Sunday, 13 September 2015

A Studley frame

In all likelihood, I am one of the few wood workers who did not have a poster of the Studley Tool chest hanging on my shop wall. So when I saw the photo, and read about the Art Print that was going to be available at HandWorks, I committed to it immediately. 

The tool chest itself was something I had seen many times in various photos and articles over the years. It certainly was an impressive tool chest, but the legend had grown to the point where I could not imagine it living up to the hype. I had an opportunity to see it (along with the bench), at HandWorks this past May, and I have to say, the hype was deserved. I was pretty stunned actually. The three dimensional experience of viewing the chest is what really floored me. It was the depth of the layers of tools that was so incredible. It was like viewing a topographical map made of Mahogany, Rosewood, Ebony and steel, all arranged and organized with thought and precision. The details of the shelves, ledges and tiny mouldings were impressive, but it was the layout, the design of the layout and the different elevations - the use of positive and negative space, the way certain items were arranged to give areas weight and balance... it was awesome. 

And I was not expecting it to be that awesome. 

I picked up a copy of the book (Narayan and Don were kind enough to sign it for me), the Art Print, and started planning the framing. 

I worked part-time in a framing store through high school and college, so had a pretty good sense of how framing worked. Making my own frame was a no-brainer - and the materials were obvious too. A Mahogany frame with an Ebony edge.

I did a quick sketch to get the dimensions figured out - the reveal around the image so the edition and signature could be seen, and the width of the matboard (with a weighted bottom). This gave me the dimensions for the frame.

The photography in the book is wonderful, and it did not take long to find a few close-up shots of drawers and other detail that showed the profiles of the various mouldings. It made the most sense to emulate the moudlings in the tool chest in the frame.

I had a decent sized off-cut from making the guitars, and it turned out to be the perfect length for the frame. I decided to make 2 frames - one for my print and another for a good friend. The process was a little unconventional, but it worked very well.

The photo above shows the fully shaped pieces for a frame on the left, and the glued up block for the second frame on the right. I decided to build it this way so I could have better control of what would become a very thin piece of Ebony on the inside edge of the frame. I knew I would waste some Ebony with this process, but I think the control of the process justified it.

There was a dado cut into the center of the Mahogany blank and the strip of Ebony was glued in. I think the strip was 3/8" thick and 1/2" wide and maybe 30" long.

Once the glue had dried, I split the block in half and planed it smooth. This allowed me to have the Ebony edges easily accessible to cut the profile.

When the profiles were cut, I used the table saw to make a kerf that defined the underside of the Ebony - the surface the glass would rest against. Once those were cut, I split the two pieces on the bandsaw. I hand planed those surfaces and then to the table saw for the last cut to form the dado (for the glass and matboard). I did not cut all the way though - I left 1/32" to keep the piece a little more stable as I ran it through the saw.

The waste piece broke out easily, and my shoulder plane made quick work of cleaning everything up. 

The 4 mouldings.

And a detail shot of the Ebony quarter round.

All these months later, I find myself thinking about the tool chest more often than I would have ever imagined.  I may never fully understand the impact of the experience and why it was so compelling. If there is another public viewing of the tool chest - I will go to great lengths to see it again. Yeah - it really is all it is cracked up to be, and it is nice to know there are still things that can knock your socks off.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great frame.

The poster, however, is nowhere close to the original FW poster. As many have said, the backdrop looks awful.


13 September 2015 at 19:04  
Blogger Mike Mavodones said...

I agree that this print is nowhere close to the original FW poster. It is about two light years beyond the original in composition, lighting and focus. The previously unknown bench and vises? Let's call them a bonus.
I have spoken to thousands of people about this tool cabinet and the poster (I have a big mouth and I was one of the docents at the exhibition-thousands is not an exaggeration). I've heard no other negative feedback on the background.
I have a copy of the original poster that I have treasured since I got it. In my opinion, the new poster exceeds it in every way-except nostalgia.
Your opinion may vary from my own.
Best regards,
Mike Mavodones

14 September 2015 at 07:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course, opinions vary among people.

In time, when we compare the no. of posters sold, we'll know if it's nostalgia or anything else.

The backdrop is distracting to say the least and the way the chest and the bench are presented is equally amateurish. The chest should be hung on the wall above the bench placed against the same wall. Where could we find a tool chest in a real shop rested on a workbench?

I have the original chest poster, not the reprint and this "light years beyond" poster? Thank you very much and it will not have a chance to be seen or posted in my shop.


14 September 2015 at 11:22  
Blogger raney said...

I have to agree with mike - the original poster always looked really horribly washed out and unevenly lit to me. I was frankly never especially impressed with it, or the chest, in the past. I gave it a second chance because so many people whose opinions I have reason to respect told me it was worth the hype.

They were right.

Well put, Konrad. - and beautiful job on the frame.

I was much more impacted by the chest in person than I had any expectation of being. It was a brilliant bit of design, and honestly one of the better testimonies to what an obsessive and focused human is capable of at the outer limits. It was really mind blowing to see the design interplay at work across such a staggering array of scales. Virtuoso was an aptly chosen name.

As for the new poster, I thought it was magnificent. I suppose I'm potentially biased because the photographer is a friend, but I think anyone who knows me will attest that I'm hardly shy about criticizing my friends' work when I am not taken with it.

14 September 2015 at 16:27  
Blogger John said...

Glad to see that shoulder plane in action. Beautiful frame, dude. Not a fan of the Studley chest, though. That things gives me the creeps.

15 September 2015 at 22:36  
Blogger John said...

Nice frame, dude. And glad to see the shoulder plane at work. i do not share the enthusiasm for the Studley chest, though. That thing gives me the creeps. I like light, airy, simple and free. That thing is the claustrophobic, dark, anal opposite. Actually, I'd go even farther and call it the Donald Trumo of woodworking projects; grandiose, full of crap, and antiquated. Hmmm....not sure I phrased this post strongly enough.

15 September 2015 at 22:49  

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