Saturday, July 21, 2018

Board Stretching

Detail of the completed, stretched board

Original board as we received it
Woodworking 101 goes something like this: measure twice, cut once, because you can't stretch a board.  Well, actually you can.

We were instructed to use this board as the live-edge counter for a recent project.  The idea was to resaw the board in two halves, trim the back and edges then, viola --a counter. That idea met its demise when we realized that the board was not wide enough and also happened to be a bit short.

Resawn board
We decided to stretch the board.  The first step was to resaw it into two halves.  We then cut approximately 1" x 3" strips from the underside of each half, then flipped these up to create a 1" x 6" bookmatched strip at the center of the new wider board.

Widened board
Pattern of bookmatched center strip

Cutoff being marked for a miter 

The problem of lengthening the board remained.  We cut live-edge material off the back edge of the board, where the wood counter would abutt the wall, then repurposed this edge by adding it to each end of the board.

The material would have to be mitered, with the live edge flowing as seamlessly as possible with the live edge at the front of the board.
Mitered live edge being prepared for attachment to board
We thought it would be best if the seam at the front live edge occurred some distance from the miter.  We also thought it would be good to have the seam where the new piece meets the board be irregular, following somewhat the flow of the wood grain.

New board ends prior to gluing
The challenge was to make the seams almost invisible.  There was the added challenge of getting the angle of the live edges to align.
cleaned up and finished
the left corner softened, carved, with the carved live edge color-matched
The bookmatched detail

The stretched board

So there you go.  Whenever you hear someone say you can't stretch a board, know that actually you can.  And if you enjoy this kind of thing like we do, it can be fun.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Summer Intern Andrea Ayala

Summer Intern Andrea Ayala working on the vertical panel saw

We are proud to have intern Andrea Ayala working with us this summer.  An incoming senior at Mission High School, Andrea came to our shop as a result of a partnership between San Francisco Unified School District and Jewish Vocational Services.  Andrea plans to become an architect, but wants hands-on experience in the trades.   In addition to her Seidman Woodworks internship, she's also attending an engineering camp at Skyline College this summer.

In the picture above, Andrea is cutting parts for a dollhouse she designed using CAD software.  She taught herself CAD on our shop computers in order to accomplish the drawings.  She prepared a full cutlist, cut the parts, assembled the house, sprayed it in our paint booth and is currently in the process of building all manner of furniture for the house.  

It's not only Andrea who is gaining valuable experience.  All of us at Seidman Woodworks are enjoying introducing Andrea to our trade.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Mural at 20th and Valencia

That's one use for a panel saw.  Artist Ulrike Palmbach puts
finishing touches on a mural leaned against our panel saw.

It's nice to see something in the shop that doesn't have a straight line.  I suppose the exception is the canvas on which the mural is painted, which we provided.  Seidman Woodworks provided the substrate for the mural but left the painting to San Francisco artist Ulrike Palmbach, at left.

The mural will live in the recently completed Val 20 building, at the corner of Valencia and 20th streets in San Francisco.  It depicts the original topography of San Francisco, with a faint overlay of the current street grid.  The mural will reside near what once was the shore of Laguna  Dolores.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Welcome Nik Patel, Summer Intern!

 We are pleased to have Nik Patel working with us this summer.  Nik is an incoming senior at John O'Connell High School in San Francisco.  He's at our shop due to collaboration between John O'Connel, his woodworking instructor there, Chris Woods, the SFUSD and Jewish Vocational Service.
In our shop, Nik has gained experience operating and programming our CNC router, has spent lots of time with his hands on work in our finishing department, has visited job sites and been present at problem-solving discussions with clients.  He hopes to spend time assembling and installing cabinets, to begin his development of these skill sets.

Nik is interested in studying architecture or design after graduating from John O'Connel next year.  He has a great attitude and is a welcome addition to Seidman Woodworks.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Fun cnc project for Masjid al Nur mosque in Richmond

It's all in a good day's trade.  Joe Di Maio repaired a burst coolant line on our cnc router and in return requested some time on the machine.  Today, he made a prototype pattern for Saleh Aboutaleb, who hopes to use the pattern to improve his mosque.  If the pattern is accepted, we will hopefully be cutting over 20 of these.  Based on this and the last post, I see a definite pattern (sorry about the pun) emerging.

Saleh Aboutaleb and Joseph DiMaio cut out this pattern on our CNC

Saleh Aboutaleb demonstrates how the proposed pattern will
wrap the pulpit at Mashid al Nur mosque in Richmond

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Or Shalom Torah Reading Table

We have the privilege of fabricating a torah-reading table for Or Shalom.  The proposed design picks up on the architecture of the place of worship Or Shalom shares with Beth Israel Judea in San Francisco --tall vertical cherry panels behind the bima, but softening it with an oval shape.  The technical challenge of the piece will be to get the wood to curve in two planes.  Trees grow that way-- but milled wood does not like to be bent that way.

Here are the plans:

And here are a few images of a preliminary form for bending the cherry into shape:

The design is still in progress.  Or Shalom and Beth Israel Judea need to give their final approval and we need to determine that we can in fact get our wood to bend in two planes,  (The ribs shown are not part of the actual table but will instead be used as a form against which we will mold the cherry.)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

High School Apprenticeship Program Underway

John O'Connell High School students Xavier Villamor & Sean Zavala at work

We at Seidman Woodworks have the pleasure this Spring of having Xavier Villamor and Sean Zavala, both high school students, work in our shop.  They come in each Thursday and put in a solid stint of work.  They're getting a taste of working in a professional woodworking environment.  They're getting to spend the time that it takes for the hands to develop their own intelligence.  And we are getting to enjoy their great attitude, enthusiasm, and presence in our shop.  It's a source of pride for all of us at Seidman Woodworks to be able to impart a little bit of what we know to the next generation.

