1. Buy dimensional 3/4″ poplar boards.
2. Plane to uniform thickness.
3. Rip 2″ and 3″ strips on the table saw.
4. Two dado cuts on table saw for 1/4″X 3/8″ panel groove.
5. Run each section on router because table saw is a POS and there is depth variation in all the grooves…
6. Threaten table saw with large iron maul – mean it.
7. Grumble a little.
8. Cut door stiles (sides) to length – Measure opening for stiles, subtract 4″ for stile width and add 3/4″ for double 3/8″ panel slot.
9. Write all measurements down on a non-descript sheet of paper.
10. Put measurements somewhere safe.
11. Take a 2 week to 4 month break because life gets busy.
12. Lose paper with measurements.
13. Tear house and shop apart looking.
14. Give up and re-measure.
15. Cut rails.
16. Lay all parts out and label, check sizing, trim two pieces, and pray a little.
17. Set up horizontal drill press to drill for dowel joints.
18. Screw up at least 4 initial holes.
19. Hit head in shop at least 3 times.
20. Build sweet dowel trimming jig for table saw – let head swell a little.
21. Cut 3/8″ off each dowel (8 per door).
22. Drill 16 holes per door.
23. Sand the cut-off end of dowel.
24. Dry fit first door.
26. Get out every bar clamp, hand clamp, and Quick-clamp that you own and set up clamping station.
27. Find original measurements for doors in the “safe place.”
28. Say dirty words very loudly. Repeat.
29. Add glue to dowels and joints and assemble door.
30. Apply judicious blows from wooden mallet to seat parts.
31. Get glue on hands and in hair.
32. Clamp up.
33. Wipe extra glue on door off with wet rag.
34. Repeat last 6 steps 8 more times.
35. Scrape clue, plane joints, and sand doors with 3 different paper grits.
36. Check and adjust door fit to openings and prime after more planning.
37. Re-prime and paint with two coats of white cabinet paint.
38. Mark, mortise, and install hinges on door.
39. Install red glass pulls.
40. Mark and mortise hinge/door onto cabinet.
41. Check fit and adjust 2 to 9 times.
42. Repeat steps 28 thru 41 eight more times
43. Drink three beers and swear to never build your own kitchen cabinets from scratch ever again!
Archive for category Craftsmanship
1. Buy dimensional 3/4″ poplar boards.
We had a quiet West Seattle weekend: Friends over on Friday and we all drank no small amount of great Italian wine and ate the last of our French Comte cheese. I worked around the house and in the shop (me and the lathe are friends) Saturday morning while Stamps-With-Foot nursed a touch of a hangover and snuggled with the Brodie – He didn’t complain. Sunday was lazy with Brunch at Meander’s in White Center (Go For the Chicken and Waffles!) and afternoon coffee at C&P. After coffee and reading, there was a trip to Trader Joe’s, home for left-overs, some quality hottub time, and then we finished the evening with glasses of port, sitting in front of a fire.
I hate this guy… That hate is mostly born of jealousy. I wish I had his tools, his shop, his free-time and his skill at making complex wood joints. I still hate him though.
Shortly after we moved into La Maison du Talley, we cut 21 trees out of the backyard. There was only one serious tree – a 40′ cedar – and the rest were smaller Bay Laurels and Vine Maples that were blocking any possibility of sunlight reaching the ground. I kept some of the larger, straighter sections of the small trees and put them in the loft of the garage to dry and season, hoping that I would eventually make stuff out of them. That was three and a half years ago and while spring cleaning in the garage/shop this weekend I decided to take a little break and mess stuff up again I pulled a couple of sections down and cut them to manageable size with the chop saw. I knew exactly what to do with pieces.
