Archive for the ‘Cutting board’ Tag

Custom Work   1 comment

I get all sorts of odd requests when I’m out rubbing elbows with people at craft fairs.

Ah, memories.

Some of those requests I bring to life, as you can see from the unique projects below. Some are personalized, some are just personal.

Boards can be engraved with names as gifts for yourself, for weddings & anniversaries, for real estate closings ….

If you would like to order a special item for a special someone, email me and we’ll develop the idea. Some projects can be accomplished relatively quickly (like the board with “Hall” on it; that can be delivered in a very few days as I keep the blank boards on hand). Some boards require me to buy specific species of lumber, glue it up, smooth it, carve it, finish it … and when I’m busy that can take weeks. Months, even. But whatever the time frame may be, I’ll give you an estimate in advance and will always keep you informed of where I am in the process.

So, what have you got in mind?

The Rest Of The Batch   1 comment

By the time I was to this part of my flurry of finishing, my hands were tired of vibrating.

Even with the best of hand sanders – which I have invested in – hours of sanding results in me, uh, feeling it. And as much as I don’t like that, I absolutely love getting to a glass-smooth finish on my cutting boards.

It’s one of the most satisfying things I do in the shop, truly.

The end grain boards are smoothed first with a drum sander that sands across the entire board in one pass, giving me a flat surface. Each of these boards was smoothed, top & bottom, with the drum sander. Then hand sanding began on both the edges and top & bottom surfaces of each board. 5 grits of paper are used: 80, 120, 180, 220 and 320. After the wood is smooth, then it gets oiled & waxed with Mrs M’s Board Care Kit.

There’s nothing like a hand-rubbed finish.

And, don’t forget … it is my pleasure to re-finish your board as needed. A cook will leave a knife mark or three over the years, and I’ll restore any board you get from the Woodshop to like-new condition. No charge. It takes me about 8 minutes, but you may have to wait for the right day when the shop is set up for finishing.

All of these boards are now available on the newly improved MrMsWoodshop.com. In the month of May, there are 2 special offers:

  1. Free shipping for all orders over $50
  2. 20% off everything, site-wide, when you use the promo code “MrMsLaunch”

Thank you for your kind attention. Now, with the boards finished, the photographs taken and the websites updated, it’s time to get back to the shop!

The 700th Cutting Board   Leave a comment

When the enormity of the “Shelter in Place” mandate sank in, I decided it was time to get to the shop & get to making.

And making.

Lost my head for a bit, I did.

When I begin to make a batch of things in the shop, I cut boards from several different species of wood into the right sizes, and then lay out the wood design for each piece. I call this picking and processing. That’s what I did.

And I got stuck there … so I did it a lot.

I actually had over 400 pieces in the shop in process at one time. And I know from all of the times that I’ve tripped or said a bad word when I had to move that pile of stuff AGAIN … having just 70 pieces in process at one time is a pain. 400 pieces … I’m in a small garage Woodshop. There’s only so much room.

Closed in, it was.

Difficult to move, it was.

Undeterred, I was.

So, now I’m on the other side. I’ve finished over 300 pieces; still have 100 Magic Bottle Openers to finish this week (which is a several day process, with multiple drying times required for each MBO).

Today, though, I can celebrate the rare air of accomplishment that has not been seen before.

I have over 700 pieces in inventory right now. My previous record was 400, which I first touched a little over a year ago.

The cutting board that I’ve just brought to the finish line in the flurry of finishing 300+ pieces in 3 days is a simple end grain cutting board made of Hard Maple. It’s 12″ x 16″ and is extra thick at 1-1/2″.

Juice groove? Check.

Non-skid rubber feet held on with stainless steel screws? Check.

Hand rubbed finish with mineral oil & Mrs M’s Board Butter? Check.

The unprecedented characteristic of this board are the the wedge-shaped ends which make the board easy to pick up. Traditionally, I make routed finger-holds on all of my cutting boards, but I’ve been wanting to do a board like this for some time. Will there be another?

No clue, I have.

Cutting Board 20 – 107. Hard Maple. Juice Groove, End Grain. 12″ x 16″ x 1-1/2″.

I’ve just launched the new & improved MrMsWoodshop.com, and there are 2 special offers that apply to the month of May. You can get free shipping for any order over $50. Plus! There’s a site-wide discount of 20% off when you use the promo code of “MrMsLaunch”. Don’t delay though, as the offers will expire on May 31.

Here’s a direct link to where this board is available.

More

The 400th Cutting Board (1/28/19)

The 350th Cutting Board (8/16/18)

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)

An Upgraded Display: Mr M’s Got It Handled   Leave a comment

I’m now going a-vendoring solo more often than I’m out with Mrs M. I normally double my booth to a 10×20 now. And with more space in the booth … that means I need to up my creativity to maximize each opportunity.

After all, I can’t just show up.

I have no clue what this year will turn out to be – for any of us. But I do know, when craft fairs, art shows, street festivals & such are once again happening, I better bring my best ideas to market, because I expect customers will be very choosy. Resources will be precious. I need to respect that.

When I set up my “standard” double booth these days, I put a 6′ table front & center, and then a taller 4′ table behind it. That results in good things for the look of the display.

That configuration, though, creates a 2’x2′ space behind the 6′ table that is wasteful. After all, I pay a lot of money to rent that space. How to fill it?

This is a common problem for vendors: how to fill the booth with a pleasing display. I’ve gone through several iterations for Mrs & me. Want to see our incredibly humble beginnings? Here’s booth # 1, from March 2014:

Mrs. M and Mrs. M, before they opened on their first day. Smiles on faces, and that is a very good thing!

Only one direction to go from there!

But, on to the task at hand … how to fill that 2′ x 2′ space in 2020.

After a lot of thinking, I had the idea. For me, that usually results in a high-faluting, incredibly complex plan on paper, and here was this one.

That’s 4 pages of planning! No wonder it took me months to get this built.

Note that I custom build all of my display pieces. I believe that reinforces what I do as a craftsman: customers appreciate that I make everything they see. It’s how I get the best possible display for the boards & games & such that I make. Your mileage may vary.

The final result is that I took those 4 square feet of booth space, and will now effectively display 36 handled boards! That’s far, far better than my old display for handled boards, when I just put them in a crate on a table, or hung them from the rafters so people bumped their heads on them.

Yes, it happened. More than once. And, I’m sorry.

Clearly, I needed an upgrade.

I actually have 5x different shapes that will hang from the display. For pictures of my current inventory, go to the links at the bottom of this page. For brevity, here’s a picture & description of each of the 5 boards that I have now produced for this display. Note that one shape comes either with or without juice groove … though in this shape, I view these groovy boards as having crumb catchers, not actually juice grooves. But that’s me.

OK, OK. I know. One of the designs just has a hole, not a handle … but work with me here.

So, now, to the design of the display. I had a few criteria:

  1. The display has to come apart for transport.
  2. Signage must be integrated.
  3. Flexibility is a must!

The display piece stands well over 6′ tall. The base is 22″ square and is on wheels. The tower rotates on a Lazy Susan bearing, and is built (probably over-built) to reliably hold more than 100 pounds of boards. Hangers are removable, of course, and secured to the tower with french cleats. 4 bolts attach the tower to the base, and 3 attach the sign on top.

3 boards are displayed on each of the 12 pegs. 4 boards will fit, but I’m keeping the display to 3 each for both brevity and to make sure nothing will fall while customers are fondling the boards.

These pictures were taken on a windy spring day (on the patio!), and the 36x boards cards were fluttering in the breeze. I’m going to tuck those cards behind the boards when I set up the display, just to improve the look. My customers appreciate the cards, the identification of the woods and the care instructions attached to the boards … but with a breeze, they proved to be a distraction.

Lessons Learned

  1. The tower, even with the holes cut into each side, is heavier than I had hoped. It’s primarily made from 3/4″ plywood … I should have used 1/2″, I think. Cutting the weight by 1/3 would have been good. I am debating whether to build a shelf in the trailer to transport this piece and other tall display pieces.
  2. The Lazy Susan bearing works, but the assembly is too heavy for people to turn it comfortably, I think. That’s OK. I’ll either assist the customers, or simply let them pull the “hidden” boards from the other side of the display to see them.
  3. Love the sign. Mrs M takes credit for the slogan. After 41 years of marriage … I let her take all of the credit she wants.

More

Getting It Handled

A Charcuterie Board

Handles Are A Good Thing

Mr M’s New Booth # 4 (Part 2): Going Vertical

Mr M’s New Booth # 4 (Part 1)

Mrs M’s New Booth: # 4

Mrs M’s Handmade: The Booth, 10×24 (# 3)

Mrs M’s Handmade: The Booth, 10×12 (# 3)

Mrs M’s New Booth (# 2)

Things I Learned At The Street Fair (# 1)

From The Shop: That Glue Problem   1 comment

It’s my least favorite job in the shop. I hate glue ups. Lamination. Whatever.

It’s a sticky, wet mess. And, glue flies everywhere. It ruins shop clothes. It’s all over my hands. It builds up on clamps … and that’s a problem. Get enough glue residue on the clamps, and they don’t work properly.

What’s a woodworker to do?

My solution for the past several years was to apply masking tape to the metal bars of each clamp for the width of the boards being clamped. That does protect the bar, pretty much, but does nothing for the clamp ends that build up glue deposits. When those glue deposits get mixed in with some wood splinters that come off of the work pieces, then you’ve got a real problem.

Plus, the bottoms of the metal bars are left unprotected. Wet glue flows downhill, and eventually glue will accumulate that will have to be scraped off. Or something.

My normal approach now has me “picking & processing” 50+ pieces, or “blanks,” at a time. I’ll generally do gluing for 2 days to get everything laminated … then I take all of those pieces to the finish line. I’ve currently got 44 clamps that are 2′ long, so I can typically do somewhere between 14 and 22 glue-ups, depending on how wide the work pieces are. When all of the wood has been “picked and processed,” and is taped together ready to be glued up … I will fill the available clamps in about 2 hours.

And, no, I don’t have enough clamps. Nor do I have enough space to store the ones that I do have.

An alternative to taking the glue off … is not letting it get stuck on in the first place.

Bates Glue Release won’t let glue stick to a surface, once applied. You wipe the watery, glue-looking stuff onto the clamps. If feels a bit waxy, and the clamps are definitely more slippery once the Bates is applied.

And the glue can’t stick.

At all.

I’ve used Bates for a few months now. Some clamps have gotten 3 applications, some just one. What’s clear is that the new clamps still look new. The Bates application doesn’t affect the glue already on the clamps … but no new glue will gather if Bates is on the clamp.

Bates is highly recommended. You can buy it here.

Tools for doing the actual glue ups:

  • Clamps, of course. I prefer Jet parallel face clamps
  • 1-1/2″ masking tape (I buy factory 2nds by the case for $2.68/roll)
  • A false top for my workbench so most of the glue gets left on the replaceable, melamine top. Glue will wipe off of melamine … but the build up will inevitably start!
  • Titebond III (my glue of choice; I buy 2 gallons at a time from HomeDepot.com) in a Fast Cap “Glu-Bot”
  • A rubber roller to spread the glue
  • A bowl of water
  • A kitchen scrub pad (I buy big packs from a kitchen supply store and cut them up for a usable size)
  • Paper towels

I follow the manufacturer’s recommendation on how to apply Titebond III:

  1. Apply it generously to one surface being laminated
  2. Spread a consistent thin layer over the entire joint
  3. Apply clamps
  4. Wipe off the squeeze out with a wet kitchen scouring pad
  5. Wipe off the watered down glue on the board with paper towels
  6. Leave the board in the clamps for at least 60 minutes
  7. Don’t machine the board until the glue has cured a minimum of 24 hours

Note that I have found that letting end grain cutting boards cure for 72 hours is actually better. Otherwise, water-swollen wood fibers will remain expanded while you sand. When they dry and shrink, your glue line will be left proud of the new, sunken wood surface. Better to go slower and let the wood shrink to it’s normal size.

And, one more pro tip: removal of dried glue from woodworking clamps can be done by soaking each clamp in vinegar for a few hours, then scraping the softened glue off. Just don’t leave the clamp in the vinegar too long, or you’ll take the chrome plating off of the clamp.

You can guess how I gathered that knowledge.

The Board Chronicles: Winterfest 2020   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’ve got a history with this event, so I begin cautiously. After all, this is where the Flying Dry Soup Canopy took flight … and crushed Mrs M’s Handmade. That was in 2018.

But I came back in 2019. I note Mrs M declined the opportunity; I was solo.

So, this is year 3. Once again, Mrs M has declined the opportunity to join me in Arizona. Something about her “job.” As if that could be important.

So, what will Lake Havasu City have for me … and in my first event in 2020, our 7th year as vendors?

New Ideas

  • The weather forecast for this year is (at last) wonderful. Blue skies & highs in the 60s on Saturday, with more of the same on Sunday … until a storm blows in late in the day. About time we have good weather for this event!
  • I feel like everything is new at this event, since I haven’t done any event in 60 days. And, I haven’t done this physical setup with 2 pop-up canopies & me solo since … the Simi Valley Street Fair in 2019, and that was 8 months ago. I feel like I have no clue what I’m doing.
  • And, yes, that is new.

Observations

  • The load in at 6am on Saturday was just like last year: chaotic. I was yelled at for being in someone’s way by 6:10am. And … I was parked partially IN MY BOOTH. She just didn’t like that I narrowed her path to the width of a bit more than a parking spot – that was clearly marked, and unobstructed by me.
  • Such is the chaos that is Winterfest load in. I emptied the trailer ASAP, and moved my Jeep & trailer out of the line of fire.
  • Set up, unfortunately, takes as long as it takes. These days, my full set up in a double booth takes about 4 hours. I had walkers after about 2 hours. Fortunately, they were primarily dog walkers, and they are not my buyers.
  • The event started hot, and traffic was significant a bit before my set up was complete. When I was done at 10am, traffic was good. Very good.
  • This event has 2 kinds of people in attendance: snow birds that winter in Arizona, and residents of Lake Havasu City … which are definitely weighted towards retirement age. Both have issues with my offerings: snow birds often have a need for me to ship to their home, because they are limited by the airlines for suitcase weight. Local residents don’t have that issue, but older people that are downsizing are not my crowd. People that cook & people with families that cook … those are my people.
  • I nearly had a fight break out over a Garlic Dipping Board that 2 ladies had their eyes on at the same time. It got a bit confusing, but eventually lady # 1 decided on something else, so lady # 2 got the GDB that she wanted. Meanwhile, lady # 1 changed her mind 4 times before finally making her selection. Eventually, her buddy asked me a question mid-transaction, causing me to lose track of where I was … and lady # 2 left, with me still having her credit card in the machine.
  • Oops.
  • She came back on Sunday to retrieve the card. And bought something else.
  • Last year, I met Mesquite Mary. She was an LA resident that was in the process of retiring to Lake Havasu City, where she and her husband have a 2nd home. There was a wonderful mesquite tree that they had to cut down … and she offered me the wood if I could use it.
  • Of course I could. She only asked that she get something that I made from the wood.
  • Of course I would.
  • But, come to find out, I couldn’t. The wood had laid out in her backyard for 2 years, and was just too old for me to use. Too many cracks.
  • I did give the wood to my buddy Charlie, and he was able to use the wood for turning, with cracks adding to the character of the wood. Charlie gave me a bowl he turned … and a year after I met her, I returned to Lake Havasu City with the bowl for Mary.
  • She was on the moon! So happy. I got a hug, even. Saturday was a happy day.
  • A young lady saw my Cracker Things, and didn’t think they were cute. Or clever. No, she thought they were bad ass. That’s good … but she didn’t buy one. That’s bad.
  • I met Rob Cook, who published Popular Woodworking in the ’90s. We had a great chat, and he complimented me on my work. Much appreciated from a real pro!
  • I started Sunday going walk about, and saw about half of the vendors. This is a chamber of commerce street festival … and it is *very* buy & sell. There is some handmade merchandise there, but not much. That can be a bad thing … a very bad thing … but in this case, the attendance is high enough that the event still works for me.
  • Thank goodness.
  • A Cracker Thing went to a party, I’m told. Don’t know anything about the party … but I do know that 3 ladies came to the booth on Sunday wanting to buy a Cracker Thing. Unfortunately, I had none. Sold out.
  • Sorry.
  • A couple looked at my Lazy Susans. We had a long conversation about the event, what they wanted … and how the event ended at 4 o’clock. The lady asked what my 4 o’clock cash price was for the Susan she wanted. I told her the price doesn’t change … still $80. She walked away.
  • Buy bye. My prices don’t change.
  • A couple wanted a custom cutting board for a wedding in a month. I turned it down … I have no time. No. Time.
  • T-shirt of the weekend: “I may be old, but I saw the great bands.” Made me laugh.
  • The event ended at 4 o’clock … and the weather began to turn. Clouds rolled in. Temperature dropped. Winds picked up a bit … and I knew I was in a race to get everything into the trailer before the storm hit.
  • I didn’t make it.
  • I was close. I was doing well, but I got to the part when I take the signs down when the wind started gusting. Signs hang on the walls … part of the weight that holds the canopies down. Wind. Gusts. I’m in a race. It got exciting at 6pm.
  • I won’t say I lost.
  • I won’t say the canopy flew … but it did hop. At the time, I had the signs down, but the mesh walls were still up, so there was a bit of a sail making the booth catch the wind. Luckily, I had some nice neighbors that leapt in to help, and with them holding things together for me, I quickly – well, as quickly as possible – dropped the mesh walls & collapsed the canopies. No more incidents.
  • I ended with 3 helpers, 2 broken fingernails (how did that happen?), booth hardware in 3 pockets, and a trailer finally loaded at 6:55pm. Finally.
  • The weekend was a success. In 3 years, this was the best one yet. That’s a great way to start off 2020.
  • Requests were for a TV tray, a custom counter top, shoe horns, smaller Lazy Susans (2 of those), Pegs & Jokers (on my list, honest!), a stamp dispenser, an English pub game called Shut the Box (?), and a wine rack.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Saturday night pizza from Rosati’s. Recommended.
  • Worst Meal: Saturday breakfast was 2 hardboiled eggs. I don’t love eating immediately after I wake up … and once the set up started, that’s all I did.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 612
  • Booth cost: $350
  • Food cost: $95
  • Travel cost: $505
  • Total sales: $2,590
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 0
  • Saturday alarm: 5:00a
  • Sunday alarm: 7:00a
  • # transactions: 34
  • # soap & lotion vendors: none that I saw in the half of the event that I walked
  • # woodworking vendors: none that I saw (!) in the half of the event that I walked
  • Returning next year? Yes. I left my first deposit for 2021.

Boards sold: 48

  • Cutting Boards: 3
  • Garlic Dipping Boards: 4
  • Trivets: 7
  • Serving Pieces: 3
  • Signs: 8
  • Cracker Things: 7
  • Charcuterie Board: 1
  • Lazy Susans: 4
  • Cheese Slicers: 5
  • Cribbage Board: 1
  • Pizza Server: 1
  • Bread Saws: 2
  • Sous Chef Boards: 2

In Search Of New Signs   Leave a comment

At most events, people tell me about signs that I SHOULD make. Usually, they’re wrong.

I make signs about Food. Family. And, Wine/Beer/Liquor.

That’s it.

I don’t make signs about pets. I don’t make signs about politics. I don’t make signs about how awful my wife is: I don’t lie. My signs are truthful, from my perspective. My signs are family friendly … because they should be.

I will custom make a sign for people; no problem. But the signs that hand in my booth are about food, family, & drinking. Good times. Good people.

That’s it.

These signs are replacements for those sold late in the year, plus a couple of new ones: the quotes from George Carlin and Ernest Hemingway.

All of these signs will be at my next event … in 3 weeks, at the Fresno Home & Garden Show. I hope to see you there!

The Rest Of The Stuff   Leave a comment

When the shop is humming, I make a wide variety of things.

Oh, I do most of my pieces in batches … I might make 24 cheese slicers at once, or perhaps 6 large cutting boards. But when I start a new batch of things, I typically do 50 or so glue ups (which takes a couple of days). Since some glue ups (what I call “blanks” before they are cut to final shape) are cut into 2 different pieces, I often end up with about 75 pieces being worked on in the shop at the same time.

One blank makes 2 Cheese Boards. One blank makes 4 Coasters. One blank makes 6 Cracker Things. Cutting Boards are always made one at a time, as are handled boards (“Sous Chef Boards”), Cribbage Boards, Signs….

I always like to take what the lumber gives me … which means sometimes I’ll find a board that tells me exactly what I have to do with that piece RIGHT NOW. That’s how the Black Walnut Charcuterie with live edges got made: I found the unusual and perfect board, and I had to make that singular piece.

Other times, something will happen that makes a piece fall out of the production cycle. Perhaps it has a problem that has to get fixed, I run out of time to get everything to the finish line, or maybe it just gets forgotten amidst the chaos.

It happens.

In any event, here’s a collection of recent pieces that made it to the finish line. To quote Bill Murray in Groundhog Day: “I’m versatile.”

Handles Are A Good Thing   1 comment

With this new batch of boards, I’ve accomplished 2 goals for 2020:

  1. I’ve got a beginning inventory – again – of handled boards.
  2. I’ve put together a good photography indoor set up that I can use.

I was most disappointed in the photography for the last post. Just like with these photos, it was done indoors … but I used a white background that was totally over-exposed when I did the shots. Having dark boards in front of a very light background is not good … this set up was much better, and the colors of the individual boards are very realistic in these photos.

Thank goodness.

All of the new handled boards will be at this weekend’s event in Lake Havasu City, AZ … Winterfest. It will be my 3rd annual trip to this event, and I hope to see you there!

A Charcuterie Board   Leave a comment

I recently read in a woodworker’s forum that the reason to use the term charcuterie is just so you can charge more for the board.

Hogwash.

When I started making boards, I didn’t even know what “charcuterie” was. It’s a French term for prepared meats, such as bacon, ham, sausage, etc. And, in reality, any board can be used for charcuterie, just as any board can be used for cutting, cheese & crackers, fruits, or what have you.

Any of my boards, anyway.

These boards are my choice for charcuterie. I love the curvy edges. The board just feels right in your hand.

Your mileage may vary, of course. Buy one of these, and you can call them anything you want!

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