Thursday, November 24, 2022

a live edge steel and cherry desk

we made this nice live edge cherry computer desk
for a long time friend of the family ...
the steel base spent a little testing time in sam's shop while we
worked on the slab top .. trigger approved it ...
there were two options, live edge up or live edge down ..
glad we ended up with the live edge up ... 
the angled cut is the notch that felled the tree ...

cad drawing above
 the design was loosely based on a pair of cherry 
recording studio tables we made for a friend

to see more of the live edge pieces we have made over the years

Saturday, November 19, 2022

the mountain goat

 well, sometimes you have to step outside the wheelhouse to
help some friends, and it always feels good when you do.
our friends, the manleys, had been promised in 2021 that the work would
be done 'this year', but unfortunately, the contractor 'couldn't get to it' 
and it needed to be 'got to' ... so, kristian and i volunteered to help ..
kit and i have long been good friends with the manleys, and ace's family 
has owned this building downtown for over a hundred years. 
ace, briefly mentioned in my old man project, is the guy who hired me
to work at the roundhouse when i got off the bus in arlington 51 years ago ... 
looong time friends .... we skied and snowshoed, fished, played softball and 
paddle tennis, were more or less next door neighbors for 5 years,
vacationed together a bit, and all had kids the same year in the early 80s ...  
read on, and click the photos for a closer look .... 
here is the building in its original configuration as the combination cash store.
it was opened by ace's grandfather, and then run by his brother til the late 70s
when it went on to become a furniture store, a sheep skin place, and now,
the mountain goat, a patagonia store
we needed a lot of stuff to do what we needed to do, and on main st, no less
day 1... scrape and paint, polish the copper, consider the flaking plaster
day 2 .. upgrade/replace the floor, clean up the window over the door .. more plaster
there was some molding and flashing that needed attention,
and we noticed that there was something missing over the front entrance,
a matching cornice!

i photoshopped in what was missing and put it on the list
we started with the obvious repairs first, stripped off the rotten
crown molding and installed some new, and got monarch metal
to whip up some copper flashing to dress up the new moldings ..
after a little nibbler work by kristian.we were able to slide the new flashings 
under the existing ones we had cut back to get the old molding off,
and now the painter, mrs. manley is on the job 
with us daily, and making good progress.
on next to the new cornice ... 
we haven't built many 25' long things in the shop lately, but we got it together
and with a little help from sam and luke from the metal shop, 
we wrestled it into place and flashed it ... by this time, kristian 
had repaired the plaster, and there were
 only a couple more details to go ..
 the original window
we had to spruce up the original combination cash store co. window,
 and you can see a little of the new floor here ..
we just had to replace some missing molding pieces and spray paint
some 'fake' details on the blank new cornice brackets to wrap it up.
the brackets for the existing cornice had these nice carved through details and
looked more interesting than the blank ones under the new cornice
we played around with an mdf stencil and some spray paint and viola!
you almost wouldn't notice that they're fake ...
over and out ... this was a real 'feel good project' .. 
always nice to help out some longtime friends ..

Monday, November 14, 2022

a live edge, book matched elm slab table

                                         our client purchased these bookmatched english elm
slabs from Berkshire Products in sheffield massachusetts
the table went to williamstown, mass, and now has a nice view
of mount greylock !
pretty nice pair
 The steel base pieces are factory made and the client purchased them from a store in Pittsfield.  
we picked them up on our way home from picking up the slabs

beautiful grain ... 
there were two small bark inclusions that we filled with clear epoxe

with approximate dimensions


great wood, great house, great location!

to see more live edges pieces that we have 
made over the last 30 years

Thursday, November 10, 2022

a large square white oak dining table

we delivered this table actually a couple of months ago, but i have
totally been slacking off in my blog posting, working slowly on my
scroll down  ...  so far i have covered from 1969 to about 1999 ...
anyway, it is a six foot by 6' by 1.75" thick white oak top with 
steel base ... the clients requested that we stain the top
and paint the base to match their existing porch furniture .. 
the paint job was a little tricky, but kristian pulled it off .. 
at some point we calculated that the top alone would weigh about 350 pounds
when it was glued up and finished, so we decided to leave it in two pieces
in case it would ever have to be moved in the future ... we also added 
two pieces of 1 x 3 steel tubing routed into the bottom, outside the base
 to keep things flat over time and help connect the two halves.
3 x 3 x 1/4" wall tubing base by sam 
and that's about it .. all in, all done
great spot!

