Class Photo


Which is to say that this is a photo of BARN’s first Shaker Bentwood Box Making Class.  The fellow with the confused look on his face is the instructor (yours truly).

Although there were four slots for the class, only three lucky folks signed up.  Everyone had a great time and I’m confident that they all walked away with the skills to reproduce  the great work that they did in class.

While working alone in my own shop is both satisfying and rewarding, there is nothing like the feeling that comes from passing on how to do what you know and love.  I’m looking forward to teaching the next class.



Persistence pays

Hey Folks,

I’ve been of several minds over the title of this post because it covers a number of different reasons for a recent success.  The success was finding some beautifully ray fleck  figured white oak for my next set of Limbert tabourets.


Ray flecks are slices through the radial, medullary rays of the log.  These rays look like the spokes on a wheel when viewed from the end of the log.  Only logs that are quarter sawn will slice through these rays.


Any other orientation of the log to the saw, and the rays become invisible. In any quarter sawn log, only about 25% of the boards will have any visible ray flecks at all.  This is all a product of the art and skill of the sawyer (as a woodworker I have no part in this), and so one idea for the title was to write an homage to the sawyer.

Thus, in any batch of quarter sawn white oak, there is a chance that some of the boards will have ray fleck figure.  So, if you have an indulgent reseller, or a good relationship with a sawyer, they might let you pick through their stock and select all the best pieces. That thought prompted the idea that I should acknowledge my supplier, Edensaw Hardwoods, and their very patient forklift operators.

But ultimately, unstacking, selecting and re stacking bundles of lumber is frustrating and physically hard work.  It’s really only possible with the help of a dedicated assistant who is truly supportive and believes in your vision of success.  So here’s to the persistence (and patience) of my best assistant ever (thank you Kris).


It’s always sumpthin’

It sometimes seems as though no matter what you’ve got planned, there’s an alternate reality looming ahead.  Take for instance prepping thin stock for the shaker style tray making class.  Just pull the drum sander out from the wall and get started then…  Aaurgh! the casters under the carriage collapse.

Okay, so the drum sander is insanely heavy, and the casters have always been inadequate and there is never a good time for a failure, but…  Aaurgh anyway!


So instead of the too small (3″), too weak original equipment, I went ahead and ordered a set of  heavy duty 4″ cast iron casters with premium urethane tires.  Only problem is that the mountings for the 3″ casters don’t allow the 4″ casters to caster, that is swivel a full 360º.  It’s always sumpthin’.


A few pieces of scrap plate steel, and some help from my friends at BARN (thanks Jamie), and a day’s work putting it all together and the drum sander is mobile again, only this time much more smoothly and easier to push around.


Now, what was I doing before I was interrupted?

Prepping for class

Hey Folks,

I haven’t been posting much lately because I’ve been working on a commission, and I don’t comment on a client’s commission until it’s finished and they agree to the post.  The job’s done though, so now onto other things.

Working alone in the shop has its rewards and I do enjoy it, but I also enjoy interaction with other wood workers as well.  So toward that end, I have agreed to teach a series of courses at BARN (the Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network) on Bainbridge Island.  Bainbridge is just a half hour ferry trip from downtown Seattle, and BARN has a great creative facility.

The students will be making shaker bentwood boxes, and shaker styled tray sets.  I’m prepping all the stock for the boxes and trays, but the students will each make three of their own boxes and four of their own trays.  In the photos you can see the stock for both, ready for school plus two sets of trays ready for finishing.  The trays will be used for display at BARN and my own display window at the shop.


It’s nearly harvest time

Hey Folks,

I’m lucky enough to have my shop in an older neighborhood with a number of really old and interesting trees.  Earlier this year, I showed off a dogwood tree from the neighborhood, this time it’s a venerable American chestnut ready to pop.


Every year this tree is heavily laden with chestnuts that all seem to wait until the first really cold night.   Then they seemingly all drop at once, causing all the neighborhood squirrels to literally “go nuts”


The tree is quite large, over six feet in diameter.  While this is not unusual for older chestnuts in rural areas, it is unusual to find one this big in an urban residential neighborhood.  I’m pretty sure that it’s over 100 years old.  The American chestnut was nearly wiped out by a chestnut blight around the beginning of the last century.  Prior to that, it was a major lumber species in the eastern United States.  Cultivation as a garden landscape species has preserved it for future generations.



I may have a problem

They say that the first step in recovery is to admit that you have a problem.

Hoarding disorder is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items. Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs.  Hoarding disorder – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic

I’m afraid that I might be a wood hoarder.  I used to think that I merely had a wood storage problem, but now I think that it may have progressed to something larger.  My shop is becoming choked with offcuts, surplus, and bits of scrap that I’m sure to find a need for, …someday.


The aggravating thing about this problem is that I often do find a need for a piece, and a piece for a need, thus justifying the existence of my growing collection.

It’s getting to the point where I’m hoping for a long cold winter that will tempt me to stoke the wood stove with some of it.

Maybe I can find a support group of similarly afflicted folks that I can share my pain with.


Dock Chairs, last of the season

Hey Folks,

Last summer, I finished four dock chairs too late in the season to sell them.  So they were stored away until summer rolled around this year, then they sold right away.  We’ve been traveling a lot this summer and once again, I’m only now getting around to finishing up another set.  These will likely be the last of the season as I have other projects waiting to get started that will take me into the autumn.

So, here we have Peggy Tzu and her friend, Pugsley modeling our latest dock chairs in Acapulco Blue, Fearless Red, and Sunshine Yellow.  In addition, I have one yellow and one red nearing completion.  After that, you’ll probably have to wait again until next year.  I say probably, because I have enough seat slats to make another chair, but no legs.  It turned out that I over estimated the yield I would get from the stock that I bought for the legs.  I was hoping to make six chairs and got five.  So if I end up with extra time later on, I might be induced to make a set of legs, but don’t count on it.fullsizeoutput_3e0