Archive for the ‘sign’ Tag

How Long Does It Take?   4 comments

It’s one of the most common questions I get asked.

“How long does it take to make a board?”

The easy answer is I have no idea. Truly. I know it takes hours as I work through my 8 steps:

The Process

Picking & Processing: the lumber has to be selected for the board. This is where the lumber is cut to shape, the various species are selected, and the wood is laid out in its final form. I then tape the boards together so they stay in order, awaiting the next step. It’s unusual for me to do more than 20 boards in a day.

12 boards … well, I made 13 … ready for glue-up.

Gluing: my least favorite step. It’s a mess. Glue flies everywhere. I have to put a faux top on my workbench, set up with glue, water, paper towels, a rubber roller & a green kitchen scrubby. Clamps have to be prepped, and 3x clamps go on every glue-up. Each piece lives in the clamps, under pressure, for somewhere between 4 and 24 hours. I know to glue up one piece takes 10 minutes – plus set up and clean up time. I have enough clamps to do 12 pieces, which means gluing is a 2 hour process. Every time.

The glue needs to have sufficient “open time” so I can apply the glue to all 13 strips, and then still have time to spread the glue before placing the strips into final position.

Shaping: after the pieces have dried and cured – for at least 24 hours – then they need to be smoothed with either the planer (up to 13″ wide) or the drum sander. Once smooth, each piece is cut to its final shape & size. Then, the pieces either go to the CNC for carving, or perhaps go to the router table or another machine for final touches.

Shaping can make dust fly, unfortunately.

Sanding: once the pieces are shaped, they are sanded using one of my 5 finish sanders (!). 3 of these are hand sanders … and every piece is hand sanded. I use as many as 6 different grits of sandpaper at this stage, depending on the needs of the piece. Cutting boards are sanded to a glass finish as I work up to 320 grit.

Sanding is never quick.

Branding: when I’m doing it right (and I’ve failed at this step too often in the last several months), every piece gets my logo laser engraved on the back. To do this, I put each piece into a container, separate each piece with paper or bubble wrap, and take each piece to my engraver.

Finishing: food products all get oiled & waxed. Hand rubbed. Hand finished. Non-food products get a lacquer or urethane finish (I use 3 different ones, depending on what I’m making). Curing again takes 24 hours, mimimum. Most cutting boards get non-skid rubber feet.

Photography: every piece is photographed. How else can I show them to you?

Wrapping: every piece is wrapped for transport. Cutting boards, and most other products, get a jute tie with a board card, showing the price, the species used in the piece, and care instructions for the board. Each piece is then re-packaged into containers for transport to the next event.

The Question

So, how long does it take?

I’ve said it takes as many as 8 or 10 hours for a big, end grain cutting board … but I have no idea.

Some artists insist the only accurate answer is “I’ve been a woodworker for over 40 years.” It’s only through the experience you’ve gained over time that you know how to do what you do … so, some say, it is fair to say that to make THIS piece, it’s taken me 40 years to get here.

I recently made a pair of pieces that brought that home to me.

While digging deep (and I mean deep) into the shop, I discovered a couple of old glue-ups that had been languishing. They were red oak panels that I think were made for my desk & book case … that I made in 2009.

Here’s my office desk … can you tell that I’m a reader?

So these extra panels were large … and I make signs. OK, so I’ll make 2 of my large signs, “Family” and “In This House.” These are typically made from cherry & left unpainted, like these:

CNC Sign 18 – 26 Family. Cherry. 12″ x 16″.
CNC Sign 18 – 50. Cherry. 13″ x 16″.

I cut the panels to shape … and discovered that they had been assembled with biscuits, which is an old school technique that helps keep a large panel flat. The edge of the panel, when I cut it, revealed a biscuit. Crap. I’ll have to fix that … by covering it. Problem. And when I have a problem, I often put the project aside.

I went ahead and carved the red oak panels, but the prominent grain on the panels didn’t look right to me. When a project doesn’t look right … I put it aside until I can think of the right solution. This can be the kiss of death. “Putting it aside” is always for weeks. It can be for months. Remember, these panels were originally put aside … and it’s been years.

Ten years.

I knew that these signs needed to be painted. I knew they needed to be framed. Each presented problems.

