Thursday, November 20, 2003

The business of woodturning

There is more to being a woodturner than working at the lathe turning out beautiful hollow vessels. Today was quite atypical of my working day and actually seems worth writing about!

I was on the road at 7am in someone's truck, on the way to fetch that lumber I had cut on Monday. Apart from heavy rain on the journey out, everything went well. The logging truck that was blocking the forest road had just finished loading so we didn't have to wait long. My lumber was still there too! Having lived in high crime areas in the past, rural Nova Scotia takes some getting used to. The loading was heavy work, but it didn't take too long. Then back to the foresters house where he has a big pile of burls for me to pick through.

We were back to my shop within four hours and the rain had stopped. Unloading was a breeze with a dump truck! But the wood was quite dirty, having been sawn in the woods, and was covered in sticky wet sawdust. So I decided to hose it all down to clean it up. The oak was already staining from contact with the steel saw blade, and maple develops blue stain if it stays damp for too long, so I think that cleaning it up is a wise move since the surface will dry so much quicker. It was a lovely warm day, 18'C, and a strong wind was drying the surface of the wood quite quickly. We don't get many T-shirt days in November, so it was nice to be working outside.

That green lumber was heavy though, so I was glad to take a break from my labours. At 2pm I had to go and meet a business advisor from Pictou Regional Development Commission. I am thinking about changing the name of my business, and I wanted to talk it through with someone to see if its a totally crazy scheme or not. It was a very useful exercise, and she is going to do some research on my behalf. We met at my local library which has office space available, a very useful facility that several organisations use as satellite office.

After that I returned home to find the wood quite dry, so I carried it all into the workshop and stickered it. I still have to trim the ends of the boards and endseal them to prevent them from cracking. Then they will be stickered in the storage area until they are air dried (<18% EMC), at which point they can go into the kiln or dry room, but that is months away yet.

Then it was time for a quick walk with the dogs. They had missed their morning walk since it was dark when I left home this morning. But we only had time for a short walk before I headed back to the libray again. This time it was to meet delegates from the C@P Summit which is taking place in Pictou. Although not strictly a business meeting, I had supplied the conference with bottle stoppers for the delegates goody bags, so I wanted to help out in return.

Tomorrow I still have a bunch of smaller pieces of wood to sort through and process, but I think the really hard work is done.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Busy, busy, busy

I can't believe it's been nearly a month since I last blogged! But it has been craftshow season. That and a short notice order for personalised bottle stoppers has kept me pretty busy. But that is all behind me now. My last show was last weekend, and I delivered the bottle stoppers yesterday morning. The rest of the day was spent in the woods getting some hardwood lumber sawn to my specifications. It was a glorious day considering it is the middle of November.

The fellow who owned the logs had a friend with a portable bandsaw mill come and cut the wood. Those machines are pretty neat. Most of the log handling is done by hydraulics, turning the log to the required orientation and clamping it in place while the bandsaw makes a one-eighth cut along its length. By mid afternoon I had several hundred board feet of maple, oak, white ash and black cherry stacked ready for collection. I have someone with a truck lined up to go collect it with me on Thursday. I just hope its still there!

Today I have been tidying up the shop, moving things around to make space for all this green lumber. My usual drying procedure involves air drying in the shop, then out to the solar kiln, then back into the dry room to get it down to its final 8% moisture content. Its quite a bit of handling, and could probably be made more efficient. Maybe oneday. In the meantime it keeps me fit.