We have a neighbor who is crazy helpful and has a passion for dahlias. He grows and shares them with the whole street and has helped Stamps-With-Foot litter the edges of the yard and flower beds with them. She loaned him the bulb planter early this spring and he loved it. He had somehow gone through life as a gardener and just never tried one. I decided to make him his own with graduated depth gauge marks and a matching mallet to drive it into the odd patch of hard ground. The planter is made from a section of the vine maple and the mallet is turned from a hickory Little League baseball bat that I bought for $2.00 at Goodwill. The maple was super-dense and I counted 21 very tight growth rings on it. It grew in the shade under larger trees for all that time and that made it an especially hard and nice piece of wood to turn with sharp chisels – the wood shavings and tailings came off in long, thin, lace-like strips. An absolute pleasure to work with.
Since I was making sawdust already, I decided to keep going: The wife and I are planning to make some/most of our Christmas gifts this year. I have already started and added a few mallets for the woodworkers in my life (I am not spoiling the surprise – none of them read this blog…). I also turned a garden mallet for Stamp-With-Foot from a section of Laurel tree (her name-sake). I added the burned striped bands at her request after she saw her’s beside the others and got mallet-envy.
Just before my wife stomped out to the shop and MADE me come in for the night, I took a hunk of red oak that I have had for 10+ years and turned a couple of fancy door-stops. Since we live in a house built in 1928, the doors have a mind of their own and a well placed wedge keeps a person from walking into the edge of a door in the middle of the night. I will add some tung oil and a few coats of satin poly this week to finish them up.
This weekend was busy with friends, a dinner out, St. Paddy’s Day activities, an outing to the Roller Derby (?!), and the 9th anniversary of the day that my sweet wife and I met was on Sunday. Even with all that, we still got bunches done around the house: Our under-bed dresser finished, bathroom table drawer installed (a little work on that left), wine crate storage boxes made, basement lighting installed, and the basement work bench is moving along.
The drawers for the under-bed dresser and the one for the bathroom all came from a wooden donor-dresser that my father-in-law drug home from a garage sale last summer. He paid $4 for it and it was in pretty bad shape, but it was solid wood and had potential. It was mistakenly left in the weather (plastic cover leaked) for a month before I salvaged the drawers, cut out off the top and used the sides for kitchen cabinet door panels. I re-squared the drawers, added dividers in the fall, and over the Christmas break sealed the insides (The Ruminator helped). After lots of filling and sanding and more sanding, I stained the fronts to match our bedroom furniture, then built ¾” plywood beams to hang the drawers from bed frame and used some scrap oak flooring as drawer guides/runners. The final product really looks good and is super functional. While some husbands bug their wives by filling the house with brought-home junk – I give my wife more and more and more storage and organization space.
On Sunday, I put the final coat of finish on the basement workbench top, let it dry, and then installed the three runs of aluminum t-track. Stamps-With-Foot bucked up and helped me wrestle its 200 pound beech and maple mass onto the steel base. I secured it with screws and covered the top with carpet squares while I finish the upper shelf/cabinet. I installed a outlet power strip under the main body of the topper and removed the old drawer dividers. I will soon add a plywood back with a mirror, a light under, a dedicated air supply line, install the desk drawers under the bench and mount 4 reclaimed letterpress drawers directly under the top as well. Happy with the progress so far.
I decided to work on the kitchen cabinet doors, cut some plywood sheets down, and tackle a bench top while the sun was shining. I opened the shop, brought out a plastic truck-bed toolbox to cut on (my 4 sawhorses are currently being used elsewhere), pulled 3 full-sized sheets of ¾” and ½” plywood out of the lumber rack and drug it all out into the backyard. After marking the first sheet, adjusting my saw blade depth, lining up my rip fence, and checking for clearance – I started my first cut and immediately ripped a 6” long kerf-cut into the top of the tool box that the sheet was sitting on. Dammit! I cut the rest of the plywood up without incident, but grumbled thinking about the mistake (I will fill and patch it with molten P-Tex plastic at some later point). After stacking all the assorted pieces of ply back into my cluttered shop, I man-handled the 170+ pound beech and maple in-work bench top from the basement and placed it on the now-damaged toolbox – trying very hard not to either herniate a disk in my bask or tear what is left of my shoulder.