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

milestones ...

time passes ... 
so pay attention folks!  there are markers as time goes by.
 i have been working on 'my old man project' a la john mcphee
and i am seeing the milestones  pile up ... 
in may 1969 i graduated from penn state and hit the road ...
after stops in key largo for the winter of 1969-70, washington d.c. 
for the spring, montauk, the summer of 1970, san francisco/san jose,
 briefly, then to palm springs for the winter of 70-71, new orleans, 
briefly, europe, may, and june, i arrived in vermont on july 6th, 1971,
with $6.00 in my pocket and everything i owned in one hand.
i had come to visit my sister in arlington, who had gotten me a (possible) job 
tending bar at the roundhouse, a live music bar in manchester ... i went the next 
day for my interview, and ace manley, one of the owners, hired me.
i met kit on september 6th that year, quit my traveling, and we married 
in 1973.  you can pick up the story from there in the posts below ...
house building, carpentry, furniture business, two boys, sam in 1982,
 will in 1984, a move to dorset in 1996, and in 2000, a new house and shop.
i have not finished the whole saga yet, but at 75, i am turning
some of my business responsibilities over to our VERY capable 
nephew Kristian Moore, who will be dealing with new and returning 
customers, and taking over some of the posting on this blog ... 
most of our work comes from the internet, and i have not kept up lately.
kristian has been working closely with me now for over 3 years, is 
enthusiastic, and is completely capable of all things furniture making. 
 i am soooo lucky. 
sam and luke are in the metal shop, will and abe are making banjos, 
and kristian and i are making furniture here in 
the 'west dorset industrial park'.

after 42 years i have some (a lot of) clutter at the shop and 
at the house, and it is now time for me to clean that up a bit.
i feel fortunate, after some open heart and hip replacement surgery 
two years ago, to be fit and active, and on the right side of the grass.

enjoy every healthy moment folks ...
'tempus fugit'
for the next installment, click the 'older post' link at the bottom of each post ..

Monday, July 18, 2022

the 'old man project' ... volume 1


well, i have been writing on blogger for 15 years now ...
below is an early post from october 2007. short and sweet!
 after about 900 more posts, and over 2,000,000 page views,
 it is time to go on in a bit more depth about some other stuff in an effort to 
fill out my 'old man project', mostly inspired by a john mcphee 
he has since written two more volumes, all about things
 he didn't write about in his long career ... so here i go now,
writing about some things i didn't write about for the last 15 years ... 
settle in, it will be a bit wordy, but i am having fun reliving this stuff ..
click the photos to enlarge them ... 
on July 6th this year it was 51 years 
since i stepped off the bus in arlington, vermont, to visit my sister.
through a friend of hers, she had gotten me a job at The Roundhouse, a 
local bar that has, after being alfies, and the eagles club, 
reopened again as The Roundhouse!, drinks and live music ...
i met my wife Kit in september of 1971, which ended my previous
 travels around the country, (key largo, washington, d.c., montauk, 
palm springs, europe ... and started the journey that i am still on today.
this journey, along with carpentry and furniture building, involved 
raising two boys, building 3 houses and three workshops,  
all processes similar to building furniture, but definitely different.
after living together for a couple of years, and hanging out with some other 
folks who had also arrived in manchester in 1971, 8 of us, 3 couples
and two singles decided it was time to build ourselves some houses!  
5 of them actually!  what did we know about building houses? 
 not much, or actually anything at all really !!!  
but, optimism in the early 70s back to the land movement knew no bounds, 
and everyone working together on everyone else's houses eventually got us 
to the point where two of us became full time carpenters, and
one of us built up a substantial earth moving and recycling  business ...
it was, as one of our friends noted recently, our personal 'habitat for us'
aka the LIA .. Land Improvement Association ...

first i needed some knowledge ...
i had another book that i think was called maybe 'practical house carpentry' 
 that better explained the basics, but that one is lost somewhere ...
then, of course, we needed some money, and some plans ... 
the bank where we had been banking for two years turned us down
without even looking at my yellow legal pad 'plans'.  
i wish i had the letter from the then bank president who told me, as i recall, 
that "this project was too ambitious for your abilities" adding,
" you know nothing about building things" ..

