So You Want To Buy A Cutting Board….   2 comments

Every home has a kitchen. Every kitchen has at least one cutting board. When the cook – or the cook’s really good friend – decides they need a new board, then the conversation begins.

Let’s start with the pretty.

There are 2 basic kinds of cutting boards, which are called edge grain (they are “stripey”) and end grain (they have lots of small squares, and often remind people of quilts or chess boards).

Edge grain cutting board. Cutting Board 17 – 141. Yellowheart, Canarywood, Hard Maple & Jatoba. 14″ x 18″ x 1-1/4″.

End grain cutting board. Cutting Board 17 – 433. Jatoba, Hard Maple & Canarywood. End grain. 16″ x 21″ x 1-1/2″. Commissioned piece.

Both can be great cutting boards. The end grain boards are like the classic butcher block, and they do show less wear over time. With an end grain, you cut on the ends of the boards. The grain of the wood is facing up, and the knife goes between the grain when you cut. Then, when you oil the board, the grain heals itself and the cuts almost disappear.

With edge grain, on the other hand, you actually score wood fibers when you cut. However, I only use very hard wood, and they don’t mark as easily as a plastic or soft wood board that many people are used to.

So, that’s the first question for you to answer:

  1. Do you like stripes or squares?

Edge grain boards (stripes) will be less expensive, as they are easier to make. End grain boards take more time in the shop, and require a lot more sanding to make smooth. I prefer end grain boards personally; I enjoy the challenge of making them. Velda’s main board, though, is an edge grain. She likes stripes … so that’s what she’s got.

Once you answer that first question, the questions get a bit easier.

Second question:

2. What size do you want?

Boards come in many sizes. For me, I call “cutting boards” anything that’s 12″ x 16″ or larger. Normally, I make 3 sizes: 12″ x 16″, 14″ x 18″, and 16″ x 21″. Those are counter top boards, and many people leave them on their counter for daily use. I do make larger boards upon request, but I don’t keep larger sizes in my inventory.

Some people prefer smaller boards: if you’re only going to slice an onion or trim the crust from a sandwich, you may want what I call a Cheese Board (about 8″ x 11″ and thin, at 5/8″. Small. Lightweight.) or a Small Board (about 6″ x 11″ x 1″. More robust, but still small enough to move around easily.)

Cheese Board 16 – 054. Purpleheart, Birds Eye Maple, Goncalo Alves, Jatoba, Bloodwood & Yellowheart. 9″ x 11″ x 3/4″.

 

Small Board 17 – 246. Hard Maple, Padauk & Purpleheart. 10″ x 11″ x 1″.

Again, no wrong answers here. Some people want a larger, counter top board for daily use, and then supplement it with a few small boards for individual needs. Some people, cooking for one, only want a small board. That’s OK; you’re an adult. You get to choose.

A good cutting board should be at least 1″ thick, I believe. That makes it strong enough to become a reliable kitchen tool. Thinner boards are fine for cutting … but not pounding. The thickest boards I normally make are 1-1/2″. That’s as thick as they need to be for function. If you want a thicker board because you want the look of a big, thick hunk of wood on the counter, no problem. I can make it – and you’ll have to lift it to clean it. Your option.

I do make handled cutting boards, which I call Sous Chef boards. Those are made to be mobile, and move from counter to table to stove top as needed. I also make in-counter boards, commonly called bread boards because they have “bread board ends.” These relatively thin boards are made for 2-sided use, and often are stored in a slot under the counter top, above the silverware drawer. Both the Sous Chef boards and the in-counter boards do not have the non-skid rubber feet found on the other boards described on this page.

Sous Chef 17 – 917. Purpleheart & Birdseye Maple. Large size, with the work space approximately 11″ x 15″, with the handle extending for an additional 6″.

Sous Chef 17 – 902. Bubinga & Hard Maple. The work surface is 9″ x 12″, with the handle extending another 4″.

Cutting Board 17 – 129. Black Walnut, Birdseye Maple & Padauk. Bread board ends. 16″ x 20″ x 3/4″. Commissioned Piece.

Next question:

3. Do you want a juice groove?

Juice grooves help catch the, uh, juices and crumbs that you generate as you work on your cutting board. Cooks that are moving meat from the grill to the kitchen often find that a juice groove will help contain the liquids that flow from juicy meat. Some just like to keep their counter tidy; even tomatoes leak a bit when they are diced.

