Woodshop Progress — Dilemma’s Continue

I don’t know about the rest of you but I often have “me to I” talks as I work by myself!  Constantly asking: “What was he thinking as he was working on this building?”  Again, don’t get me wrong, I feel very blessed to have been able to purchase a home that already has a free standing shop building but getting it up to par presents challenges.

First off, I knew my stud spacing would be off a bit when I enclosed the porch area due to the existing posts and roof structure.  During the week it was time to insulate the ceiling so that the drywall process can begin.  Can’t figure out how the builder came up with the rafter spacing. Customary spacing is 24″ on center but these vary from 15″ to 27″ and leaves me wondering how the sheathing was attached for the roof.  We’ve had rain and no leaks so at this point I’m leaving that alone.  I purchased R-19 insulating batts which were fine except for attaching them.  Check out the pictures, I ended up being able to staple one side and then cut filler pieces to fill gaps as needed.  Not wanting to go to Home Depot for  tie wire to support it until the drywall goes up I decided to try this yellow, mesh joint tape and staple it up as I went across the span.

Porch Lamp

Porch Lamp

That worked out okay (itchy job!) and the insulation was extended all the way out into the 2′ overhanging eave.  This was then boxed in with the same material used for the siding and capped off with the installation of this semi-industrial looking porch lamp.  Now it was time to figure out how to attach the drywall to the rest of the ceiling in the main shop area.

The first concern here was that the ridge board isn’t the same size as the rafters which would leave a space in the drywall ceiling.  Thought that a picture or two is worth more so here’s a little slideshow to illustrate how this was solved by creating a faux beam at the center of the roof:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Monday was a great day, Wolfgang’s Air Conditioning and Service here in Phoenix came out and installed the mini-split system.  It’s going to be so cool (no pun intended) to have a shop that is climate controlled.  Here’s a few pictures of the progress, I did need to remove the rest of the drywall to complete the install.  Cranked it up in the afternoon even though the windows and doors aren’t installed yet and it felt good.  Super efficient, super quiet, 1 ton unit with a SEER rating of 29.3!

Speaking of drywall, after messing with it to remove all of the previous owners mistakes decided to check the budget and get some estimates on possibly having this job subbed out.  The neighborhood we live in here in Phoenix has an historical designation as Rancho Ventura.  There is a homeowners group (no HOA’s) that also has an on-line newsletter.  After putting in a request for drywall finishers I contacted a man who happens to live on the next street.  He has a drywall business called Kabco and came over as scheduled.  To make a long story short, after getting a bid for just tape and texture I decided to ask him about hanging it as well.  I liked the price and he and I have been working out there the last two days and getting along well.  At this point all of the drywall is hung and he’ll be back to add the corner bead, tape, and texture.  Without a doubt, had I taken this on alone it would be a 3 week job rather than a 1 1/2 week.  My knees and back are thankful — many miles on this body running marathons and my 50 – 100 mile trail races have made climbing ladders and crouching down to cut drywall a less than delightful chore, really glad that hiring Kevin was in the budget.

Final thing for this post is the progress on the window at the front of the house.  You may recall from the previous post where I talked about all of the problems with it.  Just came back from Home Depot and they told me that both the windows and doors are scheduled to be at the store by the end of the week.  In any case, here’s that large window removed and the framing for its replacement of two, single hung windows instead.  Still can’t understand why anyone would put in a large window with a structural post right smack dab in the middle of it — oh well!

Posted in Phoenix Woodshop | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Window Woes and other Concerns!

Painted & Trimmed; Waiting for doors and replacement window.

Painted & Trimmed; Waiting for doors and replacement window.

Let me preface this blog by first saying that I am NOT really whining and complaining!  I feel so fortunate to have found a wonderful house here in Phoenix that already had an existing out building for my woodshop.  Diane and I are loving the neighborhood plus the more diversified living experience here in the city of Phoenix.  It’s one of the larger, metropolitan centers of the United States and quite a change from what we’re used to.  So many place to visit, shop, and dine at — like a permanent adventure!  The shop itself has a lot more work required than I had planned on but I’ve decided to adapt Diane’s attitude and resolve myself to the fact that this is my project.  As much as I’d like to be building furniture or carving frames, the shop comes first and it may take another month or so to get it together.  What you see at the left is the enclosed porch area which will have a pair of French doors (6′ wide) leading into it, there is a 10′ wide opening which will allow me to get any materials in and projects out.

