Kit and Ace lighting

This fixture was designed and built by me for the new Kit and Ace store at 208 Newbury St. in Boston. They wanted a unique lighting design that incorporated several of their brand elements: white washed ash, copper, and the color blue. The initial inspiration for my design came from mobiles. I knew that the fixture would be hanging and that this would be a good opportunity to build something sculptural that explored physical and visual balance. This was also my first attempt at steam bending, a traditional and exciting technique for shaping wood.  

My English workbench

This is my version of Chris Schwarz English workbench which can be found in his book Workbenches. I made a few changes based off of other designs I had seen. I loved Chris' bench but new I had to make it my own.

First, I doubled up the thickness on the top and aprons. In addition to the added weight and rigidity, it makes me less worried about the dog holes getting wallowed out. The added layer on the aprons also becomes a big dado for the legs.

Second, it is a split-top bench. I saw this on Mike Siamsen's benches and really liked it. This allows for an added planing stop as well as extra clamping options. The gap is 1", wide enough to fit a small F-style clamp through. Holdfasts are amazing, but I don't want the thing to be riddled with holes.

Third, the bearers and end caps are in sliding dovetails. Did I mention I wanted this thing to be beefy?

Fourth, I used a ratcheting system for the leg vice's parallel guide. Will Meyers used this on one of his Moravian benches (which is gorgeous by the way). Check it out here. This is exactly the kind of thing I like. I was planning to add a release lever like he did, but instead found that a magnet will hold the stop up hands free. No lever needed. 

All in all, I love the bench. I have been using it for several months now, and it is a champ. The aprons are great for work holding. The whole thing is rock solid. I know I will be using it for many years to come. 

leanChair Prototype

This is a prototype I built for Ramak International. 

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leanChair is a simple chair/desk set for students in third world countries, built by local carpenters and sourced from local materials. The design of leanChair was prompted by the need for a straightforward, template-based approach, with only mechanical and glue connections. The design, and structural stability of the set targets local carpenters’ experience, availability of basic tools and a universal approach to woodworking. The set forgoes screws for simple dowel connections. The set could be replicated easily and will work with plywoods, hardwoods, and or a combination of both. The table top and desk top are similar in dimensions. The legs are tapered to allow for a more compact storage if needed.
2015 Copyright - Ramak International

New England Home Show

This past weekend I had the opportunity to exhibit some of my furniture at the New England Home Show as part of the Furniture Project. It was a great experience and my first time showing work in that kind of setting. There were six furniture makers in our booth helping spread the word about custom furniture. People are always surprised when you tell them you actually built the piece they are looking at.  

My little setup.

My little setup.

Every year the Furniture Project chooses a theme for the show and invites furniture makers to build a piece. The theme this year was seating, and luckily I had just finished my cherry sofa. Actually, I sewed on the last cushion's zipper the day I had to drop it off. Nothing like a tight deadline to help you finish a project. 

I also got the chance to give a demo at the show Saturday. I hand cut some dovetails, ripped some boards with my old Disston saw, and hand planed some smooth edges. It drew a lot of attention (especially the hammering), and I was able to answer a bunch of questions from attendees. Hopefully the next time one of them needs to buy some furniture they will think about going custom.

Thanks Eli Cleveland for setting it up and all the other makers, Evan Court, Bob Miller, Steve Skillins, Jay Denham, and Matt Arsenault. It was a great weekend. 

 

Do you know someone who needs a jewelry box for the Holidays?

This is a jewelry box that I just finished recently. It should be one of many more to come. This particular piece is made of ash and wenge woods with a sliding tray and hand made wood hinges. It is finished with a satin oil blend which is smooth to the touch. 

What is your favorite detail? The small dividers for rings and earrings in the sliding tray, the black felt lining, or the wenge finger joint hinges? Let me know! And if you would like to purchase something like this for someone special I would be happy to create a unique one just for them. 

And now for the process.

Drafting board

I have been in need of a small drafting board that I can use at my workbench. So I made one. The walnut and maple square hugs the sides of the board and stays parallel while still sliding easily. Thumb screws in the feet pinch the board holding them in place. The feet can be removed for storage as well as flipping the board. This way you can use either side. Small brackets hold all three pieces on the wall when not in use.

Available on Etsy

A new project posted! (Entryway Storage Shelf)

I just added a new item to my Projects section. To see that page click here.

P.S. This item is for sale. If you are interested email me at alexjaynesdesign@gmail.com.

It is a shelf designed to mount to the wall by your front door. It has a drawer and three pegs where you can hang a few things you use often, perhaps a bag, an umbrella and a jacket. The unit is made of walnut, butternut, and poplar with hand cut dovetails and hand carved pegs.

This was a nice opportunity to build something without any outside influences. I had a some scraps of wood and basic idea in my head with no client. This was my first attempt at half blind dovetails (joining the drawer face to the sides) and my second attempt at through dovetails (on the right side of the main body). Thanks Mom and Dad for my great dovetail saw!

Dovetailing equipment

Dovetailing equipment

Workbench

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Slowly but surely my new shop has been coming together. I managed to build a fairly basic workbench based on this design from Popular Woodworking.  Much time was spent debating different bench designs and features. I knew I wanted something fairly simple, inexpensive and sturdy, and this seemed like the best fit. The base is made from construction grade douglas fir 4x4's, while the top is a beech butcher block countertop from Ikea laminated to two layers of MDF.

Dimensions are 2' wide by 6' long and 37" tall. That is taller than most workbenches by a few inches, but I'm 6'2" and have a tendency to hunch over. I figured a higher surface might help my posture. Who knows if it will work, and if I decide it is to tall I can take a little off the bottoms of the legs.  

One of my favorite features is that the legs are flush with the edges of the top. This means that I can clamp something in the face vise, and it will be supported all the way to the ground. This makes working on the ends of long boards much easier as the board is more stable. It also leaves me the option of adding a leg vise if I ever want to get fancy. 

So far it has been great. It is solid, around 250 lb. if I had to guess. At some point I'll add some dog holes and maybe a tail vise, but for now I am going to use it to build something else.