Monday, January 26, 2015

"COMING UP NEXT ON THE ELLEN SHOW..."


This actually started out as a wall mount media cabinet for a client.
 One of the components for the cabinet was too deep.
Shit happens, it wasn't anyones fault, but when life hands you lemons...make beef stew.
 Instead of letting it sit there or chopping it up and using it for something else, I decided to expand on it.
 There were a bunch of 2" square stock scraps from a sign that the guys I work with are making, so being the cockroach that I am, I used those scraps for a set of legs.
 I came up with a cool way to mount the legs, and it got my brain thinking that if I had one piece of machinery, I could do a website and just sell table legs to all the D.I.Y moms out there so they could complete their little projects while the kids are at school and "WOW" their friends with their craftiness. I'm a pretty helpful kind of guy, but fuck em', let them figure out how to turn grandmas underwear drawer into a coffee table on their own.
 At the end of it all, this was a rectangle with cool legs, and angle iron scraps...not really a show stopper. I went back into the dumpster and salvaged a couple of crates that were thrown out from an evicted tenant in the building.
 Like I said before, I'm a helpful kind of guy, and I probably offended a slew of stay at home moms who are addicted to HGTV, so I'm gonna teach you how to make new wood look like it's 80 years old in 5 minutes by using the same method I used to age these crates.
 Get yourself some walnut tinted Danish oil and a can of ebony stain.
DO NOT shake or stir the ebony stain, let the pigment fall to the bottom of the can. Dump the Danish oil in a cup, then add the undisturbed ebony stain at a ratio of 2 parts to 1. Dip a brush in said mixture and slather it upon your piece. Take a rag and rub where you think natural fading would occur and let dry...that's it. You're welcome.
 My mom called me at work to tell me that Ellen Degeneress was doing a show on tv about regular Joe's making furniture, and she insisted that I submit my work for the networks consideration.
 Could you imagine me on TV?
"Mr. Breclaimed, this is a very interesting table, can you tell me about it?"
"Abso-fucking-lutely I'll tell ya about it....so..the gas company tore a giant fucking hole in my street in which when I peered into this crater, I could see fucking China. Anyway, they dropped off a giant pallet of hickory and oak posts to shore up the hole, and since they spent the next 3 days just staring into the hole and not doing any work...I stole as much wood off the pallet that I possibly could. When I took this newly re-purposed wood to the shop, I proceeded to cut my mortises with a circular saw that had been clearly left outside for the last 30 years because the rusted blade would barely rotate. Then I couldn't find a god damned chisel, so I proceeded to use my speed square to clean the mortise, and blammo...instant table, not bad for a piece of shit eh, you old dancing fool."
 So mom, I'm gonna save you the embarrassment and keep my Frankenstein looking ass off of the television.
 To sum it all up, I had fun turning an honest mistake into a media cabinet.
Fun and learning. That's what I personally got out of this piece
 And that's enough for me.

Monday, January 19, 2015

UGLY WORK


Saturday morning I had planned on knocking out my ugly work.
 By "ugly work" I mean filling orders.
It's not creative work, and to be honest, I obsess when I have orders to fill.
 "I should wash my truck...(but I have hooks to make)", "I have to do laundry...(but I have hooks to make)", "Max wants to go see Paddington Bear...(but I have hooks to make)", and the voice in my head doesn't shut up until I go make the fucking hooks.
 So at 6:30am on Saturday, I quieted the voices.
I can't get into Salvage One until 9am, and I had to pick up some tools from my shop there, so it all worked out like a ballet of time management, because by time I had finished all the hooks and drove over to Salvage One, it was 9:01.
 On the way there I had dropped my phone in the truck, and somehow physics got bent inside the cab of my vehicle. I had to retrieve my phone from the back of the cab and in order to do that I had to pull out a years worth of tools and hardware being chucked in the back seat. In my "unearthing" I had uncovered this rusty hay trolley that my guy Zack had picked up for me when he went home for Thanksgiving.
 I always liked those hay trolleys, and the only thing I've ever seen made from them are light fixtures.
It has lived in the back of my truck for this long because I didn't want to make a light fixture out of it. It's been done and done well over and over, so where is the fun in making something that has been done a million times.
 I brought it in to Salvage One just for the sake of getting it out of my truck, but when I plopped it on the table, I felt obligated to start fucking with it.
I started by taking a wire brush and just knocking off the loose rust, then I started rocking it back and forth and thought I would weld a track for it to make it stable, then I tack welded the wheels to the track so it wouldn't slide back and forth. Before I knew it, I was in full blown work mode.
 So now it's on it's way to being a small bench or side table.
Things work out like that sometimes, and usually the end result is  pretty bad ass.
 It's freestyle creativity. I mean a bench or a side table sound pretty boring, but it's all about how you got there.
 The key to this willie-nillie building is knowing when to walk away from it. You can revel in what your brain farted out, but you have to know when to let it marinate so you can build off of the proverbial initial fart.
 I was just grateful that a day that was dedicated to ugly work also made way for a chance to get loose.
 At the end of it all, I still had time to take Max and his best friend Sofia to go see the Paddington Bear movie.
 It's days like this past Saturday that I lay in bed and kinda look back on my life, and through all the fumblings of what  life chucks at us, and 42 years of it, I've finally either figured out, or have become aware of where my happiness lives.