the younger president of the other bank in town told us
that if we got married, and actually had some real, like, architect drawn 
plans, he might talk to us.  so, november 10, 1973, we got married, 
and got an architect, who was a neighbor 
to draw some 'plans', and, miraculously, that bank gave us $25,000in the spring
 of 1974.  we had a little money saved, (we were both bartenders, and 
bartending was a good gig back then) and borrowed $2000. from my 
father to buy our 2 acre, ($7000.) lot with power and a driveway.
 once we paid that back, and drilled a 600' deep well for $5000., 
we had about $18,000. left to build our house.
it was a bit of a stretch, to say the least, but sometimes miracles happen, and we 
spent our first christmas there in 1974, with the tinfoil on the insulation
still showing around the tree! we later learned the one fact that 
was extremely helpful for our mortgage approval was that the bank 
president's mother was Kit's brother's 5th grade teacher in brattleboro, 
and she had 'vouched' for kit's family as 'reliable' folks.
center hill today ... the orange doors used to be our bedroom window
 that's me, second from the right, sitting in front of what was then our bedroom window.
my future brother in law, peter moore, who is Kristian's father, 
is to my right, and the others are two of the many Walls, david on the left
and beriah on the right.  the building at that time was called
the Wall Family Gallery, where the now famous beriah, had his pot shop
(both kinds), before moving to NYC a few years later.  david introduced me to paddle
tennis and i thank him often in my thoughts for that when i am playing today ....  
so, this is the house that was/is immediately north of the wall family gallery,
the one i sketched on my yellow legal pad, and the one we liked ...
if you click on this one, you'll see the architects window 
that he used to 'draw that house' for us.  the architect had never
seen our lot so we had to redesign of few things on the inside to suit the lay of the land.
we got pretty close on the outside.
originally, in 1974 we built only the 4 window cape part, 
adding the master bedroom addition to the right, in the mid and late 80s.
i was starting to take on 'side projects' to my by then carpentry job
and decided we needed a garage and a small workshop to 
get the sawdust out of the basement. 

post and beam work was becoming popular, and there was
a handy sawmill down the road where i could get
6x6s and other rough lumber at a really reasonable price.
so, off we went on that ...
in the photo above, it is 1976, and i am working as a carpenter for mark breen, in the foreground in  the white t shirt.  the others in that photo, left to right are bill hermann, one of the founders of high tech plumbing, paul roberts, and the late michael morris, one of the original settlers of dogpatch and one of the five mentioned above that we built our houses with.

one of the interesting things about our building lot was that it
was located on an 'esker'.  there were no surface stones and 
according to the well driller, it was 400 vertical feet to the first ledge, hence 400'
of casing, and the pump mounted on 400' of 1" galvanized pipe in 20' sections.
1/2 a gallon a minute was all we got til fracking came along in the late 80s.
there were layers of stratified sand with a layer of the purest whitest sand
several feet thick anywhere from 4 to 6 feet under the surface.
i dug the 4' deep, 9 holes for the sono tubes in one weekend.   
we didn't need a sandbox for the boys, they just dug a big hole in the lawn
 by the driveway and had fun there.

this takes us up to about 1976 on red mountain road.
my full time furniture making started january 1st, 1980.
for more photos of the construction process, land clearing,
first floor house plan, the other garage, tree house, and landscaping, 

Sunday, July 17, 2022

old man project ... volume 2

earlier i posted chapter 1 of my 'old man project', describing my arrival in manchester in 1971 and what happened in the next several years.  in thinking about my follow up post this morning, low and behold i find i already wrote chapter 2 back in november of 2010.  in rereading this post, i have discovered that some of the links still work, and others, like the 'recent shop video' no longer connect.  following the links in the 'anniversary one and two' posts will let you see some of the interesting projects we completed then.  the post below is a pretty good synopsis of how i came to be a full time furniture maker in 1980 ... some of this ground i covered in the post last friday, but i leave it as it stands for now...

stay tuned!  chapter 3 will eventually take us to our move from arlington 
to dorset in 1996 and the construction of our current shop as a 
3 bedroom two bath house...
my blog post from 2010 starts below ... that's me, circa 1972
i bet i still have that leather vest somewhere ...