Well, the title of this blog is Window Woes so let’s jump right into that issue.  Although it looks like a great source of light I had a problem the first time I opened it for ventilation — couldn’t get it closed again!  It appears to be jammed into an out of square opening and there may have been some sort of counter weight to help it close.  I needed to wedge a 2×4 between the frame and the slider to force it closed; not good.  Check out these photo’s, notice something weird?

A couple of problems with that other than the fact it won’t open/close.  First off to repair a slider and make it operable you need to lift it out of the frame, that post prevents that so if it was ever broken I’d be out of luck.  My neighbor was over and pointed out the 1/4″ or so of air space on the lower, left hand corner which would explain the wet, nasty drywall sill.  At 6’6″ wide and 4′ tall this is a good sized window.  My solution will be replacing it with a pair of 30″ x 42″ single hung windows.  I’ll be able to frame them in and trim them out with the same wide moldings used on the new window and door.

Another exterior issue is the berm required for the flood irrigation.  I mentioned that in another post but we use canal water to irrigate the lawn which basically floods the entire area with 4″-6″ of water.  I had noticed some leakage into the shop — not a good thing!  The water enters the property behind the shop and I noticed the berm seemed to be gone on the east side.  Here’s some pictures of the work in progress:

In the first photo on the left you can see how it was and the beginnings of the new work.  Water enters at the top edge of that picture.  Luckily the Oleander roots weren’t too difficult to work through and work went well.  Old school, now folks use a laser but I relied on the line level I’ve had since the 70’s.  Have about 1 1/2″ of drop in the 30′ or so, we’ll see if it’s successful when we flood in a few days.

Where's the Stud?

Where’s the Stud?

Drywall was installed pretty badly, either the stud layout is off or whoever did it was totally inexperienced.  I thought everyone knew that joints had to line up on studs but as this picture at the left shows it wasn’t the case here.

Measure twice, cut once

Measure twice, cut once

Another problem was the openings for the outlet boxes.  I can understand being off on you first cut or two but you should catch on after that.  This is typical; I’ll remove the drywall which thankfully is screwed only, not taped and mudded in and re-use them perhaps on the ceiling. I should be able to patch the holes to achieve an acceptable surface.

Tin Foil Ceiling

Tin Foil Ceiling

Ceiling, let’s talk about that too.  First off there wasn’t any drywall up there, just a foil blanket that looks like something you’d use to stick in your car windshield.  As I started to peel it back I also noticed the the electrical connections for the lights aren’t in junction boxes — not too safe.  Since I need to remove the lights to do the drywall I’ll nail on junction boxes and rewire according to code.  Insulation from the front wall is stacked up and ready to go back in once I add wiring.

So, as you can see, there’s some work to be done.  Happy to say though that I was able to use my Jack Plane to trim out the extension on the porch.  Needed to customize a piece to more or less match the twist in the 4″ x 6″ beam.

Tomorrow I have someone coming over to give an estimate for a mini-split A/C system and will begin work on the ceiling and electrical.  Ready for some itchy times!!

Posted in Phoenix Woodshop | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Shop’s Coming Together — Lots of Work!

John Deere 125

John Deere 125

In the last post I shared our relief at overcoming the “real estate hell” and finally settling down here in our new home in Phoenix.  The house was built in 1951 and has been beautifully remodeled but there are still things to do/repair or bring up to our specifications.  Had the A/C checked, discovered some obstruction in a sewer line that Mr. Rooter took care of, and in the process of replacing some ceiling fans discovered that an existing fan in another part of the house has the same code for the remote!  Most importantly though, here we are in the most urban area we’ve lived in and a big purchase was this; a John Deere riding lawn tractor.