Juice grooves are often small and pretty much non-functional, in my opinion. I make juice grooves larger than many craftsman … and have made them very large on my meat carving board.

Carving Board – the poultry side. The graduated ribs of the oval are perfect to hold the fowl in place as you carve.

Carving Board – the beef and pork side. Hard Maple. 14″ x 19″ x 1-1/4″.

Next question:

4. What kinds of wood do you want in your board?

I use about 25 species of wood, all chosen for their beauty as well as their suitability to make an exceptional cutting board.

Please note that I *never* color a wood artificially. I use fresh, all natural lumber and only treat it with FDA-approved mineral oil and beeswax. The oil and wax protect the wood from water; a properly treated cutting board will last for decades. Read about the care of your cutting board here.

The FDA says a commercial cutting board should be made from Hard Maple or its equivalent. Hard Maple is “close grained.” An alternative would be Red Oak, which is a common hardwood, but is very “open grained.” I do not put Red Oak in cutting boards for that reason.

The woods I do use are all selected for their hardness and beauty. Some boards I make are plain – perhaps even made from just one wood, like Black Walnut. Others are what I call colorific. No wrong answer here.

For a gallery of things I’ve made that highlight most of the woods I use, go here.

Final question:

5. Are you picking up the board from my home in Santa Clarita, or where should I ship it?

Happy to ship the board as needed. I charge you my direct shipping costs only.

Here are the features common to every board:

  • The board is saturated with food-grade mineral oil, which is FDA approved. This is the only oil I recommend you use to treat your board.
  • I finish each board with a top coat of hand-rubbed “board butter,” which is a combination of locally-harvested beeswax mixed with mineral oil. Both the oil and the wax help the board repel water.
  • Non-skid rubber feet held on with stainless steel screws.
  • Routed fingerholds on 2 edges.

All of these boards are made by me in my shop. If you want to order a board from my current inventory, tell me what you’re looking for and I’ll give you some options. Want to come by the house to see what I’ve got? No problem; we’ll set an appointment.

If you want a custom board, I’ll talk to you about the design that you want. I’ll send you options, and then you can choose the exact wood design that you want. From that point, I’ll start your board when I make my next batch. Generally, I can custom make a board to your specific desires and deliver it in about a month. Or maybe 6 weeks. Sometimes that becomes longer if I have projects backed up, and as the holidays approach, all bets are off. I do my best to communicate how work is progressing; you’re welcome to ask me for updates any time.

Thank you for considering my cutting boards. This totally out of control hobby is a labor of love for me, and I appreciate your support.

 

 

 

The Board Chronicles: VHS Softball Holiday Boutique 2017   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.

I blame Velda.

Of course.

This event came at us late, after we’d booked our 4th quarter. It’s a first time event.

It’s a rule: Don’t. Do. First. Time. Events.

But, the organizer did help us get into the Boutique Fantastique at Saugus High 4 years ago, and she definitely wanted us to be a part of her new event that’s a fundraiser for the Valencia High softball team.

But it’s on a bad date, just 9 days before Christmas and halfway through Hanukkah (too late for holiday shopping, right?).

Oh, and they’re getting seventy (70) vendors for this first time event. That’s way too many unless the crowd is enormous.

For a first time event.

And, did I mention, Velda had to work at her “job” this weekend? So, I would be solo at the event.

However, she said to do it. It fit on the calendar. What was I supposed to do?

I know: just do the event and get it over with.

New Ideas

  • We teamed up with our friend Nicole, who makes lovely ceramics. She made 2 versions of soap dishes, which are now offered for the first time by Mrs M.
  • 6:30a load-in, and Mrs M took pity on me. She’ll help me set up, and then leave do go to her “job.” I appreciate the help, truly.
  • I have no expectations for this event. Well, I want to cover costs, certainly, but beyond that … no expectations. I’ve stated sales could be anywhere between $500 and $1,500. I don’t care. No expectations.
  • Gretchen Wilson, who hales from Pocahontas, IL, said it very well: “I’m here for the party.”

