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Yoga Blocks

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010


Basswood blocks 4″ x 6″ x 9″


Monday, December 14th, 2009

finished.jpgThe soma cube is a 3D puzzle made from six of the eight tetromino (tetris) shapes and one c-shaped triomino.  Four cubes can be assembled in eight ways.  The soma cube dropped the square and the spear, and added the C to make 27 unit cubes with seven pieces.



A few years ago I realized that two complete sets of tetrominoes in 3D would add up to 64 unit cubes.  This would make a four by four by four cube if it could be assembled.   So this past week I cut wood, making enough pieces for ten sets.



The pile of pieces are the cutoffs from the rectangular blanks.  The stack in front is cut pieces.

So far (200912302122), 3 sets of supersoma and 6 sets of soma: 1 and 2 completed, respectively.

Walnut Bench

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

 I purchased a 16″ wide, eight foot plank of walnut from Rosenzwieg Lumber for $82.  There was a large knot about eight inches in diameter two feet from one end.  A hole, actually.  The color of the wood and the grain were outstanding.  The bench is four feet long, a foot wide and 11 inches high.




While I don’t agree with the purpose, the bench is being used as a step into a bed 30″ off the ground.

Two Pentomino Sets, and three from 2001

Monday, December 29th, 2008


Two more sets.  Click to enlarge.

Two more sets of pentominoes.   The woods:  V:  Basswood, Z:  Cherry, F:  Koa, I:  Yellow Pine, Ebony, L:Maple, P:  Holly, N:  White Oak, T: Mulberry, U:  Padouk, W:  Poplar, X: Bubinga, Bolivian Rosewood, Y:  Fir, Red Oak, D:  Yew.  The Frames are Cherry.  The boards are 9mm Baltic Birch, with 1/16 inch width grooves.


I visited friends in Paris in June of 2001.  I hadn’t finished the pentomino sets to use as gifts, so the first day there I tried to buy some shellac flakes and alcohol.  No, I don’t speak a word of French.  The funny thing, when I finally found some in the equivalent of a Home Depot,  they were manufactured a few blocks from where I was staying.

Mahogany frames leveled with red filler before finishing.


Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

I’ve been making sets of pentominoes for many years.  The twelve pieces, each made up of five connected squares, fit into 6×10, and all other rectangles of 60 squares.  I added the square tetromino for an 8×8 board, which is also square.  Originally, I made the pieces out of baltic birch plywood, and beveled the edges.  For more elegance and playability the pieces are made from individual woods.  This contrasts the pieces so they are easier to find.  The wood is quartersawn, so the pattern doesn’t detract from the color of the wood.  Quartersawn wood finishes brighter, because the sliced open rays on the face are cut along their length, sending the light right back to you.


Extreme closeup of a bag of pieces cut, waiting to be finished.  The thickness is 5.5 mm, or just under 1/4 inch.  The unit squares are 3/4 inch, or 19.05mm.  Tolerances have been kept to about one-tenth millimeter, or one-two hundredth of an inch (All cuts are within .005 inches).  Digital calipers are a blessing and a curse!  I need an inch and a half:  the test cut is 1.498 inches(after 1.451, 1.504, 1.520).  OK, I’ll live with it.  The very white wood is holly.


Here the pieces have been coated with a wash coat of shellac.

20081222-016.jpg A box of boards.  All the boards are about ten years old, waiting to be finished.  The cherry piece on top is done.  Masking tape covers the incised boards, which are finished prior to the frames being glued around them.20081223-001.jpg

Two sets of pentominoes.   The woods:  V:  Basswood, Z:  Cherry, Red Cedar, F:  Koa, I:  Yellow Pine, Ebony, L:Maple, P:  Holly, N:  White Oak, T: Mulberry, U:  Padouk, W:  Poplar, X:  Bolivian Rosewood, Y:  Red Oak, D:  Yew, Plum.  The Frames are Mahogany and Plum.  The boards are 9mm Baltic Birch, with 1/16 inch width grooves.


More to come.

The Black Box

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

I started this job in May, expecting to finish in a month.  Early September it will be delivered.  othersideformica.jpg

This is a glueup of a two by four foot panel:  the upper mdf is getting the formica, so the glue doesn’t drip.  Overnight to dry and then the other piece.


If you look carefully, you will see white glue squeeze-out at the ends, and grey glue squeeze-out along the black edges, which were previously formica’d.    I use PVA white glue, and purchased Acrylic Mars Black in a tube.  About five percent of the acrylic mixed into the white glue makes black glue.    How black?  This black:


These are drips from one of the glue-ups.


The Black Box is a TV cabinet to hold a 65″ HD monitor on top, with four shelves below for electronics.  The shelves are adjustable, so I needed to drill holes for the shelf pins.


These are the ends being glued to the top.  Acute readers will notice the edge of the top has no formica.  I was trimming the long edges of these pieces (top and bottom) which are two feet by four feet on a router table.  They were too much to handle, and tilted against the trimmer bit (TWO bearings for safety) and the blades scuffed the formica.  I was pressing too hard and unknowingly tilted the panel enough to let the trimmer dig in.  I had to cut off the edges.  I will be gluing one piece over all the front edges to get a good look to the  box.


This lets you see the shelf holes.  I purchased black sleeves and black pins for the shelves.


Here the top and bottom are connected.  The diagonal clamp makes everything square while the glue dries.  The ends got a double row of #20 biscuits 5 x 2 , the middle a single row of 5.gluebase.jpg

The base will be offset one inch from all the edges.  baseformica.jpg

Gluing up formica on the base.


Shelves under construction.


The completed unit in place.  This is the front.  Nothing attracts dust like electronics.  You can see the black inserts in the holes. I should have painted the bottoms of the holes, but worried the paint would keep the inserts from seating.


The back showing the wiring.  This box is holding a 65″ Plasma TV, nearly two hundred pounds.  It doesn’t budge.  I glued a full sheet on the front edges and the back.  By the end, I had cut up five sheets of 4 x 8 formica.

Hallway Bridges

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Swinging bookcase

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Twenty Foot Shelf

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Redwood fence around tree, with benches

Friday, June 13th, 2008



Here’s the tree box with two benches attached. The slats are maple (Vermont Maple, from a discarded futon frame) and the frame and braces are yellow pine. A 2 x 12 ten feet long was hanging in the rafters for a few years after I brought it home from my mothers house, where it had been hanging in the rafters for more than thirty years. A bookcase project (future article) required a base to clamp against, so I cut the plank down to eight feet by nine inches. It’s still the flattest piece of real wood that size I have ever owned. So, two feet leftover, and a 2 x 2 eight feet long provided all the lumber I needed for the construction of the two benches, which are 40 inches long and a foot wide. The frames are made with bridle joints glued first, and then reinforced with screws that hold the outer slats. The outer slats are attached to the frame along their length, and the inner slats are screwed to the frame only at the ends, so they are springy. The braces are two pieces of one by two glued together. The angle is 30 degrees, one piece is cut short to make a rabbet to fit around the frame. All the wood was clear; such a pleasure to use. The slats and the braces are beveled on their edges all around.

Four hours for the two benches, one hour for the braces, and one hour to install. Two one-mile walks to deliver; benches and braces. That’s me (finkh, Howard Fink) and the client admiring the result.

Location: Third Street between B and C, New York, New York.