Monday, July 26, 2010

a Rough Cut--- Woodworking story

Thursday- July 22, 2010: I left the Island but the call came Tuesday evening.

I knew I was in trouble when I asked what I needed to wear and the answer was a tu-tu, one like Magilla’s.

I’m the lesser half of a caregiver team so a few of my responsibilities had to be addressed before I could take off. With that done, I was good to go. As I told David Pruett of the Folding Rule blog, you have to be very nibble when “the call comes”.

But what phone call and from where……….????

That next morning Wednesday July 21st, I cleared up my phone calls, e-mails, did a quick visit, jumped ahead to a glue-up that could stand for a while, and at 6:30 pm went flying out to purchase some nice T-shirts. I was told to get a few different colors. Knowing darker colors suits me best, that’s what I went for. A Furnitology-T was not in the mix.

While all this motion and thinking was going on, a photo essay came to mind so extra batteries were needed. Since I live on an island, I needed ferry reservations so I took care of that.

I was set to go.

As I tidied up to leave Thursday morning, the phone rang. It was one of the young guns of woodworking who I will always make time for Justin DiPalma. We’ve traveled a few times to Boston together and he’s on the WoodExpo planning group:

“Hey……what’s up!!! Typical Justin….. “Nothing”

After a few laughs, you coax out what he has cook’in. He’s all excited about having met a guy who has access to backroom area’s where furniture sits; waiting to be re-visited. As part of the approval process, he needed to present his work, which not surprising, was received well. Justin is self taught, very talented, and quietly going about finding his place in woodworking. He knows the importance of the inspirational access he’s worked to put himself in. Justin won’t say that, but you can hear the excitement in his voice.

Now between hearing about Justin and his backroom coup and being already excited about my adventure, I’m was ready to fly Peter Pan style to my destination.

I loaded up my van and headed to the ferry terminal. Oddly enough my ride had me thinking of Rick Water’s of the Saw Dust Chronicles, his Fall challenge is coming up and he had the honor of riding the rear wheel well on our trip to a SAFM meeting in Connecticut. Without a complaint I might add.

The van loads onto the ferry with the other commerce, funny that I was headed to Boston (oops) and I’m riding with an empty Downes and Reader truck who had just dropped off 8000 bd ft of white oak in Calverton, Long Island. Woodworking on an island is different than working wood on mainland USA. Moving materials is expensive and we have no selection of hardwood, so you learn to travel off Island to select your own hardwood or for economic reasons you move to veneer and get to be good friends with Mike, the UPS driver.

My ferry ride was thoughtful as I tossed around the idea of an essay on the navigational hazards
of woodworking on Long Island. But settled on a more generic woodworking topic that wonders where this current generation of woodworker is going. The laptop got a workout for a while but Thursday (July 22, 2010), the Northeast weather was a 10.5 so I leaned on the port rail
and took in a cool summer breeze as we fetched the waterfront entrance of New London, Connecticut.

I know now why I’m a bad blogger; with this photo, my photo essay ends. But my trip to New England isn’t even half over. After exiting the ferry and getting on I95, I was all business as I headed to Tommy MacDonald’s shop. Others can do it, but I find my focus is such that, taking another photo on this trip never entered my mind.

Sorry………but its verbiage from here.

The call I received late Tuesday evening was from Tommy MacDonald and he asked me to be on his next episode of Rough Cut Woodworking with Tommy Mac to be shot Friday morning July 23rd. The episode has to do with a desk Tommy has had his eye on for a while in the John Adams house and the veneer work involved.

So I was on my way………….wouldn’t you be too.

I’ve been at woodworking long enough that I only need to hear a furniture topic, put it into a time line and I’m golden. In this particular case I could have taken a bellflower back to Fra Giovanni and stringing to wall paper prints by Lucienne Day.

I reached Tommy’s shop after a slight mistake of thinking I was in Canton when really in Sharon, Mass, but as I learned from Justin on earlier trips, if you don’t stop moving, you’re never lost……….he was right again.

Eli greeted me at the door and it was like we saw each other just yesterday, Eli is another young gun who is quietly making his way with a twist. A cool twist I might add. His woodworking/furniture design story in 30 years should be a great one. It’s leaning toward that special side already. He’s the main thrust of the 2011 WoodExpo having played a more pivotal roll in 2010. He’s also plays a very important roll in Tommy’s TV production.

On entering the shop we had a bunch of laughs, but I’m aware I’m hindering preparation so I take off with my blue spiral note/sketch pad to Pete’s Place in Canton for a couple unsweetened ice tea’s and stir the noggin a bit for tomorrows (Friday-July23rd) shoot. I saw the veneer work was a V match and it reminded me of Giuseppe Maggiolini and since the episode would star the desk in the John Adams house, the Kings Desk of Louis XVI by Riesener came to mind, I was in Pete’s Place but really in my own furniture fun. I took notes so I had reminders.

I left Pete’s and went back to the shop hung out for just a while longer, then split to get some rest. Plus prepping was still underway and I didn’t want to interfere.

Friday morning came fast and before long, I was back in Tommy’s shop and was greeted with a huge smile from Al. Tommy and Al have a very special friendship and their banter is fun to be around. As the WGBH production crew began to show up, I remembered Laurie and Anne from last years WoodExpo, Dave Masher from way back in the T-Mac journey and met Dino the cameraman. That was the slowest the day would be……….OH I almost forgot, I went to make-up too.

From 8am to 7pm it was non-stop as Laurie would say…”ACTION”. Tommy is really disciplined about shooting each sequence of shots. I noticed Tommy and Laurie communicate in a unique fashion, much of it is in tonal expression. Dino is amazing at remembering the last shot, the hand positions and out from the back room where Anne watches and types dialog, will question terminology and remembers that a term used at 10am is the same term used at 5pm. Steve Brown from NBSS is the technical advisor and Laurie will check machine set-up and safety until it is exhausted and she is happy. In between all this production talk, Eli is either at stand still or 100 mph. Laurie is the producer of the show and reminds me of an Interior Designer. She has the ability to visualize the sequence of construction in her head and the savy to present it to the client or viewer in this case. It was powerful as I watched the show be shot. Laurie sets the pace, Tommy works to get it for her, Anne keeps Tommy on topic, Dino moves between close-up, wide and numerous angles and it works. You can feel the wavering emotions of the room.

Sorry there are no pictures, but I was working.

As for my job, I never got the chance to mention Fra Giovanni, but he didn’t fit. On returning to my motel Friday evening, I was exhausted. I feel asleep for about 2 hours, then couldn’t sleep as I rehashed what I said, what I should have said, questioned if my performance provided material, and did I do what was needed. During shooting, Tommy told me to relax, think of it as a podcast, but that’s easy to say and hard to do.

I left real early Saturday morning to catch the ferry back home. I didn’t get to see Tommy and Eli before I left, they had an 8am production meeting……they shoot again Monday July 26th.

As I think about my day in the life of Rough Cut Woodworking with Tommy Mac, I’m so glad I took the time to peel back the many layers of a very talented, big hearted guy. Tommy MacDonald had a vision very early on that only a small number of internet woodworkers understood. I’m very appreciative to witness it come to fruition. And now to be a part of its early history is a wonderful feeling.

Thanks for the book Eli and Thanks again Tommy!!!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Beginning Woodworking Part 3 - Finishing DVD Critique

Adding to the beginning woodworker series, here's part 3.

I critique a new finishing DVD produced by Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Have a listen and begin to think about finishing as a seperate skill. A skill ; needed to be a successful woodworker.

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