To paint the signs, I had to deal with the reason I seldom use red oak in the shop these days – and never use it for cutting boards. Red oak is too porous. When you paint it, the capillary action of the grain will transport paint easily, so you can’t get a clean edge like I’m used to with Hard Maple or Cherry. To paint these signs, therefore, I will have to lacquer them first, to fill the grain, then paint the entire sign, sand the paint off the surface to reveal the painted letters, and then lacquer the sign again for the top coat.

The framing is a simple process; I’m once again framing my chess boards, so I know the steps to do a frame with mitered corners. It’s not my favorite thing to do, though … and when I don’t love doing something, I tend to put it aside.

Weeks. Months. Years.

These 2 signs finally overcame my inertia. They finally overcame my lengthy thought processes. They overcame being put aside.

I’m quite happy with the result.

And, I’m also certain I know the answer to the question for these pieces. How long did it take to make them?

Ten years. It took 10 years to make these signs.

CNC Sign 19 – 712 Family
CNC Sign 19 – 713 In This House

New signs   5 comments

These signs have been a total surprise to me.

Honest.

My goal was to decorate the booth. Add some color. A little sass. Personality. Verticality.

Apparently, I’ve done that. And while doing that, I’ve created another product category: CNC signs. This batch of 31 signs completes all but 1 that I have designed; I didn’t have enough wood to do that blank in this batch. What I have done is replaced all of those sold at the last event, and then some.

These signs include thoughts from some of the great philosophers of our society. Some of the great food experts of our society.

Hippocrates. Julia Child. Shakespeare. Mark Twain. Miss Piggy.

You get the picture.

All of these signs will be on display this weekend at the next event for Mr M’s Woodshop, the Camarillo Fiesta & Street Fair. No clue where my booth will be … so, look for my banner and find me!

But, if you don’t find yourself in Camarillo next weekend, I have a solution for you. I am running a Kickstarter campaign RIGHT NOW to help me expand the workshop’s capabilities. If you are interested in backing my campaign – and getting some cool stuff as a reward – then, please, click here: Handmade Cutting Boards & Wooden Serving Pieces.

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My Surprise: People Buy My Signs

My Surprise: People Buy My Signs   5 comments

I blame Delinda.

She’s our friend; she runs Sweet Spot Home Decor. She has retail experience, and knows a thing or 3 about merchandising and retail presentation.

Something I had never done until I got roped into going a-vendoring. I blame the Mrs M’s.

Yes. I blame.

So, back to Delinda. She stared at my booth, and had opinions. She got in my head. I had to add color. I had to go vertical. I had to be better.

OK, that sounds like me. So, I got creative and printed some pictures of my boards in action. Most of these pictures were taken in our back yard, in front of the pizza oven. They are good photos, if I may say so myself, and seemed to be just what the doctor Delinda ordered.

Then I got a bit more creative, and decided to make some signs. They should have a bit of sass, I thought. They would be about food & drink … just like the things I make. The signs would complement the photos, and complement the cutting boards and wooden serving pieces. I got a bunch together, and they made their premiere at Bishop Mule Days. They’ve since been seen at subsequent events in Montrose, Palos Verdes, Lompoc and Ojai.

And people want to buy them.

It was never my intent to make more things to sell! I was just trying to decorate the booth, up my game, and get Delinda out of my head. I did all of that, thankfully, but now I’m working to keep signs in stock as people choose new decor for their kitchen, family room, man cave or whatever.

I’m good with that. Here’s the latest batch!

Oh, and one more thing. I am running a Kickstarter campaign in the month of July to help me expand the workshop’s capabilities. If you are interested in backing my campaign – and getting some cool stuff as a reward – then, please, click here: Handmade Cutting Boards & Wooden Serving Pieces. Don’t delay, though: if I don’t reach my goal by July 31, then the project fails and nothing happens. I don’t want to be that guy!

 

Signs About Food & Family   2 comments

I’m embracing my inner foodie.

I’ve created a series of signs to decorate my booth and complement my offerings of serving pieces & cutting boards. I’ve been told these signs will make good decor for kitchens, breakfast nooks & such.

Love it.

Each of these signs is on 3/4″ thick stock – either Cherry or Hard Maple, generally. The carved letters are often painted, and the boards are then coated in lacquer for long life. Hanging hardware is attached to each plaque.

With the addition of the mesh walls to our booth, I’m now able to display these signs well, and I’ve got several more up my sleeve, uh, in my head waiting to break out.

It’s back to the garage woodshop I go, before something dangerous happens!

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