My Shop/Garage is pilled deep and high with lumber, hardware, undone winter projects, wood shavings, tools, sawdust, flotsam & jetsam, etc…. I spent an hour trying to set up my router and in all the clutter and mess I couldn’t find a ¼” collet for one router and the other does not have an integrated fence, so using my big monkey brain, I improvised a fence. All I really wanted to do with the top was to route channels for t-track and thoroughly sand it down before taking the beast back into the bowels of the basement to apply stain and a tung oil finish. All was going as planned and my first cut was perfect. The second cut went just the same, but at the very end of the third cut my improvised fence failed and the router wobbled – gouging the top that I had spent a month building. Jesus H. Christ I was pissed! – Mostly at myself, but there was some vitriol left over for the machine in my hands. I said dirty, hateful, vile things while resetting the fence and making an adjusted cut. I moved on to make my last cut in the very front lip of the bench and while the fence held, I stood up mid-way through the pass and the router wobbled, making the bit chew into a section of wood where I did not want it to go. I gritted through the rest of the pass and finished the cut, but the second I was clear of the wood, I wanted to throw the still running router on the ground and beat the electric life out of it with the pruning shears that were leaning against the garage wall. I had to walk away, hand over my mouth, and just breathed deeply with my back to the offending router, my own incompetence, and the damage they had both wrought. My moment of reflection was short lived because just as I turned, I felt the first drop of rain fall from what was minutes ago a blue sky that had ominously darkened while I was focused on my router-rage (I swear it happened just like that – strait out of a hip urban dramedy…). SHIT!! I ran for something to cover the bench top. The only thing I could find was a pink tent fly and a sheet of cardboard. I covered everything and retreated into the shop, right eye twitching with disbelief/confusion/anger. I spent the next hour drinking coffee laced with sawdust and moving piles of crap around in my shop.
When my sweet wife got home she MAY have found me in the shop muttering to myself, pacing, covered in saw dust, contemplating the logistics of building a giant sealed dome over our entire lot. She talked me off the ledge, helped me put the top back into the basement, patted me a little, told me I was pretty and smart and a good boy, put me in some fresh, sawdust free clothes, and took me out to see a movie.
I got up the next morning and after a yummy breakfast of flaky croissants, bacon, eggs and two cups of coffee, I went downstairs and chiseled out the offending screw-ups, then cut and glued maple patches in. After calming down some and after a good night’s sleep, I felt better about the whole thing, but me and that router are still not on speaking terms.
In 1969 or 1970, my father helped my grandfather build a rental house that my grandparents saw income from for the next 24 years. He came home at the end of the project with a truck bed full of spare/cut lumber and building supplies. Lumber was not wasted in our house. We didn’t go and buy a new 2X4 for a project… We rummaged through the cut-off bin or wood storage shelves for a piece that was the right size or that could be cut, planed, or trimmed to work – Wood was not wasted or thrown away in the Talley house! It is a lesson that I have taken to heart and most of the things I build for my own home are made, at least partially, out of used or recycled materials.
Anyway, Daddy took some of the lumber and built a set of bookshelves that in the next nine years held everything from encyclopedias to technical manuals. Four 12-inch shelves sat on a box base that my father stained and varnished with whatever color he had left over from the rental kitchen cabinet build. It sat in our living room and in the shop. In 1980 we moved back to Houston and somehow my aunt and uncle ended up with the shelves. They put them in their living room, knocked the bottom shelf back, drilled a hole for a cable and sat their 19″ TV on the base. It remained in their home until 2010, when my uncle passed away. My mother asked to have the shelf unit back and brought it to me when she moved to Seattle. It is the only object that I own that my father built with his own hands and I feel so very lucky and proud to have it.
