Archive for the ‘Woodworking’ Category

Last Ones   Leave a comment

It’s been a long year, and in many ways, a difficult one. Not in the shop so much … it’s when I venture out of the shop that bad things happen. Sometimes.

But, good news, I’m not leaving the shop for a while. That’s good: I can do some interesting work if I just give myself enough creative time!

I’ll be working on a few shop upgrades (FINALLY) over the next couple of weeks, as well as finishing up the last few boards that didn’t make it to the finish line. I have about 30 pieces in process including bread saws, cutting boards, cribbage boards and a, uh, new piece of wall decor. They all need a bit more attention, but that’s for another day. Thankfully.

Here’s the latest, and last 2019 treats, to make it to the finish line.

Yes, I Do Custom Work   Leave a comment

Yes, I personalize. Yes, I can customize. But, as the sign in the booth says, “Quickly? Maybe. Or Not.”

I can do things well, or I can do them quickly. It’s my goal to never move quickly if that compromises the work.

One of these pieces required a new technique: the cutting board, that was a wedding gift for Jaclyn & Spencer, had to have the board on the front edge carved on the CNC, and THEN I assembled the board. After the glue-up, I still had to do shaping & smoothing without damaging the personalization. Love the result, but it did take time to get it right. This was not a rush order for a last minute gift!

These pieces range from the aforementioned wedding gift to home decor to business gifts to special gifts for friends that have moved to the other side of the world. These special gifts are often a challenge to make, candidly. They always require special handling. But, I love the smiles on the faces of happy customers when they choose me to be the guy that makes their idea come to life.

You’ve Got To Have Cheese….   Leave a comment

I’m in search of the perfect cheese & cracker server. This year, I’ve added Cracker Things … and Cheese Slicers.

I’ve gotten closer to my goal, one step at a time.

Cheese Slicers require some unique machining: at this point, it’s the only piece I make that requires a drill press. I have to make a vertical 3.75″ x 1/4″ hole in a 3/4″ board. Centering the hold, vertically, is a challenge.

After the hole is drilled, I have to make a sloping cut on the table saw to make sure the cheese wire can be captured by the handle without damage to the wire. That’s a key point, and when not done properly is the reason why many cheese slicers have wires that fail too quickly.

Thank goodness I have my lifetime guarantee: if something happens to the slicer, I’ll fix it. In my lifetime.

Gallows humor, in a cheese slicer. Who knew?

Big Cutting Boards   3 comments

The thing about making big cutting boards … is I can only make them when I sell them.

After all, if I keep making them … storage would be an issue. In my small shop, that’s no trivial matter. I have no room!

So, I’m pleased to say that I keep selling big cutting boards, and I had to make more to keep my inventory at a good level.

That’s a very good thing. I love making big cutting boards, AKA BDBs.

BDB = Big Damn Cutting Boards.

These are approximately 16″ x 21″ x 1.5″, which is the size I end up with when I start with a “blank” that’s 16x24x1.75″. Two glue-ups, 3 sanding machines, one table router and lots and lots of hand work later, these are the hand rubbed beauties that I am left with.

Ends. Odds. Other.   2 comments

One of my pet peeves is when a person enters my booth, looks at my work, and says, “this is a good way to use scrap.”

In a cooler moment, I can reflect on the word “scrap.” In a cooler moment, I can say without reservation,

I. Do. Not. Use. Scrap.

At. All.

It’s all in the definition. Some people call anything that’s not an 8′ board … scrap. To them, you use lumber to make a table or build a house … and when you cut a piece, what’s left is scrap. Every time.

Hogwash.

When I get hardwood to use, the first thing I do is cut it. Typically, I cut lumber (which is generally somewhere between 9′ and 16′ long, and 4″ to 10″ wide) into 6′ lengths, which are easier for me to process and store. When I’m ready to cut those 6′ lengths (or the shorter lengths I get when I cut a 10′ piece into 2 pieces), I cut them into pieces no longer than 24″. Those are easiest for me to work with in my small shop.

I collect pieces that are between 18 and 23″ long in one cabinet, and those “end cuts” or “off cuts” are eventually made into pieces like these surfboards, Lazy Susans, or trivets.

They are not scrap.

