Spinners, Daniel D. Brown, 2019

My latest wood intarsia artwork and first project of the new year is complete! The design and coloration pattern is very roughly based on spinner dolphins, though the actual color obviously is not.
I built this mostly from a rare find: an exotic shipping pallet from my workplace containing what looks to be mahogany (or something related) and other unknown species. It also contains black walnut on their backs, and tiny ebony wood eyes (those were a scrollsawing challenge!). The frame is power-carved alder (thanks @mpi_woodworking) with walnut splines.
I generally avoid shipping pallets for most everything. They’re a pain to break down, can ruin planer and saw blades, and can sometimes pose health hazards (this one was only heat treated). But when all you need are small pieces with a variety of colors and grain patterns, I’ve found them to come in quite handy when I’ve stumbled upon a couple good ones.

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“Spinners” – 2019 My latest wood intarsia artwork and first project of the new year is complete! The design and coloration pattern is very roughly based on spinner dolphins, though the actual color obviously is not. I built this mostly from a rare find: an exotic shipping pallet from my workplace containing what looks to be mahogany (or something related) and other unknown species. It also contains black walnut on their backs, and tiny ebony wood eyes (those were a scrollsawing challenge!). The frame is power-carved alder (thanks @mpi_woodworking) with walnut splines. I generally avoid shipping pallets for most everything. They’re a pain to break down, can ruin planer and saw blades, and can sometimes pose health hazards (this one was only heat treated). But when all you need are small pieces with a variety of colors and grain patterns, I’ve found them to come in quite handy when I’ve stumbled upon a couple good ones. #pittsburghwoodworking #woodworking #handmade #scrollsaw #scrollsawart #intarsia #madeinpittsburgh #dolphinart #spinnerdolphins

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“Spinners” – 2019 My latest wood intarsia artwork and first project of the new year is complete! The design and coloration pattern is very roughly based on spinner dolphins, though the actual color obviously is not. I built this mostly from a rare find: an exotic shipping pallet from my workplace containing what looks to be mahogany (or something related) and other unknown species. It also contains black walnut on their backs, and tiny ebony wood eyes (those were a scrollsawing challenge!). The frame is power-carved alder (thanks @mpi_woodworking) with walnut splines. I generally avoid shipping pallets for most everything. They’re a pain to break down, can ruin planer and saw blades, and can sometimes pose health hazards (this one was only heat treated). But when all you need are small pieces with a variety of colors and grain patterns, I’ve found them to come in quite handy when I’ve stumbled upon a couple good ones. #pittsburghwoodworking #woodworking #handmade #scrollsaw #scrollsawart #intarsia #madeinpittsburgh #dolphinart #spinnerdolphins

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Hippocampus, Daniel D. Brown, 2018

Wooden intarsia seahorse artwork, built from lacewood, cherry, mahogany, maple, walnut, mulberry, bloodwood, purpleheart, and ebony. The frame was made from reclaimed furniture: either black stinkwood or muninga (unclear which). The mulberry and cherry were milled myself from downed neighborhood trees. The frame wood came from a couple antique chairs purchased by my mother-in-law in Cape Town, S. Africa in the 1970s.
My final project of 2018 is now complete!

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The purpose of this post is to talk for a minute about this super cool wood I’m using to make this frame. This is supposedly antique South African “black stinkwood” (Ocotea bullata), also called “cape walnut”. My mother-in-law @avrashorkend, a South African herself, bought a couple antique chairs made from this wood in the 1970s. She and my step-dad-in-law no longer wanted them, so we cut them up with a sawzall over thanksgiving and I brought the pieces home. Stinkwood used to be prevalent on Table Mountain in Cape Town, which @tam_a_ryn and I visited when we got married (she spent her childhood there). But the black stinkwood was massively overexploited by the timber/furniture industries in the ‘70s and was eradicated from most of its previous habitat. It’s now a protected species and no longer commercially available. It’s name apparently comes from the smell when it’s freshly felled. But I can tell you, this who-knows-how-old wood smelled *really* good in my shop. It actually smelled very similar to that characteristic sweet smell of African padauk. Thus, with the smell and comparing the grain to the limited images I could find online, I think there’s a decent chance this wood is actually Pterocarpus angiolensis (Muninga or African teak), which is closely related to padauk (Pterocarpus soyauxii). This species is not CITES-listed and often used in furniture. It’s also known for being a pretty hardcore nasal irritant; and this wood made me sneeze and my nose run within a minute of taking off my mask with a little dust still in the air – more so than any other wood I’ve worked. Either way, it’s pretty cool to use these pieces in my artwork. If you or anyone you know is an expert in exotic African woods, feel free to add your 2 rand. #stinkwood #muninga #africanwood #padauk

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Just a random little intarsia begin this evening.