Monday, January 12, 2015

LIKE A VULTURE TO ROADKILL




Like a vulture to roadkill, I've been picking away at the "Gertrude" desk.
 Slowly but surely it's all coming together.
I wanted to make this desk a piece where there is always something to look at and always a new detail to discover.
 Anywhere two pieces of wood come together on this desk is a hand made, hand bent steel gusset.There's a hook hidden beneath the top for hanging a computer bag or whatever it is one would want to hang. I even went as far as making my own bolts for mounting the top.
 The top is actually pretty interesting itself. I joined a bunch of standard Home Depot 2X8's for the desk top, then I painted the top with enamel safety red, sanded and distressed it with 50 grit, stained it with ebony stain, sanded that with 80 grit, watered down the red enamel and ragged that on, sanded that with 220 grit, ragged on walnut danish oil over that and sanded that while it was still wet with 220 grit, and in 3 days, after the oil has cured, I'll apply an oil based polyurethane.
 Have you ever ordered something online and it's kinda pricey, and when it arrives you're disappointed with what you got for how much you paid? I have, and it's a really sucky feeling.
 When someone buys something from me, I want them to feel good about writing that check.
I want them to feel as if they have to write the check to secure the piece as soon as possible out of fear that I might change my mind at any given moment and decide to keep the piece.
 I'm a weapon.
I'm a weapon because when it comes to my craft, I'm not money motivated.
 If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times..."fuck your money".
What a customer need not know, but will know, because I just put it on the interweb, is that with or without their commission, I would have built something anyway. That's what I do. I make shit all the time. I make shit for no reason or purpose other then satisfying my urge to create.
 Some asshole could come up to me and say "I'll pay you $1000 to make me a chair", well, that's real nice and all but I could go whack in a hardwood floor for $1500, barely do any math, bang it out in a day, without thinking about what is i'm doing, then go home,buy my kid some Legos, get my girl a handbag, buy myself some shit I don't need and still be financially better off.
 Love what you do and you're a military grade weapon of mass destruction.
You can buy a piece, but you can't buy passion.
 Over the last year or so, most of the things I buy are from a hand made source. I buy these things because I have an addiction to quality and craftsmanship. There are certain things that you can just tell are infused with a passion and pure love of craft. I mean, you can honestly tell that someone really gave a fuck. That's priceless to me.
 In my work I try to convey that same message. I CARE about what comes from my hand and goes into yours.
 Even the railroad spike hooks...I could honestly make them in my sleep, but each one stands on it's own, they're simple, but they're from my hand, and they're right.
 My point is...if money is your only motivator...hang it up and go watch TV.
People like me, we pay for heart, and my customers...they pay for heart too.
 It's money well spent.

Monday, January 5, 2015

ALWAYS BUILDING


The Holidays have come and gone.
 For many people I know, the holidays equate to a 2 week vacation. In this house...the machine doesn't stop, it merely pauses.
 My girl has been training at a new place for the last month, while holding down jobs at 2 other places.
 It's a ridiculous schedule that no one should ever have to endure, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
 The way a family works is...when one person is down, the troops rally to keep things moving.
The downside to all of this is that my work suffers.
 I haven't been able to build my stuff on the weekends because while she is at training, it's just me and my boy.
 I chose this time to spend cultivating Max's building spirit with the wonders of LEGOS.
At first, it was me building the LEGO things for him, then it was him looking at the instructions and handing me the correct pieces, then it was him assembling the parts and me linking them together, and now I watch him build.
 I knew my job was complete when last night I watched him frantically search for the correct instruction booklet so he could figure out how to repair his LEGO snowplow.
 As much as I wanted to jump in and just put the snowplow pieces back together for him, I watched him suffer, in fact...I made him suffer. It broke my heart. He looked me in the eye for help, without saying a word, and I turned my back on him. I turned my back on him FOR him.
 He struggled, he got frustrated, but he figured it out on his own, and we celebrated his success. I watched it all click in his little 5 year old brain, and I watched as a new chapter of independence was ignited inside this little man.
 Hopefully things will get back to normal around here this week, and I can get back to my projects, but I have to say that the time I've spent away from building my stuff in order to spend time building my son has been amazing.
 At the end of the day I'm really cultivating a highly skilled indentured servant.
There will be a day when he'll be in the shop with his old man, sanding,planing,chiseling, routing, creating, discovering, learning, becoming....becoming a man, becoming a good man.
 After all, my son is my greatest creation, and he'll definitely be my longest build ever.
It's just like building furniture, you can only hope that it's gonna turn out how you envisioned it.