Testing-Testing 1-2-3

You will notice changes to my site. 

I'm Working On It!

I am in the process of changing from the SquareSpace 5 platform I have been using to the new SquareSpace 6 platform. And this is my first entry on the new SS6 platform!

SquareSpace 6 is entirely re-written over version 5 so I am learning a whole new platform. I really liked SS5, but can see the benefits of using the new SS6, so I made the move. 

You will notice that the site is stripped down to the basic Blog page and About page. While I test drive the various templates, I want to deal with the least amount of details possible. So for the moment, pages will come and go, but everything will be back in the near future. 

Since I will be testing different templates you will see changes in the overall style once in a while. I am not only learning a new website platform, but I am also planning site layout so that it is clean and easy to navigate.

So, I have a few things to learn and all of this is going on while still running my business and trying to get content out for the woodworkers.

That is all I have for now, I just wanted to give everyone a heads up while I learn the new SS6. I even posted a photo just so I could try it. The image shows me working on the planer just as I am working on my website.

I appreciate any comments and feedback that I may consider, and it will also give me an opportunity to try the interaction experience on the new platform.

Thanks for your patience!

The Dog That Almost Wasn't

Gettin' My Butt Whupped!

I apologize for the inconsistent posts, I have not had time to keep up with them lately. My schedule has hit crunch time and my days on the job and in the shop are looong. That leaves me with no time to sit down at the computer. 

This isn't the good kind of "I can't keep up" because my business is growing and it is time to hire help, this is the bad kind of "I can't keep up" because I have simply fallen behind.

Schedules started colliding a few weeks ago when I got sick and couldn't keep up production. Now I am just working my butt off to catch up and I am determined to do that. I am working both on the jobsite and in the shop. I leave the client's home by dinner time, but I am working in the shop, doing bids, and design until 10pm - 1 am. That makes for a long day.

Some projects can be moved back, some are driven by a deadline, and for some other contractors are waiting on things to get done so they can do their part. This is the reality of business sometimes and it is something to keep in mind if you are thinking of "going pro" with your woodshop.

A Near Tragedy...

One of the projects that I am working on is Lucy's bench. To maintain privacy of the client, I named the project after one of their dogs - Lucy. This is in part for privacy, instead of using their family name, and also because I love Lucy. 

Lucy and the old bench.Lucy is a toy poodle and, if I remember correctly, is 14 years old. She is half blind, deaf, and weighs about as much as a piece of notebook paper.

If you take a look at Lucy standing on the old bench, take note of the vents below her on the face of the bench. These are important, because the one she is standing over is a return air shaft that goes all the way to the basement. 

I have the old bench torn out now and normally have simple frames with screen covering the gaping HVAC duct work holes. This keeps Lucy from falling in and keeps the curious cats out as well. But as I work on the flooring and ductwork I remove the safety screens.

While I was down on the floor, working on the floor patch, Lucy came up on my right. She was trying to squeeze between me and the gaping holes. Well, you know where this is going, just as I shifted my body and happened to notice her at the same time, she got bumped into the gaping duct opening. 

In my youth I may have been able to claim cat-like reflexes, but not so much now that I am older. But those reflexes returned just when I needed them and I snatched the end of her hind leg as she tumbled head-first into the opening. Yep, it was that close - tragedy averted. 

Gotta Get Back To The Job

The moral of the story is to always take extra steps to insure the safety of the client's animals. If you ever get with a group of contractors, ask about animals getting trapped in the jobs, there will be plenty of stories.

Well, I have to check on some custom fabricated HVAC fittings and continue finishing the metal screen inserts for the bench. I will leave you with a few production photos.


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Listen Up - Architecture Speaks

The Challenge of Design

Designing is one of the most challenging aspects of a project. To get ideas for my projects, I read a lot but I also have 13 years of remodeling experience to draw from. This is significant because it means I have seen a lot of buildings and have been intimately involved with them through my remodel work. While working on them, I paid attention to both the design and construction details.

Original bench.

With Lucy's Bench, the project that I am working on, I tore out a poorly designed bench, bookcase, and handrail which had been inflicted in the 70's. There was dark stained oak plywood and HVAC vents screwed to the face of the bench. I knew I could do better than this.

Let The House Speak To You

When I am looking for design ideas, most often the house will tell me what to do if I pay attention. This particular house was built in the 1920's and originally carried the trim details popular in the Arts & Crafts style. Some of those details are gone, yet many remain. To fill in the blanks, I rely on experience and research.

One thing to understand is that there is, almost always, no single right answer. There are always a few solutions that will be acceptable and, ultimately, the client has the final say. I educate and advise but I never force anything on them.  

It is also important to remember that personal taste is subjective. At times, clients have picked what I thought was less than the best answer, but they have never really "blown it" and they have always been very happy with the end result. 

One thing that I hate hearing a contractor or designer say is "It will grow on you." That statement bothers me because it is a red flag that they forced their decision onto a reluctant homeowner and it uses the passage of time to get it behind them. The more time that passes, the more likely the homeowner will just live with it, not entirely pleased with the result but not acting on their dissatisfaction.

Getting Down From My Soapbox...

Full Cloverleaf Perforated MetalWell, I will get off my soapbox now because I really just wanted to share a cool detail and a lesson with you.

I determined that I wanted the vents in the bench to be replaced with a more accurate representation of the period so I ordered perforated metal with a full cloverleaf pattern. 

I had explained to the clients that the full cloverleaf pattern was common "back in the day" for a house in this style. They shook their heads in general compliance as they trust me and agreed it would look nice. 

New bench design. A few days later the homeowners were doing some painting work in the master bedroom and they called me up to ask for some advice. I went up and took a look at the situation and gave my thoughts.

Before I left the room, I noticed a heat vent in the back corner of the closet and it had the same full cloverleaf pattern in the metal. I thought that was pretty cool because it confirmed to the client that I knew what I was talking about. And, while I am not doing a historical restoration, I am being mindful of the period as I designed the project. That was one of those "success" moments that I really enjoy.

The Moral Of The Story

For woodworkers, design ideas should come from places other than woodworking books and magazines. Architecture is a great source of ideas. In fact, furniture is most often designed to complement architecture so that means it is a great source for design ideas.

This topic can fill volumes, but the short lesson for us today is to pay attention to the buildings around you. Take notice of both commercial and residential buildings, especially the old ones. Take notes of the architectural details inside and out. The buildings have a lot to say.

For me, I develop personal relationships with buildings as I work on them so I need to listen to what they say. For the average woodworker, they also have information to share. They have style and design elements on display and great examples of proportional relationships that work well together. Look at these elements as detail and as an aggregate whole. This information will help you design both freestanding and fitted furnishings. 

That is all I have for now. 

Your friend in the shop,

Todd A. Clippinger.

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