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I Hear You Have Crabs #2, Daniel D. Brown, 2018

It is finished!
Wow, this was a long series of posts. Hopefully one or two of you enjoyed it as much as I did making it. Here are a bunch of shots in various lighting.
Built from mahogany, sapele, lacewood, maple, purpleheart, bloodwood, padauk, cherry, ebony, aspen, walnut, and 150 year old white oak.
My initial inspiration for this was a painting/sculpture I did on canvas and MagicSculpt, which I sold years ago. I missed it and wanted to recreate something like it.

I cut the intarsia background on a @portercable scrollsaw, lumber was all milled on my @dewalttough table saw & planer, arms were cut with @ryobipowertools bandsaw, @dremel(with absolutely critical @saburrtoothshaping burrs), @morakniv 106 knife, and a handful of Pfeill chisels and gouges. Octopus finished with @minwaxusa Clear Gloss and frame with @makerbrandco Simple
Finish. @starbondadhesives CA glue was used in the intarsia and @titebondproducts II in the frame and backer.

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“I Hear You Have Crabs: #2” It is finished! Wow, this was a long series of posts. Hopefully one or two of you enjoyed it as much as I did making it. Here are a bunch of shots in various lighting. Built from mahogany, sapele, lacewood, maple, purpleheart, bloodwood, padauk, cherry, ebony, aspen, walnut, and 150 year old white oak. My initial inspiration for this was a painting/sculpture I did on canvas and MagicSculpt (swipe to the end), which I sold years ago. I missed it and wanted to recreate something like it. … I cut the intarsia background on a @portercable scrollsaw, lumber was all milled on my @dewalttough table saw & planer, arms were cut with @ryobipowertools bandsaw, @dremel (with absolutely critical @saburrtooth shaping burrs), @morakniv 106 knife, and a handful of Pfeill chisels and gouges. Octopus finished with @minwaxusa Clear Gloss and frame with @makerbrandco Simple Finish. @starbondadhesives CA glue was used in the intarsia and @titebondproducts II in the frame and backer. … #woodworking #intarsia #scrollsawart #octopusart #cephalopod #makersgonnamake #madeinpittsburgh #pittsburghartist #woodenart #handmade #sculptureart #woodsculpture #woodenart #woodart #woodworkersofinstagram #woodworkingcommunity #handmade #oceanart #pittsburghwoodworking

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“I Hear You Have Crabs: #2” Step 14: First coat of gloss on the intarsia octopus! Those colors! The reason I want the wood to be darker and redder toward the back is to sort of simulate light in the depth of the ocean (which becomes more red the deeper you go as the blue gets scattered and filtered out). I want it to feel like he’s crawling out of the frame to get your crabs (crab legs are my favorite food too). It’s not perfect, but I dig the look. I rarely use high gloss finishes, but this is a perfect situation to go with @minwaxusa Clear Gloss polyurethane. Plus it’s what I have on hand and I know what to expect from it. As mentioned before, the goal for the octopus is to have a “wet” look. As with the protruding arms, after this dries I’ll hit it with some @mirka_usa 400 grit (and higher) nets and reapply at least a couple times. #woodworking #intarsia #scrollsawart #octopusart #cephalopod #makersgonnamake #madeinpittsburgh #pittsburghartist #woodenart #handmadeart