As for the shop, I’ve focused a lot of energy there so I’ll share the progress with you.  It started out having a porch area that is about 80 square feet.  The initial plan was to simply remove the single door and replace it with a double door so that larger material could be taken in and larger projects could be taken out.  Diane suggested enclosing that porch area which is what we ended up doing.

To span the complete opening required a substantial 4″x 12″ beam of about 12′ length.  Hard to find a good, straight piece like that anymore so after calling the city planners learned that a GlueLam would support the roof load at only 7 1/2″ wide rather than the 12″ beam.  Ordered one from Ponderosa Lumber at 10′ and it was delivered the next day.  Installation was relatively easy with Diane’s help until it rolled on me and allowed me to add my blood to the project!

The GlueLam rolled on me when I set it up on two ladders.  Head wounds like to bleed a lot so once that was under control Diane was able to set it on one of the cripples at one end while I did the same on the opposite end.  Once in place an additional cripple was nailed on either side for good support.  You can see in the left hand picture the temporary supports placed under the rafter tails on the outside — this is a load bearing wall.

The west and east side walls were framed on the porch then slid outside and stood up.  The west side has a window while the east side is solid wall.

Steel gussets were screwed to the top plate and existing facia board.  The south side wall was a bit more of a challenge since it had to be framed up on the dirt/mud!  Luckily, the previous owner left all of the form boards used for the shop stacked up behind.  They became the platform for framing that wall.  It will have a six foot pair of French Doors to allow plenty of light into the shop.  They will look better than a garage type door too.  This wall sits on the outside of the 4″x4″ posts that support the porch roof.  Great effort was taken to make sure the door opening is square!

The slab is about 7″ above the grade so after Diane and I set the wall up against the posts I’d lift one end, she’d stick a couple of 2×4’s under it then repeat that on the opposite end.  Now, we could lift it to the slab level, square it up and secure it in place — Nice!

Wrapped, Wired, and Windowed

Wrapped, Wired, and Windowed

There was some new wiring that needed to be done, boxes added for exterior light and outlet and then the entire structure was wrapped prior to installing the window.  Home Depot is just a few blocks away so next up is buying the siding to match and get this addition closed up.  The door should be here in 2 weeks and if the salesman was right, should just slip into my perfectly square, 72″ x 80″ opening.  At this point the addition is completely wrapped and the window has been installed.

Posted in Phoenix Woodshop | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Long Time Coming — In Phoenix Now!!

There have actually been a couple of you readers of this blog out there that sent me questions about what’s going on with the move — I do appreciate that.  It was one of the most convoluted and screwed up real estate transactions you could possibly imagine!  Diane and I ended up in an empty house for 2 weeks sleeping on a borrowed foam pad and eating off of a borrowed bistro table and chairs thanks to our wonderful neighbors.  The folks we had working for us on the sale were fantastic, namely Audrey Tolley here in Phoenix, Susan Daichendt our Las Vegas agent, and Myron Chamberlain from Prime Lending here in Phoenix.  That team cannot be thanked enough for their hard work and diligence in completing this transaction.  The agents for our buyers on the other hand were terribly incompetent and were the reason for all of the problems.  The lender for our buyers, Noble Home Loans was terrible!  I had several phone contacts with the president, Brad Malkin and the principal Herman Vander Veldt.  After threatening to file complaints I was asked to “not phone again” by the president and given unkept promises by Herman.  Seems that they are a broker for home loans and sub-contract their work out to underwriters in Dallas.  As such, they have no control over the process.  The sales agent for the buyers, Jonathan Jacobs can best be described as one who over-promises and under-delivers.  He contracted three different closing dates which was the cause of Diane and I living in an empty house.  Like my friend Randy likes to say: ” to make a long story short” don’t use either of these companies for your Las Vegas real estate transactions!

