Archive for August 2018

New: Cribbage Board Sets   1 comment

A year ago – A YEAR AGO – I brought out my first cribbage boards. They were simple pieces, and I knew I could do better. So, it was back to the drawing board computer for some Research & Development.

I bought some Cribbage Pegs. I bought some playing cards. I wanted to offer complete sets.

I got better at using the CNC.

And today, I’m pleased to show you the first 4 new prototypes of the Cribbage Boards I’ve developed. There are 2 sizes.

  • The oval board has a 3-player track, and is 9″ x 14″ x 1-3/4″.
  • The round board has a 4-player track, and is 14″ in diameter, and 1-3/4″ thick.

Both styles offer you the opportunity to customize both the top and the bottom.

  • The top can be engraved with your name or other words that celebrate an occasion, anniversary, etc. The top can be engraved on the top side or even on the bottom side of the lid, if you prefer. If you’d rather have visuals engraved, I can do 3D engraving as you see below. Since the engraving is the star, wood designs shown here are simple, in either Hard Maple or Cherry. Note that woods can be stained, as the carved bass design is. Carved words can be painted, as the name is painted on the example, below.
  • The bottom can be any wood design you like. Here, you see Hard Maple, Black Walnut or a striped version that has Hard Maple, Cherry & Bloodwood. Any combination is possible.

Pegs & playing cards are included with both sizes (the large round board comes with 2 decks). Finish is a penetrating oil stain (in the case of the bass & alligator), and then all pieces are finished with spray lacquer.

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New: Cribbage Boards (2017)

Protecting Hot Stuff   Leave a comment

There’s hot stuff out there, and I intend to protect it.

It’s an important task.

We remodeled our kitchen several years ago, and were hosting a dinner party soon after. Mrs M had cooked a vegetable lasagna, as I recall, in a glass 9×13. She took the dish out of the oven and sat it directly on the counter. The hot dish touched the cool stone counter, and the glass dish cracked immediately.

The dinner party was fine, but this dish … not so much. It broke, for wont of protection.

These trivets were on display at our last event, and the last pair on this page are made from Hard Maple. Only. They are noticeably plainer than most of my trivets … but I do like to shake it up for those that want a simpler design. In any event, one customer picked them up and said, “These just look like a mistake.”

To each their own. If you like them plain, or if you like them “stripey,” I am here to help protect your hot stuff.

These trivets are 8-1/2″ square, 3/4″ thick, and made from a wide variety of hardwoods. Finish is mineral oil.

Yes, You Should Have A Big Heart   Leave a comment

I see it all of the time.

People see my hearts on the table. They smile. They hold one over their own heart, look to their significant other, and smile some more.

Nothing wrong with a big heart. Nothing wrong with showing your heart.

Such is the human drama I inspire when I go a-vendoring. Who wouldn’t love that?

I’m sometimes asked if these are cutting boards. Well, yes, they could be. However, I believe cutting on hearts is not something we should want to do. Surgeons, perhaps. Cooks? Not so much. I think these are serving pieces, not cutting boards. Buy one, and then you’ll get to choose who gets to cut on your heart.

This weekend, I’m going a bit far afield as I go a-vendoring. It will be my first out-of-state solo event for Mr M’s Woodshop! I’ll be at Faire on the Square in Prescott, AZ. I’m leaving Mrs M at home so she can work at her “job,” and I’m doing a holiday weekend road trip.

Pulling the trailer. Putting up the big canopy, solo. Running the booth, solo. Staying at an AirBnB, bachelor style.

Who wouldn’t love that?

 

The Board Chronicles: Tehachapi Mountain Fest 2018   3 comments

The Board Chronicles is an ongoing series of articles about the adventures of Mrs M’s Handmade as a vendor at community festivals & craft fairs. Mrs M’s subsidiary, Mr M’s Woodshop, has been approved to create this chronicle for the good of vendorkind.