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“I Hear You Have Crabs: #2” Step 13: Apply finish to the frame. Because the octopus will be glossy to look wet, I wanted a nice natural finish to the frame. So the perfect oil finish to use was of course the @makerbrandco Simple Finish I used on the Three Rivers side table. It has good penetration, it’s super easy to apply, and it lets the wood do all the talking. I also double checked, and this old barn wood I acquired a while back is actually about 150 years old. Check out those ray flecks in this old white oak! I taped up the dowel holes to keep the wood clean for glueing the octopus arms (side note: I just learned that technically, octopuses don’t have “tentacles”. They have arms. Squid have 6 arms and two tentacles, with tentacles being defined has having suckers only at the tip or not at all in the case of nautiluses. Arms have suckers along the entire length.). #scrollsaw #scrollsawart #octopusart #madeinpittsburgh #woodworking #cephalopod #pittsburghartist

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“I Hear You Have Crabs: #2” Step 11: finish the frame, add miter splines, and figure out how to attach the tentacles. Okay so we may have taken too many photos just having fun with the tentacle frame. We needed some laughs (see previous post). I chamfered and glued up the barn wood white oak frame, added walnut splines with my tables saw jig, and finally decided to attach the tentacles to the frame with dowels, which worked wonderfully. This will make it easier to apply finish to them before permanently attaching. I also spent quite a few hours whittling those suckers and grinding/sanding them with tiny dremel bits and a whole series of gouges and knives. #woodworking #scrollsawart #intarsia #octopusart #madeinpittsburgh #pittsburghartist #woodenart #woodcarving

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“I Hear You Have Crabs: #2” Step 10: Busy my hands and await personal and tragic news. This is a tough one to write, but I’m gonna write it anyway because it’s real life. And because it’s a perfect illustration of how art is a necessary release of stress for me personally. For the past week, my step-father has been undergoing surgeries to replace an infected vascular graft. Several complications ensued and it became clear that his body could not handle it. So I took off work and spent today awaiting the call that they had removed the ventilator and he had passed. The details of all this and what we lost in his passing I will keep to my private/personal page (and I don’t need condolences here). The reason I am telling you this is because this piece I’m making became integrally involved in getting me through today, especially being so far from my family. In between moments of staring at the floor, texting and calling my family, feeling my heart break, and drowning in anxiety, I *tried* to calm my mind by putting my hands to work. I meditated on my time with Jack and what he meant to his loved ones. All of that is now forever in this piece to me. And I simply can’t continue with this silly little “making of” series without including it. I love you, Jack.

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“I Hear You Have Crabs: #2” Step 9b: More tentacle shaping. Spent the morning in the shop pre-power tool time (wife and pup still asleep) whittling up the first tentacle in front of a portable heater while catching up on the @madeforprofit podcast. A couple hours later, I started cutting more pieces for the 4 tentacles. By the way, I highly recommend thr @madeforprofit podcast by @john_malecki and @fixthisbuildthat. I’m actually actively avoiding trying to do woodworking/art for money these days. I do this for stress release. But it’s still an incredibly interesting and inspiring podcast just listening to the stories, goals, practices, and mentalities of other makers. I particularly enjoyed the show with @jkatzmoses.

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“I Hear You Have Crabs: #2” Step 9: begin building & rough-shaping tentacles! That one tentacle is nowhere close to done (spritzed with water to see color). I’ve only very roughly shaped it. The rest are still in pieces, with several still to cut. You can see how I’ve decided to make these (swipe). I’ve made it tricky on myself by wanting to make the suckers and the ventral side of each tentacle out of maple, similar to the intarsia part. And I don’t want it to be just a straight line as if I slapped a piece of maple to mahogany. So I’m cutting curves on each piece, then matching that curve with the maple (little bandsaw). Then I have to cut angles in the pieces to fit them together. It’ll look cooler once they have more organic shapes. But man they start off ugly!! I couldn’t really think of a better way to have continuous tentacles, curving through 3D space and having two layers following that curve. But I think this will turn out okay. However, it’s gonna be a bitch carving all those suckers! Note: I haven’t put the frame together yet. It’s just taped for now. #intarsia #octopusart #woodworking #madeinpittsburgh #pittsburghartist

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“I Hear You Have Crabs: #2” Step 4: Attach templates to the wood while wearing a Chewbacca pajama onesie in between handing out candy to children with @tam_a_ryn. I first put down a layer of @3m packing tape (cheap stuff won’t do for this), then adhere the paper to the tape with 3M Super 77 spray adhesive. I’ve tried multiple methods, glues, and tapes, and this is what works best for me – it leaves almost zero glue residue and I rarely have problems with lifting of the tape. Yet I can still remove it fairly easily and cleanly. Using tape also helps lubricate the blade. This is also when I actually choose the grain direction/figure/color as I lay down the templates.

