Failures & F*ck-ups…

…are what we specialize in! I think that’s going to be our new motto.
Learning to do something well requires about 95% failure for 5% success. Good thing I’m so dang good at effing-up!  There’s no better way to find out what works best than to find all the ways that don’t work. Let’s all just be glad I do pub furnishings and not brain surgery.
Along with building up our workshop and equipment, the past year has been spent on making and testing prototype after prototype. Our goal has been to create the best quality pieces while keeping them as affordable as possible. Accomplishing this while making the business viable (as in, we actually make a living at it) has been a lot tougher than you would imagine.

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I’ve made dozens of the test pieces you see in the photo.  Testing everything from materials – the chemistry of combining various epoxies, dyes and finishes, wood types, tap inserts;  the process – curing the epoxy, repairing epoxy bubbles and wood flaws; designs – tap size and shape,  redesigning graphics;  to optimizing all the tools and equipment – jigs, cnc tools and cutting paths,  vacuum chambers and epoxy heaters etc.

 

*big breath*
The list seems endless but I think we’re finally….maybe….about 95% the way there. The next 5% should be awesome! Here are a few tips we’ve learned along the way:

WORKING WITH EPOXY – TIPS FOR BEST RESULTS

If you’re interesting in experimenting with epoxy pours yourself, here are a few tips we’ve figured out along the way. Hopefully these will save you a bit of time:

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– Warm the room to around 23˚ c

– Be sure your epoxy is stored in a warm place. You may even want to warm it in a warm water bath (not hot!) before using.

– Use either graduated cups or a kitchen scale when pouring both parts to be sure the amounts are correct.

– Stir gently to prevent beating in any air.

– Use two cups for the mix – stir the first time in one, then transfer to the second cup and use a fresh stick for the second stir. This will ensure the mix is fully blended.

– There are several dyes available to tint epoxy. Transparent dyes give the best effect. We’ve had a lot of luck with Tamiya acrylic clear paints.

– If you are pouring onto wood, you may wish to slightly heat the wood first. I find the warming setting in the oven works well. This helps to reduce bubbles. When you pour onto cool wood, the warming epoxy will cause the air in the wood to off-gas, creating more bubbles. Warming the wood first reduces this effect.

– Try not to pour thicker than 1/8 inch layers

– If pouring a large surface, mix and pour as quickly as possible. Larger quantities will kick off the curing reaction faster as the heat rises faster. If you pour too slowly, you will notice a wavy or bumpy “orange-peel” effect on the surface.

– If you have micro-bubbles or cloudiness to the finish, either your room or your epoxy is too cold.

– Of all the methods to remove bubbles, using a propane torch gently and quickly passing over the surface seems to work best. However use caution as overheating the epoxy, or the wood that it is poured into, can ruin the piece. Don’t aim the flame directly on the epoxy.

– Check the surface again after 20 minutes or so and torch again if needed.

TO SAND OR NOT TO SAND?

blog180606_repairIn my opinion, you’ll get the best results by making a perfect pour then leaving it unsanded. That’s how your get that beautiful, liquid-pour, glassy surface. However, this can be incredibly tricky and time consuming, especially on detailed carvings with multi colours and can require careful syringe work. A great time saver is sanding after the epoxy cures. It means that you can just pour the epoxy without as much time and care, not worrying about spill-over as you will be sanding the piece down after. It is a slight compromise on the finished look, but it’s worth it if you are concerned about saving time. If you sand the surface well, down to a fine grit, then apply finish, the end result is still beautiful!

A drawback to sanding means that bubbles are exposed on the surface as holes in the epoxy. If you follow the above hints, you should end up with a hole free surface. However, holes may still appear.

The best way to deal with them is to scrub them out with water and a fine nail brush to remove sanding debris, (no soap) let it dry, then mix a tiny bit of clear epoxy into the holes. Wait for it to cure then sand again.
Also, be sure you have allowed enough cure time before sanding.
Feel free to email us with questions or suggestions!

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Fires & Foosball

May long weekend signals the start of the summer season, beach fires, backyard parties & beers on the patio. It’s my favorite time of year. It’s one of the best times of year to have a home pub or tiki bar with cold beer on tap!

This long weekend did not disappoint. I got to play bartender at the Rogue Festival Human Foosball Tournament fundraiser.

