Friday, March 23, 2012

The Artist, At Work- Part 2

I mentioned in Part 1 that The Hub used *good hard pine* boards for the strips which now make up the curved window trim. I sort of glossed over what it takes for him to decide that a board is good enough (I'm trying, oh so hard, not to let the words *hard* and *wood*, and a few others, get next to each other... I'd like to keep the snickering to a minimum)(writing about carpentry with a straight face is hard, y'all).

Anyway, I have sat in the pickup, knitting or reading books on my phone for well over an hour, while The Hub examined every stud (lordy, here we go again) in the bin at Menards, eyeballing (sigh) and jiggling over 200 2x4s (or whatever dimension the lumber is- oh, and did you know that a 2x4 is not 2" x 4", it's really 1 3/4" x 3 3/4". No dimension lumber is the actual width or thickness of its name)(you don't live with a carpenter for 41 years and not pick up a bit of arcane knowledge)- so where was I? Oh yeah, he might pick over 200 boards in order to find 10 or 15 that suit his requirements.

The Hub is an easy going fella, even-tempered, mostly always cheerful, he puts up with me (I am not High Maintenance, but I venture to say that I am Maintenance) and my general lack of income even when income would be a welcome thing. He is good-natured when I make gentle fun of him on Facebook (the man set all of our clocks back an hour a week or so ago when the time changed. This is not the kind of mistake he usually makes, and I could not resist broadcasting it). But when it comes to the quality of the materials he uses for work, he's The King of Cranky. He has been known to reject an entire shipment of lumber because it does not meet his exacting standards.

The man knows Good Wood (resistance is futile).

Okay, back to the Window Trim process. The bent and glued trim has been tightened to the jig (did I mention that a jig is a template?), for 24 hours. The glue is now dry.
 He unscrews the boards with the plastic spacers that helped to keep the glued strips level while drying.
 And then he unhooks the restraining strap. The glue is dry, and the trim does not expand or move.
 It actually can't move, excess glue holds it to the plastic covered table. Remember the plastic? The Hub did- which is why his beautiful bent wood window trim is not permanently stuck to the table. He lifts it slowly, unsticking it bit by bit.
 The bottom side- the part that was next to the table, is the *right side* of the trim. It is not perfectly even, and there are glue globs everywhere.
 The Hub uses a hand planer to shave the unevenness and the glue off. He has a large, standing piece of equipment called a Thickness Planer which does the same thing on a large scale, but it's built for straight lumber, or very small curved pieces. These pieces have to be planed by hand (well, not by hand- The Hub is not a Pioneer, he is quite fond of electricity).
 But just because he's using a machine, that does not mean that there isn't a danger of messing up the whole thing. If he does not maintain a uniform pressure on the planer, there will be gouges. And many bad words. (I guess the fairies where visiting when I took this picture- see all of their ghostly globes?).
 Look how beautiful and smooth the trim is now. You can see every strip, and yet it's now all one piece. The glue has to be removed or stain will not penetrate evenly (not that this piece will be stained- the woodwork in this house is all natural, varnished pine).
 After planing, the piece is sanded
 and the edge is routed (made smooth and rounded). Again, the potential for disaster at this step is enormous- one slip and the entire piece is ruined. The Hub has, to my knowledge, never ruined a piece. That is why they pay him the big bucks.
I like his handmade router box- it's about 45 years old, built when he was a teenager and not nearly as picky about good wood...
 See the difference between the un-planed/sanded/routed trim and the finished one? Amazing, no?

Here's a side-by side with a trimmed planed/sanded trim, and one just out of the jig (he's making 2 different sizes, if you were wondering).

I don't have a picture of the trim in place, because it's not in place yet. But I promise that I'll post one when it is.

Did I emphasize that this is the first time The Hub has ever made bent-wood trim?  For many many years, I have seen him puzzle over some work-related construction issue, and then watched him invent a solution that is not only workable and practical, but often-times elegant as well.

Seriously, The Hub is not just an Artist, he's a Genius.


twoknitwit said...

it's like you're sharing Houdini's secrets

very, very cool!!

AnneMarie said...