Observations

  • Event # 15 of 15 in our 4th quarter.
  • Sunday about 6p, it’ll be party time. But until then … back to business.
  • Can I nominate the graphic for this event as the worst of the year? They need a little bit of Christmas spirit to go with their mascot. Or, perhaps, instead of their mascot. IMHO.
  • Sports marketing is not my thing, so I’ll concentrate on marketing something I know about … like lotion bars.
  • Load in was at 6:30a; I was there a few minutes early, and the organizer led me into parking right by the gym. Load in was as easy as it could be.
  • Except for the student volunteers … who didn’t arrive until 6:45a. Don’t know why their call time wasn’t at 6:15a, but I don’t make the rules. I was mostly loaded in before the volunteers offered to help me.
  • In the end, load in was easy, and Mrs M helped with set up as much as she could.
  • The event started at 10a, and I had customers that came to see me fill the opening hours. It was 12n before I could look at the clock. Sales were not brisk, but I was busy helping people. Far beyond my expectations, luckily.
  • I finally got lunch at 1p, and was promptly ‘whelmed again by ladies clamoring for lotion bars. Happy to help; my sandwich had to wait.
  • Mostly, the aisles were empty. My neighbor hadn’t made her booth fee at the end of Saturday. Some did OK, others were frustrated. I was just happy that the party was coming.
  • Sunday, the aisles were empty. As expected.
  • Vendors started disappearing Saturday night, actually; not all returned for Sunday. Some vendors had started packing at 2p on Sunday, which is sad. The event wasn’t generating many sales, true, but when vendors start to leave any customers that are there just see “over.” The rules were clear: don’t leave before 4p, or you won’t be asked back. I wonder if the organizers were, uh, organized enough – and have the backbone – to enforce that rule.
  • My last customer came to the booth and bought several gift bags from Mrs M … at 4:03pm. We never leave early.
  • Load out was about like load in: Mrs M helped, thankfully. Student volunteers were absent, though one Dad did help us quite a bit. I was surprised that this event, conceived as a large money maker for the softball team, did not have the full support of the team, the coaches & parents. Perhaps they’d like to return to the mandatory selling of tickets to a different fundraiser, as they’ve done in year’s past?
  • Our “success” at this event was driven by repeat customers coming to find us, often at our specific invitation. That’s why we had the sales that we did.
  • Remember how I said sales could be from $500 to $1,500? We ended up near the high end of that range, because of our legacy customers. Had we relied on the customers brought by the promoter, we would have been near the low end of the range … and only achieved that because the other vendors were so bored, they went shopping in Mrs M’s booth. Thankfully.

Addition, 12/18/17

The Signal covered the event, complete with a picture of me and another of Mrs M’s products. They didn’t identify me well, nor did I even know the Signal was photographing me! In any event, here’s the link.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Bagels & cream cheese, at home.

Saturday Lunch: Jersey Mike’s small sub … not enough.

Saturday Snack: Nope.

Saturday Dinner: Backyard Grub & Brew. New place, to me, and well worth the visit. I had short ribs. Yum.

Sunday Breakfast: Santa Clarita’s 2nd best breakfast burrito, from Jimmy Dean’s

Sunday Lunch: The Heart Attack sandwich from the smoked meat vendor that was outside. It was better than average … not great.

Sunday Snack: Mrs M gave me a can of nuts to eat, so I did.

Sunday Dinner: We we went to a new place, Mama’s Table, for comfort food. We were about the only people there, but the food was good. Definitely recommended.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 12
  • Booth cost: $210
  • Food cost: $16
  • Travel cost: $9
  • Total sales: $1,291
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,056
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 5:15a
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 35
  • # soap & lotion vendors: one other, who was doing the “organic, natural” thing.
  • # woodworking vendors: 2 others. 1 was making American flags in various derivations, and the other was a first-timer making cutting boards.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 10:0
  • Returning next year? maybe

Boards sold: 10

Trivets: 4

Custom Order: 1

Lazy Susan: 2

Magic Bottle Opener: 1

Cheese Board: 1

Large Cheese & Cracker Server: 1

 

Nothing Trivial About Trivets   2 comments

When I introduce a new product, I usually make one or two. Prototypes, if you will, just to prove that I can make them, and then to see if anyone cares.

Trivets were such a thing. I started with just a few, and most were made from a single species. As those sold, I another batch, but most of them, again, were made from a single species.

Each time, I made just 2 that were made with wood combinations, and those sold first both times.

This time, I went crazy with wood combinations.  I even made some chaos trivets, with no symmetrical pattern.

It appears that people like my trivets. They are unusual, and since I know that people like it when I combine different woods, I got just a bit, uh, inspired this time.

These trivets are 8-1/2″ square, and about 3/4″ thick. They’re treated with mineral oil to help protect the wood, and they are ready to protect your table and your counter from the hot stuff you are cooking.

 

The Final Pieces For 2017   Leave a comment

Well … not quite.

These are the last pieces I made to sell this year, but there are a few more special orders that will be completed by Christmas.

I promised.

There will also be a couple that may not be done until New Years … that’s OK, that was promised, as well.

But back to this potpourri of wooden things.

I started with lumber, and ended up here. These pieces were actually finished over the last few weeks. But, I didn’t have time to photograph, process and publish them, until now.

Since there’s only one event left this year – the Valencia High Softball Boutique & Silent Auction, December 16 & 17 at Valencia High – I don’t expect these pieces to sell this year. Here, you’ll see chess boards, lazy Susans, cutting boards, cheese boards and small boards.

That’s good: I’ll need something for next year, when this all starts up again.

But that’s a worry for another day. Please enjoy the latest pieces to make it out of the Woodshop!

The Board Chronicles: Trailer Park Holiday Boutique 2017   Leave a comment

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.

Trailer Park is a company you’ve probably never heard of … but you’ve seen their work. This company makes movie trailers, and also does in-theater marketing (the posters & stand-up pieces that you see in the theater).

They open their cafeteria up in December to do a holiday boutique for their employees, and I was invited to take my stuff, and Mrs M’s stuff, to the boutique.

The office is in downtown Hollywood – opposite the Chinese Theater – so traffic was a challenge. It was especially so, given that the new Star Wars movie opens tomorrow, and workers were on Hollywood Boulevard rolling out the red carpet on the afternoon of this event. I walked through the chaos that is Hollywood & Highland, and took a couple of pictures of what was going on:

From the cafeteria window, I could see the Chinese Theater courtyard that had C3PO & R2D2 posing for pictures. The area was blocked off … and security was handled by 2 storm troopers. Good choice, that.

It’s just another day in Hollywood.

New Ideas

  • A double table top display on a Thursday afternoon in an office … haven’t done that before!
  • I showed up in the loading zone behind the building, and Trailer Park sent escorts with rolling carts to take everything up in the elevator. They were required to “badge” the elevator so it would go to the 7th floor.

Observations

  • Event # 14 of 15 in our 4th quarter. I am so done.
  • I am so done.
  • I arrived on time (of course), but that was too early. They needed more time to clear the cafeteria from lunch so we could have the tables. No problem … I can set up in 45 minutes. I think.
  • I could.
  • Constant traffic, and small sales, as expected at an in-office event like this. Worth my time, probably, but no one is getting rich here.

The Food

Thursday Lunch: a peanut butter sandwich, on the road. Of course.

Thursday Snack: nope.

Thursday Dinner: Tomato rice soup & grilled cheese from Mrs M. Yum.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 52
  • Booth cost: $0
  • Food cost: $0
  • Travel cost: $27
  • Total sales: $402
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $375
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: many
  • Saturday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 13x
  • # soap & lotion vendors: One other, doing an all-natural presentation with bars selling for $14 (!).
  • # woodworking vendors: just me
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 4:1
  • Returning next year? maybe

Boards sold: 5

Small Boards: 2

Cheese Board: 1

Magic Bottle Opener: 1

Trivet: 1

The Board Chronicles: Congregation Beth Shalom Holiday Boutique 2017   Leave a comment

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.

Congregation Beth Shalom is a Jewish synagogue and preschool here in Santa Clarita. They do a holiday boutique and book fair each year as a fundraiser for their preschool. There are about 20 vendors; we last did this event in 2015; read about that here.

They also do a spring boutique, but none of their events have fit on the calendar since 2 years ago.

New Ideas

  • Nothing new here … but it’s now unusual for us to do a table top event. We have pretty much left church boutiques behind, so this is an unusual Mrs M event in 2017.

Observations

  • Event # 13 of 15 in our 4th quarter. I need a nap.
  • Got one, after I finished sanding 9 more boards. And many more miles to go in the coming week, I assure you.
  • This is a family event. Elementary age children go to classes (“Sunday School?”) and the boutique happens for the parents – and kids – to shop as they go to & fro.
  • Lots of kids. And because it’s a safe, family environment, there are a lot of small children with limited supervision.
  • Small children love ZooSoapia. A little too much, in this case. On the other hand, ZooSoapia was our # 1 seller today, so whachagonnado?
  • He was about a 5th grader, I think. He wanted to buy a present for someone, but he didn’t have his credit card. He just had his smartphone … so he paid using Samsung Pay. He held his smartphone next to my reader, and they did an electronic handshake. Technology. Who knew?
  • This is a nice little event, and I really like the volunteer organizer that runs the event. On the other hand, we are trying to avoid one day events. If we actually follow our rule, “Go Big Or Stay Home,” there will be no repeat in 2018.

The Food

 

Sunday Breakfast: Peanut butter sandwich on the road.

Sunday Lunch: Grabbed a burger on the road home after the event.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 11
  • Booth cost: $100
  • Food cost: $10
  • Travel cost: $6
  • Total sales: $596
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $480
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: Several
  • Sunday alarm: 5:45a
  • # transactions: 30
  • # soap & lotion vendors: One other, doing melt & pour … “Vegan All-natural.”
  • # woodworking vendors: just me
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 4:0
  • Returning next year? Doubtful.

Boards sold: 4

Large Cheese & Cracker Servers: 2

Magic Bottle Opener: 1

Custom Order: 1

The Board Chronicles: VHS Choir Holiday Boutique 2017   Leave a comment

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 is one of 4 events that we have done each of the years that Mrs M has been Mrs M.

It’s 2 miles from home, and it’s a fundraiser for the Valencia High choir. What’s not to like?

Because of this event, the choir raises over $3,000, and uses that money to pay for buses to go to festivals. Yes, we’re fans, and yes, we’re in.

Every time.

New Ideas

  • Same location, same 2 tables + a bonus 4′ table that I bring. Nothing new here.
  • I laid out the products on the tables, and Mrs M got shorted a bit. I’m sure I’ll hear about that when she sees the layout on Saturday: I’m working the event on Friday, and she’s handling Saturday … as long as I’m there for the load out. Deal.

Observations

  • Event # 12 of 15 in the 4th quarter. I’m so done … and yet, we’re not. Miles to go before we sleep.
  • I love local.
  • Any event that has a choir perform, I’m in. LOVE that the concert choir performs both days at this event.
  • This event has an odd shape. Friday hours are 9a – 1p, and are geared towards on-campus students & staff only. Saturday is the public event, 9a -4p.
  • On Friday, I had seasoned choir members teaching junior choir members what a lotion bar was. This event, after 4 years, is such a legacy event for us.
  • We totally killed this event on Friday. We know what to expect here: we’ve done this event for each of the 3 previous years. We should do about $300 on Friday … and we more than doubled that.
  • Mrs M didn’t think much of my lotion display on the table … but all I had to do was point out that on Friday, I had our best ever daily sales at this event. And I pointed it out. At least twice.
  • One of my boards is going to China; it’s a handmade souvenir from California for a visitor that found us on Saturday. Love it!
  • One thing that you should not do when talking to an artist is tell them they’re doing it wrong. This seldom ends well.
  • One person approached Mrs M on Saturday, and asked if she made soap using a cannabis derivative oil that had no THC in it. It’s a thing, apparently. This person must have thought she was the smartest person in the room, and proceeded to tell Mrs M why she should be using the oil.
  • Apparently, she didn’t know Mrs M … who proceeded to respond with the scientific reasons why she chooses to not use the oil, and further explained why the oil is still not viewed as legitimate by main stream  businesses. You know, businesses like Mrs M’s. The lady left in a huff, and Mrs M still has no plans to use the oil.
  • I do have some experience in this area after a few decades’ practice: don’t tell Mrs M she’s doing it wrong. It seldom ends well … for me. Or non-customers that think they’re the smartest person in the room.
  • Mrs M fought a good fight (and not just with potential customers), working to deliver great sales on Saturday.
  • She did not match my magnificence.
  • Saturday sales were less than Friday sales, by $1. That makes no sense of course … but I was selling on Friday, and not on Saturday. We even had an appointment sale on Saturday that was $195 in board sales … still not enough. My Friday sales were double our expectation, and our Saturday sales were still above our expectations … together, we were way, way over our expectation for this event.
  • But I won. And since I write this blog, that’s really all that matters. I’m sure Mrs M will make a comment, below, but it doesn’t matter: I outsold her on an inferior day.
  • Seriously, the sales for this event were way over our expectations this year. Only about 20 vendors are accepted here, and I love this event!

The Food

Friday Breakfast: Bagels & cream cheese at home. Of course.

Friday Lunch: Ham & Muenster sandwich on wheat, at home, after the event was over at 1pm

Saturday Breakfast: Thanksgiving leftover corn casserole with an egg on top. Milk + 2 coffees with cream. Mrs M does it up, yes?

Saturday Lunch: half of a ham & Muenster sandwich on wheat

Saturday Snack: free donut in the morning, delivered by choir members

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 8
  • Booth cost: $180
  • Food cost: $0
  • Travel cost: $4
  • Total sales: $1,555
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,371
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: many
  • Friday alarm: 5:45a
  • Saturday alarm: 7a
  • # transactions: 54
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there was one other, a young lady doing melt & pour “vegan, all natural” soap
  • # woodworking vendors: just me
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 12:1
  • Returning next year? I hope so!

Boards sold: 13

Cheese Boards: 4

Word Blocks: 3

Cutting Board: 2

Magic Bottle Openers: 2

Medium Surfboard: 1

Small Board: 1

The Board Chronicles: Westlake Village Republican Women Federated Holiday Luncheon 2017   Leave a comment

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.

I did the Gingerbread Boutique in Westlake Village, which is where I met the President of the Westlake Village Republican Women Federated, who invited me to vend at their holiday luncheon on a Thursday at the local Four Seasons hotel.

I said sure. Why not?

Estimated attendance was 60 … but this is an upscale city; the event was held at the Four Seasons. However, I had no expectations.

Thank goodness.

New Ideas

  • This was a 2 table, boutique set up for Mr M as a solo event. Have I ever done that before?
  • I am not used to loading the Jeep with containers, and going to an event. I didn’t load a table; they were supplied. Have I ever done that before?

Observations

  • This is event # 11 of our 15 events in the 4th quarter. WHAT WAS I THINKING?
  • Load in was an adventure: the directions were very clear, actually. Go to the loading dock, take the elevator, walk through the catering area until you hit a stairway, and turn right. The room is ahead of you, on the other side of the food prep area.
  • It was.
  • You have to love the setting, with my stuff right beside the lectern and the waterfall in the background. Everything is in one room for this holiday luncheon:

  • Did I mention the costumed carolers?

  • The white rectangle on the tripod was a framed Trump campaign sign, which was a raffle prize.
  • The presentation, by the way, was not hyper-partisan. The President of the organization spoke about the concerns about how split we are as a nation, and how it’s important that we come together.
  • Absolutely.
  • Something you don’t see at every event: the housekeeping staff doing stretching exercises en masse before they go out to do their duties.
  • New rule: no events where the promoters take a percentage.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Hello, Old Friend.

Saturday Lunch: Mrs M made me a ham sandwich, which I ate in the car while the event attendees ate the meal served by the hotel. For me, that’s meal # 2 for the day that was eaten in the Jeep, if you’re keeping track.

Saturday Snack: nope.

Saturday Dinner: Henry’s MOS from Papa John’s. High living.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 112
  • Booth cost: $180
  • Food cost: $11
  • Travel cost: $58
  • Total sales: $423
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $174
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 3
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 5:45a
  • # transactions: 5
  • # soap & lotion vendors: none
  • # woodworking vendors: just me
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 8:0
  • Returning next year? probably not

Boards sold: 8

Magic Bottle Openers: 4

Word Blocks (all custom orders): 3

Serving Tray: 1

The Board Chronicles: Santa’s Art Shop 2017   Leave a comment

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 love this event.

This is one of three events that we’ve done every year for the four years that Mrs M has been … Mrs M. For each of the previous three years, this has been our Best. Event. Ever.

Every year. We keep getting better, thank goodness.

You bet we love our December trip to Ridgecrest every year. Wouldn’t you?

Read about our past years here: 2015 and 2016. Alas, I didn’t start writing The Board Chronicles until 2015, so there is no official record of our initial 2014 outing.

On the eve of our departure, I read last year’s post. I was forced to confront that I sold 20% of my inventory last year at this event. I’m scared all over again.

New Ideas

  • Knowing that CNC would be changing my life, and that I should have many more products to show, we committed to a triple booth this year: 10′ x 30′. This is only the 2nd time we’ve had a triple booth, which breaks down to Mrs M having a normal 10′ x 10′ … plus a bit, and I have the remaining 10′ x 20ish. There was at least one woodworker co-op there last year with a 10′ x 20′ booth (and 2 woodworkers had 10x20s last week in Norco!), so I need to keep up in order to show my stuff well. And since this is our best event, we have a lot to protect!
  • Little Girl is joining us again this year to make sure we have enough hands to, uh, handle all of the transactions that we hope to have.
  • I’ve made 2 new display pieces for me to show 4 items: Serving Trays, Lazy Susans, Chess Boards & Large Cheese & Cracker Servers. I have lots of these unique items to show … space to show them … and now, a way to show them. Here’s hoping I find customers, or all will be for naught.
  • We bought 2 new tables for this booth presentation. We are optimistically expanding.
  • Given how heavy our load out is, Little Girl is driving her new SUV with our extra cargo. So … we’ve outgrown our 6’x10′ trailer. It took us a year and a half. That is sobering.

Observations

  • This is event # 10 of our 15 events in the 4th quarter … but since this event is such a focus, everything gets easier from here.
  • I hope.
  • I had oh so many plans for new CNC products, but most of them did not see the light of day. I had so much work keeping up with “normal” products, I never got to many new ideas. Unfortunately.
  • Here’s hoping I’ve done enough. My beginning inventory is larger than ever, at 280 pieces. Mrs M has been busy as well; she’s got more soap finished than ever before, including 3 new Christmas scents.
  • We arrived for setup at 1pm, and got busy. I backed the trailer into the perfect spot, about 40′ from our booth. We brought it all: canopies. Lights. Displays. Christmas table cloths. Christmas decorations. Now, where does it all go? We have never set up in this configuration before, and I have 2 new display pieces … time to move the puzzle pieces around.
  • And move they did. I think we settled on the 3rd configuration. Mrs M even agreed to take a bigger table in the deal (which was a negotiation, I assure you).
  • We did it up, and went to a very nice dinner at Olvera’s, where we were all pregnant with anticipation.
  • Expectations.
  • There’s only one number I care about this year: $5,000. We have never done that at an event, and it’s time we broke through. Expectations … high expectations. We have them.
  • Expectations can kill you.
  • This event has a “hard gate:” they charge admission. So, the start time really is 9am … though you get a lot of vendors & such walking around before the gates open. At 8:30a, we were ready. So ready.
  • My first sale: a chess board. Of course.
  • The Ladies got busy almost immediately, and we were ‘whelmed within the hour. People were standing in line to give Mrs & Miss M money for their soaps & lotions & such. Thank goodness Little Girl was there to help.
  • One customer walked up, smelled a few lotions, and settled on Sequoia. “I’ll take 9,” she said. It’s good to have deep inventory.
  • I met another Fanboy of this blog! After recognizing me from my picture (!), he introduced himself. He’s a vendor & designer of jewelry, and says that as he reads the blog, he laughs, he cries … right there with us. Love it. Well, not the crying part so much.
  • Saturday began to slow down about 1p, and we were no longer ‘whelmed. Business continued until closing at 5p, though: there was constant traffic. Constant.
  • I sold 24 boards on Saturday, which was great. It was the other side of the booth, though, that was burning it up. Her big sign says “Handmade Soaps & Lotions,” and that’s what she sold. In abundance. For Mrs M, this was the

Best. Day. Ever.