Cutting Boardwalk

Cutting Boardwalk

So, let’s get to the good part of the move.  Having been in the same house for 20 years the change wasn’t easy.  We used the PackRats for moving our “stuff” and were very pleased with them.  They arrived at the Phoenix house a couple of days after we did which gave Diane and I time to paint the dining area, our bedroom, and the master bedroom.  We were able to move almost everything ourselves but hired a couple of guys from Silverbell Moving Services to help with the shop equipment.  The shop is located about 30 feet from the house over a dirt area.  Luckily, the former owner left a bunch of 2×10’s behind the shop so I created a “boardwalk” to get the heavy equipment out there.  It worked well but let me throw something very unusual out about how we irrigate our lot.  Our home is in an historic district of Phoenix called Rancho Ventura.  It used to be orchards and so we have the remnants of that by being able to irrigate our lots with water from the canals, this is called flood irrigation and costs about $80.00 per year.  We had our first experience with it and it’s really something to see, water runs for about an hour and subsides into the soil within 3-4 hours.  During the summer, we are scheduled once every two weeks and in the winter time we get it once a month, check out these pictures:

As any of you that have ever moved know, there is a myriad of things that need to get accomplished when you move.  Painting, unpacking, organizing, changing insurance, registration, etc. — the list seems endless.  We’ve been here since the first of September and today is the first opportunity I’ve had to get out to the shop.  You may have noticed that there is a porch in front and only a single entry door.  My initial thoughts were to add a double, french door so I can get in sheets of plywood and get my larger pieces out.  Diane suggested expanding the shop onto that porch area which makes sense and will give me an additional 85 square feet or so.  The double doors will be on the end with an additional window on the side.  The drywall installed in the shop hadn’t been taped or mudded so removal was easy.  Here’s a few shots of the shop before I started:

After removing the screws and stacking the drywall against the far wall, the insulation was taken out as well.  Lucky for me, no staples  just pressed between the studs.  Notice the funky ceiling insulation, kind of looks like those foil blankets you put in your car windshield — looks like I’ll need to put up a new ceiling as well!  Here’s how the wall looks now plus  a shot of the porch area that will be enclosed.

As I said earlier, this is quite a process.  Besides just the normal moving items the shop will need 220v electricity added to run my equipment and I’m definitely budgeting for a mini-split a/c unit.  This will pretty much wipe out my woods budget so it’ll be like starting over again but I plan to be up and running within 2-3 months making furniture, easels, and carving/gilding frames.  Thanks for being patient during this process — John

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Due Diligence? – Not our buyers Agent!

A term I’ve learned during this process of buying/selling and moving is “Due Diligence”.  That’s one my excellent real estate agent in Scottsdale; Audrey Tolley , introduced me to during this time.  Basically it means that your agent will make sure all of the steps required to complete the sale are performed in a timely and ethical manner.  Audrey and our loan processor in Phoenix have completed all of them and followed that “Due Diligence” process.  Last Thursday I flew to Phoenix and was picked up at the airport by Audrey so we could do the walk-through on the house there.  It was really great to see it again and the excitement Diane and I have about the upcoming move was re-kindled!

While waiting for my return flight I received a call from my agent here in Las Vegas,  Susan Daichendt.   She informed me that our contracted close of escrow date could not be met due to the fact that the agent for the people buying our house hadn’t performed his duties which I’ve referred to as “due diligence”!  These are things that I’m learning more about than I ever thought I would such as underwriting of loans, setting up inspections, being upfront with all parties involved in the loan process, etc.  I won’t name this person yet but if you’re planning to make a real estate transaction here in Las Vegas contact me and I’ll tell you who not to use.  There’s a definite question of ethics as related family members are involved in both the sale of our home and the financing.  There may be a real estate attorney in the future but as of now Diane and I want the house to sell so we can get back on our schedule to move.

DueDiligence - 1So, where do we sit?  Well not too well!  In my last blog I shared the trials and tribulations with you about loading up the first PackRat with half of my tools and our belongings.  That one was picked up and is now in storage, by the way it weighed 6200 pounds.  We put the rest of our stuff in the second PackRat you see in this picture leaving a space for our mattress and  the last minute stuff we knew we’d need until our scheduled time to leave Las Vegas this morning.  We’ve contacted the president of the loan company to see what can possibly be done to expedite that end of the process.  The buyer’s agent hasn’t been forthcoming or timely in answering emails and phone calls.  We expect there to be an addendum to the closing date on Monday and will see if it falls within a time frame that’s acceptable to us.  Due to this agents lack of “due diligence” he’s affected many peoples lives.  From what I understand, our buyers are living with friends and have already transferred their mail to our address!  We have several pieces of mail waiting for them when the deal goes through, hope it’s nothing critical.