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Three Rivers Table – Daniel D. Brown, 2018

Almost three months in the making, and I have to say I’m incredibly excited with how this turned out. A year or two back I began thinking about making a Pittsburgh-themed table after seeing the always-inspiring @john_malecki make a table with a PGH-inspired base. I made the first design in SketchUp and then went through several rounds of changes after realizing that my design had poor structural integrity or was just too difficult to pull off. 
For those of you who don’t know, the top is a mostly to-scale map of Pittsburgh, with the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers creating the Ohio River. The table base is very roughly inspired by one of our famous bridges, the Roberto Clemente Bridge.
The top is walnut and cherry, with @westsystemepoxy_ and “Eye Candy dark ocean blue” pigment for the rivers. Thanks to advice from my brother-in-science AND woodworking, Paul Jasper, Ph.D. (@copper_pig_fine_woodworking) I managed to install the walnut map center into the cherry frame using floating tenons. Paul literally drew the idea for me on a notepad through IG video chat. If he hadn’t suggested this, the whole top would probably have busted apart from seasonal wood movement.
The legs are made from alder given to me for free by Matt Plazek (@mpi_woodworking) after I purchased some black walnut from him. The front and side arches are ash. The bottom shelf is walnut and cherry. The partially hidden shelf under the top is made from the cherry/maple pallet I found at work a few weeks ago. Walnut dowels we’re used throughout for support.
I wanted the final look to be very natural with little sheen and no thick coat. So I went with the new Simple Finish oil and wax by @makerbrandco, deciding to give their stuff a try after hearing them on the @madeforprofitpodcast. The look and feel is perfect!
In the end, my wife @tam_a_ryn says she loves the table – and that’s all that matters to me.

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“Three Rivers Table” Almost three months in the making, and I have to say I’m incredibly excited with how this turned out. A year or two back I began thinking about making a Pittsburgh-themed table after seeing the always-inspiring @john_malecki make a table with a PGH-inspired base. I made the first design in SketchUp and then went through several rounds of changes after realizing that my design had poor structural integrity or was just too difficult to pull off. For those of you who don’t know, the top is a mostly to-scale map of Pittsburgh, with the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers creating the Ohio River. The table base is very roughly inspired by one of our famous bridges, the Roberto Clemente Bridge. The top is walnut and cherry, with @westsystemepoxy_ and “Eye Candy dark ocean blue” pigment for the rivers. Thanks to advice from my brother-in-science AND woodworking, Paul Jasper, Ph.D. (@copper_pig_fine_woodworking) I managed to install the walnut map center into the cherry frame using floating tenons. Paul literally drew the idea for me on a notepad through IG video chat. If he hadn’t suggested this, the whole top would probably have busted apart from seasonal wood movement. The legs are made from alder given to me for free by Matt Plazek (@mpi_woodworking) after I purchased some black walnut from him. The front and side arches are ash. The bottom shelf is walnut and cherry. The partially hidden shelf under the top is made from the cherry/maple pallet I found at work a few weeks ago. Walnut dowels we’re used throughout for support. I wanted the final look to be very natural with little sheen and no thick coat. So I went with the new Simple Finish oil and wax by @makerbrandco , deciding to give their stuff a try after hearing them on the @madeforprofit podcast. The look and feel is perfect! In the end, my wife @tam_a_ryn says she loves the table – and that’s all that matters to me. . . . #woodworking #handmade #woodporn #garageworkshop #homedecor #custommade #DoItYourself #furnituredesign #diyhomedecor #madeinpittsburgh #pittsburghartist #pittsburghpa #pittsburghwoodworking

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What I’m now dubbing the “Three Rivers Table” got its @makerbrandco Simple Finish tonight with @tam_a_ryn’s help. She also gave it the name, which is appropriate as Pittsburgh is the “three rivers” region because of the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers into the Ohio river. I’ll hopefully post some actual finished shots when I can get some good photos in natural light. But I’m super stoked with how it has turned out. I’ll mention all those details (and more) again in the final post, as well as the fact that it was initially inspired a year or two ago when I saw the badass @john_malecki make a Pittsburgh bridge-inspired table base. #madeinpittsburgh #pittsburghart #pittsburghwoodworking #diyfurniture #finewoodworking #woodworking #handmadefurniture