This will be our 4th consecutive annual trip to the mountains in southern Kern County for the 55th Annual Tehachapi Mountain Festival.

We love this event. You can read about our previous visits: 2017, 2016 and 2015. Note that when Mrs M’s Handmade was just 18 months old, the 2015 event was our Best. Event. Ever.

We love Tehachapi.

Great community. Park atmosphere. Handmade vendors are in the vast majority – and we get to set up on the grass. Live music. Oh, and there’s a carnival, a car show and fair food (we didn’t do any of those!).

We’ve been surprisingly successful at this event over the years, and got a large special order last year that really put me over the top. That’s not expected this year, of course, but we still expect to have another nice jaunt north.

New Ideas

  • After putting up our Trimline canopy last year, we return to pop-ups this year. That saves about 30 minutes or so on the set up and the tear down … and since we’re driving home Sunday evening, we thought that was a good idea.

Observations

  • Set up began at 3pm Friday afternoon. Heat of the day. We took our time, though, and worked the process until we wanted to quit. Mrs M got most of her product up, but I elected to do my product set up on Saturday morning. Opening was at 10a; we were ready.
  • This community comes to the event, and they walk the booths. There’s traffic here, and you just need to find your audience.
  • A lady came into the booth and wanted me to do a replacement board for her Hoosier. Huh? Come to find out, this is an old, freestanding kitchen cabinet that has an integrated flour mill below the upper cabinet. I have seen these, but never knew they were named after the state’s nickname where so many of them were made: in Indiana. Who knew?
  • A side note: when I write these blogs, I have an opportunity to have the website check them before publication. Basic spelling is checked (I have trained the checker how to spell Padauk, Bubinga & Morado, by the way). Grammar is checked. And, every time I use the word “lady” the checker accuses me of using biased language.
  • I’m not biased. I believe people are good, and every female that enters my booth is a lady until she proves otherwise. If that makes me biased, then so be it. I’m not changing. And I calls ’em the way I sees ’em.
  • I got a few more chaos boards finished for this event (I had been out for 6 weeks). Those boards are a stopper … but they always inspire people to tell me that they see what I do with my scrap wood. Here’s the board:

Cutting Board 18 – 724. 18 species are in this board! End Grain. Chaos Board.

  • Please note I do not make my boards out of scrap. I start with lumber, and I end up at the finish line. Each board is hand selected to be a part of the cutting board. Scrap is what I burn or recycle. Good lumber is what I use. I do get rather insistent when people tell me that I use scrap to make things.
  • The price tag on this board is $200. It is not made out of scrap. Nothing I make is out of scrap.
  • Rant over.
  • We expected this year to be down from the record-setting event last year, and we were not wrong. We didn’t want to be this wrong, however: Saturday was down about 50%. Several other vendors reported similar numbers, unfortunately. Temperatures were in the 90s … the ice cream vendor had a line all day long. Cutting Board sales? Not so much.
  • Sunday is another day.
  • A pair of ladies (yup) walked by the booth. One observed that it might be fun to get a pig cutting board. Or a bear cutting board. I pointed them both out to her (win!). Come to find out, her family had a cabin complete with a shaped cutting board from the ’30s (!) that was shaped like a pig. Or, probably a bear. They really weren’t sure which. Interesting; I told them how rare a vintage bear board is. Pig boards are out there, but bears? Not so much.
  • No sale for me, however.
  • This event is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. During the course of the event, 5 different board members came into the booth to introduce themselves and thank us for our support.
  • Promoters, take note. It is nice to feel appreciated.
  • We love this event.
  • Sunday sales ended up being much better than expected. It didn’t make up for our oh so slow Saturday, but our ending total was much more respectable than we feared the night before. We were down, as expected, but we had a very respectable event. We’re already planning for next year … and we’re going to get bigger.
  • Requests were for cribbage boards (2x. I am so over not having these done yet!), more boards with juice grooves, more smaller boards & a sign defining a chicken, since I’ve already defined a pig (hmmmm).

