One After Another

Steps; that’s what this post is about. They are taken one after another. Right now, I feel a little like Vince Lombardi who in his opening speech to the Green Bay Packers is reported to have said, “We’re going back to the basics: this is a football.”  One of the players is likewise reported to have asked, “Could you go a little slower, Coach?”  Of course, steps are taken one after another, but what they are and what order they come in is not always apparent. The picture for today is an octagonal easel made of walnut, cherry, maple and bloodwood. It’s always been fascinating to me to watch people’s reactions when they first see these. Their first question is always, “How do you make those?” It’s as though I have unveiled a magic trick, and like all magic tricks, when it’s explained, it’s commonsensical and a little boring.  When I first designed these, I was looking for something mathematical with an organic twist. I used a common device to determine the width of the different strips. You take the widest one (in this case the walnut) and multiply its width by .618. Then you multiply the width of the cherry by the same factor, etc.  After that you cut strips ¾ of an inch thick to each of the dimensions. The ¾ gives you a thickness you can plane down to 5/8 after you have glued everything. This makes them flat and removes the extra glue bubbles. You glue your strips together, let them sit for a few hours (I usually wait overnight) and plane them to thickness. Next, I cut a 30 degree angle on the bloodwood side. I then cut them into pieces using a jig I made for my miter saw. Since there are eight of them to the easel, I use 22 ½ degrees for my angle. I select one out of eight to make a ¼ slot on the angled side. This gives me a way to anchor the whole thing onto its stand. I select three others to cut a leaf like shape into it. I connect them (making sure the leaf shapes do not occur on the bottom or next to each other) by routing a ¼ “ slot in the sides and inserting a piece of wood with some glue.  And so it goes.  These steps were not handed down from the mountain top. I sat at my bench and thought them out. You might even be able to find a better way to get here (or a way to get somewhere else). Also the kind of tools you have at hand would affect your decision making. All of this is to say that a good craftsperson, as far as I am concerned, knows what steps he or she will follow.