I save shorter pieces, too, down to 12″ in length. The smallest pieces go to Dr H, who turns them into pens that are gifted to people around the world. And anything shorter than 12″ and narrower than 3/4″ … well, that’s scrap, because it’s too small to use.

I don’t use scrap. I start with lumber, and I end up here:

The Cracker’s The Thing   1 comment

With all due apologies to Shakespeare, Cracker Things are proving that the cracker’s the thing!

I took Cracker Things to the Harvest Festival in Sacramento … and sold so many at that one event, I had no choice but to make more.

It’s a wonderful problem to have.

Cracker Things are always on a colorful base of many hardwoods. The crackers go into an angular holder that’s 10-1/2″ long, and perfect for holding crackers of all sizes, and keeping them neatly in place during your next party … even if it’s a party for 1.

Our last event of 2019 is this Saturday at Valencia High School. This event is a fundrasier for the award-winning VHS Choir, and you’ll find both Mrs M’s soaps & lotions and my food-ready products on display. Hope to see you there!

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New: Cracker Things

Everyone Likes To Play With These   Leave a comment

I started making cheese slicers in January … and it’s very clear that people like to pretend they are slicing cheese when they see them in the booth.

They lift the handle. The lower the handle. They comment to their companions, “Look, a cheese slicer!”

It’s an interactive display. The slicers invite touch, which I love. When people touch the kitchen tools that I’m making, they tend to like them.

I know some vendors stand at the front of their booth and hand items to people as they pass by, to “make” them touch them. I don’t do that; I will not be an annoying huckster.

My sales may suffer, honestly, but I don’t care. I have to do what I do.

And what I do, is make things that are so delectable that people want to touch them. That’s me being me.

That catharsis out of the way … here are the latest slicers, hopefully available for touching at a holiday boutique near you!

All of these slicers are approximately 7″ wide x 11″ long. They have non-skid rubber feet. Cost is $45 for any of these slicers. A frequent question is about replacement wires, which I do offer for sale at my cost. Those wires are also available (at a higher cost, I would add) from CheeseSlicing.com.

Cutting Boards, Coasters & Lazy Susans   1 comment

I’ve been busy … but it always seems to be not quite enough.

I keep making stuff, I keep selling stuff … and I’ve never felt caught up in the 6 years that I’ve been doing this. I’m certainly not ahead, as I don’t have extra inventory to replace what I sell. So, when I have a good weekend where I sell 34 pieces (!), I have to get right back into the shop and make sure I have at least 34 more for the next event.

At least I have a goal! Maybe next year I can get ahead. Dreams are a wonderful thing….

New: Cracker Things   4 comments

You know I’m in search of the perfect serving piece for Cheese & Crackers … and I’ve got several variations in the booth at every event. All good.

The corollary to making cheese boards, of course, is what to do with the crackers. For most people, that’s either a pile of crackers on the board, or a small bowl or two.

That’s never really satisfied me. I’ve always thought there had to be a better way … and I’ve got one I’m excited about.

I’ve gotten some comments about the name, but I’m sticking with it.

The base of the Cracker Things is a multi-colored selection of exotic woods. Most have an assymetrical, “chaos” design. Others are symetrical, but are always very colorful. The cracker holders, currently, are made from Hard Maple, Cherry, Black Walnut and Sapele.

Each Cracker Thing is 11″ long, which happens to be the length of the cheese boards that I make. They are 4″ wide and 2-1/2″ high … not including the crackers.

I was very happy when lady after lady entered the booth this weekend, and the universal comment was, “Those are cute!”

They are great gifts; I’m introducing them at $35 each. After one event … I know I have to make more.

That’s a lovely problem to have.

Making My Assistant Work   Leave a comment

I need help.

Ask Mrs M. She’ll tell you that I need a lot of help.

It’s just me in the shop, of course … me and my CNC (computer numerically controlled router). I call it my assistant, and I get it to work by pushing a button (well, a lot of buttons, actually). Then, it stays busy while I’m doing something else.

Oh, it needs supervision from time to time – mainly when I’ve made a mistake. Some of those mistakes are simple programming fixes … some make more firewood. A few mistakes break things (mainly router bits). Luckily, those mistakes are not that common, and the results of my “collaboration” with my assistant have proven to be rather popular.

Thankfully! I would hate to have all of those electrons getting lazy in the shop.

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