June 21, 2017

If you missed the June meeting, you missed a lot: a drive into the mountains and seeing more walnut slabs than you’ll see in a lifetime. Guild member Steve Noyes has the vision to look at a tree and know what forms it can take. After our visit to Steve’s place, we left with an understanding of what is involved in obtaining trees, processing them, converting them into usable lumber and, finally, turning that lumber into beautiful furniture.

Steve sees the potential of a log like thisWalnut log to be milled

becoming this

the Clockum Desk

The Clockum Desk, named after the original location of the  tree

Steve “harvests” trees before they meet the fate of the chipper, often scouting them out in and around the valley. When he spots one he knows will not be long in this life, he waits – sometime years – for that moment when a new home owner or a contractor decides it needs to go. During our meeting, we learned about Steve’s process in a reverse order: first, seeing his shop, then learning how he designs and makes furniture, and finally the process of harvesting and processing the wood.

The Wow Factor

The first thing evident to anyone walking into Steve’s 2,206 sq. ft. shop is that he loves wood, especially walnut. Seeing the lumber and slabs he’s processed is stunning to those accustomed to lumberyard fare.

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Taking up almost two-stories of wall space, this slab will likely become a bar counter.

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And there’s more …

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and more …

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Tools of the trade

12-inch jointer with spiral cutter head

Spiral-head jointer

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A sander wide enough to handle massive slabs

 

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Dust collection system

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dust collection

Spray room

Spray room

Inside the kiln

Inside the kiln (yes, he has a kiln!)

From logs to luxury

Whether it’s making desks, countertops, or chairs, Steve considers all aspects of a piece of wood – the curve of an edge, the nuance of the grain, the color – and seeks to blend those characteristics into an eye-pleasing piece of handmade furniture. While at his shop, we studied the first two of the following forms:

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Bar stool, Maloof-inspired rocker, chair

While everybody else was talking slabs, Chris Church and Jeff Dilks were scrutinizing the Maloof joints in the rocker.

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Maloof joint

Using an unfinished rocker, Steve explained how he created and shaped the joint.

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Graceful touches on a finished rocker:

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The headrest made out of a beautifully grained piece of walnut root:

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And we tried one out:

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Steve’s tractor-seat bar stool

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And a new version he is working on:

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Bent laminations

bent laminations

Acquisition and milling

Before darkness settled in, we went outside, and Steve showed us his two mills – the Lucas Mill and the Brand X. We talked about how he acquires trees and the process and expenses involved in taking a tree from its place of origin to a completed piece of furniture.

Brand X

Brand X

Lucas mill

Lucas mill

All in all, a great meeting. Thank you, Steve, for hosting us.

 

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