Saturday, December 29, 2007

Dorset Custom Furniture Receives Design Award

We were completely surprised by our recent Design Portfolio Award from Custom Woodworking Business Magazine. Amazingly, this is our fourth award in four years of entering this design competiton. In the past, they have always notified us ahead of time, but for some reason, this year, they just sprung it on us as a surprise. I was casually reading my latest issue Friday morning with my coffee, admiring the winner's furniture, turned the page and there we were. A good way to start the day! Our honorable mention winning entry was a custom poker table we built for a client in Connecticut. The hand tooled custom leather was produced by Russ Heath of Heath's Restoration in Pomfret Center, CT. The Entry Notes for my project state:

"This project was unique because the client wanted to recreate a table that he had seen 20 years ago and never forgot. There were no photographs available - the table was designed from the client's memory, and, according to him, it turned out'better than the original'."
It was a pleasure working with the client on this project and in a recent message I heard that the table was having some good karma for him. We also made a dining table and chairs for their dining room this year.

Custom Snowboard Event Trophies

Sam the Metalman from Dorset Custom Furniture made these four 'trophies' for the Annual Vew Do Rail Jam that took place at the Manchester, Vermont Applejack Field on December 29th. The event is open to snowboarders and skiers of all ages and all proceeds benefit the Manchester Rec Skateboard Park. They're quick welded sculptures that truly capture the spirit of the event.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dorset Custom Furniture Featured On The Cover of The Woodworkers "Rolling Stone"

Dorset Custom Furniture is featured on the cover of this January's (2008) Woodshop News. Woodshop News is a national magazine that bills itself as 'The News Magazine For Professional Woodworkers'. It is a nice, widely read trade magazine similar in size, shape and feel to the music magazine 'Rolling Stone', and we're very honored to have been selected for the cover story. The article, written by Brian Caldwell, features a brief history of the business with a focus on our fairly recent purchase of a MultiCam CNC router. Woodshop News is available at many fine local building products stores.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Models and Mockups (Continued)

This is a continuation of an earlier post regarding mockups and models and shows the actual project in the process. We're now working on the doors based on the decisions we made earlier, after viewing the full size mockup, to make the doors 'lighter' and narrower. To the left is the modified cad drawing showing the new proportions. Jeremy has now completed the rough joinery and is now patching the obvious bad spots in the recycled chestnut that we're using to build them, then we'll add the decorative details to the stiles and rails and add the boards to close off the lower panel openings.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Curved Drawer Front Joinery

The curved drawer fronts are applied over laminated pieces that we made for the fronts of the drawer boxes. This required seperate forms for the drawer face and the drawer box front, each with a different radius. Mark first drilled the sides using and angled jig on the drill press, clamped the fronts between the sides and extended the holes into the curved box fronts. He then inserted glue and pounded in the dowels ... slick and strong ...

Wenge, Hickory and Steel Art Deco Style Pieces


These pieces all had their seperate design and execution complications, but in the end, they all came out well and all the complications were resolved. One of the nicest details is the angled tops of the wenge cases that are complemented by the recessed, round hickory moldings that set off the recessed again hickory doors and drawers. That stepping in feature led us on quite a hunt to find the proper hinges when we remembered that the client wanted mirrors on the insides of the doors.
The low piece is two sided and only 32" deep so the drawers had to be fairly shallow. We ended up making the door cabinet shallow which allowed half of the drawers on one side to be deeper. The top is faux painted mdf for the photo and the piece will have an onyx top when it gets to NYC.
The tall chest was the most straight forward of the three, but selecting the veneers for a pleasing light/dark pattern involved some trial and error.
The armoire was just like the others, only bigger, heavier, and hair raising to get the two big veneered doors to lie in a plane and close correctly given the lack of case frame structure. Most of the work on these pieecs was done by Mark Granfors before he moved South. Finishing by Jeremy Russell, steel bases by Sam Mosheim and Jim Parsons. Teamwork, teamwork.

Five (not so) Easy Pieces

This week we finished up five pieces that have been in the works for quite a while. Four of them are for one client, and they will be delivered to New York City this week. The desk was for other clients on Long Island and it will be delivered the week of the 17th. All were complex and challenging pieces involving veneers, custom fabricated metal work, both steel and brass, and complicated design details. They are all, coincidentally, heavily influenced by the historic Art Deco Design Style. Three are fabricated from wenge, hickory and steel and will reside in the same room, the zebrawood table is for the same clients but will be in a different room and the curly maple desk is for a completely different, but also, long time client. The desk is a design collaboration with the interior designer Judith Stutt of Weston, VT.