I decided immediately give it an update to make it an everyday part of our home: add a little something here and there to update it and make it that much more useful. Plans are one thing and actually doing the work is quite another – it sat relegated in my overcrowded shop for almost a year before I finally got a chance to work on it. I put the knocked out shelf back, glued all the joints, added reinforcement and screws to hold it all together, and built a base with turned wooden bun feet for it to stand on. The original base box was 12″ X 30″ and I wanted to both maximize the space and add my own signature to the piece. I carefully cut an 8″ X 24″ opening in the front and added rails for a drawer. It was amazing working on the piece. I found my father’s 42 year old pencil marks, a divot from a hammer, saw marks, and I found part of a fingerprint from when it was stained – just on the inside of the bottom. Finding and touching these this tangible proof of my late father brought me more joy than I have words to describe.
I also added a face frame, edge trip, and crown mounding. The piece was sanded down with 120 grit, then all the holes and gaps were filled, sanded with 120 again and then with 220 grip. I then primed with two coats and finished it with 3 coats of white Benjamin Moore ultra-tough cabinet paint.
I think it turned out really nice and I think my dad would be really proud of the work that I did to it. I am taking the original brass corner trim and a piece of original shelving and turning it into a picture frame to hold my favorite picture of my father. I think that he would approve of that as well…
I have found that my workshop productivity goes way down in the winter/the six months of Seattle rainy season. My garage shop is small and quickly fills with material, lumber, tools, and projects. To add to the handicap of the small size, the lack of heat means that I can’t do any finish-work because of wood humidity, shrinkage/swell, and moisture. I have made do in the unfinished side of our basement for the past three winters, but I am done my wife is done with the mess and clutter and my bitching about an inadequate work area when the weather turns crappy. I need a little bit of dedicated space that I can work on the small stuff year round that doesn’t require power tools and a little bit of assembly/finish space where I can glue and clamp some projects up, a solder station, a spot to reload ammo, work on my bikes, and a clean/dry/warm space to apply stain or a hand-laid finish coat. Add to this my current want of a small metal lathe and mill and I will have the makings of a nice little hobby shop from which to launch my plans for world domination …er, I mean a spot where I can make small parts, solder, or tinker.
Anyway, instead of buying a crazy expensive cabinet bench or making do with a thin metal and partial board Home Depot bench, I have decided to build the sturdiest all-around hobby bench that I can with the funds and material I have available (~$130.00), add some really nice features (aluminum t-track, lots of drawers, removable vises, power, lights, etc…) and make it into a finished piece of furniture that I will be proud to sit at and show off to friends for the next 30+ years. To start the process off, I found a cheap older thick steel framed 6′ workbench at Second Use that I felt would make a bombproof, rock solid base. I sourced a used IKEA cutting-board counter top that I cut down to the appropriate size and then used the trimmed pieces to add thickness and rigidity (I am still going to add some angle iron). I thought about and sketched 3-9 different ways to add some shelving and some organization to the top and was still tossing around options in my head when a realized that an old buffet that my mom had just might work. I took some measurements and looked into reinforcing here and there and realized that not only would it work, but that its style would set the tone and color for the entire bench build.
I decided that the drawers to be added under the bench top needed to be narrow and at least partially match the newly planned top section, so I looked for an older desk or vanity that I could cut apart. I struck out at Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and Craig’s List, but Second Use came through again and hooked me up with exactly what I needed at a decently fair price, well decent after I haggled a bit…
The current state of the build is that the bench top is 2/3 done, the desk is cut apart, the steel legs are up and in place and I am 1/4 of the way done with reinforcing the buffet/top shelving unit. I will update the build as it is completed and share some more pictures.
- Looked at hutch for too long and decided to get it done.
- Started with bottom section – doors removed.
- Stripped off all old paint and varnish from outside with “environmentally friendly” orange stripper.
- Scraped and scraped stripper off.
- Cussed “environmentally friendly.”
- Put more stripper on.
- Scrubbed off again.
- Wife helped for 40 minutes, hated it and didn’t touch either section again.
