Fairweather Mountains   Leave a comment

Fairweather Mountains in the Glacier Bay National Park. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 11/24/14.

Fairweather Mountains in the Glacier Bay National Park. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 11/24/14.

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Glacier Bay National Park

Utah Is Bizarre … And Gorgeous   Leave a comment

Utah's Cedar Breaks National Monument at sunset. Photo by Jay Wanta. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 11/21/14.

Utah’s Cedar Breaks National Monument at sunset. Photo by Jay Wanta. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 11/21/14.

The Blue Lake   Leave a comment

Crater Lake Sunrise. Photo by Toby Harriman. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 11/21/14.

Crater Lake Sunrise. Photo by Toby Harriman. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 11/21/14.

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Crater Lake National Park

Spectacular

 

Buying A Board From Mr M’s Woodshop   Leave a comment

Staycation 66My online friends keep asking me … and I’m trying to help.

If you’re thinking about buying a cutting board or cheese board for a Christmas present, this post should make the process a bit easier for you. This isn’t a retail site, and I’m not on etsy … but I can make you a custom, handmade board and have it in your hands by Christmas. Here are the questions you need to answer:

1. What size do you want?

  • Cheese boards are generally 8″ x 10″, and up to 12″ x 12″. Cheese boards are between 3/4″ and 1-1/4″ thick.
  • The serving pieces (the cheese & cracker servers, and the “surfboard” server) are about 12″ x 19″ x 1-1/4″.
  • Cutting boards can be any size … 8″ x 10″ up to 18″ x 24″. Boards are at least 1″ thick, up to 1-1/2″ thick.

2. What woods do you want?

  • I use hardwoods exclusively, both domestic and international (which are called exotic hardwoods by woodworkers. We’re a colorful bunch.).
  • Cheese boards can be made from any wood, really. Notably, they can include the more porous hardwoods such as Ash, Oak and Hickory.
  • Cutting boards should be made from “close-grained hardwoods, such as Hard Maple” according to the FDA. Well, OK, then. Here are the woods I typically use:
    • Cherry
    • Honey Locust
    • Jarrah (just bought some, and it won’t last long!)
    • Jatoba (AKA Brazilian Cherry)
    • Maple (AKA hard maple, rock maple or sugar maple)
    • Padauk
    • Purpleheart
    • Teak
    • Walnut (AKA black walnut)
    • Yellowheart

3. Edge grain or end grain?

  • The classic butcher block cutting board is end grain hard maple. This looks like a checker board design according to many. The ends of the boards stick up towards the cutting surface … and this kind of board will show less wear than an edge gain board.

    # 1. Hard Maple end grain.

    # 1. Hard Maple end grain.

  • An edge grain board has the grain running the length of the board, and is generally described as a board full of stripes. This kind of board will show more wear, as the knife is cutting across the grain of the board. HOWEVER, these boards are made using hardwood, so they do not show wear as quickly as boards made of lower quality materials. Velda loves her edge grain board, and after a year of heavy use, it still looks like new when it’s got a fresh coat of mineral oil.
# 2. Edge grain cutting board. Hard Maple, Black Walnut, Cherry and Yellowheart.

# 2. Edge grain cutting board. Hard Maple, Black Walnut, Cherry and Yellowheart.

4. What do you want to spend?

Here are pictures and price ranges for the various sizes and kinds of boards. Some of those pictured are still available for sale; others will have to be built fresh by me. That’s OK … but remember, all boards are unique, so the grain patterns will vary in the board you receive if it’s a new build. However, if you can tell me what you like and what you don’t like, I’ll make sure you get something that’s perfect for you. I can even send you a picture in advance through this thing called the internet!

Buying A Board

1. Answer the 4 questions, above.

2. Look at the pictures, below. Click on the pictures to get them in a slide show with captions … or hover your mouse over the pictures to get the first part of the caption showing on this screen without clicking.