This zebrawood table posed all kinds of challenges, from resawing the veneers and selecting which ones to use where, the order of steps in the veneering process, fabricating and attaching the brass feet and little 3/8" moldings on the legs, the double curving veneered aprons, and matching the 'waterfall' veneers as they wrapped around the corners. That last step invovlved cutting and labeling the veneers as they came off the flitch. Nicely executed by Jeremy Russell.

This desk had numerous challenges including working with thin curly maple veneer, multiple forms for the drawer boxes and fronts, jigs for cutting the ebony lines on the top and drawer face edges, the diamond shaped side inlays, the curved drawer box joinery, etc., etc.

For the drawers, because the fronts were curved on a smallish raidus , we had to create a new joinery system as the short grain of the dovetails on the curved wood did not have enough integrity. Mark came up with an angled dowel joint that was relatively easy to execute using a jig he made on the drill press. This joint proved to be very strong on our test pieces and while it's not our usual crispy dovetails, it's an attractive joint and in the long run, certainly as strong.

See pictures of this joinery process on the "Curved drawer front joint" post.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Cleaning Antique Metal

Along with our nonstop woodworking we like to also play with metal from time to time. Here is a pair of antique French urn planters that a customer brought to us to see if we could remove the rust. The foundry plaque reads "Corneau Alfred A Charleville" which dates them back to around 1880. Usually when someone sees a piece that has started to rust badly they would give up and get it out of the house or hide it behind the garage. With a little time and effort a piece like this can be transformed back to its original beauty.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Importance of Models and Mock-Ups

One of our recent projects we have been working on at Dorset Custom Furniture is to create a garden gate that will be the home of two bronze castings by the sculptor Walt Matia of Curlew Castings. We started by creating the below scale model of the doors out of recycled chestnut which, because of its durability in outdoor conditions, the final piece will be made from as well. The next step was to create a full sized mock-up. In order not to waste some large pieces of recycled chestnut we used TimberStrand 2x6's. After completing a full sized door and setting in one of the castings we photographed it and used Adobe Photoshop to complete the rest of the process. With Photoshop we cut, mirrored and distorted the image to get an idea of possible variations of the design. As you can see in the below photos changing one dimension can dramatically affect the feel of a piece. After trying many different variations and discussing them with Walt we decided to go with the narrower taller of the three below (in the middle). The final dimensions of each gate will be 30" x 80" making the whole garden gate 60" x 80" overall.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Furniture Restoration and Repair

In the last few years Dan Mosheim and Dorset Custom Furniture has come to enjoy the repair and restoration of worthy furniture. We have repaired many pieces over the years, some that have historical value and others only with sentimental value for the client. While we have not gone to formal restoration school we have taken the time to educate ourselves on the proper restoration techniques currently endorsed by other professional restorers. In general, we enjoy keeping furniture alive and part of our clients' lives. The antique windsor writing chair below is a typical example of the process.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Dorset Custom Furniture's Custom Pool Tables

Throughout the 30 years of making custom fine furniture Dan Mosheim and Dorset Custom Furniture has also done a number of custom handmade and/or restored pool tables. They have ranged in many styles from traditional billiard tables, Beidermeier and Arts & Crafts. All of the tables are full sized with a slate top. To accompany the custom pool tables Dorset Custom Furniture also designs and makes pool table spectator chairs.
Award Winning Traditional Mahogany, Curly Maple and Walnut Custom Pool Table
Winner of the 2005 Custom Woodworking Business Magazine Design Contest
Walnut and Big Leaf Maple Arts & Crafts Custom Pool Table

Dorset Custom Furniture's Recent Work Shown in House Beautiful Magazine

The November issue of House Beautiful Magazine features some of Dan Mosheim and Dorset Custom Furniture's recently completed work. Although our name was not mentioned in the article the builder and our good friend, Mark Breen Construction who commissioned us, was mentioned. The individual pieces shown in the article can be seen in our catalog at the following links

Handmade Kitchen Cabinets

Shaker Built In Cabinet

Dan Mosheim donates bookends to fundraiser at Mark Skinner Library

The Mark Skinner Library in Manchester, Vermont recently asked 25 local artists to donate a pair of bookends for a fundraiser/raffle that will take place on November 10th. Tickets are $5. each, or 5 for $20. Each ticket can be placed in the raffle box for the particular artist's bookends that you'd like to own. Proceeds will benefit the adult collection at the library. Tickets are available at the Mark Skinner Library and at The Northshire Bookstore as well as Factory Point and Chittenden banks. Or, if you're not going to be around, call the library at 802-362-2607. For my bookends, I visited the metal shop and whipped up a pair I called 'Bookends for David Smith' in recycled chestnut and forged and welded steel. I had a blast. The party looks like it might be fun too. See you there.