Monday, October 26, 2015
I've never met a wood worker who hasn't kept just about every scrap of wood, piece of steel, dull saw blade, or broken tool. We, ourselves were guilty of such a crime, and this was the week that we corrected our hoarding ways.
Dumpsters filled, walls ripped down, and in a matter of a couple days, we turned a scrap yard into a real functional work shop.
I've always loved the shop, even in it's chaotic state, but now...it's a real pleasure to build in.
This conference table was our first build in the new configuration.
It was very liberating to be able to flip a 12' piece of steel around and not take half of the shop down in the process.
I think that this table is defined by our new surroundings. Sleek and functional, clean but still rustic.
One of the cool features of this simple table is steel "L". Big fucking deal, right?
The "L" is for the company who we built the table for. They're business is based around innovation, so we had to do something innovative.
Here's where you're thinking "ok, the steel "L" is cool and all, but it's not really innovative in the least".
Right you are my friends...in and of itself, it is not remotely innovative.
The innovation part is how it's mounted on the table.
We could've mortised it in, welded bolts to the bottom, screwed it to the table and the weld over the screw heads...Nope to all of those methods.
We used magnets.
Lets say this company had a big client like NIKE coming in. They could very simply replace the "L" with a steel NIKE logo.
If I walked into a meeting, and someone had the MAKERS logo on their conference table, I would think "these mother fuckers baked us a cake....and I LOVE CAKE."
You see, building furniture is simple, but taking something simple and making it unique is the hard part.
Making something that no one else has is the daily challenge.
It's a giant world filled with smarter people then you or me, fortunately it's polluted with as many if not more dumb fucks.
The name of the game here is to try to out smart the smart people.
"TRY" is the operative word here.
As long as you try to stay ahead of the smart people, you've all ready surpassed the dumb fucks, so you're already ahead of the game.
I'm running late this morning, we were all sick this weekend.
It's one thing when your kid is sick and you feel fine, so playing nurse is pretty easy. When everyone has the bug, it's just that much more exhausting.
Stay healthy my friends.
Monday, October 19, 2015
It's not often that I get a chance to start off a blog post like that, but indeed, me and my little dude rode a camel.
Sunday we went to a pumpkin patch.
I gotta say, I don't get out in public very often, but the pumpkin patch is a yearly ritual that I truly enjoy.
It's amazing to me that my son can recall various pumpkin patch events from previous years. He'll recall stuff from when he was 2 or 3 and it just goes to show that you're doing a good job as a parent when these really great memories are able to stick in your kids brains.
This year was kinda monumental for him.
He went through the "haunted barn"...twice.
The first attempt, he bitched out right as we got to the entrance.
We didn't try to force him or convince him, we just chalked up a 30 minute wait in line to time wasted as we politely retracted through the line.
It bothered him that he bitched out. He stood there looking at that barn, stoic and defeated. We coaxed him away with the promise of trying again later.
As we walked through the rest of the attractions, he was proclaiming his determination to go through the barn. He couldn't really enjoy any of the other activities until we tried the haunted barn again.
This time, he and his mom waited in line while I quietly sat on a bench under a witch on a broom.
A little while later my son comes running up to me with pride beaming from his face. He did it...kind of.
Mom had to carrying him through, but he made it.
Immediately we went back to the haunted barn line, but this time it was my turn while mom sat under the witch.
We're standing in that line and he's rambling about what's to come for me, and I tell him "bro, I'm not gonna carry you through like momma...you're gonna walk."
I waited and expected some protest, but was given none...until it was our turn to enter.
As we entered the barn, I could feel the fear in my sons hand, and I had to give him a little tug to get his feet moving forward, but once we were in motion, he put on his bravest face for his old man and muscled through.
Fear will crush you.
Fear will cripple you.
Fear will rob you of your potential.
As you all know, I like to use wood and steel in the furniture making process.
The format is usually wood...with steel accents...repeat.
On this particular build, we decided that it was time for the wood to ride in the fucking back seat for a change.
We had to build an executive desk/work table for a client.
We had already built a ton of furniture for them, so I really wanted to switch it up.
We purchased a sheet of 11 gauge steel for another project, and one morning I had an idea for a rusted steel top.
I wanted the corners of the table to kinda waterfall, but we don't own a brake, or a power hammer, or an english wheel.
So I bolted a piece of pipe to the work table, clamped the sheet, and beat the shit out of the corners with a hammer until they did what I wanted them to do.
Next, we rusted the top. By "rusting the top" I mean spray a bunch of household products on it and then stare at a steel top for the next 2 hours as our rusting cocktail did it's magic.
When it came to the base, I wanted to go simple and clean so that the rusted top steals the show.
I'm always a little afraid to try something new.
My worst case in this situation was that I'd have to go buy another sheet of steel and make a wood top, whoop-di-fucking-doo.
If we never tried to make a top like this because we were afraid it wouldn't work or we'd fuck it up, well, how would anything ever get done or progress?
In the case of my son and the haunted barn, his worse case is that he shit his pants. hell, Zack is on the verge of shitting his pants everyday around 1pm.
My point is...if your worse case scenario is that your gonna fucking die...don't do it. If it doesn't involve dying...give it a whirl...you might learn something.
Monday, October 12, 2015
First up to bat is a kitchen table made completely from a demolished Chicago back porch.
If you're from Chicago, you'll have fond memories of scurrying up and down these structures as a kid.
Most of them were structural death traps coated with layer after layer of shitty gray paint.
