This past weekend proved to be one of the most productive I have ever experienced in the shop. There’s nothing quite like getting holiday gifts built for loved ones. You know they will appreciate the gesture and proudly exhibit the item you build for years to come. Yes, as an elf at the North Pole, I was totally stoked!
Unfortunately, once word gets around that you are a skilled woodworker… well… the jig is up. Requests start to come in. “Oh, you don’t have to buy me anything… something from the shop would be awesome!”
This year, I have now moved up to building ten copies of a project I found in the pages of Wood Magazine. I can’t show you what they look like all put together, because I don’t want to ruin the surprise for the recipients.
However, I can take you behind the scenes into Santa’s workshop to show you how those elves are busting butt to meet the production deadlines.
Let’s just say that power tools are the workhorses for these projects. I could easily do the work with hand tools and bang out high quality pieces, but for accuracy, speed and repetition, power’s got it hands down.
OK, some quick math…. since I’m working on a factor of ten, the number of pieces I had to cut includes:
- 40 uprights
- 40 rails
- 40 long rests
- 20 feet
For joinery for these pieces, I then had to cut:
- 80 mortises
- 80 tenons
- 80 notches
Needless to say, all of these joinery cuts have to be very precise, since they should all be interchangeable between different assemblies. I relied heavily on stops, jigs and sleds to get the right set ups for each operation. Sure, it took some time to get set up to a high degree of accuracy, but once I was there, things sped along.
After about seven hours in the shop over two days this weekend, I managed to have all of the pieces cut to size, all of the joinery cut and the central frames glued up. From here, there’s more shaping to do on other elements and the final assembly. Perfecting the sanding will follow, and then the entire project will be capped off by a lovely finish.
I’m hoping that all of the pieces which have to ship to the family will be ready to fly by Thanksgiving week, and then I can get the shop back for a few fun projects that are coming along afterward.
Right now, however, Santa’s little elf has had it… he’s beat and could use a nap to recover from a long stint in the shop. Visions of sugar plums – and hitting the shipping deadlines – are dancing in his head for sure.