We’re down to this:

We canceled the pickup of the second PackRat so we can keep the mattress to sleep on until the sale finally goes through.  Although we’ve been offered places to stay from family and friends, with the dog and cat staying here seems to be our best option.  We’ll hang in there and see what Monday brings, that was the contracted Close of Escrow date so we’re expecting an addendum from our buyers.  In the meantime, Diane and I are just doing the best we can in this less then ideal situation and putting faith in these words:

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 12.43.01 PM

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

PackRat #1 Packed — #2 Wednesday!

A lot has happened since my last blog post to share with you.  It’s not really about woodworking but it is the continuing saga of our move from Las Vegas to Phoenix.  If there’s one thing I’ve discovered is that real estate transactions are somewhat complicated and like the saying goes: “it ain’t over till it’s over!”.  We are on the final steps, signing  papers with the title company tomorrow for the sale of this house is the first one.  Then I’m flying to Phoenix on Thursday to do a walk-through, decided to spend a couple hours in the air rather than 11 hours on the road.  Our first PackRat was delivered Saturday and we had it loaded up by Sunday.  The second one comes Wednesday so we’ll be ready to load it up too.  Pretty amazing to see how they set the PackRat on the driveway:

Once the truck was in line with the driveway the entire back end of it was like a huge forklift — pretty impressive!

One other item of note is that the Sin City Woodworkers group that I’ve been a charter member of since it was formed almost 8 years ago  had a going away meeting for me.  This group has been a big part of my woodworking life for all those years.  It was founded by Jamie Yocono of WoodItIs who is an extremely talented woodworker that takes on all types of projects and challenges.  She also runs a highly successful school from her studio as well and I’ve been fortunate enough to teach a number of hand tool woodworking classes there for her.

When her, Diane, and I were visiting after our return from Scottsdale Jamie mentioned that she needed a demonstrator for the upcoming meeting and maybe I’d like to share the 6 month experience with of gilding and carving frames just completed.  Well, I thought I was off the hook since all of those are in storage in Phoenix or else at Diane’s gallery — Wrong!!

Framed -- Last SCWW Meeting

Framed — Last SCWW Meeting

Jamie told me she seen the photographs and blogs I wrote during that time and maybe I could put together a computer presentation.  I did and here’s a LINK to the write up Jamie did of the meeting and my presentation, check it out; it’s quite an active group.  Truth be told, I’ve done many demonstrations for the group and enjoy sharing what I can with others.  There were two frames I could bring in, one composition gold gilded and the other 22kt. gold.  My parting shot was this one, framed by the completely hand carved, 22kt. frame.


To sum it up, the next blog I write should be from our new home in Phoenix.  We’re praying that the final stages of this move go without a hitch, it seems as if all’s well and on track but you know the saying about when it’s all over!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Time Flew — PackRat in my Future!

Packrat — what the heck’s a Packrat you say; well check it out HERE.  Hard to believe that almost a month has gone by since the last post I wrote but oh boy, what a month it’s been! Diane and I left Scottsdale on the 4th. of July before the sun was up to beat the 110+ degree heat.  We figured correctly that this would be the best time to beat the holiday traffic.  Once we got home the packing process began.  We had decided that since we were buying a home in Phoenix there wasn’t any sense in renting a trailer just to bring it to Las Vegas, unload and then re-load it to make the move.  Instead, we rented a storage space and filled that up with about half a dozen pickup truck loads.

It’s amazing how much “stuff” you accumulate in 20 years!  We were absolutely brutal in deciding what to keep, what to donate, what to sell, and what to take to the dumps!  So far, the dumps has seen us 5 times!  All of the solvents, stains, flammable stuff, etc. were taken to the Sin City Woodworkers meeting and up for grabs to the members.  I’ve been active in that group since it’s beginning 7 years ago and gave my last demonstration that night.