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If you missed it, be sure not to miss out on the Rogue Festival this August. The giant human sized foosball court will be there.
We finished the weekend with a beach fire and a pint or two of Hoyne Pilsner, with our Foosball teammates the West Creek Hooligans!

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Derek and I are gearing up this week for the Sunshine Coast Maker Faire this weekend! We’re looking forward to exhibiting again this year with many of our latest Home Pub Furnishing projects!

Here are a few highlights from the slideshow below:

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I figured we should show some customer reviews and awards and stuff. It makes us look like we know what we’re doing. Even if they are awarded by our Moms.

many rubbish!

When I go to a gallery exhibition, I love to see the artist’s earlier works or practice sketches. It reminds me of the amount of work and practice that goes in before you make something you’re happy with.
It also reminds me that,unless you’re some kind of super human freak, most artists generally don’t start out creating great works, they create a lot of crap before it starts to get any good.

The key thing is, they don’t give up.

I find this even more inspiring than seeing the finished pieces.
Over the past few months we’ve been cutting prototype after prototype, trying out different finishing techniques and materials, creating a lot of crap and some good things. I’ve also been tweaking and improving all the tap designs and I thought I’d show an example of a first attempt alongside the latest version of same.
Keep in mind this “First” edition is still the one that made it to production. My actual first sketch of Krampus looked like something a talentless, drunk chimpanzee might draw.
Incase there’s ever a burgeoning market for talentless, drunk chimpanzee art, I’ll hang on to it.
For now, here are the first and last edition Krampus Winter Ale taps:

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On Schedule

We’re only about 2 weeks behind schedule so far, which is actually about 2 weeks less behind schedule than I thought we’d be at this point. So we’re actually ahead of schedule.
Work on the taps is going swimmingly. I’ve got 16 tap designs that we’ll be launching at the end of the month. We’ve been testing finishes and getting the process down, faster and faster.
Derek will be doing some big upgrades to the CNC in the next couple of months. We’ll post a video once it’s done. A shopping cart will follow in fall with more products coming in spring (bar stools, pub signs etc).
Here are a couple of new taps freshly engraved on the CNC ready to be cut out and filled with epoxy.

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Our latest taps including this one, as well as our bar stools are currently at the GPAG till the end of the month.

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Chapter One – The Great Renovation

It may have appeared as though Derek and I dropped off the face of the earth sometime this past year. Rest assured, we have just been wholly preoccupied with what is now referred to in hushed tones as “The Great Renovation of 2016” or “The Renovation to End All Renovations”. It has been all-consuming and exhausting, driven by obsession bordering on madness, and has left time for little else. And now…dare I say…we’re done? No, I’d best not, that’s just begging for trouble.

As you may already know, Derek and I bought our first house in 2013, beside the beach in Roberts Creek. It’s a lovely spot, and has been a dream come true after many years of renting.

carpetThe house was about 1000 sq ft, and badly in need of some attention. It came with 30 year old, stained and peeling kitchen cupboards, some creative wiring and the infamous blue carpet that you will be all too familiar with if you’ve ever been a guest here. The blue carpet has endured decades of use with different families, children and pets before we finally finished it off. Daily tracking in sand and dirt, muddy paws from the garden, one incontinent senior dog, 2 new puppies were more than our carpet cleaner could handle. Gross. Why, yes it was.

We tackled our first, smaller renos in our first year here. The first stage of our workshop and the bathroom reno. (old blog post here) The bathroom was a surprise, high-priority item when we realized that the base of the toilet was leaking into the floor which of course was made of particle board and not plywood. Surprise! The swelling of the particleboard caused the toilet to recline further and further back each day. I fondly referred to it as “The Lazyboy”.

These first renos gave us a good idea of what to expect for time and cost as we started planning for the Big One. Even so, it was a daunting project to take on.

The first stage of drawing up the architectural diagrams, floor-plans and elevations and planning all the interior finishings, was actually a lot of fun. That’s because the project was still imaginary in my head at that point, and imaginary projects are easy and don’t cost anything. That all changed.

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I think it was when the concrete boom truck showed up in the driveway that I realized, “Oh shit, this is actually happening in real life” and “Who’s in charge here and how is it that I was allowed to make these decisions like I’m an actual adult?”