- Shoved a 1″ splinter under one of my fingernails.
- Said the “F” word 5+ times, bled on base & floor and thought about cutting it all up for firewood.
- Washed whole thing with paint thinner to stop the stripper residue from working any more.
- Let dry and sanded whole case with 120 grit.
- Sanded with 220 grit.
- Sanded again with 220 grit.
- Stained with a crazy pricey, but color-matched mahogany tinted oil-based stain.
- Used wife’s special dish gloves.
- The old, old fir had issue with the stain and was a little splotchy in some really key spots.
- Was grumpy for two days.
- Second coat of stain used to blend some areas.
- Put on first coat of wipe-on poly acrylic semi-gloss finish.
- Wife found stain covered dish gloves and I got in trouble.
- Went to store and bought wife new gloves.
- 24 hours later, scuffed finish with white 3M pad and applied finish coat 7 more times.
- Spent HOURS on the final coat.
- Repeated all above steps with the four raised panel doors.
- Installed 100+ year old glass pull-knobs on doors.
- Whole process took two months.
- Moved base into finished side of basement for use as a media cabinet and LCD TV base.
- Went downtown to Chinese-owned granite shop on Seattle’s 1st Ave and haggled over granite for top.
- I am a poor negotiator in Chinese.
- Left and came back with Mandarin speaking co-worker.
- Got GREAT deal on custom top. 1/12th of the price that I was quoted at Home Depot – really!
- Built A-frame jig for back of truck to haul granite.
- Picked up top and hauled home.
- Bribed 4 neighbors to help move it into place.
- Neighbors won’t answer my call anymore…
- Four months from start to finish.
- Two weeks later I started the top section.
- Decided to make top section into a living room “built-in.”
- Built, painted and installed new 8″ base for the top section in our living room to match existing trim.
- Removed the doors, hardware, and hinges.
- Repeated steps above with the exception of splinter under nail and use of wife’s gloves: I learned my lesson the first time.
- Cut hole in back for outlet already on wall.
- Had other, unsuspecting neighbors help me move the top section up.
- New neighbors called me names after it was all done.
- Hole for outlet 1″ off to the left.
- Said hateful words.
- Grumpy again.
- Calmed down and used Dremel tool and coping saw to remove section from one side and glued it to other side.
- Trimmed out outlet hole.
- Stained and finished outlet trim.
- Had wedding and took 30 day break in the rebuild/refinish process.
- Started looking for matching trim and crown molding at reclaimed lumber yards.
- No Luck.
- Had crown custom milled at high cost by a shop in SODO that had 90 year old machines running on their floor (shop closed about a month after I was there last
- Started the process of refinishing the doors.
- Installed crown molding.
- Shot nail through molding and into palm on final piece of crown.
- Bled on top of hutch – no dirty words.
- Installed refinished doors.
- Built two interior shelves out of 80 year old fir floor boards. Stained and finished – look original!
- Smacked the back of my head when installing shelves and almost knocked myself out.
- Sourced and purchased piece of wavy restoration glass to match original broken pane.
- Stained and finished the crown.
- Put final coat of trim paint on the new base.
- Installed the one missing glass pane.
- 5 months after base installed the top is done and looks like it has been in our place since 1928.
My son was here for a week+ for the holidays and we did cool stuff as he is the Igor to my Dr. Frankinstein. He left on Friday morning and to keep myself occupied so I wouldn’t mope around all weekend thinking about how much I missed him, I busied myself with a few on-going projects:
Underbed dresser – 95% done
Letterpress drawers made into occasional tables – 50%
The never ending kitchen remodel – 85%
Sofa table rebuild – 20%
Bathroom drawer for wife – 50%
Candle box – 100%
Glass cabinet handle installation – 45%
Hall mirror – 22%
Helping a friend move – 50%
While fitting the final pieces of the under bed dresser (built from an 1980s $4.00 garage sale upright five drawer) for our room and I transposed two numbers and cut something a touch too long. Grumble… Grumble… I went out to the shop, measured for screw clearance and put it on the table saw to rip down just a touch. I missed one screw, but my $56 carbide tipped cabinet blade didn’t. Sparks and bits of carbide flew. I said dirty words and came into the house to drown my sorrows in a Mexican coke, Jack with honey and an old Clint Eastwood western while propped up in bed with my grumpy face on.
