Monday, June 29, 2015

The "6/26" Serving Tray Giveaway!

Inspiration in wood design comes from a lot of places.  Sometimes it's nature, sometimes it's architecture and sometimes it's the wood itself.  On Friday, the Supreme Court affirmed marriage equality for our entire nation.  And we were inspired. 

I came home to the shop with an idea.  (Sometimes the best ideas come when you're on two wheels. This one did!)  I wanted to make something to celebrate the decision and I wanted someone to have it, a gift from Shy Dog to our little part of the world.  When I had a look at our lumber stock, the wood itself confirmed my idea.  Bloodwood, Yellow Heart, Cherry... All the stock we'd need was already sitting on the shelf, asking to be used.

Bloodwood, Cherry, Yellowheart, Poplar and Purpleheart

And so, we've created the "6/26" tray as our small homage to the good news.  The outer portions of the tray are from beautiful, figured hard maple and the center stripes are crafted to match the Rainbow Flag in red (Bloodwood), orange (Cherry), yellow (Yellowheart),  green (Poplar heartwood), and purple (Purpleheart.)  Yes, I know I skipped blue, but finding naturally occurring blue wood is not exactly the easiest thing in the we'll just have to live with a tiny bit of artistic license. 

The whole serving tray sits on sculpted legs of Sapele and has been hand rubbed with multiple coats of beautiful blonde shellac.  I wish everyone could see the grain of this maple in person, it's practically three dimensional.

So, what do we do with this?  We're giving it away!  We want it to be a gift to everyone who supports Shy Dog and marriage equality.  As such, all you need to do is the share our giveaway post on your Facebook timeline or Twitter feed and make sure you "Like" our page  (  Once you've done that, your name is in the hat and you could win the serving board!  Drawing planned for July 15.

Best of luck to all and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

A Custom Game Console

Just like our last custom build, the "Esther" Table, this project came from a client who wanted something made that didn't exist anywhere else in the world...though that's pretty much where the similarities between these two projects end!

In this case, the client had already built a very cool custom game controller from vintage parts. The controller has the ability to play a whole host of old arcade games with the original joystick/trackball/paddle/buttons via a modern tower computer and screen.  The only thing missing was a permanent home that would complete the look and feel of full-size arcade machine.

In this case, the client had already mocked up almost exactly what he wanted the cabinet to look like.  He forwarded me a SketchUp file that gave me all the needed dimensions, then dropped off the controller and speakers so I could built to fit.
SketchUp file received from client

Overall, I made a few tweaks to the design to allow grooves and dadoes for strength and give it a few nice details (like a faux frame for the door) but the design stayed basically the same from the outset.

In terms of construction, this project was a lot closer to production cabinetry than it was to tradtional furniture.  As a small shop, we don't have a CNC machine.  Apart from being big (and VERY expensive) they're just isn't a lot of call for their capabilities when it comes to the type of furniture we typically build.  But it sure would have been nice to have here.  Once we finally got the cabinet carcase laid out and routed, it sure looked like it had come off a CNC table!

Some of the grooves routed in to the case side to accept panels.  Seating pieces in grooves and gluing adds a LOT more strength that using mechanical fasteners alone.

Test fitting the mating sides
Once the main panels were cut, we crafted top, bottom, front and back panels.  The front features a door-within-a-door with a traditional arcade coin slot.  The large door opens large enough to accommodate adding the full-sized computer that powers the games, with a long piano hinge adding strength.  The back panel features holes for cabling and routed slots for air cooling.  The bottom panel also has small holes to promote air movement through the case and cool temperatures for the computer.  Holes for internal speakers were added near the end of construction.
One fun detail was use of colorful, plastic T-molding along most of the exposed edges.  Not only does this afford a good deal of protection to wood edges, but it also completes the "arcade" look of the entire piece.

The controller itself sits over a keyboard drawer outfitted with Blum soft-close slides (my personal favorite for this application) and a discrete recessed grooved pull under the bottom lip.  Two stub tenons protrude up from the the shelf and mate with mortises routed into the bottom of the controller, locking it in place for gameplay.  There's also an option to add"butterfly" latches in the future for extra security if need be.

Finally glue up before sanding and painting.

Dry-fitting the controller.

Once everything was fit, assembled and sanded, we primed and sprayed with a semi-gloss black to match the existing controller and give it a look that would be right at home in a 1987 pizza parlor!