The Food

  • Best Meal: Dinner with friends. Does it matter what you eat?
  • Honorable Mention: Dinner with friends. See above.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 148
  • Booth cost: $300
  • Food cost: $104
  • Travel cost: $77
  • Total sales: $2,107
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,626
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: several
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 6:15a
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 95
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there was one other
  • # woodworking vendors: there was one maker and 2 importers
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 17:1
  • Returning next year? Definitely

Boards sold: 18x

Trivets: 4

Large Serving Pieces: 2

Cheese Boards: 2

CNC Signs: 2

Coasters Set: 1

Charcuterie Board: 1

Bread Saw: 1

Clipboard: 1

Custom Order: 1

Small Board: 1

Cutting Board: 1

Heart: 1

 

New: 5 Section Serving Pieces   Leave a comment

The banner on the front of the booth says “Cutting Boards, Serving Pieces & More.”

I am in search of the perfect cheese & cracker server. Today’s offering may not appear to be one at first glance … which is why these pieces need a second glance.

The front side has 5 sections for your various, uh, food offerings. It could be cubed cheeses, of course, but it could be veggies or chips or olives … whatever.

These pieces, though, are made to be used on both sides. When you flip the pieces over, there are no feet to mar the surface, so now you have a nice 14″ square serving piece that would be perfect for charcuterie – or, cheese & crackers.

Of course.

All I’m doing is giving people options. Then, they get to choose!

Each piece is 1-1/8″ thick, and is routed 3/4″ deep … leaving a 3/8″ thick bottom. The pieces are therefore very light to handle. Note these are not cutting boards: even though the flip side is flat and could be used for cutting, since it is so thin it would not hold up long enough to a fine cutting edge. For charcuterie, it’s perfect.

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Just Finished: Large Serving Pieces

Yes, These Are Lazy Susans

Trays To Serve

 

Cutting Boards: Large & Small   Leave a comment

This is a week when I finally got some Cutting Boards done … in several sizes.

I made a couple of commissioned pieces, both of which were my large size: 16″ x 21″ x 1-1/2″. I talked about one of those in a blog post about The 350th Cutting Board.

But, a well stocked kitchen has a few cutting boards in various sizes, so this week, I’ve got options for you.

  • End Grain Cutting Boards, 13″ x 17″ x 1-1/4″.
  • Edge Grain Cutting Boards, 12″ x 16″ x 1-1/4″.
  • Small Boards, 7″ x 12″ x 1-1/4″.
  • Cheese Boards (which are just small cutting boards!), 9″ x 11″ x 5/8″.

You may need a couple in each size if you’re serious about your kitchen tools. Some cooks like to have dedicated boards for meat, fruit & veggies & bread. There’s no scientific reason for that, mind you, but if you like to have purpose-driven kitchen tools, then I’ve got some sizes to help you with that.

All of these boards will be at this weekend’s big event, the 55th Annual Tehachapi Mountain Fest. This will be our 4th consecutive Mountain Fest, and we can’t wait. Hope to see you there!

 

 

The 350th Cutting Board   5 comments

Big changes in the garage Woodshop.

I’ve entered into a new level of focus: Must. Make. More. My Kickstarter campaign just funded, after all, and now I’ve got a lot of pieces to make … and limited time to get it all done. I have 3 events scheduled in September, at least 3 in October, 3 in November and 2 in December. Big doings.

I took the last week off to help prepare – because I must! – and have successfully grown my inventory to a new height.

One result of that is a new cutting board, a new design … and some eye candy for you.

This large end grain cutting board is approximately 17″ x 21″ x 1-1/2″. It features 8 species of woods from 4 continents:

  • Black Walnut, Hard Maple, Cherry and Mesquite from North America
  • Bubinga from Africa
  • Jarrah from Australia
  • Goncalo Alves & Canarywood from South America

This commissioned piece will ship out next week. But for now, enjoy!

Cutting Board 18 – 721. Hard Maple, Black Walnut, Jarrah, Mesquite, Goncalo Alves, Bubinga, Canarywood & Cherry. End Grain. 17″ x 21″ x 1-1/2″. Commissioned Piece.

More

The 300th Cutting Board, 3rd Time ‘Round (4/27/18)

The 300th Cutting Board, 2nd Time ‘Round (4/4/18)

The 300th Cutting Board (2/9/18)

The 250th Cutting Board: Back In The Pig Business (10/13/17)

The 250th Cutting Board (4/8/17)

The 200th Cutting Board, 6th Time ‘Round (2/9/17)

The 200th Cutting Board, 5th Time ‘Round (11/30/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, 4th Time ‘Round (10/7/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, Third Time ‘Round (8/5/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, 8 Months Later (4/9/16)

The 200th Cutting Board (9/18/15)

Custom Orders   2 comments

Yes, I do custom orders!

Special engraving. Unique wood combinations. Oddball requests. You name it.

To be fair, I often turn down oddball requests for special one-time constructions. I have trouble making enough pieces just to keep up with my totally out-of-control hobby, after all. Adding ideas that take extra TLC to make it to the finish line usually doesn’t make sense.

But who said I have to make sense? Adding the occasional odd request does help me use my creativity & expand my skill set. At the right time, doing a unique project can be fun. Since that’s why I’m doing this, I try and help people with fun projects as much as I can.

And, no, I still don’t make backgammon boards. Or rolling pins. Or toaster tongs.

But, apparently, if you want a Fire Pokin’ Stick, then I’m your guy.

The Board Chronicles: Jackalope Summer Nights 2018   2 comments

The Board Chronicles is an ongoing series of articles about the adventures of Mrs M’s Handmade as a vendor at community festivals & craft fairs. Mrs M’s subsidiary, Mr M’s Woodshop, has been approved to create this chronicle for the good of vendorkind.

We’ve never done an event in Pasadena, and that seems like a mistake.

Time to fix that.

Jackalope is a promoter that does events in Denver, Phoenix & Pasadena. It’s a partnership between 3 friends in those cities, and their efforts have been on our radar for a while. The calendar hasn’t worked before … but this time, it did, so I’m going to Pasadena.

Mrs M is staying at home – well, not really. She’s not going a-vendoring because of her “job.” And the summer heat. Or something.

I am breaking a rule or 3 to do this event: it’s a first-time event, and those are always a risk. Doing an event in the summer heat is always a gamble, of course: no telling what the weather might do to attendance.

Just like life. Time to roll the dice.

New Ideas

  • This is my first outdoor event under the lights in a very long time. We use the lights at Santa’s Art Shop every year, but we don’t do nighttime events at this point.
  • The Jackalope team is very social media savvy. They shared multiple graphics with their 200 vendors to use on social media, which was much appreciated. And used. Given the attendance on a Friday night, I believe their efforts were successful.