I won’t bore you with all of the details but this moving process has been quite trying.  So much paperwork, signatures, requirements and timelines to meet but now it seems as if the finish line is in sight.  At our selling end, all the requirements have been met such as the inspection, appraisal, and loan process.  As for the buying end, all we’re waiting on is the appraisal and that shouldn’t be any problem.  Here are a couple of highlights from the garage sale:

Diane and I had quite a collection of art and woodworking books which are heavy to move.  After brutally going through and only keeping our favorites we ended up with three good sized boxes of them at the sale.  Honestly didn’t feel that there was much market for them but bundled them all for a fair price to an on-line, ebay book seller — nice!  The weekend we chose had the disadvantage of being one of the hottest with temps 110-114!  At our neighbor advice we also bought bottled water and added to our profits selling them at $1.00 each.  Unbeknownst to us, our neighbors a couple of doors down and across the street had also planned a garage sale so there was lots of traffic.  Saturday was the busiest and after closing the doors around 1:00 pm we rested then celebrated with dinner and a movie!  Sunday was a bit slower, well honestly a lot slower!

Anything that didn’t sell was donated so that someone else can benefit from our things.  Really, the attitude you need going into donating and selling your “stuff” is that you’ve bought it and gotten your pleasure and use from it so now let someone else enjoy it.  Anything not used during the last year was pretty much “outtathere!”; had to be brutal.  The next big step is the packing.  The garage/shop alone took me a couple of days.  Again, being brutal I needed to decide whether or not that jig I made 3 years ago and haven’t used since warranted the space and weight to take with — most things lost out and ended up going to the dumps or another woodworker.  Same for the household items, Diane did a phenomenal job weeding out those items we really didn’t need any longer or use very often.  We both feel that part of the adventure of making the move is adding new “stuff” as we find a need for it.

Made Sgt. June 1970 Marble Mountain Vietnam

Made Sgt. June 1970 Marble Mountain Vietnam


For example, I had a couple of albums of faded, out of focus pictures from my Vietnam days in the Marine Corps.  Kept a few like this one when I made E-5 but other than that there was no real value in keeping all of them.  Same with high school pictures that were of poor quality to begin with and now faded and brittle.  Did keep my senior yearbook because I’ve kept in touch with some of my friends via Facebook.  My daughter was the recipient of selected pictures of her parents when we were younger, she got a kick out of those and so did the grandsons!


As for moving and packing, best advice I can give is to get boxes that are similar in size, sturdy, have lids, and are free.  Best place we found for that was Total Wine, those boxes are designed to hold some heavy stuff and the way they open them allows us to close and tape securely.  We also subscribe to a meal service called Blue Apron and their boxes are super strong.  Adam and Kim use them as well so have been saving the boxes for us which is a great help.  At this point, Diane’s once art oriented studio looks more like a warehouse as does the shop and storage shed.

After finding them free on Craigslist we probably have enough picture sized boxes to take Diane’s paintings down and pack away.  For me, that’s like the final nail in the coffin;  those blank walls give this process a sense of finality and although we’re both looking forward to this new adventure, twenty years in one house is a long time.  Wrapping and packing up the furniture I’ve made to fill this house will be the last step in Las Vegas but unpacking them will be our first step in Phoenix.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Scottsdale Adventure Coming to a Close

Ready to go to storage.

Ready to go to storage.

Our lease is almost up so we’re preparing to return to our home in Las Vegas.  It’s been quite an adventure and great way to celebrate our 20th. Anniversary!  Renting a trailer to haul everything back to Las Vegas and then do it again in less then two months seemed silly.  It was cheaper to rent a storage space then to rent another U-Haul trailer.  This picture shows my workplace of the last 6 months disassembled and ready to go.  Diane is doing the same with her studio and the first load went into storage this morning.  The plan is to have it all there by Sunday, sleep on the floor here, and head for home on the 4th. of July.  Since that’s a holiday we’re hoping that traffic will be light.

