Archive for the ‘Mr M’s Woodshop’ Tag

Simple Designs   2 comments

It was 14 months ago that I first discussed a special project for a restaurant that was in development. The manager found me at a craft fair, and wanted me to make some special serving pieces for him.

Well, OK then.

After following up with my contact immediately after the event and then again about 13 months ago, I assumed this idea would not move forward.

1 month ago, the phone rang. The restaurant was finally to the point that they almost knew what they wanted. After some design discussions, they gave me direction for 4 pieces … and I decided to make 8 different pieces on spec.

They offered to pay me for the work, but I know that if they don’t like the pieces, then someone else will. The ideas here are very simple – the food will be the star, I’m sure!

I meet with the managers this week, and I’ll let you know how it goes. Here’s what we will be discussing.

 

A New Coat For Susan   Leave a comment

Susan gets a new coat with this batch.

As with yesterday’s clipboards, these Lazy Susans are finished with “wipe on poly,” or polyurethane. I then added a topcoat of wax.

The three Black Walnut Susans really show the incredible variety of Black Walnut. I say it all the time: there’s nothing like Black Walnut.

In these pieces, you can clearly see the wide array of colors that can come out in some piece of Black Walnut: purples, turquoises, reds … as well as the much more common browns and creams.

Since I was having so much fun playing with the Walnut, it’s odd that a single board with a totally different design snuck in there, but sneak it did. It’s a good thing, too: my updated inventory of Lazy Susans tells me I only have 11 pieces for next week’s event. That’s fine … but 11 pieces won’t take me though October, much less the end of the year.

I have some long nights ahead of me!

For The Clippers   1 comment

I’ve been told these are old fashioned.

I’ve been told these are simply fabulous.

I’m pretty sure it all depends on your attitude towards paper. If it’s in your life, then clipboards probably have a special place in your heart.

If your goal is to be paperless, well, then just move along. Nothing to see here.

These pieces introduce a new idea for me: I’ve decided to make non-food items not have a food-ready finish.

I’m an innovator.

So, these clipboards are finished with “wipe on poly” … polyurethane. After the urethane was dried & smoothed, I then put on a wax topcoat … because that’s how I do.

Each clipboard has a 1/2″ clip. 2 sizes here: letter size and notepad size. Enjoy!

Cheesy, Or Small?   1 comment

A long time ago, I recall a fabulous late night conversation about plants that are confused. Trees think they are bushes. Bushes think they are trees. Very confusing times.

Alcohol may have been involved.

Today, I confront a similar conundrum. I make cheese boards … and people want them to be cutting boards. I make small cutting boards … and people think they are perfect for serving cheese.

My job, therefore, is to get out of the way and let people choose what they like, and use them how they like.

I’m good with that. Just like I’m good with bushes that think they are trees. After all, everyone should have a dream.

The shop has been humming for the last several weeks, even though you haven’t seen much of what I’ve been doing. There’s big stuff going on … and here’s a small taste of what I’ve been able to get out of the shop this week.

From The Shop: I Have A Problem   1 comment

To do what I do in the shop, I buy lumber.

I have a problem.

When you buy wood, you’re buying a natural product that is not perfect. Wood has knots. Checks. Voids. Cracks. Part of the intrigue of the craft is figuring out what to do with each piece of wood: finding the perfect project for each piece. That sounds like fun … until you get a piece like this one.

Black Walnut, 8/4 stock, with a knot and void … on this side. Sapwood (the light colored, younger wood) showing on the right edge.

This is an end cut – the end of a big, long board that was left because it’s just a bit short. I primarily use 24″ lengths of “8/4,” or “eight quarter,” lumber to make large cutting boards. This end cut piece is … 23″ x 12-1/4.” If I use that with longer lumber, I just end up shortening the good pieces I pair it with into waste, so this piece has to wait for me to find another use for it. A perfect use.

And it’s been waiting a long time.