3. Tell me the answers to the 4 questions and the # or #s of the board(s) that you like.

4. If it’s in inventory, I’ll ship it to you directly. I can send you a paypal invoice, or you can send me a check. Mrs M’s Handmade, the parent company of Mr M’s Woodshop (HA!) does accept credit cards.

5. I have a new batch of boards that should be done by December 1. A second batch will follow for completion by December 15. All can be delivered by Christmas, guaranteed.

Cheese Boards, $25 – $50

These are examples only! The selection of woods and sizes makes the possibilities endless. That’s how it should be with handmade goods!

Serving Pieces, $50 – $75

The “surfboard” design will be coming out soon with a striped design, similar to the # 18 Cheese Board, and others.

Small Cutting Boards, $40 – $60

Small cutting boards can become cheese boards, based on what you want. Generally, cutting boards are thicker than cheese boards … but that’s strictly a personal preference.

Medium-sized Cutting Boards, $60 – $85

Large Cutting Boards, $100 & Up

Currently, all boards come with routed handholds and non-skid rubber feet held on with stainless steel screws. Boards are finished with mineral oil, and then get a top coat of locally-harvested beeswax and mineral oil. Each board will come with a tag identifying the woods used along with complete care instructions.

Want a juice groove? Add $25.

If you would like to buy a board, please use the “Contact Us” form and I’ll be back to you directly.

Please note that I’m making only two more batches of boards for guaranteed Christmas delivery. If you are interested, now is the time to start talking to me about your board!

More

Cutting Boards: What Kind Do You Want?

Cutting Boards: Care & Cleaning

Cutting Boards: Restoration

 

The Beauty Of Winter   Leave a comment

A beautiful combination of fall foliage and snow-capped peaks at the Conway Summit Area of Critical Environmental Concern, California, to kick off your Wednesday. Take a drive along the BLM-managed Conway Summit ACEC and experience spectacular mountains, valleys, lakes, streams, and volcanic mountain chains. The dramatic display of well-preserved geologic features covers volcanic, glacial, erosive, and structural processes. From Conway Summit pass, there’s a breathtaking view of Mono Lake - a salt water lake fed by streams. And just south of Mono Lake are the Volcanic domes, including Panum Crater, Mono Crater Chain, and Inyo Crater. Learn more about this unique location: http://on.doi.gov/1zQZYOn Photo by Bob Wick, BLM. Posted on tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 11/19/14.

A beautiful combination of fall foliage and snow-capped peaks at the Conway Summit Area of Critical Environmental Concern, California.
Take a drive along the BLM-managed Conway Summit ACEC and experience spectacular mountains, valleys, lakes, streams, and volcanic mountain chains. The dramatic display of well-preserved geologic features covers volcanic, glacial, erosive, and structural processes.
From Conway Summit pass (which is on US 395), there’s a breathtaking view of Mono Lake – a salt water lake fed by streams. And just south of Mono Lake are the Volcanic domes, including Panum Crater, Mono Crater Chain, and Inyo Crater.
Photo by Bob Wick, BLM. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 11/19/14.

The Rainbow Over The Grand Canyon   Leave a comment

Photo by Peter Coskun. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior 11/18/14.

Photo by Peter Coskun. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior 11/18/14.

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Grand Canyon National Park

A Grand Sunset

Bright Angel Trail

Inversion

13 Lies People Tell Me   Leave a comment

HandcraftedI admit I’m a bit obsessed with cutting boards these days. In my defense, I have actually done research into what makes a good cutting board. I know what the government requires for cutting boards in restaurants. And, I’ve made more than a few of these kitchen tools, as well.

So when people lie to me, it gets me riled up. And when I talk to a lot of people at holiday boutiques … people lie to me. I need to get people to stop lying to me, and lying to themselves.

Please, help me stop the lies.