November 2010 blog post below

I could do another picture of a sunset here and say something about how now I like to write, (like I said on anniversary one and two), but a couple things have come together in the last two months that make me want to go a little deeper ... While we were making the recent shop video, I went through our scrapbooks to get images of our first shop, and, scattered around there, were pictures of some of my early work ... my first table; my first chairs from scratch; my first sideboard (still have it); and, like David Byrne once famously wondered "How did I get here???. Is this my beautiful house??? ". Well, the days have gone by and I have now been making stuff from wood for over half of my 63 year old life. I didn't set out to do this; there was no grand plan, and as Anne Beattie so gracefully points out in the passage below, things happen ... In looking back through the stuff I have written and photographed in the last three years, it's easy to see we can now make a lot of different stuff, but, really, it wasn't always like this ... Like most other folks I know, progress is incremental; we do not know instantly what to do. We work from one recovery to the next. In one of Malcolm Gladwell's latest books, 'Outliers', he notes that interest and coincidence often combine to produce surprising careers. I was interested and was fortunate enough to encounter the coincidences I encountered and rise to the good fortune that arrived at my door. I can't do the whole 38 years in one shot, but I'll briefly touch on the first 10 or so years and hopefully come back to finish up as the spirit moves me ... If you've gotten this far, this will be a long one ... Thanks for sticking with me. Click the photos to enlarge them ... Thank you Ann Beattie for writing this passage and thanks to my friend Tom Peters, who passed it on to me as an important piece of child rearing and general life information. It's been on my various bulletin boards for about 10 years ... See also the related quote at the end of this post from Jim Harrison .... 'ready and attentive' ... be there ... My first (or second?) table, my brother's stereo cabinet, my first chairs from scratch ... Images 1973-81 ... the 'Welsh Cabinet' I built in 1973 using F.E. Hoard and A.W. Marlow's book 'Good Furniture You Can Make Yourself' .. page 150 and 151 ... a corner cupboard lower right from our house ...Some later Windsor chairs and a cabinet for a friend's daughter ... Bottom left is a table I still have in my dining room ... made in early 1981. Before we got to furniture, we first needed a house ... which is part of the story ... In the top photo with the mustache and long hair, I am working on a project in the basement of the apartment I rented when I first came to Vermont. Kit joined me there shortly after I moved in and I later went on to work as a carpenter for my landlord, even though I knew absolutely nothing about carpentry at the time ... It was interesting work though and I enjoyed it so much I wanted to build my own house ... By 1974, the economy was in the tank and my landlord/contractor was now running a logging business, and I was working in the woods, sawing, skidding and Prentice loading. The schedule was, start at 5:30 ... out of the woods at 2:30, back to town by 3:30 ... It was summer and that gave me 5 hours or so of daylight after my real job to work on my house. Home to bed... up and at it again the next day. We moved in in November ... I was young and energetic and in great shape from logging (3 coincidences there)  we were on our way ...

We borrowed and cheated, (a little) to get a piece of land; we somehow got a mortgage, (the bank president's mother was Kit's  brother's fifth grade teacher). We bought books and lumber ... We worked hard. We built a house in our spare time!!!! By that time, it was the gas crisis, my landlord was out of business, I got another job with a real carpenter, Mark Breen, with whom I still do projects,

like right now ...   (2010)

and again right now in 2022

We built a shop/garage in 1976 ... I did a few things on the side until December of 1979, when, after about 40 houses, Mark and I went our own ways ... I was on my own as a furniture maker ... I often say I then attended the "checkbook" school of woodworking ... Checkbook needs money ... go figure it out .... One of Mark's first jobs after I left in 1980 was a house for some people who had come to town from California. Mark hired me to build some French doors ... Well, we're all still friends today. Cook Neilsen, the husband and famous motorcycle guy, and his wife Stepper, went on to become our longtime friends and photographers for the next 20 years. Stepper called me two weeks ago to adjust the latch on one of the 30 year old doors I built below... It just needed a little tuning and lubing .... 'Proper lubrication is, after all, the key to life'. I had a nice visit with their stuff and it all still looks good. A truly nice feeling. One of the 4 french doors in the original project ... The cat shelf, bolted to the fireplace corner... And a pine cabinet from, I think 1982. It's 1983 now and kids (Sam' and Kit are in the lower left corner) happen ... This photo was taken by Cook, Labor Day 1983 ... That's Stepper in the middle without a kid, along with cousins, friends, friends' kids, neighbors ... we're all still here today,

And I thank my wife Kit for her constant and unending support through the last 39 years. As the official 'sees all, knows all', 'arbiter of taste' branch of my work, she is and always will be truly indispensable. Photo above is from the windowsill in our kitchen 1971. And finally, below, we have some wisdom from one of my favorite writers, Jim Harrison. I am now in the 'rowing' mode, approaching life backwards, looking at the past, wondering indeed, 'How Did I Get Here?' More later ... 1982- 1996, when we moved and built our current shop, would be the next logical chunk. Stay tuned ...

current shop, built as a three bedroom, 2 bath house in 1997 ...