Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Pick your battles...

Spending New Year's Eve on a beach was good for some much needed down-time, but I'm happy to be back in the shop, working on commissions that are piling up. 

Beer and buckets of lobster? What could be better?

It actually rained here, after 116 days without any measurable precipitation.  This Adirondack chair had its first shower on the deck! (That's eucalyptus, if you're wondering. It weighs a TON.)

 I'm finishing up a low coffee table, and the buyer wanted some big and beefy turned legs. I ran the numbers in my head, and it was more cost effective to buy them, than for me to make them... go figure! 

There are some great table leg sellers out there, and truth be told - it's often better to outsource some components, than make everything yourself. 

So - pick your battles wisely, and concentrate on the things you do best.  This table should be ready to stain today, and I'll be happy to cross another piece off my list!

Sunday, January 07, 2018

This might be the year of ....Live Edge Slabs

Sometimes we have an idea formulating in our brain, a vague plan about life , or the coming year, like where our work will take us, how travel plans will shape up, or where we see ourselves in a year. 

I've been thinking a lot about things like that lately. We never know what the future holds for us - be it sickness or surprises, great accomplishments or disasters. 

We're suffered them all, in one way or another.

I didn't see last year being the "Year of Live Edge work" but sure enough, it turned out that way. Andrew Moore of Reclaimed Secrets taught a few classes at the shop, 

and mentored me, helping me produce some amazing slabs for projects I've been building.   Never underestimate seeking the guidance of someone who knows their craft! 

Because of the Live Edge movement, I recently brought in some amazing slabs from California, mostly Claro Walnut slabs. These are glorious - twelve feet long, in most cases, with gorgeous colors and grain. 

Most are extremely flat, there are even two  extraordinary bookmarked sets, which will make someone a fine dining room table. Some of these sets are already reserved, so if you're thinking of making a walnut table this year, you may want to stop by the shop and reserve one of these!

Speaking of Andrew, he and his other half, Nic,  donated a set of very nice slabs to the raffle that we held at our Sin City Woodworkers Christmas party. They have a huge inventory, including boards as long as 17' long and 40" wide. 

Luckily he's a big guy who can  handle something that huge!

These donated  Beetle Kill Pine slabs, as straight and flat as a slab can be, and the raffle tickets were briskly selling.

 In the end, a more deserving winner couldn't be chosen - Liz won them, and we can't wait to see what she makes! 

I picked up a couple of slabs from Andrew for a project I'm building - a low bench that will serve as a physical therapy table for a while, and once the therapy is over, it will transform in to rather large coffee table. (Of course, I forgot to take pictures of the raw slabs!)

After I straight lined one edge of each slab, I pulled out the Festool Domino XL and cut some slots to help facilitate the glue-up. 

 The glue up was easy, thanks to an extra set of hands. (Thanks, Esther!) 

Next step - epoxy to fill the cracks, knot holes, and voids.  I'm getting to the point where I'm actually enjoying this free form style of woodworking more than the more formal pieces I usually build.

 A  bit of sanding and some touchup with epoxy and this top is ready for its base, which I'll start this week. This is one of those dream pieces, with every aspect of it going according to plan, and perfect it its execution. That doesn't happen that often!

Speaking of more formal pieces, a few people were asking about a piece I finally finished this past year - the watch cabinet in African Mahogany. I struggled with that piece, no doubt.  This cabinet was designed to hold my client's Swatch Watch collection, and the only instructions were to ensure that the wood be unique.  

I found some amazing boards with pronounced sap streaks, and glued them together to form a lighter stripe down the middle. 

The cases were dovetailed, 

as were all of the interior drawers. 

I made a critical mistake that is somewhat common - running out of wood in the middle of a project. I had trouble matching the color and grain of the original boards, and it took months to find the right ones to complete this piece. 

In the end, the buyers couldn't have been happier, 

and I learned some lessons along the way.  A win-win.

 I 've got some challenging commissions in the pipeline, and 2018 is shaping up to be an interesting year already. I hope your holidays were fine, and the coming year is a healthy and prosperous one for all of us.

Fingers crossed...

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Saturday, December 16, 2017

“Handmade”: Meet Mississippi’s Greg Harkins

Talk about devotion to craft... this gentleman has been making chairs for 43 years.

Want to watch the full clip? 

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Cowboy Christmas 2017 - Don't Miss It!

It's that time of year again!

The funny thing is that I'm not a huge fan of Christmas, but the Cowboy Christmas show puts me in a whole new mindset for the holiday season.

I wouldn't miss it for the world! 

This year was better than ever, 

I've never been disappointed at this huge show at the Convention Center.

 There are more saddles, 


buckles (on steroids!)


(big and small!)

 and home accessories, like these bottle stoppers 

and woodcrafts.... did I mention the woodworking? 

mostly because I like the owners and their artistic vision. 

This salad set is gorgeous. If you can't miss the show, here's a link to check them out.

I do love the home accessories -  

they're kitschy and common-sensical, like using these horseshoes for tray handles. Ingenious! 

This humongous ottoman's hand tooled leather was amazing. 

And this bench ... wow.

Just walking around the convention floor, you'll be in awe of the sights - like this fabulous  bronze sculpture of two cowboys shaking hands. I forget the exact name of this piece, but it was something like "gentleman's agreement" - someone's vision of an old fashioned "contract" in the field. Nice.  

I love these cigar store Indians,

apparently the booth's owner does too!

Looking for western clothing? 

There's an abundance of stuff for everyone, from jewelry - 

more hats! 

rustic "blanket" purses, 

these "all gut, no butt" suspenders were selling out!

I really love these metal yard sculptures, "protecting" your property. 

Check out this video!

And this chair with its tractor seat and wagon wheel sides - I just love their creativity!

 I ran into Sundie and Brad, of Vintage Sculpture from Norwalk, Iowa, who make sculptural felt wall art. 

It's always nice to catch up with them, and their booth (as always) was filled with amazing new work. 

Their pieces always draw me in for further inspection.

 My photos of their booth sucked, but they graciously texted me these images ... WOWZA! Seriously...  check out their website, you won't be sorry. (These pictures don't do their work justice, BTW.)

But my favorite booth in the entire show is this one - Zeller's Trunks.

Chuck and Sherry Zeller make the finest steamer trunks I've ever seen. Their trunks have so many things going on - sliding compartments, hidden spaces, GORGEOUS tapestry lining, custom hardware.... 

I swear,  there aren't too many pieces of other woodworker's work that I want in my home, but I WANT one of these trunks. 


this is their latest model - the Hump Back Embossed Tin Panel Trunk. 

Read about it here... you won't be sorry. 

Look around and you'll find some charming sites -  like the Ms. Behavin' store.

Want to pose on a life-sized steer? Climb on up! 

Speaking of steers, these young kids already have a great start to their roping career.

These metal sculptures of cacti just floor me... and since one of my neighbors has some of these on the corner of his property, I get to enjoy them often. 

There's even a Cowgirl Hardware Store! 

And a genuine tee-pee.

 Meanwhile, upstairs at the Outdoorsman show, there were more mainstream  pieces, like this Harley Davidson portable fire pit. 

This show seemed less about retail, and more about education. The display on animals and how they shed their antlers was interesting,

 and the bear pelt with its massive paw was something I'd never seen this closely. Amazing. 

My best recommendation? 

The Cowboy Christmas show on the main floor is a MUST for getting holiday spirit on, but don't miss the show upstairs.  Both offer different perspectives on a Christmas experience, even if you're a bah, humbug! kind of person!

Hope you're enjoying a wonderful Christmas season!