Whenever I take on a carpentry project, or a similarly precise prop, I try to get my drawings and plan as precise as possible. For the first pieces I measure and cut, I try and be accurate down to the 32nd of an inch. By the time you get to the end of a project, you will find that the imprecisions of your tools and the imperfections of the materials will give you grief in the form of gaps, overhangs, or pieces not fitting where they should. These problems should be minor enough where a little sanding, wood filler, or sheer muscle power will set everything in order. If you start off with sloppy measuring in the beginning of your project, however, these gaffes will have swelled to horrible and glaring errors by the time you’re putting the last few pieces together.
The folks over at Popular Woodworking recently posted an article about making a cut list, and they put this argument much more eloquently than I just did:
If you miss the mark on one of these numbers early on, then you set off a chain reaction, and turn the remaining parts into a row of falling dominoes. Itâ€™s easy to think that a bunch of little errors will cancel each other out, but the opposite is true. All those little errors will congregate at the most visible place on the finished piece they can find. Once there, they will hold a party to mock you.
Check out Making a Cut List Part 1 and Part 2. It has a lot of great ideas on how and when to use and develop aÂ cut list when building furniture pieces, whether you’re just starting in carpentry, or you’ve been at it for a few years.
I found a great post at ToolCrib about the ten most dangerous woodworking tools. What makes it great is that it attempts to survey what woodworkers think are the most dangerous tools in the shop, and also lists the statistics about the most common injuries from woodworking shops. Often, what we think are the most dangerous tools does not always coincide with where the greatest hazards lie. This is especially true when you look at your own individual experience; if you witness someone chew their fingers up on a router, you will be more biased to believe a router is the most dangerous tool ever. This can also be the case if you work in a shop with poorly maintained tools. A table saw which shakes and wobbles is much more dangerous than a well-maintained table saw with multiple safety features.
“Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them,” the world premiere of the new play by Christopher Durang, opened this past Monday at the Public Theatre in New York City. I’ve been a fan of Chris’s plays for years now, and had a great time when I saw it, even though I was solo for the night.
The reviews are in. You can see a round-up at Critic-O-Meter. Eric Reynolds, the assistant properties director at the Public Theatre, showed me that site. It collects all the reviews for shows currently running in New York City, and averages the critics’ responses into a single grade. The run has already been extended another 2 weeks.
One of the more complicated and interesting pieces I had to make was this bar. The top is kidney-shaped, and the whole base has an elliptical footprint.
You can get a better picture of the overall shape of the piece in the picture above. You can also see how I framed it out.
Above is a closeup of one of the three strips which run across the center of the bar. They stuck out an inch and a half, so I built up strips of wiggle-wood and lauan. I used lauan because it was cheaper than the wiggle-wood, and the front of the bar had a gentle enough curve for the lauan to handle.
If you’ve ever worked with wiggle-wood, you know that it leaves a rough surface. There are any number of ways to make it smooth, from covering it with some kind of laminate or veneer to coating it with some kind of filler. For this piece, Jay, the prop master, told me an easy recipe for a coating. I mixed about 4 parts of joint compound to about 1 part white glue, and added a touch of water until I got an easily spreadable consistency that wouldn’t drip or run. Joint compound can be sanded very smooth, and is easy to work with, but it tends to crack and flake off over time. The addition of the glue helps give it enough flexibility to keep that from happening.
Making and finding props for theatre, film, and hobbies