We have hired Laurie Lacovetsky of Sound Construction with his capable crew, Scott and Andy for all our renos and we’ve never regretted it. They are hard working and knowledgeable with great attention to detail. pour1Progress went very quickly on the back extension to the house and workshop and within a few months they were tearing up the inside.
It was a colder than normal winter this year when our drywall and insulation was removed from the walls and ceiling, and our kitchen torn out. It was then, with impeccable timing, our dryer gave out.

Here are a few photos from December:

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The dismantled kitchen and new cabinets piled up in the living room, our wet clothes hanging from makeshift clotheslines, but best of all, no blue carpet. In hindsight, it might have been a good idea to move out during this part.

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Once the main renovations were done, we did much of the finishing work, wood trim, painting etc. ourselves to save cost, and to be honest, because I enjoy using power tools. This kept us greatly occupied for many months.

Fast forward a few more months, we have no more blue carpet, and lots of cool before and after photos. I think it was worth it. What do you think?

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counter1P1070023Beautiful concrete counters by Julien of La Cote Concrete and Maple counter by Christian of Lafor Wood Products. Why yes, that is a plumbed in beer tap in the above photo, on the left. Also on the left, a cutting board I made from cherry wood from a tree we cut down in the back yard.

In the photo below, the pebble floor beside the patio door is mostly sourced from the beach and is a great way to hide the dirt that the pups track in every day. The cedar panel along the front of my desk came from a cedar tree we took down in the back of our house. The center of the tree was split and rotten but there was still plenty of perfectly good wood that we have used throughout the house.

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New Guest Room

 

Chapter Two – The Pub

When I was a wee lass, perhaps 5 or 6 years old, my family took us for a camping trip in the English country side. The English weather lived up to its good name. It rained the entire time and the field was muddy. Before long, my wonderful father suggested the brilliant idea of taking me to a nearby pub. I realize now that it was probably at the request of my Mother, to get me out of her hair so that she could get the tent set up. (Thanks Mum) However, at the time, I just thought my Dad wanted to take me on a great adventure.
My memory of that pub is as keen as if I was there yesterday. The worn wooden bar top, darts and snooker tables, footy on the telly, and the stench of stale beer soaked carpets …. in other words….paradise! I was perched up on a tall bar stool and given a strongbow to sip. Oh what heavenly nectar, sweet as a hummingbird’s kiss! I was done with camping, this was what life was all about.
It made an indelible mark on my young mind and since then, it’s been my lifelong dream to have my own private pub in my own house.
Well, now we do, complete with plumbed in kegs. Here’s Derek pouring a pint:

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The Bartender is in the house! Our bar stools are shown here in progress. More about that project below.

It includes a 9ft long custom maple bar top which has been in the works for a while.
It started about 8 years ago when in Reimer hardwood I came across a 9 ft, 2 inch thick by 14 inch flawless slab of maple. I decided that one day it would be our bar top. We lugged it around for several years before we made it here. With the kitchen reno designed, we realized that the maple slab fit the bar area perfectly – almost like it was meant to be.

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We cut the map of Roberts Creek into the surface with the CNC. The top is made with tinted epoxy in about 8 pours – a tricky process.

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Derek built a glycol cooled beer tower out of heavy steel tubing plumbed with food safe lines. (Of course he did)
The beer taps are the next project. They will be cut from maple and walnut, one for each beer style.

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Today, I’m putting the last coat of finish on the 2 final bar stools. These feature four rather cheery local scenes (Georgia strait, Elphinstone, Granville Street and the unforgettable Vancouver Skyline) The beautiful stool legs were created by the incredibly talented Kelly Backs (our local blacksmith). treeblacksmith.com

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Summer is now even better!

Thank-you Ian Ridgway for our fab new deck! We LOVE it!!

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Other than sanding and finishing deck boards, we have been working on loads of new projects.

The latest is our awesome beach beer box! Last summer we realized we needed a box to carry our beer to the beach (Yes, yes I know, poor me!) so this year we made one.

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We also made several for a few friends.

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We’ll be posting lots of new projects up in the coming weeks including 3D printed lamps and yet another, even more awesome 3D printer!

Looking forward to showing the new 3D printer up and running at the Synchronicity Festival in a couple of weeks!