Dirftwood. Boards washed up on the beach in a storm. Below is a film in which two guys take a section of lumber found on the Oregon coast and turn it all into functional one-of-a-kind surfboard. Building something both useful and beautiful from reclaimed wood is a thing to aspire to.
Jack Daniel’s is the only distillery in the US that still makes its own wooden barrels. Although the process is automated, the production of the coopered tubs that make the aging and mellowing of this fine Tennessee Bourbon possible is mesmerizing to watch.
When looking at the house that we now live in the one room that had us on the fence was the kitchen. it had original cabinets, but it was dark, dated, there were no outlets, and one wall was just a hodge-podge of appliances. I have spent the better part of my very limited free time trying to fix those issues. I have added a dishwasher, a knife rack, lots of paint, cranberry glass handles/pulls, outlets, pullouts, switches, a microwave, under cabinet lighting, build drawer organizers and am in the process of finishing hand made, period and house perfect cabinets for what was the ugly wall. It has been a very long and laborious process. I would never be this detailed in a house I was building for someone else – I would lose money.
Below is a gallery of the progress up until this point:
This guy makes every excuse I have ever had or thought of for why I can’t do something complete and utter BS. Indomitable sprit found here:
As I mentioned in a previous post, there had been parts for Adirondack lawn chairs all over the house and shop for 9+ months waiting on me to gather the will to glue them up and drive some weatherproof screws home. The Ruminator and I put together when he was here this summer – he supervised while waxing poetic about dressing up like a viking – and I spent a combined 12 hours priming and painting them candy apple red.
Since I don’t want to repaint them every spring I used an oil-based exterior paint. Holy crap, it was hard to find! It seems that everyone has switched to latex based paint for homeowner use (ease of use, easy cleanup, better for the environment, etc…) and I had to resort to having gloss deck and concrete paint custom mixed. It went on like glass though and should be impervious to our rainy long winter weather for three or four years. My sweet wife super loves them and could barely wait until they were dry before giving them a proper, reading a book in the sun, test.
Below is a gallery of the whole build process:
It has been roughly eight months since my shop was robbed. It is just now that I have found the will and desire to start building furniture again. I have let projects and repairs pile up and let my garage shop digress into a sawdust filled junk-room. There have been parts for Adirondack lawn chairs in my basement and shop since December. I finally got around to gluing them up and screwing the pieces together when my son was here this summer. That little project led me to start cleaning the shop and find all the stuff that has been waiting on me. I dabbled with a couple of boxes, then started making pieces and organizing tools and supplies to tackle the larger stuff. Below is a list of current projects that are in work:
- Painting the Adirondack chairs
- Re-build of my father’s 1971 bookshelves
- Kitchen cabinet doors
- Misc. Lathe tasks
- Kitchen cabinet pullouts
- Camp Kitchen box build and paint
- Campaign furniture for luxury car camping
- Hall mirror
- Copy of a 12th Century Abby oak door
- Fireplace surround and mantle
- New Kitchen cabinet pulls and knobs
- Garden tool shed
- Christmas gifts
- Garden table
The above are started and in-work. I have plans to also build the below items soon:
- Small basement work bench (reloading and winter projects)
- Rebuild bookcase in master bedroom
- Murphy bed for my home office
- Box ceiling for master bedroom
- Home office bookshelves
- Chicken coop
- Ornamental planter box
- Cookbook shelf in kitchen
- Rebuild my standing desk
- Basement stairs rebuild
Watches… Every man wants a useful, tough, attractive watch. EVERY MAN. Even the guy that wears a Timex Ironman with a suit, or the men that buckle on a Seiko calculator knock-off every morning all want their watches to keep accurate time and need it to stand up to the rigors of their possible day. Some men want a diamond encrusted Rolex, others a multi-dial race inspired TAG, Japanese quartz Citizens are popular, some NEED a slim rose-gold Patek Philippe with a crocodile band, and then there are gents who want a $20 Timex that they will beat on and replace every year.
