Wednesday, December 30, 2009

An Art Deco Bar Cabinet

We delivered a nice Art Deco influenced sideboard/bar last week ... It was a fun and challenging project. Someone referred to it as 'Dean Martin's Bar' ... I lived in Palm Springs in 1970 for a winter, and it would have been right at home in the house we rented for sure ... The design was a quick sketch I doodled off after a series of rejected CAD drawings ... Sometimes the quickest drawings are the best ... Anyway, there was more to building this then first meets the eye when you look at the sketch. Click the pictures to enlarge them ...

Trevor fluted the legs on the cnc ... we stopped the detail at the tops and bottoms of the door/panels

Will then mortised the legs and created the back and side panels

We couldn't come up with any way to easily do the concentric squares, so we filled the micro pin holes with hide glue and walnut sawdust and sanded them off the next day ... worked sweet and even took the stain and paint ...

Panels finished and case parts ready to assemble

Assembly without the panels

After we applied the moldings to the 1/2" mdf doors, we had to rabbet the door edges and install solid wood edges ... hence the masking tape in this photo

Corner and door close up.....stainless steel knife hinges from Brusso Hardware

Trevor put the lights in even though they were cut from the budget ... We had them on hand from another project and it didn't seem right without them ...

Then we mocked up up the metal end pieces and mirror frame size and got those dimensions all finalized

The finishing process for this piece involved applying a coat of fairly strong brown/red aniline dye, sanding that pretty aggressively and then applying a second coat of the stain along with some black latex paint at the same time ... That mix was sponged around until 'it looked right' and then polished about a half hour later with steel wool and paper towels ... This paint/stain mix makes a nice durable finish as is, but we always add a couple top coats of oil varnish mix for a little shine ... I finished my kitchen with this finish 10 years ago and with a little damp spongeing it comes back to looking pretty much like new ... I have reoiled once or twice in the last 10 years ...

Before the oil coats


With the steel galleries by Sam in plce. They had threaded rods welded to their bottoms and were bolted on from under the frames ... We REALLY liked this piece and felt it was one of the most differect and strongest designs for the year ... Happy New Year !

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dove Storage

Kit feeds the birds ... Just yesterday she looked out before it snowed and there were what seemed like about thirty doves at her feeder ... Hmmm ... wonder where they come from ...wonder where they go ... Yesterday and today, we got a nice snowstorm and, well, today we found out where they hangout ... under the rock down by the stream. It's a nice overhanging rock, with pheobes nesting in the summer and, for today at least, doves in the winter. ... Click the pictures to enlarge them ....

Looking from the porch of the office, towards the house ... they're in under the red arrow ...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

On Making Christmas Gifts...Or Not

We had a pizza and beer Christmas party at lunch Thursday before we headed out for the long weekend. Trevor was finishing up the last of his Christmas gifts as we talked, lamenting how much time he had spent on them. Our friend Bill LaBerge allowed that he usually "no longer made gifts" ... I still do, from time to time, but I don't get too tense about getting them done in time for Christmas ... This year, I made some pots for my best clients and they will not be finished until sometime in January. Sam had the best comment ... "I made lots of gifts for people to give to other people. They paid me to make their gifts." ... a good idea we all decided. Here's what he made .... Click the pictures to enlarge them ...

Three 'howling' wolves for a woman whose last name is Wolff

Three strolling turkeys for three different turkey hunters

three states of Vermont and three states of Maine (no picture of those)

All the backs are signed and stamped with the owners name ... If you can draw the shape you want, he can probably make it for you ... They're very reasonably priced at around $50. each .... email him directly at

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Happy Holidays !

It's that time of year again ... Holiday Season .... And we've been finishing stuff up and getting it out the door ... I went to Boston last week for the snowstorm, to visit my sick sister, to deliver a table, and to meet with a new client. Yesterday we finished up a couple projects and started some new ones. Today, we delivered a steel base for a recycled hemlock table top that a client had his builder glue up ... Sam did a good job on that and it looks great with the client's chairs ... While we were there, we also got to see the steel clad mirror we made a while back and talk about a couple other possible projects ... We dropped the mirror off around Thanksgiving and now it's been hung over the fireplace where it belongs ... a very cool piece if I do say so myself ... Click the photos to enlarge them

Tomorrow we'll deliver a bar we've been working on to the house with the walnut paneled room .... Will has been working on the bar for a while and it's a really nice Art Deco inspired piece. I'll post more on the process of building that one after the holidays ... Gonna do a lot of stuff 'after the holidays' ... You all have a good time now .... Don't drink and drive .... dan

Main street of Watertown, Mass, Sunday morning @9:30

Skiing along the Charles

The steel base for the table

With the client's chairs

The mirror hung up ... Love the light fixture ....

