A lot has happened since the last Cabinet Class blog! Rural Studio has transitioned their classrooms to remote learning for the remainder of the semester, in response to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Anyone see that coming? Not us.
To keep everyone safe, class is now being held on an online video platform. Obviously, this will change what is expected from students for the rest of the semester. Unfortunately, in accordance with Auburn University regulations, the Studio has put all on-site construction on hold, which includes 20K Ophelia’s Home. As a result of all of these changes, this class will regretfully be unable to fabricate their cabinets this semester.
This change in plans, however, will not stop the class from powering forward! Teams are now working remotely to finalize the design of their cabinets. With their final designs, students will create thorough sets of construction drawings and instructions for the use of Ophelia and Rural Studio. Hopefully, at the end of April, this class will have all components needed to build the cabinets, so the next class can construct cabinets when the Studio is able to return to the shop. Steve and Chelsea are excited to see the beautiful fabrication drawings this semester creates!
As assigned, the teams have been diligently working towards their cabinet designs. As part of their assignment, the teams built physical models, or mockups, of the cabinet itself. This is a very common practice at the Studio, which is used to test the fabrication process.
This means that the students finally get to build something in a shop class! Because a large component of this course’s assignment is using a CNC router, instead of traditional shop equipment, a number of the students ventured back to Auburn’s shop at Dudley Hall and CNC’d the cabinet pieces.
This week, the students’ five cabinet teams have been working hard on the design of their cabinets and of their fabrication process. To help students determine how their cabinets will be constructed, Steve and Chelsea implemented a design tool called a storyboard, which is a guide or instruction manual that documents the process, or evolution, of a built piece of work.
Storyboards flush out the order of procedure and give the students a method for testing the actual process of construction from start to finish. All of this work is helping the class move toward the fabrication of a built mockup, or prototype, of their final cabinets. These mockups will be reviewed as their midterm during the next weeks!
We had another special guest this week, this time from Auburn! Jon Byler, who operates the shop at CADC’s Dudley Hall, kindly took the time to pay the class a visit in Newbern. Because he’s an expert on the CNC-routing process, Jon is helping the students coordinate using the router to fabricate their millwork pieces. CNC-routing is a new and exciting adventure for the Shop Class, and Jon was incredibly helpful in giving an in-depth router tutorial along with some great advice on design and process.
This week 3rd-year students began the process of designing new cabinets for 20K Ophelia’s Home. The first assignment in this adventure, following Steve’s introductory lecture on Alabama’s Lumber Industry, is to do some research.
The students have been tasked to research not only the past millwork Rural Studio has typically used in their projects but also to interview Ophelia about her storage needs. Because Chelsea and Steve want all the help they can get, this week the class also got a visit from the Cochran brothers, millwork experts from Wood Studio in Arley, Alabama.
Dylan and Keith Cochran are old friends of Rural Studio. For over 15 years, they have served as the Studio’s go-to consultants for all things furniture and cabinetry-related. During their visit, they reviewed the students’ initial millwork research and gave feedback on design.
After reviewing two presentations, Dylan and Keith gave a very thorough demonstration on how to build a cabinet, which was not only incredibly informative but also a lot of fun for everyone.
During their workshop, the Keith and Dylan described what materials are required to put together cabinets. Following this explanation, they demonstrated the assembly process, which involved joining the following parts: a toekick, cabinet box, face frame, shelves, and a door with hinges. Throughout this tutorial, they emphasized the most important part of cabinet-making: sanding and finishing!
For the 3rd-year students, each semester begins by getting familiar with the Rural Studio Wood Shop and all it has to offer. The shop is very basic in the tools that it’s equipped with. So, students have to be creative in how they use each tool.
To kick off the class, the first task is to make a wooden cutting board in the shop. Each student is given three small pieces of cherry and walnut wood. After that, the limits are endless. With only the constraints of what is available in the shop, the design is up to whatever anyone wants to try.
By allowing the class to begin at a small scale, the cutting board project provides the opportunity to use and get familiar with all of the tools in the shop before moving to a larger and more difficult scale: cabinetry scale. The assignment also begins to facilitate an understanding of what it’s like to work with wood, which also proves helpful when the students work on the framing for Ophelia’s Home. Because there’s so much possibility, it’s always exciting to see the end result for each cutting board!