Sean and Xavier's presence is made possible by a collaboration between John O'Connell High School, their woodworking instructor Chris Wood (would that every woodworker could have that name) and Jewish Vocational Service.

Sean and Xavier have a great attitude, are a pleasure to have in the shop, and represent exceptionally well the team that has made their presence here possible.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Guerilla Street Museum

California College of the Arts students were at Seidman Woodworks this morning cutting parts on our cnc router for their portable art museum, which will be in the upcoming Market St. Prototyping Festival.

The structure will be a giant slinky, say CCA students (from right to left) Adika Djojosugito, Fredy Lim and Martin Setiawan, who collaboratively designed the project.  They're working in conjunction with Larkin Street Homeless Youth, who will display their art on the outside.  Inside is posted information for homeless youth on where homeless youth can go to find help and resources.

It's been very fun working with these young and talented community-minded designers and fabricators.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Happy Skis

"All these techniques have been invented long before your time, honed to perfection over the centuries."  These are the words of Genadi (spelling), a trapper in Russia's far North, recorded in Werner Herzog's film, "Happy People, A Year in the Taiga" (available on Netflix streaming).  Genadi reflects on his trade while engaging in one of the most magnificent woodworking project I've ever seen: the fabrication of a pair of skis.

Using a small hand axe, a plane, a jig for bending the ski tips and not a whole lot else, Genandi produces a new pair of the skis that enable him to cross vast distances of the frozen Taiga and ply his trade.

Genandi's skis takes the concept that an object's form should be an expression of its function-- and elevates it.  The skis also express the natural environment from which and in which they are made. They embody the passing of knowledge from one generation to the next.  They help define the relationship of Genandi's remote village to modernity. They inform Genandi's understanding of himself. And most importantly, the skis are absolutely necessary.  Just as the skis would not exist without Genandi their maker, Genandi would not exist --in the way that we see him in the film-- without these skis.

He starts by driving his exceedingly sharp hand axe into a living tree, parallel to the trunk, testing the grain for straightness.  Everywhere are trees.  They define the Taiga, a vast wilderness one and a half times the size of the United States.  Genandi's task is to find the one tree that will serve him best, with grain perfectly straight, so that the skis will flex but not break.  He fells the tree with a chain saw, cuts a section of trunk the length of the skis, then in short order fashions wooden wedges with his axe then drives these into the stem to split it along its length into boards.  The wedges amplify Genandi's strength, so that he can talk at ease about his work as it progresses.

"Naturally you pick up things from others as you go along.  A little bit here, a little bit there.  You add your own improvements... You can't reinvent the bicycle."  Just as Genandi was taught to make skis, he passes on his knowledge to his son, showing him how to steam-bend the tips.  This is where I expected the whole narrative to break down.  The son, surely, would find a way to purchase modern cross-country equipment then ski circles around his father, still trudging along on the crude, heavy, wooden slabs of yesteryear.

As it turns out, this is not the story of an old guy sticking stubbornly to old ways while the world changes around him.  Genandi, by necessity, is an intensely practical man.  He owns a snowmobile and a chainsaw, because these help him work.  But when it comes to skis, the purchased item is inferior.  "You may have those factory-made ones.  You and I go into a wood, you'll drop dead from fatigue after 15 kilometers.  You won't be able to move a leg.  Me, I just keep on skiing without a care in the world."

Genandi the trapper has a wife and family who live in town.  He sees them at Christmas and occasionally throughout the year.  But most days he's out traversing his vast territory, preparing traps, building and stocking shelters.  Aside from being learned in his craft, hardworking and innovative, he's a reflective man.  It's beautiful to see him understand, not romanticize, the role he and the skis play in the perpetuation of a way of living.

"You can take away anything from a man.  His wealth and health and such-like.  But you can't take away his craftsman skills.  Once you learn a trade, you'll always know your trade for the rest of your life.  Do you agree?"

The aesthetic of the skis does not exist apart from Genandi the trapper.  You or I might hope to replicate the skis, but we would only be replicating the object.  The higher levels of relationship would all be lost.  The afficionado could have a pair made for him, or even learn to make a pair himself, but would get only skis.  When one watches Genandi, a man who works incredibly hard and at great peril to meet the basic survival requirements of his family, one can't help but think, "he doesn't have what I have."  But the skis make clear that we also cannot have what he has --not just the skis but the life they embody, of relying on one's wit and skills while traversing vast expanses of the Taiga alone.

This brings us to woodworking for those of us outside the Taiga and to how it is taught.  I take away two things from Genandi.  The first is that we do not need to "reinvent the bicycle."  We should teach the "techniques (that) have been invented long before (our) time, honed to perfection over the centuries."  The second is that we should find practical projects that meet our needs.  It would be fun, but silly, for most of us to make skis.  Emily Pilloton of Project H gets it right when she has her students build a farmer's market for their community.  Let's employ the techniques of old, but get past the romance of skis, or period furniture and find projects part and parcel with who we are.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

If You Build It Screenings in Bay Area February 28-March 2nd

There will be If You Build It screenings in San Francisco and Berkeley this Friday, February 28th through Sunday, March 2nd and in San Rafael on March first.  The filmmakers, Project H director, Emily Pilloton, represerntatives from Realm Charter School and Tim Brown of IDEO will attend many of the screenings.

My apologies that I got the screening date wrong in an earlier blog post about Project H and If you Build It.