Close up

The Art Deco Bar Cabinet ... leaving tomorrow

The whole deal

Delivery accomplished ...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Another Update on the Recycled Oak Table`

As soon as we get the approval on the most recent finish samples we sent to the client, we'll get this table into the finishing process ... Trevor used the end grain from a cutoff to make the patches, a nice touch .... Click the pictures to enlarge them ...

Here's a close up of the angle iron we used to help hold the table flat across its width where it was cut to insert the leaf. Traditionally, we run the grain the grain the short way on our expanding tables, but this client wanted the wood grain running the long way since she plans to use the leaf only occasionally ... It presented this design/engineering challenge, but we all like the way the top looks with the long, matched grain ...

Except for a couple of patches in the top and some aprons on the leaf, we finished construction on the recycled oak table (see post below).

Need some aprons on the leaf

this picture shows the steel and the Watertown runners on the underside of the top .. It's a heavy one ...

We weren't sure about the mismatched grain and the breadboards on the leaf until we saw it all together today. With the recycled lumber, it all seems to make perfect sense ...

This is the jig Trevor made to taper the 3" legs on the bandsaw ...All for now until we get final approval on the finish samples ...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Update on the Recycled Oak Table

We're wrapping up the recycled oak table i wrote about in a previous post... The client suggested a change in the shape of the top to sort of a modified oval... It's a little fatter at the ends, giving her a little more space for plates and placemats ... We did a freehand sketch and cut the top to that shape ... Looks good ... Click the photos to enlarge them ...

First we glued up the top with the long boards ... Here's Trevor lining up the tops of the boards with the heavy hammer before the glue sets ... Where are your earmuffs Jim?

Checking for flat ... looks good ...

The bottom side the next day ... perfect glue squeeze out over the whole top

The top, cut to shape

In this picture, you can see where we added steel under the middle of the table ... This client wants to use her table mostly without the leaf and wanted the long grain of the boards going the long dimension of the table ... We have never done that before but it turns out, we all like it and think it's a novel idea .... ALWAYS listen to your clients ... "Give the poeple what they want' ... I think that was Ray Davies, of the Kinks ... Anyway, we thought the reinforcement of the top with the steel will help keep it flat over time . You can see where Sam notched the steel for the runners. The leaf, with it's short boards and breadboard ends is in the background ...

More, lighter finish samples ...

We've got a couple of defects to make decisions on ... patch or leave? This one we'll probably leave .... love it ...

This one we'll probably patch .... more later

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Doing Something Different

About 6 or 7 years ago, I decided to act on my urge to try something besides woodworking in my free time. I have a friend who takes my sawdust and scrap wood for a raku class he teaches every summer at Bennington College. In return, he sometimes leaves me a little bowl. Good deal for me ... So, I thought, wouldn't it be great if I could give my really good clients a piece of my pottery in appreciation for their patronage? There are a lot of crafty people in Vermont, some offering how-to courses. It took a couple classes before I had anything I wasn't too embarassed by, and I think I only gave away 4 or 5 pieces before the shop where I was working closed down. Three years later, I've got a new place to work and I'm back at it. It's not exactly like riding a bicycle .. I had to smush a few of my first efforts but now it's going much better. I was originally aiming for Christmas gifts, but I don't think my pots will be done in time ... we'll see.

The pottery process is different ... no drawings, no plans, no dust, almost no noise, nice colors ... it's very peaceful. It makes you think that sometimes maybe a plan isn't necessary to get a good result. I certainly couldn't make a pot that I drew at this point anyway, but I can see what they might look like as I'm working on them ...

These are the pots in the picture above, trimmed and ready for the slip

Today's job .. trim these

Previous efforts ... white clay, celadon and black

Red clay with various slips and clear glaze