS and she said that she owned/ran a wood shop and that they needed help. I could even trade for shop time. BAM! After meeting the aforementioned Woollven the deal was struck. I show up and help out every morning and I can use the shop. Perfect.

The business end of Woollven Studios complete with Woollven

Here is a little run-down of what we have been doing in the past couple of weeks:

Well, when one signs on to basically be an apprentice; what does one get to do first? You do the basic stuff. Learn the tools and how to take care of them. First task: sharpen block plane blades (the block plane being one of the most oft used tools in woodworking)

Basically, this is the mailroom. The low rung. Sharpening blades for block planes.

Training wheels for newbies upon moving to the Japanese water stones.

Japanese water stones.

Ye Old Strop .After this you can literally shave with these blades.

My spread.


Next, I got to work on was building and setting up a little steam box to steam the Tiger Maple strips that we were going to laminate into the curved kick board for a hall table. Unfortunately, we could not get the best pressure out of the “repurposed” cooking pot that was sacrificed. Because of that…the strips did not really get as soaked as the thinner ones that we glued up the day before.

Steam box V1.0

Inside the Temperamental Beast. The before.

After 4 hours…not gonna cut it.

The finished product, the apron (i.e. the first set of steamed strips that were successfully bent and laminated) now has to be planed smooth and even on both sides to about 2.25″.

The apron, post lamination, against the form.

Woollven demonstarting to me how to plane like a seasoned pro. He is using the cabinet shaper to take more material off at the beginning.

My finished handiwork. Pleased to say it passed the Master's muster.

The two curved pieces are the top and the shelf bottom of the table.

Lastly, we are starting work on a 4″ thick solid maple headboard with a compass inlay made of Tiger Maple. I got to use some of my finely honed architecturing skills to create the compass.

Cut out a vertical- and a horizontal-grain compass so we could play with the look.

All of this work has been absolutely amazing. I have learned so much from Woollven about working with wood in the last two weeks that everything I thought I knew before seems paltry. He refuses to merely give me busy work and insists on teaching me the how & why we are doing the things we are doing. A fantastic teacher, indeed. Soon I will be making some furniture of my own with some generously donated (amazing) wood, shop time, and invaluable language. It may not be the best but I can guarantee that it will be built more with my hands than a machine. Very excited.

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