  • But we were definitely not there yet. The number still loomed as we went to dinner … and found an excellent French restaurant. The Ladies had wine. Little Girl said she deserved 2 alcohols. They both did. I drove home.
  • Do you know how rare it is to have 2 nice dinners when we go a-vendoring? I think it’s happened once before. If you find yourself hungry in Ridgecrest, I heartily recommend Olvera’s for Mexican food, and Mon Reve for French food. And they just happen to be a block apart, so navigation is easy!
  • A customer was in my booth talking to her spouse – and me – about purchasing a chess board. They met playing chess, she said. Somehow, he offered to teach her the game … and she lost when they played. As she said, though, she was playing the long game. Years later, still together, kids in the home … who really won when they played?
  • Sundays are known to be slower. More strolling. More friendly conversations. For me, though, it was busy. I was selling a lot of stuff, I thought. And, I was. Then, a lady bought 8 boards.
  • And she wasn’t my best customer.
  • I ended Sunday selling 47 boards. For me,

Best. Day. Ever.

  • So, for those of you keeping track, I ended up selling 24% of my inventory at this one event. The fear is real. I have 5 more events to do this year!
  • All told, I sold 14x different items. My big sign says “Cutting Boards … Serving Pieces & More.” It’s about the More, I think. If I limited myself to just cutting boards, I would not have nearly as much fun.
  • One of the reasons that Mrs M’s Handmade works is that we have very different products, and we have different strengths. (And we celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary next year. No coincidence.) Mrs M burned it up on Saturday; I had a better day on Sunday.
  • Yes, faithful readers, we got it done. We got better, again. 4 years in a row:

Best. Event. Ever.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: “Free” at the Best Western … biscuits & gravy. Of course.

Saturday Lunch: Chicken Quesadilla … good finger food between conversations with customers.

Saturday Snack: Peanut M&Ms. When only the best will do….

Saturday Dinner: EXCELLENT French cuisine at Mon Reve. Highly recommended. Get a reservation.

Sunday Breakfast: “Free” again … but no biscuits & gravy. You get what you pay for, sort of.

Sunday Lunch: A big hot dog & chips. “Nourishment.”

Sunday Snack: Peanut M&Ms. I came prepared.

Sunday Dinner: After a long, frustrating drive home, the ladies had In N Out waiting when I walked in the door. And Blanton’s. Bless them.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 548
  • Booth cost: $712
  • Food cost: $306
  • Travel cost: $285
  • Total sales: $5,887
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $4,584
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: several
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: nope
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: too many to count
  • # soap & lotion vendors: at least 4
  • # woodworking vendors: at least 5
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 64:3
  • Returning next year? Yes. In a triple booth, again. And I still need to figure out how to get those bells on.

Boards sold: 67

Magic Bottle Openers: 14

Cheese Boards: 14

Cutting Boards: 8

Word Blocks: 6

Large Cheese & Cracker Servers: 5

Trivets: 4

Serving Tray: 3

Lazy Susan: 3

Large Cutting Boards: 2

Small Boards: 2

Chess Boards: 2

Pig Cutting Board: 2

Custom Order: 1

Cribbage Board: 1

 

 

 

Large Cheese & Cracker Servers   Leave a comment

That’s what I call them.

Most people see them, and say, “Those look like surfboards!” While that may be true, now that I make boards with actual surfboard shapes, it seems wrong to call these pieces surfboards.

Because they’re not.

In my personal lexicon, though, I call them large surfboards, because that’s less cumbersome than Large Cheese & Cracker Servers.

Which is more accurate. As if that matters. If it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck….

You call them what you like. These pieces are a unique design that I’ve developed. The underside of each piece has massive “cove cuts,” which are made on the table saw by running the board not through the blade, but across the blade at an oblique angle. The curves underneath the boards, therefore, are the shape of the saw blade as it passes through the wood.

These cove cuts allow the piece to sit very lightly on the table. Combining the oval shape with the curved handles underneath result in curves going in multiple directions with this piece; it’s very pleasing to the touch.

All of these serving pieces are 12″ x 20″ x 1-1/4″. As with all of the pieces I make, the finish is food safe: mineral oil and board butter, which is mineral oil mixed with locally-harvested beeswax. All have rubber feet, held on with stainless steel screws.

The first one shown, and the last two shown, all sold in their first showing.

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