This is a financial decision, in part. This end cut board is 2 full board feet, so it cost about $20. You don’t just throw away $20.

The problem isn’t readily apparent on the front side of the board … but when you flip it over to look at the back, the challenge is apparent:

The small knot at the bottom doesn’t look too bad, though it goes completely through the board. However, the large knot at the top is a big defect that’s hidden inside the board and travels towards the other knot. I think. That entire chalk circle is waste … in the middle of the board.

When a cut off board is waiting for me to find inspiration, it lives in the shop in some nook or cranny until I can figure out what to do with it. The root problem for me is that I’m out of nooks. And crannies.

I have no space. No. Space.

That means boards that are waiting for me to find the “perfect use” sit out on the floor, leaning against a handy vertical, just waiting for me to trip over them. Or knock them over. Or have to move them so I can get at whatever is being blocked.

And then move them back again.

Yesterday, I’d had enough of this double defect board, and inspiration was not forthcoming. Doesn’t matter; time to cut it up and see what what’s what.  I chalked the outline of the board, and ended up with one long piece that’s 4″ wide. I got 2x smaller rectangular pieces that will end up as routed bowls. Or something. And, I got a little bonus piece that … will find it’s way into a nook or cranny along with many other walnut pieces that look just like it.

I need a new plan.

Someday.

 

 

The Board Chronicles: Camarillo Fiesta & Street Fair 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.

It was at this event, several years ago, that I first saw an iPad with a Square card reader in action. I remember my jaw dropped. Technology had made a great leap.

This was back before we were vendors; we’d gone to see the booth of our good friend Heather of Heather Hill Clothing. Once we became vendors, we had talked every year about doing this big community Street Fair that promised attendance of 30k, but we were always put off by the temperature … it’s July, and Mrs M’s products don’t do well in the heat.

This year, the event fell on the weekend that Mrs M had to work at her “job,” so we decided that I should do a solo event with just my stuff.

Yes, “we” decided that “I” should work. Did I mention that the Saturday of the event was on my birthday? I wrote about that, in It’s My Birthday: A Special Edition Of The Board Chronicles.

This will be my 2nd solo event of the year, and it seems like my expectations for solo events are almost never met. Time will tell….

 New Ideas

  • This is the first solo event that I took the trailer to … so I had the full setup with the roll-off cabinets. You know our slogan: go big, or stay home.

Observations

  • So disappointing when I arrived and the guy with the clipboard (a youth volunteer) could do no more than confirm my booth number. No map for me to take. No clear direction on how to get to my booth! “It’s just over there” was all of the information I got.
  • Booth numbers were not clearly marked on the curb when I got there. This event has been happening 50+ years, but they didn’t seem to have their act together. No clear paths for people to get in and out for loading and unloading. Very disorganized when compared to last week’s 4th of July event that had the same basic setup!
  • I need more Goncalo. The board I have on display is so striking! It didn’t sell, but it did inspire a special order and many comments.
  • The booth was located on one end of the event, so I got a lot of people that had just arrived and didn’t want to carry/commit, so I heard a lot of “See you on the way back.”
  • The event is 5 blocks long, with a beer garden/concert stage on each end. Food & carnival rides are in the middle. It’s really laid out so the booths get seen, which I appreciate.
  • At this event, many of the “See you on the way backs” actually did come back. Always nice when that happens.
  • I was greeted on Sunday with bags of trash behind the booth, next to the trash can. Nice of the near-neighbor caramel corn/lemonade vendor to leave their trash for me.

  • A guy was looking at my boards while his wife was next door buying a hat. She got the hat … but wouldn’t let him buy a board (sigh).
  • Good crowd here, and they did walk the booths. No complaints about the attendance; just wish I would have sold more stuff.
  • My main problem at this event was boredom. When I’m alone – so alone – and I go an hour + without a transaction, I start wondering why I’m there. Over 25% of total sales happened in the final hour of this 14 hour event, so I spent 13 hours staring at the crowds wondering what was wrong. Hard to overcome all of that contemplation.
  • I get so many compliments on my beer bottles … and so many people wonder about why the bottles are empty. And then they see the MBO demo. And they smile.

