Archive for the ‘Woodworking’ Category

One Size Does Not Fit All   Leave a comment

One of my key discoveries since I started down the path of becoming a serious woodworker hobbyist is that people like a lot of different things.

I started using 7 woods, and thought I had a nice variety.

I was wrong.

Now I use over 20, and still get requests for woods I don’t use (and if you can find olive wood for me, I’ll be happy to use it!).

The size of cutting boards is another thing that has surprised me. Some people want a sandwich-sized cutting board, and that’s all they need. For some, that’s because it’s in their small kitchen in an RV (who knew?). For others, they simply don’t want a board bigger or heavier than my smallest cheese boards.

That’s why I make sure every board in the shop is made to be a good cutting board. I may think a board is a cheese board … but I may be wrong. If it’s intended use is to be cutting, then that has to be OK.

Here are the latest cheese boards, small boards and cutting boards to make it across the finish line. That’s what I call them, anyway. You get to call them what you want!

Ugly Enough To Use   Leave a comment

One of my favorite stories from making cutting boards happened 2 years ago at the California Poppy Festival. This weekend, you’ll find me there, again, along with Mrs M.

But back to the story.

I call them Sous Chef boards: small handled cutting boards, made to be mobile. Give one to you assistant, and have them chop an onion, or whatever, and then bring the chopping to you so you can add to whatever you’re doing. I make 2 sizes, and they were on prominent display at our first Poppy Festival.

A guy came into the booth, liked them, and bought one as a present for his wife. All good. I love being a part of a happy home.

The guy came back in the afternoon, saying he’d been sent back to buy another sous chef board. His wife loved the first one … but it was too pretty to use, and it was going to be hung on the wall. He’d been sent back to buy a second board that was ugly enough to use.

Whether you think these are too pretty or just ugly enough, here’s the latest from the garage woodshop.

 

Round = Spinning   Leave a comment

I sit right by the Lazy Susans in the booth layout I’m using these days, and I’ve gotten used to the look in the eyes of customers on the prowl as they stalk them.

They’ll walk into the booth, soak in the mise en scène, and spy the Susans.

“Are those Lazy Susans?” they ask.

I don’t say a word. I just give the top one a spin. Words are not necessary.

One thing I’ve learned is that any round board is assumed to be a Lazy Susan. I did round cutting boards for a time, but I got tired of explaining that my 1-1/2″ thick round, slope-sided cutting board was not a Lazy Susan.

So, I stopped making them. If having a round board that does not spin is confusing, then I won’t have them.

Confusion is not my goal. The marketplace has spoken, and I listened.

Since I started making Lazy Susans – at the request of a client! – they have been one of my more consistent sellers. I like to make them in batches, but I had let my inventory dwindle so this latest batch is overdue. As always, I celebrated with some very unique color and grain patterns. Please, enjoy!

The 250th Cutting Board   Leave a comment

I’ve been working on this board for 2 years.

In my head, anyway.

As my faithful readers know, I’ve been wrestling with building inventory for a very long time, and I’ve been up & down & up & down from the line in the sawdust that I’ve drawn at the 200th cutting board.

Today, I’ve reached a new milestone, as this colorific cutting board is my 250th piece in inventory.

The pictorial below shows the board in all of the stages of production, which did actually take me a couple of months. In the beginning the original boards were picked & processed, and then glued together. That “blank” then got smoothed, sliced, and then re-glued into the final configuration for the cutting board. More smoothing and then final shaping on the table saw and router table followed. Even more sanding came next, and then the board was ready for oiling and waxing. Non-skid rubber feet were then installed with stainless steel screws, and the board was finished. Final step: photography!

Join us this weekend at the California Poppy Festival to see the board in person. Plus, you’ll get to see the beginning of our annual Spring Fling!

Big Ones   1 comment

I love making big cutting boards.

I make them for 2 reasons:

  1. They are really good – essential – kitchen tools. They are made to be of use.
  2. I find pretty when I make them

Like all good things, they do not come quickly nor cheaply. When I’m making then out of quality hardwoods (which is always), then my costs are significant. I have to go through a lot of wood to choose the pieces that belong in these cutting boards. Not every board makes the grade.

Some of these boards required over 30 minutes just in the sanding & smoothing process. That’s a lot of sandpaper, at 60 cents a sheet, yaknowhatImean?

Another interesting aspect of these large cutting boards is that I don’t make them in large quantities. I only keep a few on hand, and then make more as the need arises. At our last event, I sold 3 large cutting boards (very unusual!), so it was good that I had this batch in the shop and very close to the finish line. However, of these 4 boards, 1 is already sold … so I’m really just keeping my inventory even.

I have to make more large cutting boards in the near future to get ready for our Spring Fling.

Another odd thing is that I show large cutting boards at every event, but I often sell more custom pieces than I sell the actual large cutting boards on display. The first large Hickory board that I put on display sold 4 other boards before it finally sold itself. And, no, none of these boards are Hickory. That’s on my never ending to do list.

On that board that is already sold (the 4th one shown), please note the very unusual grain pattern on the Black Walnut. I take what the wood gives me, and in this case I had a large plank that allowed me to make a very unusual sweeping curve, book matched, across the face of the board. It’s the first time I’ve been able to do that, and I’m quite happy with that board. It will soon be winging its way to Florida.

These boards are intended to be generational purchases. With minimal care, they will last for decades. They are made from very good hardwood, both domestic and international. All have routed handholds and non-skid rubber feet held on with stainless steel screws. All of these boards also have juice grooves. Here are the 4 all-new designs that made it out of the shop today:

Cutting Board 17 – 424. Bubinga, Cherry, Purpleheart & Hard Maple. End Grain, Juice Groove. 17″ x 21-1/2″ x 1-1/2″.

Cutting Board 17 – 425. Cherry, Jatoba, Canarywood & Hard Maple. End Grain, Juice Groove. 16″ x 21″ x 1-1/2″.

Cutting Board 17 – 423. Cherry, Hard Maple & Purpleheart. End Grain, Juice Groove. 16″ x 21-1/2″ x 1-1/2″.

Cutting Board 17 – 422. Black Walnut & Cherry. End Grain, Juice Groove. 18″ x 20″ x 1-1/2″. Commissioned Piece.

I Call Them MBOs   Leave a comment

Well, I call them MBOs among the family, who have heard me talking about them enough to not want to sit through the polysyllabic formal name: Magic Bottle Openers.

I am surprised, though, that many people see these bottle openers at an event, and don’t immediately appreciate the magic. I mean, I always display the MBOs with a vertical sample that has bottle caps stuck on it magically – held in mid-air against the forces of gravity.

That’s magic.

I guess people might think those caps are glued in place, but that’s why I move them when I demonstrate the magic in the MBOs. At that point, I generally get a comment about how the MBO has an m-word in it … and I always correct the customer. Every customer.

They are MAGIC, thank you very much.

These 12x MBOs are double magic, in fact: not only will they catch your bottle caps, but they will also stick to your refrigerator, if it’s attractive. If your refrigerator isn’t attractive, though….

MBOs are approximately 5″ x 11″ x 3/4″. I use 5 different colors/styles of bottle openers, and all MBOs, even these “fridge mount” versions, are pre-drilled for wall mounting, if that’s your preference. I’ll even give you the longer screws needed to wall mount the MBO; you just remove the short screws that hold on the bottle opener, and replace them with the long screws to attach to your mounting surface.

Then you’re ready for the magic.

Cutting Boards, Large & Small   Leave a comment

People use all sizes of cutting boards … which is something I had to learn.

I now stock as many sizes as possible at each event. In my lexicon, cutting boards are:

  • At least 12″ x 12″ x 7/8″
  • Made with suitable hardwoods: “hard maple or its equivalent,” as the FDA regulations for commercial applications say. That’s the same regulation that most states copy into their regulations for commercial kitchens. Every cutting board that I make fulfills those requirements.
  • Either edge grain or end grain
  • Almost every cutting board has non-skid rubber feet, held on with stainless steel screws. I do make some 2-sided boards that don’t have feet, but those are generally smaller than my “cutting board minimum size,” above.
  • Almost every cutting board has routed handholds for easy handling of the board. There are some exceptions, but those are generally special orders.

One of my challenges is to create an event display with enough cutting boards to show the breadth of my work, while still making it pretty. I struggle with those two conflicting goals … and there’s a new display and all new look for the booth just around the corner.

Meanwhile, here are the latest 7 boards to make it out of the shop.

 

 

The Odd Bits   1 comment

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeThe leftovers. The last ones. The ones that didn’t make it into the right containers. The unsorted.

The odd bits.

These boards were the final ones to make it out of the shop before the long trip north to Fresno. My inventory now officially stands at 236 unique pieces. I have never attained this number before, and it’ll last … well, for a few more hours. Then, it’s back to vendoring.

But wait, there’s more! There are 30+ boards that are nearly complete in the shop; many of them will be complete for next weekend’s Almond Blossom Festival in Quartz Hill. Thank goodness. I wouldn’t want my inventory to slip now that it’s built into such a varied lot.

On to the odd bits: 2 cheese boards, 3 end grain small boards and 3 cutting boards. Some are simple, some are chaos, and one is already sold. The simplicity of the Hard Maple edge grain board – by far the simplest look in this bunch is counterpointed nicely with the end grain chaos board that features 10 different woods.

Of special note are the 3 Black Walnut end grain small boards. I don’t make this kind of board very often … and as I say at nearly every show, there’s nothing like Black Walnut.

Please enjoy!

 

New: Wine Bottle Holders   Leave a comment

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeThese took forever.

I’ve had this idea on my wall for 2 years. I wanted to make them, really. I just had to figure it out.

And these took a lot of figuring.

Science is involved, you see. Geometry. Physics. I was called to master gravity itself, and gravity is the consequence of the curvature of spacetime. Gravity forms the galaxies, and it causes the tides. Gravity is nothing to mess with if you’re not prepared.

For the beer drinkers, you see, I had to master magic … but for the wine drinkers, I had to master science.

Make of that what you will.

These wooden Wine Bottle Holders are about 9″ long, but they only stand with a full wine bottle in place. Without the wine, they fall over … unlike humans, who more often fall over with wine, not without it.

Make of that what you will.

I’ve made 8 in this initial run, and half of them have light colored wooden centers, making them ideal for personalization.

More

 

 

 

It Begins Again   1 comment

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeIt’s been a glorious run. 75 days without an event meant I had time to retire to the garage woodshop, and really get to making. And then Dr H showed up, and showed me how the professionals do it.

He just recently actually retired, you see, so he’s the professional at, uh, retiring. Me, I’ve got a long way to go before I can say I don’t have a job, just a hobby. And it’s an out of control hobby, at that.

While he was here, I showed him how I do what I do for fun. He even had some fun with me, until I handed him a sander & told him to get to work.

And work he did. That’ll teach him … ’cause that boy needs teaching. And if you know him, you know what I mean.

But, unfortunately, all good things must end and Dr H’s vacation from retirement (which is confusing to me) is over and he’s now on the way home. I’m left sweeping the floors by myself … which is a good thing, as there is a lot of sawdust to clean up. Vacations are over, making is complete for now, and it’s time to get back to vendoring.

This weekend, you’ll find me at the Fresno Home & Garden Show. Big doings in Fresno. Who knew?

This is a solo show for me; Mrs M has concluded she may not belong at Home & Garden Shows. No matter; I’m sure that I’ll be able to find a good time. In Fresno. After all, I’m bringing the magic with me.

More

More Magic Required

The Last Bits Of Magic

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