Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Scroll Saw Better Work

Custom work is some of my favorite stuff to do…  Why, you ask?  Well, it’s often times more challenging than what I come up with in my own little noggin’.  I do enjoy getting paid, but what I like even more than that, is the smile the piece puts on someone’s face. Especially since a lot of custom work ends up as a gift of some sort.
And, no, I will not accept smiles as payment.  I’m not that altruistic.  :)
This custom item was no different-it, too, was to become a gift.  Except, during the making of this piece, I had my trials.
The goal?  A gift from an intern to a fire station, where he was working.  He wanted to present them with something to show his appreciation for what he’s learned.
Sweet, huh?  Yeah, I thought so, too, and I jumped on that little train.
This is the emblem, to begin the design:

Now, there were to be a few changes.  Instead of the yellow, add dark blue.  Instead of the building in the center, add words instead.
No problem.  I worked up a mock-up in the software and sent it to my customer.  He ended up loving the idea.  The whole thing was supposed to be carved – cause, you know, the business name is Rustic “Carvings”….
That didn’t happen.
The back board was made out of MDF, to be easily painted, and the machine carved it like a dream.  Like, butter.  The detail was astonishing!!
However, the dust from the MDF gunked up the machine (aka Carvey), and to this day, it still isn’t working.  MDF dust is extremely fine.  A part for Carvey is being sent this week, but in the meantime, this project was due, uh…..today.  Tuesday.
So, this weekend, when I saw the machine wasn’t going to be fixed, I started thinking up other things I could do to make this project finish on time.  I could cut more MDF, and just paint it.  But, I didn’t think that would look very good.  Kinda flat and….ew.
I started digging through the wood pile, in my mind, one day while I was watching TV. Hm. I have white wood and cedar.  I bet I can cut the middle and center shapes out, and paint the detail.  That may be cool.
I checked my email, and the customer had emailed asking how it’s coming along, since he knew my machine was out of commission.  I explained where I was, and gave options.  We can still carve it, but he wouldn’t have it for Tuesday.  Or, we can do the option as described above, and get it done.
He chose the second option.  Cool.  Can I get it done in one day, he asked?  Sure thing!
“Are you sure you can get it done?”, he emailed back again.
Now, when I say I can do something, I don’t always know “how” I’m going to accomplish the task.  Especially in a compressed time period.  I just know I will find a way.  Sometimes I just make it up as I go along, but I try to exude confidence to the customer as I go.  :)
And, that’s basically what happened.  At 7am the next morning, I was out in the garage – the 27 degree garage – scouting wood to use.  I printed the shapes on the printer, and then cut them with the scroll saw.
Interesting story with the scroll saw – I turned it on and it was going r.e.a.l.l.y. s.l.o.w….and I told it, “Okay, now, I need you to work for me.”  I turned a few knobs.  Coaxed it along, and wha-lah, it was working again.
When I was done with those, I put the pieces on the MDF board that already had one coat of paint on it, and….well, it kinda looked like the board had a nose.  That wasn’t going to work.  A little white-wash fixed that problem right up.
My husband was home sick, and he graciously sat at the kitchen table cutting stencils for me, and taping pieces of wood so I can paint lines easily.  Basically, all the “not fun” stuff.
It took about 9 hours, yesterday, to finish it, but it was totally worth the end result.  I impressed myself.  And, let me tell you, I’m not easily impressed.

Total time to make it?  Oh, about 15 hours or so, including design time.  It ended up pretty big, too, even if I forgot to measure the dimensions.  It was at least 15″ long, give or take an inch.

I know this business isn’t saving lives, or anything of the sort, but I treat it as important because gifts make a big difference in people’s lives.  If I need to work harder and longer, to make sure something gets done on time, then that’s what I’ll do.
It’s not the customer’s fault Carvey broke down.
So, people of Addison Fire Department there on C-Shift, thanks for all you did to help this intern learn and experience new things.  I hope this piece put a smile on your faces.  You work hard, I know it.
And, thank you, Lord, for making my husband sick so he can help me.  ;)
The End.

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