Archive for the ‘from Mr M’s Woodshop’ Tag

Almost Forgot These!   Leave a comment

I try and post a picture of every board I make … and I almost forgot these, which were finished at the very end of 2015. All were commissioned pieces, but I did make some extras of the magic bottle openers.

The bottle openers magically catch the cap from the bottle after it’s opened. Several caps will be held by the opener. And it’s magic. That’s all I’m saying. Each opener comes with mounting screws for either drywall or solid wooden surface mounting.

Endings & Beginnings   4 comments

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeI’m yet to cut a board in my shop with the newly installed dust collector; don’t be misled. I’m on vacation from the shop. Well, sort of.

These boards were constructed & sanded in 2015, but they were oiled & waxed in 2016.

Six of these boards were commissioned pieces which will be shipped to their new homes in the next few days. The rest will have to wait to find their new home!

Random thoughts:

  • I’ve lost my source for Honey Locust, so you won’t be seeing much of that wood in my new creations. I hope to find another source; I really like Honey Locust’s orange tint.
  • This Goncalo Alves will darken with age, and I really love that wood. I should use it more, but I stopped because I couldn’t find an affordable source … but that species, I have got a better source now. The cutting boards I made for the 2 Mrs M’s are both primarily Goncalo. Hmmmm.
  • These boards were made in winter … is that why they’re all dark?
  • Bloodwood is my new favorite. Fantastic, colorful figure in this wood, and it pairs very nicely the other woods here with a distinctly reddish color: Purpleheart and Jarrah. Cherry and Jatoba are very complementary as well.

One other note about the Woodshop: at the end of 2014, I only had 19 boards in inventory. With these boards (minus the commissioned pieces), my inventory is now 108 boards! I’m still sold out of a few items (no clipboards, no surfboards, and no pigs!), but I’ve got a pretty broad inventory to start the new year … and several weeks to prepare for our first event in February.

Meanwhile, here are the first boards of the new year!

500. And Counting.   Leave a comment

It’s been quite a year.

And how did I get here? A casual comment to Velda, and a mutual need to exercise a different part of our brains. And, oh my, we had no idea what we were getting into!

But here we are.

Last week, I sold my 500th piece of the year. It was a large end grain cutting board, going soon to a lucky lady for Christmas.

Cutting Board # 15 - 075. Jatoba & Hard Maple. End Grain, Juice Groove. 16" x 20" x 1-1/2".

Cutting Board # 15 – 075, and the 500th piece sold in 2015. Jatoba & Hard Maple. End Grain, Juice Groove. 16″ x 20″ x 1-1/2″.

How did this all happen? I blame Velda.

Of course.

She started playing around, making sugar scrubs. She got Alley to join in. They both made them for presents one Christmas … and the die was cast.

In the next year, Velda received a lotion bar as a present – but the giver thought it was soap. ’twasn’t. Velda began doing research, and with encouragement from her friends, she discovered she could make lotion bars. She did, and, again, she gave them away.

“You should sell these,” people said.

“Good idea,” she said.

The younger Mrs M stepped up and wanted to play as well, hoping to create better, more natural skin care products for herself and her daughter, our # 1 Granddaughter.

Logo-300xWith that, Mrs M’s Handmade was created. The ladies had one problem: someone had to lift the heavy stuff. So, Velda decided to volunteer me. It happened that I had just made routed bowls and cutting boards for Christmas presents, and she suggested that I make cheese boards & cutting boards to sell alongside her skin care products.

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

Mrs. M and Mrs. M, before they opened on their first day. We were so young then – on March 23, 2014.

She was getting a great deal: free labor from me, plus she could banish me to the garage woodshop whenever she wanted some peace and quiet in the kitchen laboratory.

I got my revenge, though. Sawdust now covers just about everything. Velda tolerates it, thank goodness. Not that she has much choice. I’ve blown out one dust collection system, and my second system now seems to be leaking as much dust as it captures. But I’m a woodworker: I make sawdust. Velda has to learn tolerance.

Because that sounds like Velda.

21 months ago we began this journey as vendors selling our handmade wares at pop-up craft fairs in Southern California. We do it because we are scratching an itch we can’t reach with our real jobs. Velda enjoys making skin care products for the satisfaction of researching and creating solutions that people actually love to use … and tell her they love to use them. Not the same thing as caring for patients, as she does in her real job. The younger Mrs M hopes to craft a good alternative for better skin care products for her kids. For my part, making sawdust is not the same thing as sitting at a desk selling computer systems to radio stations on the telephone. Love my job … but I also need to clear my head, which I can do by not being on the phone while making things in the garage woodshop.

This year, Velda and I decided to, uh, accelerate, so we put my foot on the gas and we began making product and doing events at a furious pace.

The result: We’ve done 64 days of events this year. We’ve done as many as 3 different events on a weekend. Both Mrs Ms have been there, as well as Miss M on a few occasions. Velda and I have both done solo events as well. With that amount of effort, we’ve found sales success for the Mrs M’s … not to mention for their subsidiary, Mr M’s Woodshop. I’ve now sold well over 500 pieces this year. Cheese boards, cutting boards, Lazy Susans, building blocks, serving pieces … and I can’t wait to show you what’s coming in 2016!

After I install the new dust collection system, that is.

The Nearly Lost Recipe   6 comments

Juanita Boring Mowry, 1984.

Juanita Boring Mowry, 1984.

Growing up, there were two certainties when there was a Sunday dinner at Grandma Mowry’s: homemade Lemon Meringue Pie, and Chocolate Pie.

Chocolate Pie for the win, of course.

The problem was that Grandma didn’t have the recipe written down, and didn’t use measuring cups. She simply put the ingredients in the bowl until they “looked right,” or into her hands until they “felt right.” That’s how she cooked the World’s Best Pie.

So how do you bring that legacy forward?

Enter Velda, the big city girl who married Grandma’s only Grandson and moved with him to California. Fortunately, Velda was also fearless. She asked her Grandmother-in-law to demonstrate the recipe, and actually guesstimated the ingredient quantities and created a recipe card by watching her make a pie.

It was 1980.

Velda does not consider herself a pastry chef, but she does agree to make the World’s Best Pie twice each year. All was going well, until a kitchen accident nearly became a kitchen CATASTROPHE. The recipe card Velda wrote in 1980 – the only written copy of THE recipe – got caught in a Christmas cookie crossfire, and ended up stuck to the bottom of a cookie sheet.

And then she baked it at 350* for 12 minutes.

The recipe card was severely damaged. Discolored. Corners flaked away. We almost lost this Most Important Family Recipe due to a moment of kitchen chaos.


Enter the next generation, and the younger soon-to-be Mrs M asked Velda for a copy of all of her recipes. The result: the printed Mowry Family Cookbook, which was published in 2008. That saved Velda’s recipes from future cookie dough disasters, plus a host of classic friend & family recipes were added, to boot.

And then Mr M’s Woodshop got going at a furious pace … and I had another idea.

Here’s the latest from the shop: the laser engraved recipe board. It’s meant for display on the recipe side, and can be used on the flip side. Finished size is 8″ x 12″ x 3/4″.

Get me a copy of your recipe written on a plain, unfolded sheet of paper using a extra fine point black Sharpie, and I can do the rest. After all, if you are fortunate enough to be from a family that does Christmas baking, you should never have to chance losing your Most Important Family Recipe in the process!

Recipe Board 15 - 01. Hard Maple. 8" x 12" x 3/4".

Recipe Board 15 – 01. Hard Maple. 8″ x 12″ x 3/4″.

The written recipe you supply will be digitally scanned and converted to a graphic for the laser engraver. If the writing is pretty, that’s great … but if it’s illegible, there’s nothing I can do about that!


Grandma Mowry’s Chocolate Pie

Your Family’s Stuff

Treasuring Family Photos

Cheese, Anyone?   Leave a comment

I started making cheese boards, and I’m still making them. This week, I made a lot of them … 42 in all.

They are my biggest selling item, and I finally went “all in” to make a bunch. A big bunch!

But that’s OK. The world’s full of cheese, and someone’s got to eat it … I’m just doing my small part.

My problem is, every time I finish a board, I fall in love with it. Since I’ve got a relationship with the board (woodworkers are an odd lot, I know), I want the prices to keep going up … but I make myself keep cheese boards at $35 and $40. It was at an event last year that I was told that the cheese boards at $35 were “at the perfect price.” That customer then bought 5 boards.

Well, OK, then. The marketplace has spoken!


How To Fill Your Cheese Board


The 50th Susan   2 comments

I know I’ve been working in the garage woodshop a lot this year. After all, I’ve got the bags and bags of sawdust to prove it.

And bags.

Still, it does make me stop when I realize that with this post, I’ve now published pictures of 50 Lazy Susans that I’ve built this year. Two thoughts:

  1. People often see my work, and with appreciation, tell me that woodcraft is almost a lost art … but clearly, there’s a need for it.
  2. I’m doing nothing to help the reputations of the Susans of the world.

Alice’s White Rabbit Said It   Leave a comment

White RabbitI’m making boards at a furious rate – in my spare time – because woodworking for me is a hobby. Not a job. I’m only doing this for fun!

Here’s the latest bunch of fun that I’ve had.

Surfboards? Cheese Servers?   Leave a comment

These cheese & cracker servers were immediately christened “surfboards” by people who saw their shape … but then I introduced actual surfboard-shaped boards to further muddle the situation.

Whatever you call them, this is one of my favorite designs. The underside has gently sweeping curves on all four edges – cove cuts, they’re called – and the result is the piece sits very lightly on your table. Here’s the photo that best illustrates this design in use:

Surfboard Cheese

We’re at the Carpinteria Valley Museum of History’s Holiday Arts & Crafts Faire today, 10a – 3p. If you’re out & about in SoCal, come see us!


Cutting Sideways = Curves

Surfboards For The Discerning Cheese Eater

Too Pretty To Use?   Leave a comment

It’s the most common comment I hear when a new patron walks into our booth: “These are too pretty to use!”

They’re not, in my humble opinion. They’re made to be used. Since these boards are made out of very hard wood, they won’t mark in the same way that cheaper, softer cutting boards will.

So, please, use these boards. It’s what they’re intended to be: used.

Boards & Boards & Boards   Leave a comment

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeThese 27 boards represent a very broad range of sizes and potential uses. Cheese boards? RV boards? Small cutting boards? Cutting boards?

You bet.

This batch should last us through November … I’m thinking I need to make more for our December events.

It’s good to be needed, yes?

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