Archive for the ‘Woodworking’ Category

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.

Spice Up Your Presentation   Leave a comment

Serving pieces help turn an impressive array into a finished presentation.

I quickly learned that cutting boards are great … but many people need serving pieces to complete the process of getting great food to the table.

And, of course, if the food looks good when it’s served, that will help it taste fantastic as well.

We are a visual people. Food needs to look, smell, feel and, finally, taste good to maximize our eating experience. I may not be an expert … but I know good food when I have it!

Sometimes, a pair of serving pieces is required. In this case, it’s the flip side of a 5 Section Server, paired with the flip side of a Garlic Dipping Board.
A surfboard is the base for this presentation.
The first board I sold was a cheese board. It’s just a small cutting board, really … but it can be so much more when you have a presentation in mind!

There’s really no wrong answer here … my job is to provide a variety of options so your table can look wonderful. I’ve done some research into what makes a good presentation of cheese & crackers, or charcuterie, or whatever … the link is below. Enjoy!

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How To Fill Your Cheese Board

Velda’s Bruschetta

Flipping A Dipping Board   Leave a comment

I started making Garlic Dipping Boards just a few months ago, and they’re a hit. If you missed the story of the Boards and their Great Garlic Graters, then please follow the link to read about the launch of the GDBs.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

The “A” side, if you will, is perfect for sliced bread, oil, garlic and your favorite spices for dipping.

However, there are times that you need a presentation board … without the Great Garlic Grater.

Got’cha covered. These Boards are made to flip … unlike most of the cutting boards I make, these are made to use on both sides.

The “B” side is perfect for charcuterie, bread, or an appetizer like Velda’s Bruschetta. And, yes, they were delicious. I love photo shoots.

24 new boards just made it to the finish line in time for this weekend’s event, and they’re shown below. I have paired each board with one of the Great Garlic Graters (12 Boards have square Graters, and 12 have hexagonal Graters). But, you get to choose the set that you like when you make your selections. Some people like a matching/complementary Grater, and some people prefer a more, uh, colorful statement in their pairing.

You’re an adult, you get to choose.

If you see one you like, don’t delay: 3 are already spoken for!

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Velda’s Bruschetta

New: Garlic Dipping Boards

Made To Be Of Use   Leave a comment

I love making big cutting boards.

I love it more when people actually use them. They are made to be of use, after all.

Here’s a wide variety of cutting boards that I have ready for this weekend’s event. Every person that does what I do has heard it, “Oh, these are too pretty to use!”

No, they’re not. And even if they are … I can ugly them up for you, if you like.

No one has ever took me up on that offer.

Surfboards: Mr M’s Epic Quiver   2 comments

I’ve stared at a surfboard display for 4 years.

We go, every year, to a party in Carpinteria … it’s the California Avocado Festival. It features the world’s largest vat of guacamole.

Vat. Guacamole.

But I digress.

Every year, our booth is opposite a shop that does surfboard rentals, and they display their quiver of boards in front of the shop.

That display has been working on me for 4 years.

I had been displaying my surfboard-shaped cutting boards … in a crate. This is one step up from a display where you just throw the boards out on a table & call it good.

I call that the vomit display. I hate those.

I knew I could do better, and I finally spent some time thinking about the surfboard display I’ve been staring at all of these years.

The California Avocado Festival is this weekend, and I’m excited to have a new display for my new surfboards. I’ve got 2 shapes in 3 sizes: in addition to the traditional (for me) flat bottomed board, I also now have fish-tail boards.

Hope to see you in Carpinteria!

The new display will have its debut this weekend!

And The Signs Say….   2 comments

I’ve discovered that if I post signs on a booth’s exterior wall, then people don’t point and laugh at me so much.

Or so it seems.

The signs continue to entertain many, and it probably only seems that amused people are pointing at me and laughing at me.

Probably.

If you happen to be in Tehachapi for the Mountain Fest this weekend, please drop in. Mrs M will be there — with her stuff! We’ll be in our big triple booth this year; this is the 4th event where we now do a triple booth.

We need the space. I have more signs to show, after all!

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How Long Does It Take?   4 comments

It’s one of the most common questions I get asked.

“How long does it take to make a board?”

The easy answer is I have no idea. Truly. I know it takes hours as I work through my 8 steps:

The Process

Picking & Processing: the lumber has to be selected for the board. This is where the lumber is cut to shape, the various species are selected, and the wood is laid out in its final form. I then tape the boards together so they stay in order, awaiting the next step. It’s unusual for me to do more than 20 boards in a day.

12 boards … well, I made 13 … ready for glue-up.

Gluing: my least favorite step. It’s a mess. Glue flies everywhere. I have to put a faux top on my workbench, set up with glue, water, paper towels, a rubber roller & a green kitchen scrubby. Clamps have to be prepped, and 3x clamps go on every glue-up. Each piece lives in the clamps, under pressure, for somewhere between 4 and 24 hours. I know to glue up one piece takes 10 minutes – plus set up and clean up time. I have enough clamps to do 12 pieces, which means gluing is a 2 hour process. Every time.

The glue needs to have sufficient “open time” so I can apply the glue to all 13 strips, and then still have time to spread the glue before placing the strips into final position.

Shaping: after the pieces have dried and cured – for at least 24 hours – then they need to be smoothed with either the planer (up to 13″ wide) or the drum sander. Once smooth, each piece is cut to its final shape & size. Then, the pieces either go to the CNC for carving, or perhaps go to the router table or another machine for final touches.

Shaping can make dust fly, unfortunately.

Sanding: once the pieces are shaped, they are sanded using one of my 5 finish sanders (!). 3 of these are hand sanders … and every piece is hand sanded. I use as many as 6 different grits of sandpaper at this stage, depending on the needs of the piece. Cutting boards are sanded to a glass finish as I work up to 320 grit.

Sanding is never quick.

Branding: when I’m doing it right (and I’ve failed at this step too often in the last several months), every piece gets my logo laser engraved on the back. To do this, I put each piece into a container, separate each piece with paper or bubble wrap, and take each piece to my engraver.

Finishing: food products all get oiled & waxed. Hand rubbed. Hand finished. Non-food products get a lacquer or urethane finish (I use 3 different ones, depending on what I’m making). Curing again takes 24 hours, mimimum. Most cutting boards get non-skid rubber feet.

Photography: every piece is photographed. How else can I show them to you?

Wrapping: every piece is wrapped for transport. Cutting boards, and most other products, get a jute tie with a board card, showing the price, the species used in the piece, and care instructions for the board. Each piece is then re-packaged into containers for transport to the next event.

The Question

So, how long does it take?

I’ve said it takes as many as 8 or 10 hours for a big, end grain cutting board … but I have no idea.

Some artists insist the only accurate answer is “I’ve been a woodworker for over 40 years.” It’s only through the experience you’ve gained over time that you know how to do what you do … so, some say, it is fair to say that to make THIS piece, it’s taken me 40 years to get here.

I recently made a pair of pieces that brought that home to me.

While digging deep (and I mean deep) into the shop, I discovered a couple of old glue-ups that had been languishing. They were red oak panels that I think were made for my desk & book case … that I made in 2009.

Here’s my office desk … can you tell that I’m a reader?

So these extra panels were large … and I make signs. OK, so I’ll make 2 of my large signs, “Family” and “In This House.” These are typically made from cherry & left unpainted, like these:

CNC Sign 18 – 26 Family. Cherry. 12″ x 16″.
CNC Sign 18 – 50. Cherry. 13″ x 16″.

I cut the panels to shape … and discovered that they had been assembled with biscuits, which is an old school technique that helps keep a large panel flat. The edge of the panel, when I cut it, revealed a biscuit. Crap. I’ll have to fix that … by covering it. Problem. And when I have a problem, I often put the project aside.

I went ahead and carved the red oak panels, but the prominent grain on the panels didn’t look right to me. When a project doesn’t look right … I put it aside until I can think of the right solution. This can be the kiss of death. “Putting it aside” is always for weeks. It can be for months. Remember, these panels were originally put aside … and it’s been years.

Ten years.

I knew that these signs needed to be painted. I knew they needed to be framed. Each presented problems.

To paint the signs, I had to deal with the reason I seldom use red oak in the shop these days – and never use it for cutting boards. Red oak is too porous. When you paint it, the capillary action of the grain will transport paint easily, so you can’t get a clean edge like I’m used to with Hard Maple or Cherry. To paint these signs, therefore, I will have to lacquer them first, to fill the grain, then paint the entire sign, sand the paint off the surface to reveal the painted letters, and then lacquer the sign again for the top coat.

The framing is a simple process; I’m once again framing my chess boards, so I know the steps to do a frame with mitered corners. It’s not my favorite thing to do, though … and when I don’t love doing something, I tend to put it aside.

Weeks. Months. Years.

These 2 signs finally overcame my inertia. They finally overcame my lengthy thought processes. They overcame being put aside.

I’m quite happy with the result.

And, I’m also certain I know the answer to the question for these pieces. How long did it take to make them?

Ten years. It took 10 years to make these signs.

CNC Sign 19 – 712 Family
CNC Sign 19 – 713 In This House
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