Sunday, January 29, 2012

Trip to Laguna Tools

Time to geek-out on equipment!  One of my favorite things.  In this case, we are talking about studio equipment to work with wood and composites.  More about my quest to find the right metal forming equipment later… 

Going in, I knew that I wanted to invest in some specialized equipment that would allow me to work with reclaimed materials more efficiently than I have been able to in the past.  The problem with reclaimed materials is, well, that it’s reclaimed.  Most of the stuff I find is embedded with foreign objects (usually metal fasteners) and it’s rarely straight.  About 20% of the time I can use a piece as-is with no rework.  This is great for preserving the original patina. The other 80% of the time, I have to square up and dimension the material, which can be really hard on equipment.  Chipped blades are the worst (and most expensive).

Enter Laguna Tools in Irvine, California.  I have been in discussions with them for some time about upgrading my CNC equipment for the new studio.  After a few weeks talking to Steve Alvarez, we went from a new CNC machine, to signing a deal for a whole studio full of Laguna equipment.  For a purchase this size, I decided to fly out and sit down with them in person.

Equipment staged for me at Laguna
When I arrived at Laguna I found they had pulled the equipment and uncrated it outside the warehouse so I could take a closer look.  This picture includes the jointer (16”), edge sander (139”) , widebelt sander (43”), and a planer (25”) in the back.  Not shown is the 24x24 band saw that Laguna is so famous for, a couple of huge cyclone dust collectors, and of course the 5x12 CNC machine.

Laguna ShearTec cutting head
This picture shows the internal workings of the planer and Laguna’s ShearTec cutting head used in both the planer and jointer.  This is perfect for the type of work I will be doing in the studio.  Now when I encounter something hidden in the wood, I only lose a row of these tiny cutting heads as opposed to an entire set of blades.  At only a few bucks a piece, with four sides per blade and easy to replace, these little guys are going to be a real life saver!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Warehouse Envy

This story would not be complete, unless you knew how I ended up where I am. I had the mission, the plan and the drive to start my studio but I was missing a crucial part. Space. I needed creative room to design a studio.  One that was both functional and inspiring! I’d like to say that I executed some well thought out plan, but that is far from the truth. One day my designer and I were shopping and while walking through the Design District in Dallas I was overwhelmed with thoughts that I had to be there. I felt inspired, creative and a sense of purpose as I walked through the streets and shops. I immediately began my search for warehouse space. The warehouse on Leslie was only the second property I toured. Immediately upon walking in, I knew I was in the space that would become Studio 217. At the time, the 6,000 square foot warehouse was being used for storage and I was barely able to look past the floor to ceiling towers of boxes. I was still able to see the potential past all the cardboard. Three weeks after the conception of my idea, I owned a warehouse.

Warehouse after the boxes are out

The warehouse needs a lot of work. It is basically a shell. No HVAC and barely any electricity or plumbing. It’s screaming attributes include a beautiful pine ceiling, a concrete slab, two over-sized delivery bays, and a killer panoramic view of downtown Dallas from the roof. 

Future location of a roof-top deck
Am I over my head? If I wasn’t then, I have decided that I was going to use this space to both live and work. In addition to making this Studio217, I am going to build a loft out the back of the warehouse to live in. Now is the time to call me crazy. Stay tuned for all the excitement and progress of this amazing space as it becomes a reality.