I did manage to finish the last two frames so I’ll share those on this, the final Scottsdale Blog.  The one inspired by that old carving book turned out rather nicely, if I do say so myself!  I blogged about it HERE.  Although I said it was the final frame it turned out that I had time to do one more!  Just as I completed the gilding and was preparing to do the toning the weather here turned up the heat, we’re talking 112-119 degrees!  I honestly don’t mind the heat but using the casein to tone was out of the question, even indoors.  Being water based it tends to dry quickly and the effect is one that is streaky.  Since I wanted to experiment with toning with oil based paints (from Diane) thinned with Gamsol this seemed like the perfect opportunity.  It dries much slower which is a plus and a negative.  It means I need to wait longer before the frame is completely done.  It may be hard to tell from these pictures but this was the process:

By experimenting with cheesecloth to remove it a slight textured surface was left on the panel.  After drying for 2 days the last step was waxing with Liberon and a cotton ball.  In addition to that, rottenstone was used to replicate dust in the carved areas.  Even at this stage, areas could be brought back almost to the original gilded finish.  Here is what it looks like now that it’s done:

The size of this one is 12″x 12″ and I personally like how it came out.  There’s enough flow to the design without being busy.  As much as I enjoy creating frames for Diane, marketing and selling them to other artists is going to be a priority once we get settled in the new house in Phoenix.  Speaking of that, there’s a phrase I’m becoming all to familiar with in the real estate world: due diligence meaning check it out carefully or you might get burned!  Every step of this process has a due date, then a response date, and then something else comes up.  It really is out of your hands so thankfully we have faith in both of our agents; selling in Las Vegas and buying here in Phoenix.

The other frame completed is what I referred to as the 9/10 frame because of the size gouge needed to cut the design.  You can refresh your memory on it HERE if you’d like.  Both of these frames were gilded with the same gold leaf but this one had a red undercoat vs. the yellow on the other one.  Also, maybe due to the heat there was more faulting of the leaf and it didn’t seem to grab onto the size as well.  This resulted in a more “rustic look” for this frame.  The oil pigments used on this were in the olive green family, thankfully Diane supervised the mixing of it.  At first it was way to green and I would have never thought that a purple was needed to tone it down.  She gave me a lesson on color wheel theory which hopefully I’ll remember in the future.  Speaking of the future, another thing to explore once we’re settled is water gilding with 22kt. gold leaf.  Having done some in the past I’m familiar with the process but aware of the added expense but mostly the extra time needed to successfully accomplish that.  No comparison to precious gold gilding!

This frame used the same molding (Foster Planing Mill #95) and measures 11″ x 14″.  Both are available for sale but will be left in our storage place here.  Plan to bring them there this Saturday so if you’re interested in either of them let me know before then.  So for now, it’s back to Las Vegas to pack, have a garage sale, and hopefully do something in my shop.  Plan to bring back my portable bench and dovetail tools — it’s been too long since I’ve done that and I’m ready to leave the carving chisels here in storage.

Posted in Carving, Gilding, Picture Frames, Scottsdale Adventure | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Last Scottsdale Frame: #9/10 Design

Mostly Gilded --- #9/10 Gouge

Mostly Gilded — #9/10 Gouge

With the remaining, pre-joined frame we brought with us to Scottsdale I wanted a design that bridged Art Nouveau and western style and this seems to fit that requirement.  I’m calling it the #9/10 design because that was the size of gouge needed to evenly divide that convex area.  The picture above shows the gilding in progress; just a portion of it is ungilded.  It was a tricky process between the convex surface, straight cuts, and textured areas!

Designing a carving is the challenge.  I wanted to incorporate some sort of repeating pattern in that tricky, convex area of the molding.  Looking through the various Pinterest boards at Art Nouveau and Art Deco designs helped to come up with this.  If it were in a piece of reclaimed lumber I could see a western, desert type landscape in this frame once completed.  This frame is 11″ x 14″ so the short leg was done first.  To come up with  proportions that were pleasing to my eye, the initial design was drawn on paper.  Keeping both sides of the corner the same seemed correct but the center one design was increased proportionally.  Sometimes you need to use that math you thought you never would!  Turning the two sides into a fraction and dividing;  11/14 gave me about .78 so the center carving was increased by 75% and centered.  I think it worked. Here’s a slideshow of the design process:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Now it was time to carve this, challenging to carve a convex surface evenly, I suppose a back bent chisel of the correct sweep would have worked but not having one did the best I could.  By texturing the carved out area any discrepancies will be disguised.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Hold, pivot, and never lose sight of the line!