  • Several repeat customers came through and gave me kudos for what I do, which is very uplifting. One guy came in to buy his 4th board from me. He doesn’t use the first 3, he said, but he enjoys looking at them. He may use #4. He said.
  • Requests were for hot plate trivets, a Cribbage set (x2!), coasters (x2!), a cutting board stand (x2!) … and a chess board (x2!). I am committed to having all of those things available by September’s events.
  • Did I make my low goal for this event? Nope … but I was close.
  • Maybe my whole solo event strategy is wrong. Something else to contemplate….

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Hello, Old Friend.

Saturday Lunch: Velda’s deluxe ham sandwich.

Saturday Snack: A giant chocolate chip cookie.

Saturday Dinner: Lasagna at Bella Cucina. Yum.

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

Sunday Lunch: See Saturday.

Sunday Snack: See Saturday.

Sunday Dinner: Papa John’s. It was easy … and the Dodgers scored 5 yesterday so it was cheap!

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 262
  • Booth cost: $250
  • Food cost: $129
  • Travel cost: $136
  • Total sales: $960
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $445
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • Saturday alarm: 5am
  • Sunday alarm: Nope
  • # transactions: 17x
  • # soap & lotion vendors: No clue.
  • # woodworking vendors: No clue.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 16:1
  • Returning next year? Nope.

Boards sold: 17

Magic Bottle Openers: 6

Large Cheese & Cracker Servers, AKA Surfboards: 2

Domed Cheese & Cracker Servers: 2

Small Sous Chef Board: 2

Cutting Board: 1

Small Board: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Cheese Boards: 1

Bread Board: 1

Cutting On The Edge   Leave a comment

There are 2 basic kinds of cutting boards: edge grain & end grain. Today’s boards are all edge grain.

Today we celebrate stripes. It is Bastille Day, after all!

All of these boards are made with a variety of hardwoods, both domestic & international. They are made to be of use, and with proper care will last for decades. What’s proper care? Check out my post on that topic, here.

All of these boards have non-skid rubber feet, held on with stainless steel screws for long life. All of these boards have routed fingerholds to make them easier to handle.

If you like what you see, all of these – and more – will be on display at this weekend’s solo event for me at the Camarillo Fiesta & Street Fair. Yup, I’m going to the Street Fair this weekend. After all, it’s my birthday. I’m entitled!

Mrs M isn’t coming along, though … she has to “work” at her “job.” She says.

I hope to see you on Saturday & Sunday at the Camarillo Fiesta & Street Fair, at booth # 128.

Clipping Right Along   Leave a comment

The truth of the matter is I like making clipboards.

That’s much to the chagrin of Mrs M, who just doesn’t get it. She works in a paperless office. A virtual world. You could argue that it’s a fantasy world of her own making, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Some people, however, still use real paper to write real words with a real pencil. Or pen. And those people seem to love my clipboards.

After receiving an order for three, I finally got enough shop time to make this batch of 9. One of those is notepad size, and the rest are letter size. All have 1/2″ clips.

With this batch, I’m using a polyurethane finish. Since these boards don’t need to be food ready … they aren’t.

Innovation, on a clip board.

I find that satisfying, so I’m going to keep making these!

My Favorite Posts From Year 5   Leave a comment

A Family Heirloom

It’s been a tumultuous year. The 5th year of the blog saw me address politics more than ever before – if only to get people to stop talking about politics.

No one ever accused me of being effective at that, by the way.

Other posts were about woodworking, some about going a-vendoring, and I even managed to sneak one post in about family history.

I hope you found some topics to enjoy along the way, and if you missed any of these posts, then, please, enjoy!

A Family Heirloom

Be Kind To Vendors

Book Review: Harry Potter And The Cursed Child Parts 1 & 2

Buying A 10×20 Trimline Canopy by Flourish

Do All Lives Matter?

The Golden Strawberry

From The Shop: Planning To Be Wasted

I’m Exhausted

Should Speech Be Free?

The 250th Cutting Board

The Board Chronicles: Arroyo Grande Strawberry Festival 2017

The Farce Of CalExit

The Golf Course Project

The Lady Asked

Too Snarky

When Nature Fights Back: A Special Edition Of The Board Chronicles

More

My Favorite Posts From Year 4

When Nature Fights Back: A Special Edition Of The Board Chronicles

My Favorite Posts From Year 3

My Favorite Posts From Year 2

My Favorite Posts From Year 1

The Board Chronicles: 4th of July Street Fair 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.

Happy Independence Day!

We’ve “celebrated” for the last 2 years by going a-vendoring at Ventura’s 4th of July Street Fair, held each year on Main Street just down the hill from city hall. This is a very well attended one-day event. It’s a party. It’s a Street Fair.

And you know how much I love going to the Street Fair.

We’ve had consistently good results at this event over the last couple of years (you can read those blog posts – 2015 and 2016). However, this is a one day event with a good deal of stress put on the vendors to Get. Out. after the event is over. Event volunteers are also stressed: they allow vendors to set up for 6 hours, but tear down must happen in 90 minutes or there’ll be hell to pay.

Apparently.

I’ve written about this in previous years. The event goal is to close the event at 5pm and re-open the street to vehicular traffic at 6:45pm. At 5pm, every year, the street is still filled with customers and the vendors are given Hobson’s choice of doing tear down NOW, or doing what they came to do.

Why don’t they keep the event open until 6pm, and then open the street at 9? No clue. I guess a $385 booth fee only gets you so much….

No matter; we’re in. Time to see what Ventura’s 42nd annual 4th of July Street Fair has in store for us.

New Ideas

  • This is the only one day event that we will do as a double booth this year. I’m going to do a couple of one day events solo, but this is the only “full set up” one day event we’re doing in 2017. I promise.
  • After a month off from events, including a week-long excursion to the midwest to see family, it feels like we’ve totally lost our vendor rhythm. I forgot to bring our weights for the canopy. We were unweighted.
  • Yes, we were those people.
  • Mrs M provided holiday decor to liven up the booth. We had red, white & blue accents, and that’s a wonderful thing.

Observations

  • This city-sponsored event requires a city of Ventura business license, and applications are not processed until that license is in hand, which takes some time. I also made an error on the application – claiming a $25 booth fee discount as a resident of the city. Ooops. We got the paperwork straightened out in April … I had asked for the same booth position in the 400 block, but they gave me a new booth at the end of the 500 block. We were in 501/503, which was right by the information booth and shuttle stop. It was an upgrade. I think.
  • Last year, we left before 5am and had the booth set up by 8:30a. This year, we left about 45 minutes later … and set up was finished much later. We didn’t bring our “A” game to set up, I’m afraid.
  • Booths are set up in the middle of Main Street. Vendors are assigned side streets to enter from, and then it’s one-way traffic to get to your booth, park at the curb (blocking other vendors from driving through), unload your gear, and then find a parking space. The rules are very clear: unload, drive away & park, then set up.
  • The vendor blocking the street when we drove in at 6:30a was not doing it that way. Her booth was set up. Her display pieces were set up. Table cloths were on the tables. Her inventory was organized in front of those tables. And she was still unloading, blocking traffic.
  • Event organizers began to counsel her on what they required of her (which, apparently, had not been done until I pointed out the problem). I soon had an uncharacteristic and direct conversation with the lady about my expectations as well. After about a 5 minute delay, she moved her van.
  • I did not make a friend.
  • We had our trailer unloaded in perhaps 10 minutes, and then I drove away to park. By the time I got back, our vendor friend Craig had helped Velda set up the pop-ups, and the booth was already taking shape.
  • The official 10a start of this event is meaningless. We had walkers at 8:30a, and a full street of customers at 9a. It felt like a very big day was coming.
  • Saw several customers at the event, and really felt the power of doing events for several years and growing the brand over time. It’s good to have people tell you how much they love your stuff after they’ve used it for a year or two. Mrs M heard it; I heard it. This is fabulous.
  • Two women walked into the booth:
    • Lady 1: My sister loves her cutting board I bought from you.
    • Me: Great!
    • Lady 2: I bought my sister a clipboard from you, and she loves it.
    • Me: Great!
    • Lady 2: I only have one sister, though, so I don’t need another.
    • Me: I understand what it’s like to have one sister. I have one, and I wouldn’t want another.
    • Lady 1: He’s funny!
  • We were ‘whelmed at 11a. Totally lost control. One lady bought a board from Velda: I never talked to the lady, and I never saw which board she bought. I missed the whole transaction, talking to other customers.
  • Several customers bought boards without talking to me at this event. That’s very unusual … but speaks to the quality of the work itself. I hope.
  • Who wants to talk to the sales guy, anyway?
  • I disappointed one loyal prospect who returned to the booth … and was again disappointed that the long-promised cribbage boards had still not made it out of the shop. I promised him I would have a selection for him at an event in September.
  • What have I done?
  • We stayed busy all day. The traffic seemed much greater this year, and there were no long pauses between conversations. I never got a minute to go walk about. After set up, I saw a total of 6 booths: our neighbors. That’s it.
  • Requests were for a breakfast tray, an in-counter board, an in-sink board for an RV and salad tongs.
  • The rules are clear: stop selling at 5pm. Pack everything. Go get your car, and load out. Be off the street for the road opening at 6:45p. And, we had volunteers encouraging us to begin tear down early (and therefore stop selling!) so we could drive our cars onto the street at 5pm to load out.
  • Why is it that civic-sponsored events always have misinformation and always have stress for volunteers and vendors, alike? Why is it that almost every downtown event has event organizers freaking out about opening the road back up to traffic … and it’s never done safely?
  • There were cars on the street at 5p. And pedestrians. And baby strollers. It was, unfortunately, crazy time as we packed up our stuff. We were efficient, though. We started taking down our 4th of July decorations at 4:40p, and began serious packing – as required – at 5p. When everything was packed except for the pop-ups, I talked to the traffic director about bringing in the trailer, and he told me where he wanted me to park. Communication is a wonderful thing. We were in the Jeep, driving home, at 6:20p.
  • Finally got to the numbers after dinner. Found a couple of errors, of course, from when we were ‘whelmed. Luckily, cash doesn’t lie:

Best. Single. Day. Event. Ever.

The Food

July 4 Breakfast: Bagels & cream cheese.

July 4 Lunch: The world’s worst Polish hotdog. Fair food is for the birds.

July 4 Snack: Our neighbor makes amazing caramel apples, and she sampled them all day. The paying customers got the good slices; we got the cores. Fabulous!

July 4 Dinner: Being Independence Day & all, we wanted to eat American. After determining that all of the Mexican restaurants were closed, we ate at Kabuki, a Japanese restaurant. Yes, I ate tolerated sushi, and really enjoyed the shrimp tempura and BBQ beef.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 104
  • Booth cost: $385
  • Food cost: $24
  • Travel cost: $54
  • Total sales: $2,592
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $2,129
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: none
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 2
  • Tuesday alarm: 4:30a
  • # transactions: 71
  • # soap & lotion vendors: No clue … several, I’m sure
  • # woodworking vendors: No clue … several, I’m sure
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 20:3
  • Returning next year? Yes

Boards sold: 23

Cutting Boards: 5

Magic Bottle Openers: 5

Small Boards: 3

Large Sous Chef Boards: 2

Cheese & Cracker Server, AKA Large Surfboard: 2

Cheeseboards: 2

Bread Board: 1

Custom Order: 1

Medium Surfboard: 1

Legal-sized Clipboard: 1

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