Monday, November 9, 2009

More chair work... Prototype II.

On Saturday I went in and got some more work done on prototype II. Front leg joinery is done, back leg joinery is done, and I proceeded on to making a back support piece from there.

Have you ever made a mistake, thought about why you made it, and then immediately repeated your mistake? Well, I did.

I saved a chunk of the beam and left it full-thickness (about 3") to allow a lot of room to shape a big, comfy hollow into it. I measured the distance between the back legs, across the back, and cut the piece to fit. It did fit, but it was actually projecting forward, instead of backward. I wanted the hollow to extend back behind the legs, so the tops of the legs could be part of the support.

So, I took one of the spare pieces that I had lying around and repeated the cut. And, I got the same result.

The root of my problem stems from the fact that the back legs on this version come away from the back at an angle. I figured that, if the tops of the back legs curved back enough, that angling the legs outwards away from the seat would also allow that curve to widen, instead of having the legs come up parallel to each other. I was more or less right on that score, but I do need to make the curve a little stronger in the end product.

Back to the seat, because the legs are at an angle to each other, the back piece also needed to be cut at an angle to be able to join to the tops of the legs properly. In essence, there's a taper, growing bigger from front to back. Since I measured the back piece to fit the largest space, it went all the way in. Had I measured it to fit to the shorter space, and taper outwards from there, it would have been fine on the front, and been able to curve backwards from there.

The solution this time around was to resaw both pieces that had been cut wrong, and glue up a block that will curve back as I need it to. The solution next time will be to not screw it up again.


In other news, the hunt for a viable day job continues, as I work part time to get these prototypes worked out. Eventually, I plan to move (hopefully) back to full time, once I work out the details of the final product(s), marketing, business planning, and things like that. But I think it's going to be a while getting there.

I have to say, it's a hard thing to look back. A year ago, I wrote a post about the failure of my first shop in Medford. I thought I understood where I'd gone wrong as a woodworker. (Insert wry grin here.) This is a paragraph, pulled from this post, about the failure of my last shop.

"From Failure we learn; Success, not so much." The challenge for me right now is to allow the failure part to sink in, so that it's appreciated properly. Blindly going forward with my chin up and a can-do attitude is all fine and good, but I really need to figure out a few more things to make sure that this next try doesn't end the same way.

So, I worked out my woodworking failures. I can say I'm a lot better at being directed and organized when it comes to building things. But I still went blindly forward, chin up, with that can-do attitude. I think this is actually a virtuous thing. And I even think that being willing to do it blindly can be worthwhile, since I can say now that it's not always possible to see the cause of our next failure or problem. It's a process, and the important part isn't to not get knocked down. It's to remember to get back up. But being willing to run blind is different than willingly running blind.

I think my failures thus far, business-wise, come back to something that I knew early on, and forgot for one reason or another: People really like buying concrete objects. I.E. 'Would you like to buy this __________ from me." (Insert chosen object of furniture; chairs, tables, etc.) People will then either say yes, or no, or "I like it, but I want this to be different..." So, 2 of the three options are winners... because I'm not a production shop, I can alter things to cater to personal requests.

I hadn't developed many products to sell, aside from my portfolio pieces from school, and a class or two. Kind of a dumb move, in retrospect. "I can do whatever," is not an inspiring or convincing sales pitch. Doing my homework and coming up with a better plan before setting fire to a pile of money would have really saved me a lot of heartbreak.

I'm paying the price for that right now. It's my failure, I earned it. So, the project right now is to do more homework: Come up with a new plan, and a concrete end product to sell, and a plan to market and actually sell the thing. I'll be working a day job while I do this, and work in the shop when I can. Step one is to get the woodworking thing to pay for itself. Step two is to get the woodworking thing to a point where it can support me.

In the meantime, the days are getting shorter, and it will soon start to get cold in the shop. 

1 comment:

Jonathan Hartford said...

If I can suggest some things that I've heard..

A lot of people seem to think becoming familiar with an interior designer can be quite useful.

The second is that good quality photographs and a physical and online albums of your work seems to be essential to really making people understand what 'I can do whatever' actually means.

Keep building and blogging!