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Somewhere in years past Julie and I acquired 6 Rex furniture ladder back chairs. These were hand me downs from other family members and they have stood us well. Rex furniture was a business that operated in Stockbridge, Ga, just south of Atlanta. They closed their doors many years ago but there is a lot of that furniture in the surrounding area. In all the years I was making and repairing furniture I never was required to repair a Rex chair. That speaks volumes.
When the fiber rush in our chairs was breaking and looking quite worn we decided to keep these chairs and perform a refurb on them. Good chairs are expensive and these Rex chairs to were too good to replace.
One by one my yougest son Marc would bring a chair into the shop, cut out the old rush, pull the staples, sand and prep them for painting. Traditionally chairs were very often painted. Turnings show up better on painted chairs and I was reminded of this when I began painting these chairs satin black. The side chair seats received a basket weave of beige Shaker tape or lasting. Now these chairs look better than they have in years and the seat is considerably more comfortable with the Shaker tape.
Pressing Pins and Testing a Recently Completed Winter Panel Plane, Could There be a Better Time of Year for a Winter Panel Plane?
This plane has the same features as the Winter Smoother I posted about just a few weeks ago, it's just a larger format plane. Macassar Ebony wooden bits and brass with a patina'd finish. The acquisition of double diffused soft box lights has me back in the game of shooting shop video. There are a couple of instructional type videos I've been meaning to shoot. Maybe the new lighting will inspire me to get those completed.
Besides plane making I have a couple woodworking projects in process at this time. Julie has reminded me that some of these projects have been, supposedly, in process for quite some time and that I need to get some of these finished. The reed in our dining chair seats is breaking down and I have one ready for re-hab. The old reed is removed and a new black finish has been applied to the chair frame. We're just waiting on Shaker Tape seating material to arrived in order to complete the new seat in that chair. I've watched several videos on this process so I'm ready to have to a go.
Back to the Winter Panel Plane:
The Macassar ebony is quite hard and it's of those woods that can cause one to use a few expletives in the process of making it what you want it to be. Of course most woods that are very challenging to work also yield a nice reward for perseverance, for when the finish flows on you're remind of why you chose that particular material.
This tool features an 0-1 tool steel body with a ground finish on the interior and a lapped satin finish on the exterior of the plane body. The brass lever cap, screw and knob seat has a patina'd finish applied and is then oiled and cooked overnight in the finishing kiln to ensure a thorough cure of the oil finish. It's a unique look and also offers the added benefit of the brass actually having a finish and this cuts down on the maintenance required to keep brass bright or even satin which for me is the preferable way to have bright brass. Highly polished brass shows finger prints so readily it's just not a reasonable finish to have on a tool that's meant to be used.
Each plane also presents a challenge to machine parts to very tight tolerances and most people that pursue similar work are typically striving to make the next plane better than the previous tools. You can call it an obsessive compulsion, but believe me it comes with the mindset for doing this work. I was once giving a presentation to the Athens Georgia Woodworkers club. After my presentation a Sociology professor at U.G.A. approached me and said "Ron, you may be one of the most down to earth, obsessive, compulsive people I'ver ever met",....I thought about that just a bit trying to decide if this statement was a compliment or what, I finally just replied "thank you" and decided to ponder that comment on the way home..........
We even spent our 40th wedding anniversary at HandWorks this past year and thought nothing of it except that it was very fitting to celebrate among the people that have meant so much to us.
Unfortunately you have to take the bad with the good and this week we've received reports of the rapid decline of our wonderful friend Fred West. Many of you saw the tribute to Fred not long ago on the Lost Art Press blog. None of us had a clue that things would change so rapidly for Fred. We've been told that at this point it's just a matter of time before Fred will be leaving this world. He's at home resting comfortably.
When I was last in Fred's presence we were sitting in the family room at the home of Jameel Abraham and family the day after HandWorks. Don Williams was giving a pictorial review of the occasion when he performed the restoration of the Mace of the United States House of Representatives. Fred and the rest of us were very privileged to witness this personal presentation and it was a special time for all present.
My first inclination was to travel to West Chester, Pa. to see Fred but given the level of pain medication that Fred is being given he most likely would not know I was present. Many of us will suffer from this same dilemma and for those I suggest you just think back to last time you spent time with Fred and cherish the memory of our wonderful friend. I'm sure that will be quite okay with Fred, he was always a giver and he did so graciously with no expectations.
I hate blogging with a heavy heart and presenting bad news is never fun, but like I stated earlier......you have take the bad with the good.
At approximately 2:00 pm on this day Fred passed surrounded by Friends, Family........and his tools