A Scottish visitor with California plates
I first met Stuart Page at The festival of the Tree last August. He was there for the full 3 days and spent a good portion of his time bouncing between Rob Cosman, John Lloyd and myself. He was very enthusiastic, full of great questions and insight - we all loved having him around our respective booths.
Many months ago, Stuart contacted me to let me know he was planning a 3 month travelling tour of North American furniture makers and toolmakers and was wondering if he could stop in for a visit. It was great to hear from him again and I was quite excited to have him over.
On June 23rd - Stuart arrived in Los Angeles. He has been keeping a blog - curiously named, One hairy arm goes west. One of his first stops was to see Sam Maloof - and I am very envious of that visit. Sam is on that very short list of people I would dearly like to meet (along with Harrison Ford and Maynard James Keenan). And after Stuarts description of their time together - I am all the more green.
He arrived on Tuesday afternoon (July 23rd) around 3. I was on the main floor working away on an A1ss panel plane (more on that in another entry). He had just driven from Calgary... and to use his words - was a little “road worn”.
Stuart was very direct about his intentions the minute he walked in to the shop. He did not want to get in the way of my regular schedule and workday... but was hoping for a “fly on the wall” approach. I was pleased (and a little relieved) to hear this - and it turned out to be a wonderful experience.
At one point, Stuart offered to help in the shop with things that are challenging for someone to do on their own. Hmmmm... a shop helper....?
I need to back up a bit. I have two amazing sets of planes that I am itching to start into... but I am waiting for the last few % of moisture to come out of the Ebony. Quite frankly - I am really tired of waiting... so I started thinking about building a kiln. In the June 2006 of Woodwork magazine (No. 99), Ejler Hjorn-Westh wrote a wonderful article about building a kiln for under $500. This seemed like the perfect project for Stuart and I. I handed him the article and he just smiled... perfect.
Hmmm... where to put it?
We walked around the shop to find an empty spot for a 20"x 20"x 7' item. The best location was the first one we discussed - above one of the 48"to 60" shorts storage areas.
I had some scrap plywood from previous adventures - but we needed two 4'x8' sheets of plywood. I figured I would treat Stuart to the full North American experience and introduce him to the often understaffed “Orange Box”. I shouldn't complain... they did cut the two sheets to size for us.
Anyway - a few hours later - we had a kiln. Here are a few photos.
It tucked in perfectly above the shorts storage - and I didn't even have to move the phone or the furnace switch!
Here it is with the door open.
The baffle is a 1/4" piece of peg board.
The opening on the right is the dry air return to keep the air circulating.
I will be drying a test piece of Ebony to see how it goes. I will certainly post the results - regardless of how it turns out.
Thanks again Stuart for all your help with the kiln and keeping me company between piening, lapping and shaping.
Oh, and the one hairy arm... it really is ONE hairy arm... the other is pretty clean shaven.