So I work from home, and one of the big problems there is that I have to keep my work from just spreading all over the house like a terrifying art-based lifeform, so like an idiot I decided to make a custom unit where I can stash all my paper and ink and paint and rollers and lino and brushes and cutters and scalpels and tape and card blanks and string and wrapping material and blank canvasses and shut the door on it all. I had the wood roughly cut to size (see my last post) and the next step was to get the main parts of the frame cut, jointed and glued together:
There’s two sets of drawers, one at the top front-right and one at the left, with paper underneath and canvasses at the back. This is the left-side frame:
and this here is the back frame, with the top shelf. The unit is wider than the door on all edges, so I had to make separates out in the shed and assemble it all inside.
Next step was putting it all together, starting with the base and long sides.
Then was the left side shelves, and then the front drawer frame
And the plywood goes on, after about two days cutting it to size. Did I mention my only power tool is a drill?
And a stained varnish to finish after the doors went on, with trim so the screws would fit – I realised the gap on the left could hold a pegboard-style setup for my larger brushes and tools (the pliers are for changing scalpel blades and opening the more reluctant paint tubes). The big door is shut because things aren’t 100% finished till after christmas while I finish up my current commissions, and those drawers on top are rescued from a quick knocked-together standing unit I made in the summer that just wasn’t big enough.
So I seem to be scaling up my woodwork projects, and last year I was pruning a big branch out of our apple tree when I thought it would be nice to save the bigger pieces, let them dry out and see what I could make. Eventually I figured, why not give a chess board a try? With just hand tools? And a titchy workmate-style thing for a bench? That I have to set up in the back garden because my next project really needs to be Clearing the Shed… that’ll all work really well, right?
Four months later: February me was an idiot. But I did get there.
Did I mention I carved the pieces as well? Yeah I did that too, and hopefully without any further bloodshed here they are:
And I’m going to show off the inside because I’m nice and pleased with that too:
The hinges and spine of the ‘book’ are from an old bedside cabinet, and the rest of the frame and the black squares are oak from the shop. I didn’t have any dark stain, and can’t go out to buy any, so I ended up using shoe polish – I’ll have to see how that stands up to repeated handling. The pieces are all chiselled from apple branches, which I formed in an old worn benchhook and finished in a £5 bench vise from the supermarket. And the rest of the wood, including the white squares and pieces, were rubbed down with beeswax for a really nice finish before I finally got to break out the power tools to, uh, drill the screwholes.
Next time I will try and get time with some kind of table saw and powered sander, because hand-cutting 64 individual squares and then sanding every single one was the particular step that came nearest to breaking me. Unseasonal warmth to the rescue! February and March were dry, April was dry enough, and early May I was doing the finishing touches inside so that was fine.
These are free to download, print, and colour in: feel free to pass them on too. For enormous stacks of bonus points, write a story about what’s going on – who is everybody? where are they going? What are they going to do when they get there? Why are they living up a great big tower? What do the robots do all day? Let me know!
Here’s a selection of quick portraits I’ve drawn in my 3.5″ x 5″ portrait notebook, all in 15 minutes or less, all taken from reddit gets drawn – if you’d like to commission your own, they are £20 including postage.