Archive for the ‘Mr M’s Woodshop’ Tag

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!

Getting It Handled   3 comments

These aren’t a new idea.

These aren’t really a new design … but they are definitely a bit different. The handle is longer. There’s a juice groove on most of them. Not quite new, I think, but definitely different.

I’ve got a plan, you see.

I call these boards Sous Chef boards, as I think they are mobile. Give one to your assistant to chop an onion … and then they can carry the board to their workspace, chop away, and then return to you so the onion can be added to your work.

It’s good to have help. And, a mobile board works best with a handle, I think.

So, here’s the first batch in a long time of handled boards. But, wait, there’s more.

I’m making 3 other related designs with handles, and combining them with a 4th serving piece/cutting board that’s going to be my next post. When all 5 of these boards are done, I’ll be making a new interactive display to hold them all.

Big display. Big idea.

So you see, it’s all in process, but I’m going to get it handled.

Choosing: A Very Good Idea   Leave a comment

This was one of my Mrs M’s best ideas of 2019.

The idea was so good, fortunately, that I was required to make a LOT of them. A good problem to have, yes?

Garlic Dipping Boards, for the win. These are 2-sided boards. One side has a carve-out to sit the Great Garlic Grater into, and the other side is plain … to be used for charcuterie, or serving bread, or whatever you like. You’re an adult, you get to choose.

There are 2 shapes of Great Garlic Graters, hexagonal & square. The buyer also gets to choose which shape, then the color of the GGG, and then the wood design of the Garlic Dipping Board to pair with it. Choosing is part of the fun.

Some say that I make the choosing very hard … and I believe that is my job. You see, I get to choose, too.

New: Dough Boards With Hooks   2 comments

These boards are called many things: bread boards. Pasta boards. And, dough boards.

These purpose-built boards can be used for cutting boards, but they are really intended to do 2 things:

  1. Provide a flat surface for rolling out dough
  2. Catch the edge of the counter, and don’t move as you push the dough with your rolling pin

These boards are designed for 2-sided use. One side is plain, but the other has an engraved ruler and graduated circles to help you roll out the perfect-sized circles of dough for pie crusts … or whatever.

The “hooks” are the boards at the top & bottom of the board that are mounted on opposite sides. The one at the bottom will catch the edge of your counter when you work your dough, keeping your board stable. At the same time, the one at the top of the board will keep you from going off the edge. These aren’t literally hooks, but that’s the traditional name of this device. I’ve attached the hooks with dowel joinery.

Another traditional name with these boards are the “bread board ends.” These are the boards on each side that run perpendicular to the horizontal pieces of the main work surface. These are attached with tenon and mortise joinery; the tenon runs the length of the board. The cross grain strength of these boards will keep this relatively thin board flat. There’s a good explanation of this traditional woodworking element, below.

Each board is 18″ square and 3/4″ thick. One of these was a custom order; the other will go with me to my first show this year … Winterfest in Lake Havasu City, AZ, next month.

More

Breadboard Ends

Grandma Mowry’s Chocolate Pie

The Board Chronicles: Harvest Festival Sacramento 2019   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.

** ** **

A note about my absence. After a few months of getting more and more behind … I’ve been working on catching up.

Today, I have! Here’s the latest installment of The Board Chronicles. And, stay tuned, there are big plans for 2020!

Enjoy, and thank you for your patience!

** ** **

Harvest Festivals are very big events in our region. There are 9 of them in a year, spread between northern & southern California (and 1 in Las Vegas). This highly successful series of events features handmade goods only (well, almost), and are scheduled in the key 4th quarter.

The costs are high, but the rewards can be very high as well. After initially planning to do several HFs this year, I eventually settled on doing just one, as all of the others had a conflict of some sort. Plus, I was pretty busy …

I did 2 Harvest Festivals in 2018. However, both were impacted by the Camp Fire, so they probably weren’t a perfect indicator of what I can do at a Harvest Festival. Still, the Sacramento event was very, very good for me in 2018.

Time to see if I can up my game a bit more with my almost “complete” product line, as I now define it!

New Ideas

  • My set-up is much like last year, with a double booth utilizing mesh walls hung from the Trimline frame without the canopy. No Mrs M: Harvest Festivals are 100% me.
  • New products this year include Cheese Slicers, Garlic Dipping Boards and Cracker Things.
  • Last year, the guidance for how to sell at this event from the promoter got me to thinking, and I tried – but failed – to produce engraved price signage for all products. This year, that is complete, with price signage for everything from Carnivore Boards to Bread Saws to Cribbage Boards. Look at the booth shots, below, and you’ll see the little wooden signs on every table I have.
  • Some larger display pieces now have signs integrated, such as the pieces for Surfboards and Large Serving Pieces. My signage is now better.