They were a Chicago standard until some frat boys had a party and a bunch of people plummeted to their death in the mid to late 90's.
That's when the city went ape shit and made everyone tear those monsters down.
Apparently Zacks neighbor managed to dodge the wrath of the city inspectors until very recently.
Zack loaded up his truck with as much of the porch as he could. It didn't sit in the shop for very long before we dug into it.
The result of inhaling a lot of lead paint dust and shaping a lot of rotted wood was a clients kitchen table.
The next challenge was turning a piano into a Dj booth.
The client didn't have much of a budget, but we took it on because....well, we've never turned a piano into a Dj booth...imagine that.
We had to make a steel cradle to get it to a workable height for a DJ as well as make it more mobile because the original piano wheels sucked.
We removed the top of the piano, flipped it, and re attached it as a shelf to hold records, cocaine, drinks, etc.
We cut out the front of the piano to expose it's inner workings, and framed that out with this giant silver picture frame material.
Lastly...a 1/2" thick piece of tempered glass to hold the turntables and mixer.
Friday, I was taking Max to see his grandma.
On our way, I stopped at a friends store.
I was chatting with my friend for a moment when he sprung on me that he had visited a doctor and was diagnosed with depression.
I was taken aback by this news and it's been festering in my head all weekend.
This guy has a successful business, surrounded by family, and from the outside seems perfectly happy.
I don't know depression.
I'm probably a great candidate for depression, but no matter how shitty things get for me, I always feel....I always feel pretty fuckin' good.
I'm in a constant state of struggle, but in my mind, that struggle is what keeps my blood pumping.
I feel as if shit got real easy, THAT'S when I'd be depressed.
I'm no doctor, but my friends news prompted me to utilize GOOGLE, and to my discovery depression isn't always situational, it's often chemical.
I hate doctors, and I only visit them if I'm facing imminent death. From my experiences with them, they mostly just offer up a battery of pills.
If I was diagnosed with depression, I'm the type to try everything under the sun before I take a happy pill.
Diet, exercise, yoga, vacation, skydiving, jerk off more...whatever.
It bothered my that my friend was depressed. I wanted to rattle off a bunch of Dr. Brian remedies for his ailment, but I just listened to him.
I listened because I care. Sometimes people need to speak to get things off their mind more then they're looking for you to rattle off a bunch of hypothetical solutions to their problem.
Shortly after my son was born, I learned from him that life is precious and short. I also discovered that if I'm positive and generally happy, those around me have a better shot at happiness.
I can't fix my friend. That probably bothers me more than anything.
I am glad that he took a step at correcting something he knew wasn't right about himself. That takes guts to do and is probably the hardest part for most people.
If you're not "chemically" depressed, you have the power to make the changes necessary to dig yourself out of a funk. Chemically...I got nothing. I don't know how that shit works, but if you're in that boat, it's up to you to figure out how to row that motherfucker.
I know this is a long post, but most of you lucky bastards have the day off. Not me. We have a long list of builds we're tackling one at a time, so HI-HO, HI-HO, it's off to work I go.
A special apology to my brother Kevin McQuaid, as I promised to try to work the word "butt-plug" into todays post, I'll make it up to you another time with something equally, if not more offensive.
Monday, October 5, 2015
It ended up in my living room, where my girl took ownership of it, and I ended up back at my kitchen table office. How the fuck does that happen? I don't know, but what I do know is that the old saying "happy wife, happy life" reigns true.
At the same time I was building that standing desk, Zack had made a base for another style of standing desk. As things happen sometimes, you get caught up in the business at hand and things get left undone.
Well, fast forward to last week, when the guys from LIMITLESS came to our shop to check on the progress of their 6 backboard desks.
They saw the unfinished base, and inquired about what it was, and when we explained that it was a "standing desk" they were like "duuuude...we NEED one of those!".
It just so happened that Zack yanked a old fucked up oak top from the building dumpster a couple weeks ago, so once i scraped off all the disgusting gum from underneath the top, and refinished it...it was a very quick build.
The second photo is a picture of the 6 desks we built in record time for the same client.
I understand that producing multiple pieces is necessary if you need to do things like eat or drive a car or live in a house, but half way through this build, I was thinking to myself "man, I miss falling in love with a piece".
I love the feeling of those one-off pieces where they consume you. You stare, and pace, and do all these little details to make a piece really warm and unique, and when it's all said and done, you get this warm feeling in your belly and you quietly think to yourself "how in the fuck did I do that?"
Not a whole lot of that when you knock out 6 desks in 9 days.
We pride ourselves on our care. It's just a whole different mindset to a build. Deadlines and budget dictate how you're going to go about things, and those factors forbid you from finger banging a piece. No dinner and a movie, no backseat foreplay, you go straight to business.
It's cold and unfulfilling. like a one night stand.
The last photo is the crate nightstands.
We had done one for a client in NewYork, and I had posted a photo, to a very surprising response.
It's a re-creation of a vintage crate, except it's modified to be night stand height with a shelf.
Simple, affordable, and pretty cool.
I love old vintage crates, so the fun part for me was aging these to look vintage.
I never would have thought that we would get so many inquiries about something so simple.
We most likely will be making these in a standard size and adding them to the MAKERSCHICAGO etsy shop.
Here we are at another Monday, which is a good thing, because if you didn't make it to Monday, that would mean your dead, and it's really difficult to get things done when your dead.
As long as we're alive, we're in it together, so make it happen.