Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Don't be a hater!... embrace the putty!

Here's a little secret... all woodworkers have flaws in their work. It might be something as simple as a bit of chip out on a corner of trim, or something as bad as a screw popping out of a tabletop.  

It happens; we're not miracle workers. 

I've been lucky enough to have been steered toward a few products that make my work look amazing. I don't feel bad about repairing a flaw; its' all part of the building process. Here's one product I couldn't be without ...

My shop always has a ton of Timbermate on hand! 

Whole books have been dedicated to fixing what we screw up!   
This book has been a lifesaver!   

These sticks will up your game in the woodshop. Couldn't live without them! 

What's your secret weapon in the shop?

Friday, July 26, 2019


Everyone always remarks how life is so different these days - driverless cars, social media politicking, Yelp, Uber and Snapchat; it’s all changing. Even ten years ago, no one could have predicted what would be popular today. So staying flexible in this ever changing society is a must. 

(Flexible, get it?)

I certainly didn’t see that I’d be getting a whole  bunch of commissioned work from Air BNB hosts - people who open their home as mini bed & breakfast hotels. To be a registered AirBNB host, you have to outfit your home to certain standards, and that’s where I come in. I’ve been working with various homeowners, sprucing up their furniture so that it's more attractive, safer, and durable. On top of that, sprucing up your furnishings adds a cohesive design element to your home. 

Sometimes the projects that come to me are very vague; this homeowner sketched a headboard that she wanted me to build on a scrap of paper. 

I actually prefer to work like this, without firm dimensions that I have to adhere to - so that I have some flexibility when building. 

So this started out with a simple sketch, and in this case - they even dropped off some paneling that they had. (Not my choice of building material, but like I said - flexibility is good.)

Their goal was to have a headboard that attached to the wall, with two “bedposts” crating a small alcove for the people in bed.  Because there was other furniture in the bedroom that this headboard had to match, they wanted to employ curves in the design of the bedposts. 

I started with the flat paneling, adding the posts on either end. Building up layer after layer, I was able to create the curve they wanted. 

It’s funny how the timing of this project coincided with the AWFS show that was in town; the fine people at Pony/Jorgensen donated a bunch of their new clamps to my shop, and they came in really handy for clamping the boards in place while I marked the cuts I needed to make. 

A few years ago, at the 2017 AWFS show, I won a huge package of Senco tools - six nail guns, a compressor, and all the accessories that one would need. These three guns have become workhorses in my shop - the 23 gauge pin nailer, the 18 gauge brad gun, and a stapler. In this case - the stapler was helped me build this headboard effortlessly… working with this type of paneling is all about - glue, staple, and repeat!

The posts are starting to take shape, you can see how I created that subtle curve on the front edge. Like I said - glue, staple, and repeat! This glue bottle took a beating!

After the curved stack was complete, I capped the ends and trimmed everything flush with the router and a flush cut bit.

Here’s the finished headboard, which will be covered in a faux textured stucco to match the rest of the room. It hangs on the wall with Z clips, and despite working with materials that I don’t love, this was a very fun piece to build… no pressure, and freedom to build it however I wanted.

 I’ll take that kind of work any day!

Sunday, July 21, 2019

AWFS - Day one!

The anticipation has been intense! The AWFS convention finally arrived, and I think it was the best show in years! 

This giant AWFS backdrop greeted everyone as they entered the hall, and you could tell it was a great investment for the organizers of the event. Everyone and their brother was taking photos in front of it - with photos of it plastered all over Facebook and Instagram.

 The hall was packed, and companies spared no expense on the design of their booths. 

This Arauco booth had some major beam construction going on, 

and I'm always fond of these "desks" made of a faux unit of lumber. They were everywhere!

First on my agenda - finding the Fresh Wood area - where high school and college kids enter their furniture into a competition with some pretty nice prizes. 

I ran into Paul Downs at the show, and we chatted for a while - he's been an idol of mine for a while and I met him at the last AWFS show two years ago. Whip smart about running a woodworking business, and very giving of advice and guidance. I think that's what this show is all about... networking, connecting, learning.

If you ever get a chance - you should check out his book.. Boss Life.  

 I've gifted this book many times to other business owners in the woodworking industry, and it should be required reading for new graduates.

After our chat, we walked around the FreshWood entries, meeting a few of the instructors whose students built these pieces.  Paul thought this piece was the best one there... more about that later. 

  I actually liked these two pieces the most - this small cabinet is everything I want in a piece of furniture - clean lines, beautiful grain management, interesting handmade pulls - all in all - just a wonderful piece. I met Owain Harris, the instructor who guided this student, and we also had a nice chat. 

Another one of his students made this - one of my other favorites... a small valet table with really nice lines. This really was a terrific design, and I watched quite a few other woodworkers get down on their knees to inspect the underside, which sort of lets you know how much everyone appreciated this piece. When someone inspects your work from every angle - they not only love the piece, they're trying to figure out how to make it!  

Some of the other highlights were this iPhone coffee table, 

and this tamboured jewelry cabinet,

this amazing coopered daybed,

this Morris chair, 

and stool 

this poker table, 

and guitars galore! 

Music has always been a big theme here.

I particularly liked this piece, 

with its "quilted" wooden back. I wish the student would have included some cushions on this piece, but I suspect they were lost in transit, as there was a furniture blanket on the seat for the first day, and the second day - there was nothing.  

With cushions - this would have been an outstanding piece!... actually, it still is!

The wood turning demos had everyone's attention. 

Damn, they make a mess!

As usual, I drooled over a few machines -  like this massive Felder jointer. It would be a dream to have this in my shop. Dammit, I want this!

And I'm always a fan of these giant box-generating machines - you plug in the size of the box you want, and add in some details like how it hinges or seals, and which direction it should sit, and out pops a custom box.  

The cardboard feeds in one end, and a box comes out the other side. Very cool.  Every single FedEx and UPS store should have one of these.

Shaper was well represented, and their booth was packed. 

Speaking of that - everything was packed - a very nice turnout on day one.  

Celebrities were everywhere, and my buddy Rick sent me these shots he took with the biggies.... April Wilkerson and Matt Cremona, 

Norm Abrams, 

and of course - Marc Spagnuolo. Rick was having a really fun time meeting everyone, and he even picked up Marc's book. A good deal for everyone!

Part two coming up.... stay tuned!