Saturday, April 3, 2010

16th Annual Sonoma Wine Country Sheepdog Trial

The 16th Annual Sonoma Wine Country Sheepdog Trial
Oak Springs Ranch
Judged by Don Helsley of Idaho, and Denis Birchall of Ireland

Sheepdog trials are a quintessentially British event- Border Collies having originated in the border country between England and Scotland- but there are several important trialing events in Northern California and the ION (Idaho, Oregon, and Nevada) where ranches with large sheep herds are found.
The handler's task, with the help of his or her Border Collie, is to move a flock of sheep through the course in the shortest time, and with the least amount of fuss. The handler stands at the post and directs the dog with whistled signals. A well-trained Border Collie will respond to upwards of 15 distinct commands. Bonus points for style, points deducted if the dog nips at the sheep.
I went looking for leads on a puppy- we lost our red-and-white Border Collie Britta 3 years ago, and it's time to get another.
No litter leads, but it is always a joy to watch these dogs work...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Nice Legs!

Work table with re-purposed machine legs
Artefact; Schellville, CA

Conference table by Sit And Read Furniture for ACL

Cast iron table legs designed for Lee Valley Tools by Mike McGuire

Advertisement engraving via Antique Machinery Scans

Advertisement engraving via Antique Machinery Scans

Advertisement engraving via Antique Machinery Scans

Industrial kitchen worktable with cast iron legs
Modeled in Solidworks
Rendered in Photoview 360

Detail: Raised lettering on leg stretcher
Modeled in Solidworks
Rendered in Photoview 360

Worktable legs
Solidworks drawing

Several weeks ago, on a spin through Sonoma and the Napa Valley, I stopped at one of my favorite retail design establishments- Artefact in Schellville. Pick of the litter was the work table pictured above, made from a pair of antique lathe legs with a steel top and shelf, and skirts of wood salvaged from the factory that once was home to the cast iron legs.

A massive pair of cast iron legs salvaged from an industrial-sized Oliver lathe have served as the base for my woodworking bench since my days as a studio furniture maker, and they've been eyeing a massive chunk of end-grain butcher block sitting in my shop- threatening to hook up and become a work table in our kitchen.

My workbench legs are not nearly as elegant as the salvaged cast iron legs that Kyle Garner of Sit And Read Furniture used to make ACL's new conference table, and they are just a little too wide for the butcher block top. Usually the reverse is true- lathe legs are designed to support a bed that is long and narrow, and paired with a wide top, start to look out of proportion.

Some years ago, Lee Valley Tool started producing a set of cast iron legs for their workbench kits. They aren't all that attractive IMHO- especially compared to designer Mike McGuire's early concepts for the project- but the price is right, and they are a great idea.

So I set about designing a set of cast iron legs in the spirit of early industrial machinery, with size and proportion specific to supporting a work table top. Is the potential market large enough to justify the cost of making a pattern, and having these legs sand-cast?
Stay tuned...

Friday, March 19, 2010


Portrait of Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky
Alexander Rodchenko