1. It doesn’t matter what cutting board I use.

Yes, yes it does. Different kinds of boards do have different advantages (or, in the case of glass or marble … not). If you’re looking for information about which board might work best for you, check out the link below for Cutting Boards: What Kind Do You Want?

2. Bamboo makes great cutting boards.

Hard Maple, Cherry & Black Walnut. 16" x 12-1/2" x 1-1/4". End Grain.

Hard Maple, Cherry & Black Walnut. 16″ x 12-1/2″ x 1-1/4″. End Grain.

Bamboo does indeed make cutting boards that are inexpensive. However, those boards are made overseas. They’re made with a great deal of glue by workers in third world countries. Bamboo grows quickly, and is a renewable resource … but doesn’t reach maximum hardness until the Bamboo is 5 or 6 years old. If the wood is harvested earlier (and how would you know?), the wood is softer. In addition, the bulbous nature of the wood means that it will dull your knives more quickly than boards made from traditional wood like hard maple or walnut.

3. Bamboo boards are harder than “rock maple” boards.

(This was stated by a seller of bamboo boards). This is simply untrue. “Rock Maple” is a nickname sometimes used for Hard Maple or Sugar Maple. That wood is harder than bamboo.

The hardness of wood is measured by something called the Janka scale. Higher numbers represent harder woods, and here are the scores of the woods that I use for cutting boards … and some that I don’t:

  • Purpleheart: 2,520
  • Jatoba, AKA Brazilian Cherry: 2,350
  • Osage Orange: 2,040
  • Bubinga: 1,980
  • Goncalo Alves, AKA Tigerwood: 1,850
  • Hickory, Pecan: 1,820
  • Yellowheart: 1,790
  • Padauk: 1,725
  • Hard Maple: 1,450
  • Bamboo: 1,380 (one species of Bamboo)
  • Ash: 1,320
  • Bamboo (carbonized): 1,180
  • Teak: 1,155
  • Black Walnut: 1,010
  • Cherry: 995
  • Mahogany: 800
Commissioned piece. 16-1/4" x 12-3/4" x 1-1/2". Hard Maple, Black Walnut, Cherry and Yellowheart. Edge Grain.

Commissioned piece. 16-1/4″ x 12-3/4″ x 1-1/2″. Hard Maple, Black Walnut, Cherry and Yellowheart. Edge Grain.

The hardness of Bamboo is further complicated by the hardness of boards varying between the knuckle or node of the bamboo shoot (which is hardest), and the rest of the plant.  In addition, if the wood fibers of the bamboo shoot are scored (which is something that happens on cutting boards!), then the wood loses more rigidity … so it’s softer.

Bamboo is cheap, which does give it one real advantage over other types of cutting boards.

4. Plastic boards can be sanded smooth to extend their life.

(This was stated by a seller of plastic boards.) Simply, not true. Plastic boards will develop cuts and grooves in their surface over time, and a used board is a better habitat for bacteria. Unfortunately, sanding a plastic board just makes MORE cuts and grooves in the plastic surface. When the plastic board shows wear, replace it.

5. Glass boards are more sanitary than wooden boards.

Absolutely not true. You can read the research studies that are linked in the cutting board article at the bottom, previously referenced.

6. Your boards are at the perfect price point.

End Grain. Hard Maple, Walnut, Yellowheart, Padauk, Cherry. Cutting Board # 13.

End Grain. Hard Maple, Walnut, Yellowheart, Padauk, Cherry. Cutting Board # 13.

A lady actually said this to me … and then she bought 5 boards. So, what am I saying??? If she likes the price point, then good for her. Me, I think prices should go up.

7. These boards are too expensive.

One guy said this to me … and then his wife asked if I made the boards. When I said yes, she then told her husband that the reason the boards are more expensive is that “the artist is on site.” I had nothing to say to that. And the couple didn’t buy anything, for the record.

8. These boards are too pretty to use.

People that say this to me are just inviting an argument. I wonder if their stoves are too pretty to use, too? Or how about their dishwashers?