For me, part of my REM sleep is spent dreaming about a Swiss made, stainless steel, Omega Seamaster 007 strapped to my wrist as I progress from intrigue to adventure to interwoven & outlandish plot in the hours before I wake up to start my real day as a cube dweller. Ever have the dream about showing up naked to class or work? When it happens to me there is an Omega 007 on my wrist. Below is a short film that shows some of the detail of why a Swiss watch is special – enjoy.
I “discovered” Monocle Magazine while living in Hamburg. As I was perusing my favorite bookstore there after work one day, I happened upon a new glossy – interesting title, bike wheel on the cover, quality paper, hmmm… I have a mistress and she has two wheels, so anything that is smartly bike related catches my attention. I sat down, read a little and fell in love. There were articles about bikes interspaced with design, global politics, a Japanese comic, well-designed fonts (I grow nerdier every day…), lifestyle, city profiles, travel, branding, craft and men’s accoutrements.
The premiere issue of Monocle was launched in February 2007 and the bike issue happened to be the third issue of the magazine. Monocle is headed by Tyler Brûlé, a Canadian-born journalist who also writes/wrote a good weekly editorial for the International Herald Tribune and has some serious chops as a journalist and writer: BBC, The Guardian, Stern, The Sunday Times, Vanity Fair, runs a design firm, and was shot by a sniper while covering the war in Afghanistan…
One of my guilty pleasures in life is buying Monocle Magazine at a specific magazine stand near “C” concourse at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport. Which sounds snobby, but I am SOOO unsnobby (except for coffee and beer…). It is just happenstance that for the last couple of years, I travel through Amsterdam every couple of months and it has coincided (give or take a week or two) with the release of each new issue. On one of my recent trips to England I got to spend an off-day in London. I made it a point to detour into the Marylebone neighborhood and into the first Monocle retail store (there are now five along with podcasts, a radio show and a TV spot on Bloomburg) to buy the most current issue. The shopping experience was great: small, but well stocked store, attentive staff, my purchased was wrapped like I was in a Tokyo stationary shop, and I had missed a visit by Tyler Brûlé by 20 minutes. The Monocle HQ is close by and he apparently stops in from time to time.
The sound of a violin playing causes an almost visceral reaction in anyone within listening distance. It can take you back to a perfect evening with someone remarkable, move you to tears thinking of the long dead, put a smile on your face, start your feet tapping, remind you of a street corner in a small European city, or fill your eyes with the smoke of a long forgotten tiny bar in the Texas Hill Country.
I have an amazing leather-bound book that was my grandfathers. It is a mostly English (a little German) treatise on building a violin and was published in 1889. There are maybe 20 full-sized patterns in it that have been removed, traced, and returned. I have no idea if my grandfather was the tracer or if he ever attempted or built the violin outlined in the book. It could have been a Bucket-List project for him, but I know he touched it and at the very least thumbed through it and looked at it sitting on the shelf that I found it on in his workshop when I was 8. Now it is on my Bucket-List.
I am not a big clog wearer… But I can appreciate the work that goes into crafting them. Althuough some of the work is done by machine, it is not like the shoes are being cut to the 1/1000th of an inch on a 21st Century HAAS CNC machine. The makers of this type of footwear are using old iron to rough the shoes out and then hand fitting and finishing them. These are built for wear and use and not for souvenirs to hang in an Amsterdam tourist shop. If you take a day trip out from Amsterdam/Rotterdam into the fields and villages, you will still see these on people’s feet. The same holds true with parts of Spain and France – especially with older rural residents.
Horror of horrors, I did not touch my yard this weekend. My lush, Ireland-green grass (I am a wee bit narcissistic about my grass) was left to grow and stretch toward the sky in the weekend sunshine. I spent all available daylight hours outside and didn’t even attempt to take the mower out, turn the compost, or battle with my creeping nemesis - the dandelions. Stamps-With-Foot did a little weeding on Saturday, but the bulk of our weekend was committed to getting the kitchen cabinets done enough so that we could do a test fit and install.
Success! My wife was a priming and painting machine: taking care of the microwave cabinet, the lowers, and the drawers. The lower cabinets were positioned into place and their rock-maple tops fitted (waiting on the drawer fronts and pulls to be finished). I cut all the frames for the doors, assembled the fridge cabinet, installed it with my wife holding the thing up in the air (hehehe), tacked together the trash/recycling slider, and cut the shelves for the microwave cabinet. When completely done, our cabinet space will increase by more than a third, will include al the latest and coolest amenities (slides, organizers, spice racks, pullouts, etc…), and the new cabinets completely match the original 1928 built-ins, both in construction and style.
I need to finish the fridge top cabinet, install the drawers, add a corner cookbook shelf, tack up cove-crown around all, and one final coat of paint. SOMEDAY, this will all be finished and we will have the most awesomest kitchen a tiny, period appropriate, craftsman house can have!
I added a pic of Brodie lounging in the sunshine, just because.
This is starting to get out of hand. We have six desks in our home and I need more. It may have now turned from fetish into a sickness. We are using them for all sorts of stuff: a work table, a liquor cabinet, a sewing/project center, paper repository, and for their intended purpose of writing and surfing the interwebs. Whenever I travel I have a wandering eye for bicycles and desk-like furniture – imagine Ron Jeremy leering at the contestants in a beauty pageant and you will have a good idea of what happens to me when I see a brazed bike frame or a Georgian secretary… I have seen a couple of pieces lately that I NEEDED! I needed them WAY down deep inside – like the Pope needs Jesus.
The one and only thing that keeps me from being more of a desk hoarder is my epic lack of proper funding. It makes me sad to leave them in the store all alone, where no one caresses their tops, opens the drawers slowly, tells them that they are pretty, and where they will end up with someone who will not treat them as nice as I would have.
Below is a selection from of desk-p0rn from the Sherlock Holmes Museum, the Charleston Antique district, Harrods in London, Restoration Hardware, misc. furniture shops, and my favorite Seattle antique store.
Watching this video took away every excuse I have ever had on why my projects don’t tun our like I want them: “My Lathe is old,” “My Chisels aren’t right,” “I need a new jig,” I don’t have quality oak/maple/mahogany/black palm/koa to work with,” “The tool rest I use is crap”… Nope, I now know that every one of those phrases was complete and utter ego-protecting crap. Watch what this Moroccan craftsman does with a medieval bow lathe, a skew chisel, cast off wood, and his toes(!!). I am humbled.
A list of stuff and things that I want currently – not that I necessarily need, but that i wuold like to have or see done/happen:
1. More time to read, write, build, snuggle, climb, bike, run, laugh…
2. A twin Murphy-bed in my office disguised as a mid-century modern wardrobe so that we have more guest space.
3. For my year-long kitchen project to be finished
4. To remember the password for my old laptop so I can have access to 10+ years of pictures…
5. My very own spending money that I can do with what I wish without submitting to a vote/need analysis
6. To have my FVCKIN’ tools back that some asshat stole…
7. A few new t-shirts for summer and a flat belly to reside under them.
8. For my Mother and Sister to find the perfect place in life
9. For all the dandelions in my yard to cease to exist
10. I would very much like for the really sad, really pregnant girl I say in Seattle yesterday to find someone/something/someplace that makes her warm, happy, and safe.