Hold, pivot, and never lose sight of the line!

A straight cut is needed where these elements joined the background area the will be removed.  A V-tool leaves a valley so that wouldn’t  work, I turned to this “specialty tool” I made from an old skew chisel and a golf ball.  You can see how it’s held to do outlines for the design, works well for me!  When using a knife to make the vertical cuts my hand gets in the way and I can’t see the line, this golf ball handle allows me to hold the tool vertically, pivot easily, and never lose sight of the line.  Maybe something like this would work for you too!

Notice that in picture 3, maintaining a straight line with the long bent parting tool was difficult, probably since that surface is convex.  Once all of the carving was complete, a tadpole sander with a v-shaped profile was used to straighten it out enough to look hand cut rather then mass produced, production work.  After a light sanding the frame was given a coat of red burnisher/sealer prior to the oil gilding process.  We have about a week and a half before the lease is up here in Scottsdale and we return to our home in Las Vegas.  I plan to at least get this frame sealed with shellac before then, can’t guarantee getting it toned but we’ll see!

Posted in Carving, Gilding, Picture Frames, Scottsdale Adventure | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gilding the Final Frame

Well for starters, this may not be the final frame since I have one left and a couple of weeks to go.  There is one more frame with this profile that measures 11″ x 14″.  As far as our move goes we signed a contract to sell the Las Vegas home Saturday (6/18) so now we need to work out close of escrow dates with our, hopefully, home here in Phoenix!  I do enjoy my carving but am very ready to work on furniture again.

Last Wednesday I attended the Arizona Fine Woodworkers meeting (my third) and shared a carved and gilded frame.  There was a lot of interest in it and the process of oil gilding which most knew very little about.  The teacher in me thought that okay, this is an opportunity to share my technique!  So,  for those of you that asked about it at the meeting, here is a short video where I lay one 5″ x 5″ composition gold leaf:

The texture of the leaf looks really “funky”, my thoughts are that the reflections from the shininess of the leaf is the cause.  As always my usual disclaimer that I don’t have hi-tech equipment so the quality may not be up to par — can’t complain about the price though!   Once the entire frame has been gilded it’s time to press the leaf firmly into the size.  The old word for size is “mordant” which I kind of like the sound of!  When laying leaf you want to develop your method and stick to it, mine is to begin at a left corner and then work my way around towards the right.  This way, the overlap of one leaf to the next is consistent.  The reason that’s important is for when you press it down firmly into the mordant.  For my technique, this needs to be done from the right side towards the left to avoid lifting the overlap and possibly ripping the leaf.  A little bit of that is nice in that it shows the lay lines.  See if these pictures help explain that:

Compare what the leaf looks like in the left and right hand pictures.  Notice how it’s smoother on the right?  That’s because the leaf has been pressed firmly into the mordant with a Norton dry dust cloth.  These also have a bit of abrasiveness which begins to tone down the brassiness of the composition gold.  Once the frame has dried for a minimum of 24 hours, 4/0 Liberon, oil-free steel wool is used to eliminate the brassiness and then the frame is protected with several coats of blond shellac.  This is applied with an air brush.

My preference is to use slow-set, oil based size which this time I did in the house rather than outside on the balcony.  Here in Phoenix we’re hitting record high temps of around 120 degrees so I was concerned about the size setting up way to quickly.  For this frame, the burnisher sealer chosen was yellow, also from LA GoldLeaf.  Here are a few pictures  of the completed frame:

Now it’s a waiting game, first for the frame to cure completely prior to toning and then for the folks we’re under contract with to purchase their home to accept the time frame we need for close of escrow — good Lord willing that will all come together.

Posted in Carving, Gilding, Picture Frames, Tutorial, YouTubeVideo | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments