Archive for the ‘Los Angeles’ Tag

The Board Chronicles: Big Spring Home & Garden Show 2019   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.

** ** **

A note about my absence. After a few months of getting more and more behind … I still haven’t caught up.

I will, just not today. In the interim, here’s the latest installment of The Board Chronicles for all of you that have been missing my missives.

Enjoy, and thank you for your patience!

** ** **

This Home & Garden Show is held at the LA County Fairground in Pomona. I thought it was worth a chance. It’s not the largest Home & Garden Show – but it is in LA. Since it’s just over an hour from home, I’ll be sleeping in my own bed each night. I just have over 2 hours of freeway driving each day. What could go wrong?

The event was held March 8 – 10, 2019.

New Ideas

  • This is the same set up that I did last week in Fresno at that Home & Garden show. This one is in one single hall … but the hall is big enough that the designated parking area for my trailer is inside of the hall, down by the stage. Its. A. Big. Building.


  • Oh. So. Boring.
  • On Friday, I had one sale, for $45. I’ve got a bad attitude, and I’m just getting started here. The traffic … no. Not at all.
  • Nice enough event, really, but there was not enough there there to keep me interested. Home & Garden Shows are a numbers game, I believe, and this one isn’t big enough to support me.Lesson learned!

The Food

  • Best Meal: Still saving money. Have you seen how low the sales are in the first quarter?

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 368
  • Booth cost: $800
  • Food cost: $65
  • Travel cost: $0
  • Total sales: $1,650
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • # transactions: 14x in 3 days. Horrible. Did I mention the event is 23 hours long?
  • # soap & lotion vendors: Yes, there were a couple.
  • # woodworking vendors: My neighbor installed wooden doors. Does that count?
  • Returning next year? Nope

Boards sold: 17

Signs: 5

Cutting Boards: 4

Cheese Slicers: 4

Large Serving Piece: 1

Cheese Board: 1

Coaster Set: 1

Special Order: 1

Your Move   Leave a comment

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with chess since SJ kicked my butt in the 6th grade. I’ve never been a student of the game, but I have learned enough to make tournament-quality chess boards.

Good thing, since it’s my # 1 most requested item. To my chagrin.

However, I’ve battled my demons, worked though my shop chaos, and have now brought these boards to the finish line.

Each of these 5 boards has the playing surface mounted proud of the frame.

Because that’s how a chess board should be, I believe. Proud.

Each of the 5 are different, of course, because too much repetition doesn’t make for a good game.

One is a commissioned piece, but when the buyer saw this collection, he bought 2 more. The remaining 2 will be at this weekend’s KHTS Home & Garden Show at Central Park in Santa Clarita. We’ll be in the front of the “KHTS Marketplace; their section for vendors with handmade goods. It’s right by the free tree giveaway in honor of Arbor Day, sponsored by the city of Santa Clarita. This event is our only Spring Fling in Santa Clarita – for updated event listings, just click on the menu link for “Mr & Mrs M’s Upcoming Events.” Hope to see you at one of these events.

It’s your move.

Wanted: Attractive Refrigerators   Leave a comment

It’s wit.

In my opinion.

Magic Bottle Openers stick to your attractive refrigerator. If your refrigerator isn’t attractive, then the MBO will still wall mount. And it doesn’t care how attractive your wall is, because it’s pre-drilled and I’ll give you the mounting hardware.

MBOs continue to be my # 1 seller. I now use 6 different colors & styles of bottle openers mounted on the seemingly infinite combinations of wood possible when you work with 20 different hardwood species.

Mrs M is even helping me make them now, as its best if I have help when we’re gluing the magic into the MBOs. Double Magic MBOs have 7 pieces of magic, and it gets pretty exciting when those pieces start, uh, attracting each other, and flipping into places where I don’t want them.

Magic has to be contained, you see. If it’s allowed to run rampant, then unforeseen things could happen, and that’s just not what I’m about.

Here’s the latest from the garage woodshop!

One Size Does Not Fit All   Leave a comment

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

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

I was wrong.

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

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

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

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

The 250th Cutting Board   7 comments

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

In my head, anyway.

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

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

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

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

Big Ones   1 comment

I love making big cutting boards.

I make them for 2 reasons:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 200th Cutting Board, 6th Time ‘Round   6 comments

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeRare air.

When you reach the summit of a mountain, you’re breathing rare air. And when I have 200 boards in inventory … it’s rare. Very rare.

It did happen 4 times last year … but only for about 2 days each time. It’s inevitable when I build my inventory up, pushing for my next big event. I barely reach the summit … and then the boards are sold when I go to that big event that weekend.

But that’s OK: it’s all about the journey.

Here, then, is the official 200th cutting board in only the 6th time I have achieved that nice, round number or accomplishment.


Cutting Board 17 – 403. Cherry, Hard Maple, Goncalo Alves, Yellowheart, Jatoba, Caribbean Rosewood, Bloodwood & Purpleheart. End Grain. 14″ x 18″ x 1-1/4″.

I call it Kaye’s board, as she received the first version of it.

I’ve made this basic design 8 times over the last 2 years. This retrospective of photos has taught me 2 things:

  • Every one of these boards is truly different!
  • My product photography has gotten better, but I’ve got a long, long way to go.


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)

Thin Cutting Boards   Leave a comment

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeSometimes cutting boards need to be thin. If you make a board thin, however, than it can be prone to warping. This is especially true with flat boards with no feet. They often get wet on one side during use, and the moisture will serve to warp the board if the owner is not very careful.

But there’s a way to prevent that problem.

If you mount an end board perpendicular to the rest of the board, then the strength of that grain going in another direction will keep the board flat. This method is traditionally used for pastry boards, and the common name for this technique is bread board ends.

This kind of board has been commonly used as an “in-counter” board, where it’s placed in a slot below the kitchen counter. You can pull the board all the way out to use it on the counter, or you can just pull it out partway to add to your counter space on a temporary basis. Unfortunately, this kind of cutting board has fallen out of favor. Builders often made them cheaply from very soft woods, so they chewed up quickly – but staying in the kitchen for decades through the life of the counter. When this kind of board was in an apartment or a rental property, then the new kitchen owner was faced with a “well used” cutting board in their “new” kitchen, with no knowledge of who used it or to what purpose.

So you don’t see new kitchens with in-counter boards in our area anymore; they are no longer allowed in new construction in LA County.

However, old kitchens still have them, and replacing those “well used” cutting boards is something that I do, replacing the old boards with much more decorative boards that will have a much longer working life as well. When I was just beginning to sell cutting boards, my first commissioned piece was such a board. Today, I’m still making them!

Two of these boards are commissioned pieces to replace old in-counter boards; the other two will be for sale at my next event in March.

Small Boards & Cheese Boards … And How They’re Different   1 comment

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeI have to call them something … even if I know what I call them matters little. In the end, the customer will call them what they want to call them, and at that point my naming responsibility ends.

But I still have to call them something.

I started making cheese boards, and those are, by my definition, small and light weight. Cheese boards are typically no more than 3/4″ thick, and about 8″ x 11″. They may get as large as 12″ x 12″, and may be as thin as 5/8″. I take what the wood gives me, as I like to say, and they end up being the size that they are. I don’t make cheese boards fit some pre-determined size, cutting off good wood to make an artificial standard. That might make it easier on me for packaging & displaying, but I just can’t be wasteful. So, I’m not.

Some people buy cheese boards to use as actual cutting boards because they want a very small, light weight board. That’s OK: I make these boards so that they are fine cutting surfaces. They’re just not big or heavy enough to trim a tri tip. In my opinion.

Small boards  are my transitional board between cheese boards and cutting boards. Cutting boards, in my definition, are 12″ x 16″ x 1″ or larger. Anything bigger than a cheese board, but still smaller than a cutting board … is a small board.

I didn’t say I was creative with my naming styles. Don’t judge me.

In the end, all of these boards look much alike when in use.


Many of these boards are chaos boards: they are not symmetrical. Anything that doesn’t fit in my rigidly right-brained perspective is what I call chaotic. Just ask Mrs M. Some people prefer designs from the left side of the brain, so these are humbly submitted.

A final note on these photos. I was fighting 2 time pressures: Mrs M was pushing me to clear everything out of the house as I was prepping the boards for photography, and the sun was moving from a clear sky, to behind a tree, and then back to the clear sky. The result is that these shots have some odd shadows as well as some odd oil smudges in their glossy top coat. I assure you the finished boards are not perpetually in shadow, nor do they have oil smudges on them. Thanks for your understanding, and, please, enjoy!


Quality Cutting Boards   2 comments

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeSince I now have to live up to my unofficial moniker, I decided I needed to make more cutting boards. My inventory at the end of the year had dwindled just a bit … and that’s not OK.

People need to see the choices to know what’s possible!

There are 2 basic kinds of cutting boards, end grain and edge grain. With edge grain boards, you look at the edges of the boards, and the board is a collection of stripes. End grain boards, on the other hand, have you looking at the ends of the boards. Those are often compared to checker boards or quilts when people look at them, as they have lots of small squares on their surface.

End grain boards are like the classic butcher block. They are harder, more difficult to make, and will show less wear than an edge grain board. However, I use only hard woods, both domestic and international, so my edge grain boards will not show wear like a less expensive soft wood board, which is what you find for sale at most discount stores.

All of these boards have routed finger holds on the edges. They have non-skid rubber feet held on with stainless steel screws … these boards are heavy, and they do not move on the counter when you use them. I believe that’s Mrs. M’s favorite part. She doesn’t want to fight her cutting board when she’s using it.

To finish these boards – and all of my cutting boards – I use mineral oil, with a topcoat of Mrs M’s Board Butter, which is a combination of locally harvested beeswax and mineral oil. These help protect the boards from water, and help ensure a very long life.

%d bloggers like this: