February 2007


President's corner

Next meeting

Last meeting


This 'n That


Last Meeting

Our January meeting started with Announcements. Bill Henzel explained that the Board of Directors met recently and decided that in order to speed up the club meeting, all planned announcements will be submitted in writing to the President prior to the meeting. A form will be provided and the President will make the announcements.

Our Rafflemeister Stan Booker described the door prizes which were glue, magic ties, a wood block of Acacia, a tool bag and push sticks made by Frank Taylor. As to the raffle, there were 3 pieces of Bird's Eye Maple. Tickets are $1 each or 6 for $5. The drawing will occur when the money reaches the price of the wood and enough left over for Stan to send his kids to medical school.

There were also Freebies consisting of sheets of cork, 0000 steel wool, old maps and old magazines all courtesy of Stan.

Two items are available for the Silent Auction. A length of 2" diameter clear exhaust hose and an older but perfectly functional Fein Vacuum donated by Jamie Buxton. The proceeds from the auction go to the club treasury.

The Tool Talk was by Richard Winslow on Vernier Calipers. Richard showed us four examples of calipers: a sliding vernier caliper, a dial caliper accurate to 1/1000", an antique caliper accurate to 1/32", and a pocket caliper accurate to 1/64". Richard uses his calipers extensively while woodworking. Typical uses include measuring dowels, drill bits and sizing wood parts. When one uses Google Search, there are many sites that explain how to use the caliper. Indeed, several sites have caliper models that can be used to learn proper technique. Digital calipers can be calibrated in decimals or fractions of an inch, metric and imperial. Also, accessories are available that extend the jaw opening to 30".

The Tech Talk was by Roy Presley on Bent Laminations for a Cloud Chair. Roy became enthralled with the Makepeace Cloud Chair and decided to build one. When visiting Chicago, he went to a museum where one was on display. He examined it extensively, almost to the point of annoyance to the curator, but gathered the information he needed to embark on the project. To make simple bent legs, Roy constructed a bending mold of two mating pieces of wood, cut to the curve of the leg. In between the faces of the mold he put dry laminations strips of wood glued together with a two part epoxy (West Marine 105 resin and 206 hardener) glue system. He used a green parting agent (PVA Mold Release, TAP Plastics) on the mold itself to prevent the laminated leg from sticking to the mold. He pointed out that oily woods do not dry bend well. Legs with a compound curve are more complex. He cuts 25 pieces measuring ¼ x ¼ inch, and steams them. Then he glues them together being careful to orient the growth rings of the wood with the curve of the leg. He bonds them together with the West Marine epoxy system and bends them over his mold, again using the parting agent. He uses a series of small box clamps of his own design to clamp the leg together. Clamps are alternated at 90 degrees to each other. Roy showed us a steamer vessel he bought from Lee Valley that looks like a teapot with a tube extension. He said you could use any teapot by simply attaching an extension tube with a water spigot to the spout of the pot. He made his steam cabinet from ¾" plywood. The back of the chair required a complex bend with twist. The molding form was elaborate and required extensive tweaking of the "hard points" to get the curves just right. The molds are painted and covered with mold release before parts can be formed. When making complex forms, Roy extends the working life of the epoxy by setting the glue tray in a bath of ice water. He also uses a vacuum bag which he made. Vacuum bags and components are available from Aerospace Composite Products, San Leandro, CA, 800-811-2009. Roy recommends two books on the subject of bending: Fine Woodworking on Bending Wood, ,Taunton Press and The Veneering Book, Taunton Press.

Guests were then asked to introduce themselves. We welcomed three guests. Your crummy editor misplaced their names.

Our Featured Speaker for the evening was Eric Pfeiffer, Pfeiffer Design Lab, discussing Bent Plywood Furniture. Pfeiffer Design Lab creates contemporary furniture, housewares, toys and lighting using bent plywood materials. Eric has written a book titled Bent Ply -- The Art of Plywood Furniture. He describes the book as a "poetic approach" to wood bending, not a technical manual. His objective is to design furniture for the everyday uses in our lives. He strives to have his furniture be double duty products. For instance, his Perch chair is both a chair and a storage unit. He has designed products and fixtures for Gap, Levi Straus, Hold Everything and Williams Sonoma.

Eric has his products produced in a factory located in Latvia. The factory has been in operation for over 100 years and under communist rule, employed over 3000 workers. Today, the factory produces more products with just 300 employees. The company is fully integrated and has its own sustainable forest operation.

Local Birch logs are cut to 5 foot lengths, placed in water vats for soaking to remove the bark, then processed to produce veneer. The residual inner cores are used as fence posts. Once cut the veneer is dried in large driers. The dried veneers are sorted for quality and processed to replace defects.

The mold tooling is made by laminating together cut sections of thick plywood to create a block form that will be used to bend the veneers to the shape of the final product. A CNC machine is used to cut the form blocks precisely. The block is bolted together and lined with aluminum. The aluminum lining permits the mold to be heated, speeding up the glue set time. RF energy is used to heat the mold. The finished mold block is used in a large press with side rams to produce up to 500 parts per run. Longer runs require solid aluminum molds.

When the part comes out of the mold, it is allowed to cool, then it is held in a vacuum jig and cut using a 5-axis router. The cut part is spray finished, dried, then placed in containers for shipment worldwide.

Eric has recently started to use a manufacturer in China because costs are 1/3 less. His agent is a Dane who is a bending engineer. In the product development process, they first produce a crude prototype, then they proceed to the factory as soon as possible. It helps to involve the factory in the development process. Eric does much of his design work using the Sketch-Up software. He said it takes the Chinese a little longer to "get it" but their finished product is just as good as the Latvian products and he doesn't have to deal with the expensive Euro economy.

His most recent product is a desk that is large enough to be approaching the size limits imposed by the molds. It has been a challenging process.

Following the break where we gobbled delicious chocolate balls made by Fred Reicher whose recipes will soon be included in an issue of Fine Woodworking --or was it Fine Baking?

Announcements were:

Stan Booker is looking for a floor stand for doing outboard turning on a lathe. 510 522-7879 sbooker07@alamedanet.net

Mark Rand is asking everyone to pay their club dues. 665 27th St. San Francisco 94131.

Harold Patterson is holding a Toy Workshop on February 17, 10 am-4pm at Per Madsen's shop. 1081 Revere Ave., San Francisco, 415 822-4883. Making wooden blocks fitting into a box. Driving instructions may be found in the MEETINGS & EVENTS column.

Craig Mineweaser is selling a 1998 Ford F-150 pickup truck. 209 928-5900 craig@mineweaser.com

Arnold Champagne is selling lumber. 415 282-1704.

Stan Booker has collected another 60 pounds of tools for Africa. See his contact information above. He can also mail 5 lbs at a time at a fairly reasonable rate. Any donations in hand tools or cash for mailing would be appreciated.

Tony Fanning and Fred Reicher visited the new Sequoia High School Wood Shop. They are looking for assistance with their new woodworking program. They need mentors, jig builders and help setting up the new machines. We may be able to hold some meetings there. Tony and Fred will be putting together some sort of a plan for members to help out.

The meeting ended with the Silent Auction results. Frank Taylor became the proud owner of the vacuum hose for $6 and Mark Rand of the Fein Vacuum Cleaner for $700...wait... wait...nonono!

John Blackmore & Mark Rand