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Okay I did manage to squeeze in a quick half hour in the shop today. And since my post yesterday featured my wife @tam_a_ryn as a child in a South African Bosch Tools commercial, I figured I’d include my favorite little @boschtoolsna Flexiclick drill, which I used today to drill my walnut dowel support holes. This drill has come in handy so many times. This is not a paid advert. I just love my Bosch tools (especially my router) and the fact that they made my wife a child STAR! (Not really). For these dowels, I first used a forstner bit to get a clean hole then switched to a regular 1/2” bit. I started the first hole with a homemade jig and then realized I didn’t need it. By hand and eye worked just fine for the rest. I also chucked my dowels in my drill press to sand and make them slightly less snug.

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Pieces all cut and chamfered for the Pittsburgh side table! Next up: drilling holes for dowels to attach everything to the legs and base, then some final sanding (still haven’t sanded most of it), assembly, and finish! This may have to go on hiatus for a little while since we’re gonna have family staying with us for a week. Swipe for more info in the vid. Drilling for the dowels turned out to be as difficult and finicky as I anticipated. The first side sucked as I discovered that my jig didn’t work as well as I hoped. So I switched to angling the dowels, marking both sides, and drilling by eye. That actually worked much better on the other side. There was a lot of going back and forth to the table saw, belt saw, and disc sander to get the fit between the vertical supports and the arch just right. They are quite far from perfect, but I’m fine with how they turned out.

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Wooo Friday. Getting back to this map of Pittsburgh tonight, after spending some QT face-to-face video time with my side piece @copper_pig_fine_woodworking. And by “side piece” I mean virtual buddy who can give me advice on how best to try to avoid screwing this up too badly. I’m gonna attempt his recommendation of using floating tenons to attach the map piece to the frame that will be around it. If you swipe, you can also see the beginnings of the bridge mortises (pretty stoked with how precise I got the holes drilled), my quick DIY forstner stop collar made from a dowel, and the beautiful cherry I found hidden under the surface of that pallet I got from work. #aintnobodygottimeforhashtags

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I imagine these are super boring posts to many of you, but I was pretty excited to make my first tapered cuts tonight on the legs of the Pittsburgh Side Table. And I got to use my @rockler_woodworking taper jig for first time too. It took some finagling to get the jig set up, since my (awesome) DeWalt table saw doesn’t have the same miter slots or distance to the blade that the jig was made for. Had to drill some extra holes and remount the miter bar. But it worked beautifully. I could have built my own, but this came with the hold downs and knobs I wanted anyway. Worth it. And it’s more convenient than my shop-built straight edge jig. I’m making the legs from some alder I got from Matt @mpi_woodworking (great dude. Buy his wood. And he’s teaching classes on making live-edge tables now). I’m also tweaking the leg design. I don’t like the feet at the bottom in the model (which is based on the Clemente Bridge supports). I think this simple taper is more elegant. And won’t be as prone to getting kicked. </ramble> #woodworking #madeinpittsburgh #pittsburghartist #diyfurniture

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Frame for AT-AT Watercolor by Julia Werts – Daniel D. Brown, 2018

I acquired a gorgeous silhouette painting of the AT-AT scene from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back by Julia Kim Werts of The Paintbox Letters. This will be hanging in my geeky Star Wars-themed shop bathroom (see the instagram post below for a video of the bathroom). I built this quick and simple little frame using a couple of scrap pieces of walnut that were mostly bark (cutoffs from someone else’s king bed build). I managed to get just enough wood for the frame.

We have a tiny bathroom next to our shop/garage that is pretty much only used by me when I’m covered in sawdust. I started hanging a couple of my Star Wars artworks and the watercolor by @tam_a_ryn. Then one day I said “hey Honey, how would you feel if I just totally geeked out and made this a Star Wars room? I mean I’m the only one who ever sees it!”. Being the awesome wife she is, she was totally on board 🙂