9. Wooden boards are not sanitary.

Not true. This is not backed up by the science. Wooden boards – with all wood types being shown to be roughly equal – actually have natural anti-bacterial properties.

10. You dye these woods different colors, right?

Never. I only use natural woods with their natural colors.

11. It’s best to treat cutting boards with salad bowl finish.

A fully restored board. The padauk is once again a vibrant orange.

Edge grain. Purpleheart, Canary wood, Padauk, Cherry and Hard Maple.

Nope. Salad bowl finish is fine for, uh, salad bowls. However, this finish is a varnish, and that’s not something that should be applied to a cutting board … and then cut up and served with the food prepared on the board.

12. It’s best to treat cutting boards with olive oil (or walnut oil).

Organic oils are not recommended, as they will eventually turn rancid. Food-safe mineral oil is recommended.

13. I made a board just like this in high school when I was in shop class.

Respectfully, no you didn’t. You may have glued boards together and called it a cutting board … and I’m sure your mother loves it! … but I humbly submit that the work done in a high school shop may not be up to the standards found in Mr M’s Woodshop.

Humbly submitted. And since I’ve now referred to myself in the third person … I’m done.

More

Cutting Boards: What Kind Do You Want?

 Wikipedia: Janka Hardness Test

North Twin Lake   Leave a comment

North Twin Lake at Yellowstone National Park flashes pink during sunrise. While this photo was taken a couple weeks ago, the weather at Yellowstone is quickly changing. North Twin Lake is already covered in snow for the season. Photo by Neal Hebert, National Park Service. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 11/16/14.

North Twin Lake at Yellowstone National Park flashes pink during sunrise. While this photo was taken a couple weeks ago, the weather at Yellowstone is quickly changing. North Twin Lake is already covered in snow for the season.
Photo by Neal Hebert, National Park Service. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 11/16/14.

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Yellowstone National Park

How Wolves Change Rivers

Old Faithful

The Animals Of Yellowstone

Traffic Jam

Twin Lakes

Uncle Tom’s Trail

Stoneman Meadow   Leave a comment

Joseph Taylor captured this stunner of the endless Milky Way galaxy floating above the granite monoliths — Washington Column and Half Dome — in Yosemite National Park’s Stoneman Meadow. “To be a part of a beautiful moment on Earth like this one is always breathtaking, but to capture it with my camera was incredible,”says Joseph.

Joseph Taylor captured this stunner of the endless Milky Way galaxy floating above the granite monoliths — Washington Column and Half Dome — in Yosemite National Park’s Stoneman Meadow. “To be a part of a beautiful moment on Earth like this one is always breathtaking, but to capture it with my camera was incredible,”says Joseph.

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Yosemite National Park

A Double Rainbow And The Half Dome

Fire!

Right Place, Right Time

Sentinel Dome’s View

Sunrise + Milky Way

The Serenity Of Yosemite

Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center

Yosemite In The Snow

Bullfrog Lake   Leave a comment

Kings Canyon National Park in California testifies to nature’s size, beauty and diversity with huge mountains, rugged foothills, deep canyons, vast caverns and the world’s largest trees. The park lies side-by-side to Sequoia National Park in the southern Sierra Nevada. This Veterans Day, you can visit to all national parks, wildlife refuges and other public lands for free. Pictured here is Bullfrog Lake by David Palefsky. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior on 11/14/14.

Kings Canyon National Park in California testifies to nature’s size, beauty and diversity with huge mountains, rugged foothills, deep canyons, vast caverns and the world’s largest trees. The park lies side-by-side to Sequoia National Park in California’s southern Sierra Nevada mountains.
Pictured here is Bullfrog Lake by David Palefsky. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior on 11/14/14.

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Kings Canyon National Park

California Black Oak: Quercus kelloggii

Dead Giant Loop

Grant Tree Trail

Lookout Trail

Panoramic Point

Round Meadow

Sunset Trail

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