Observations

  • The event is in Pasadena’s Central Park, and there is artist loading zone parking on 3 sides. I drove right up and got to unloading.
  • There are a large number of rental tents here, it seems. I’m next door to one … that is a shared booth. Two strangers are sharing; one makes dog collars and the other makes greeting cards. Much of the vendor community at this event seems to be young, relatively inexperienced with outdoor events and etsy-driven. I’m none of those things. Hmmmm.
  • I only recognized 2 vendors at this event, and only 1 of those is known to me to be successful. Lots of newbees here, I believe. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not a recommendation, either.
  • An afternoon set-up in 90 degree heat is not for the faint of heart. It was hot, hot, hot. The cart had to be drug uphill. No fun was had.
  • First event I’ve ever been to where the promoter zip tied the canopies together. Every front leg was zip tied to its neighbor. This is an order from the Fire Marshall of Pasadena, I’m told.
  • Part of a nighttime event is that I’ll have lights … and electricity. Why wasn’t I smart enough to bring a fan?
  • Live entertainment is part of the event … and I was located in the nexus between 2 competing vocalists. Nothing good happens when I must hear 2 vocalists from 2 directions at the same volume.
  • Back to the shared booth: 5 people are in the booth, plus a dog who is post-surgery and can’t use its hind legs. Too many things going on in a 10’x10′ space, and that’s before you realize that 2 different vendors are competing for that limited space to try and sell something.
  • I met a Backer from Kickstarter! Brian sought me out at this event so he can choose design of the “Best End Grain Cutting Board” that he wants me to make. Great chatting with him, and a total surprise to have a person come into my booth and lead with “I’m one of your Backers.” Wow!
  • Friday sales were underwhelming, for sure. Traffic was good for a 1st time event, I thought. Sales, though, not so much.
  • Our lights are the best (compare the booth shot below showing my booth as well as parts of the neighbors on each side. See what’s brighter!). I was complimented on the booth lighting by other vendors and customers. Lighting is important: people will only buy what they can see. When electricity is provided, there’s really no reason for a vendor to have bad lighting.
  • Saturday, I brought the fan. Life was better.
  • Given the heat, I thought I probably wouldn’t sell anything until after 6pm.
  • I was right. Too right.
  • Unfortunately.
  • My neighbor with the paraplegic dog created dog clogs all weekend. She put a dog watering bowl in the aisle, well out in front of her booth … resulting in dog/dog owner/dog petter assemblies in front of my booth, as well as her 5′ half booth, all weekend. The inter-species gathering didn’t completely cut off traffic, nor access to my booth, but it was not an asset for me. For her dog collar sales, perhaps.
  • Dog enthusiasts rarely buy cutting boards, in my experience. They walk their dogs, talk about their dogs, and generally enjoy the canine community. And, they do so in the public space in front of my booth, often for extended periods.
  • Load out was just as bad as load in, because I had to drag the cart uphill again! You’d think I would catch a break, but nope. I was sweating at 11:30pm, loading the Jeep.
  • Vending is a glamorous thing.
  • Requests were for chess sets (which I left at home due to space limitations in the Jeep), a chess table, wooden tool holders from a leather craftsman as well as a potter, platters for a restaurant & a wall art display.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Nothing good happened this weekend.
  • Worst Meal: Yup, had those.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 86
  • Booth cost: $326
  • Food cost: $0
  • Travel cost: $45
  • Total sales: $377
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $6
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 2
  • # transactions: 7
  • # soap & lotion vendors: Oh, so many. I saw more of them than I did jewelry vendors, which is just unheard of. I’m glad Mrs M wasn’t here!
  • # woodworking vendors: There was a turner, and a hobbyist who had a couple of cutting boards mixed into the display with his wife’s ceramics.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 7:0
  • Returning next year? Nope.

Boards sold: 7

Cutting Boards: 3

CNC Signs: 2

Bread Saw: 1

Coaster: 1

New: Bread Saws   3 comments

Sometimes it just takes too long for me to complete a good idea.

I made a bread saw prototype in 2016, and promptly sold it as part of a wedding gift. You would think I would use that success and motivate myself to make more … but no.

I did buy the necessary hardware, which has sat in my cabinet for more than a year. You would think that would motivate … but no.

But, when a Lady walked into the booth last month and asked me to make her not one, but two Bread Saws, I couldn’t say no. She told me she had been searching for them for years.

Just like me & my motivation.

These Bread Saws are made from various hardwoods. The handle helps you cut each slice to the same thickness. Each handle is cut from a single piece of wood with an ergonomic shape that feels very good in your hand. The saw blades are stainless steel, and are so sharp that each saw comes with a protective shield.

Each piece is about 16″ x 2″. The saw blade is 8″ long.

Bread Saws in production. They are curvy.

I took all of the Bread Saws with me to my weekend event, Jackalope Summer Nights in Pasadena. Sold one almost immediately. The buyer had also “been looking for one for years.”

And then she found me. That’s good, right?

 

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