Observations

  • Big ideas require a time commitment. Set up is on Thursday, the event is Friday – Sunday (with tear down), and then I drive home on Monday. That’s 5 hotel nights, Wednesday – Monday. Some scrimp on the hotel cost by driving Sunday night after working a full day, or arriving later on set up day, but that’s not how I roll. Go big or stay home, if you will.
  • Several products are missing this year: Magic Bottle Openers, Serving Trays, Sous Chef boards and California Bears. Not having California Bears while in the state capitol … is a bad plan. I’ve been out of MBOs all year, and they used to be my #1 seller. Another bad plan.
  • I need more time in the shop.
  • Sold a charcuterie board to a guy that wants to mount a watchmaker’s lathe on it and hang it on the wall as a display piece. Well, OK, then.
  • Friday started hot and stayed hot. Lots of traffic on this work day in November. Sales were over $2,500 on this day, and that’s rare air for me. Rumor was that Friday attendance (you have to pay to get into a HF) set a new record.
  • Saturday got better, as you would expect. I got ‘whelmed several times. When people are 3 deep with product in their hands, waiting on me to wrap and do the transaction … life is good.
  • Sold 2 Foodie denition signs to one person. Don’t know them … but I bet they eat well.
CNC Sign 19 – 732 Foodie
  • Put up the unique In This House sign I made from Red Oak and Sapele, and it sold very quickly once it was out of the container. Hmmmmm.
CNC Sign 19 – 713 In This House
  • There was a lot more traffic on this day, but there were a lot of requests for discounts, too. I don’t get offended when people ask for a discount … but I don’t change my prices, either. It wouldn’t be fair to all of the people that pay the published price. Shows like this are not swap meets; people may expect to haggle, but I will not oblige them. My prices don’t change.
  • Cracker Things are the odd thing I’ve added this year, and they continue to surprise me with how popular they are. I hear the words over and over: CTs are “cute” and “clever.” I’ll take that for the win.
  • Now I have to come up with another cute & clever idea for 2020. No pressure.
  • Sunday sales fell precipitously, but this event delivered in a serious way. For the first time ever, I sold 100 pieces at a single event.
  • 100 pieces. I bring about 300 pieces to most events … so that means I sold about 30% of my total inventory in Sacramento.
  • Oh, and our biggest event of the year for each of the last 5 years is in 2 weeks! I have a LOT of product to make in that time.
  • But, that pressure was for another day. As I added up the results, there was a smile on my face. A big smile.

Best. Solo. Event. Ever.

  • And, as I write this in 2020, I know one more thing:

Best. Event. In. 2019.

  • I certainly plan to do more Harvest Festivals in 2020!

The Food

  • Best Meal: Nope. Given the other costs I had for this event, I did my best to stay in the hotel room and eat frozen food from the microwave.
  • Best Meal: After finding how bad traffic was to get to the grocery store from my hotel, though, I definitely tried Uber Eats delivery. It was easy. It had a convenience cost, but it was worth it. After a full day of fun in my booth, I was tired!

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 754
  • Booth cost: $1,590
  • Food cost: $182
  • Travel cost: $508
  • Total sales: $6,019
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • # soap & lotion vendors: Several. This is a very competitive marketplace. Very competitive.
  • # woodworking vendors: See the above comment. Lots of woodworkers are here.
  • Returning next year? Absolutely, and I intend to be cute and clever, too.

Boards sold: 100

  • Cheese Boards: 11
  • Trivets: 19
  • Charcuterie Board: 1
  • Signs: 11
  • Cribbage Boards: 5
  • Cutting Boards: 5
  • Cheese Slicers: 9
  • Lazy Susans: 6
  • Coaster Sets: 2
  • Bread Saws: 3
  • Small Boards: 4
  • Hearts: 2
  • Cracker Things: 15
  • Surfboards: 2
  • Garlic Dipping Boards: 4
  • Serving Piece: 1

The Board Chronicles: Art In The Park Fall 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. After this one … just 2 more to go. And they are the big ones.

Enjoy, and thank you for your patience!

** ** **

Paso Robles is a lovely town near the central coast of California. It’s the home to several wineries, and it’s a nice distance for weekend getaways from the LA area.

If you’re into that kind of thing.

The big park near the downtown area is perfect for strolling through an art fair. You get tourists, you get locals. I did this event with the same promoter in April, and now I’m back to see if October is as good as its reputation. The event was 10/19 & 20/2019.

New Ideas

  • I’ve got a woodworking buddy, Jeff Hewitt, that lives in town. He doesn’t do this event, but he showed up – uninvited! – to help me set up. That is above and beyond the call of duty, and his help was greatly appreciated. As you know, it’s usually just me. Jeff was a great help.
  • You can see Jeff’s work here. Enjoy!

Observations

  • I found a “Granny cottage” AirBnB about 4 blocks from downtown, and it was a perfect place for me. Well, nearly, anyway.
  • Suggested sign: “There are a thousand reasons not to drink, but I can’t think of one.” – Mark Twain. The only problem is, I couldn’t source the quote. I did find this quote from him: “There are a thousand excuses for failure, but never a good reason.” Alas, that’s not a foodie quote, so I won’t make that sign.
  • This, however, is one that will be appearing soon: “Never Delay Kissing A Pretty Girl, Or Opening A Bottle Of Whiskey.” – Ernest Hemingway
  • Reviewing the above quotes … I’m pretty sure that it’s true that writers drink. And I must admit I’m enjoying some bourbon as I write this. Hmmmm.
  • I’m a guy. Logically driven. I like my wood designs symmetrical. And, when I display my work, I line things up. Straight lines.
  • And then there’s Mrs M. She (though absent this weekend!) will walk up to my display and make everything crooked. No straight lines. And, for the record, she’s a Lady. I believe that’s how women’s minds work.
  • My retail consultant (!), Delinda from Sweet Spot Home Decor, is also a Lady. She also makes my displays crooked. See, it’s a woman thing.
  • I note that for this event, I endeavored to make crooked displays, channeling my left brain. My inner female, if you will. And, try though I might, my customers – most of whom are female – will straighten them out.
  • So, like men from the dawn of time, I’m confused. Ladies like crooked displays, but if I make them crooked, they straighten them out.
  • Men. Can’t. Win.
  • In my opinion.
  • Results for the weekend were pretty good, actually, but not outstanding. In 2020, I have another event in mind, so I’ll probably miss this one. Which, gastronomically, sounds like a horrible idea.

The Food

  • Best Meal: The Hatch is a true find. I bought Jeff and his lovely wife dinner at my favorite Paso restaurant (and he makes the serving boards that they use!). Worth the trip, highly recommended.
  • Honorable Mention: Leftovers in the AirBnB. Saves money!

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 372
  • Booth cost: $399
  • Food cost: $182
  • Travel cost: $382
  • Total sales: $1,939
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • # soap & lotion vendors: No clue
  • # woodworking vendors: At least 4 others
  • Returning next year? I don’t think so

Boards sold: 24

  • Serving Pieces: 1
  • CNC Signs: 5
  • Garlic Dipping Boards: 7
  • Cutting Boards: 4
  • Cribbage Boards: 2
  • Cheese Slicers: 3
  • Cheese Boards: 2

The Board Chronicles: Santa’s Art Shop 2018   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!

** ** **

OK, OK. I know. I’m behind … but this is ridiculous. The good news is that I’m almost caught up – really! I believe I have 3 more reviews after this one. And this one, well, keep reading.

This is our 5th year at Santa’s Art Shop. For each of the previous 4 years, this was our biggest event of the year. For each of the previous 4 years, this was our biggest event ever.

We like Santa’s Art Shop, in not so far away Ridgecrest, CA. It’s a good 2 hour drive, and Ridgecrest is on the edge of the Mojave. It’s just down the road from Inyokern, that proudly announces on a sign next to the highway, “100 miles from anywhere”.

So, Ridgecrest is not a garden spot. It’s not close to the bright city lights.

It’s my kind of town.

New Ideas

  • Not so much. We are again doing a triple booth, but this time it’s just Mrs M & I to get it up and running. The trailer was filled to capacity. And, probably, beyond.

Observations

  • Friday set-up begins at 1p, and we were there with bells on. We. Were. Excited.
  • Shoppers come to this event. They usually inspect everything in both buildings (lots to see!), and then come back and buy what they want. It’s unusual to get many special orders: they know what they want, plus, there’s not much time before the holidays.
  • Oh. And I’m tired.
  • Suggested sign: “I Love You More Than Bacon.”
  • This event is a bit tricky to know when people are coming. Sundays can be bigger than Saturdays. Afternoons can be bigger than mornings. Some Saturdays, in the first couple of hours, sales actually fall because there are too many people and the aisles are just jammed.
  • Good problem, yes?
  • We had a good Saturday, but lower than last year.
  • I walked by the entrance just in time to hear a very excited little girl walk in and say, “It’s BEE YOU TI FUL.”
  • I love Ridgecrest.
  • Each year, we set a new record for sales at this event. And, each year, we agree we can’t do it again. We can’t keep going up, right?
  • Competition is steep at this event. I have 2 direct competitors, and both have a complete product line (though one has a lot of turned items, and the other has many crafty-style items … they both have many similar items to what I have, too. I need proprietary designs and unique pieces to compete, I believe.
  • In addition to those 2 woodworkers, there are 3 others that have a few items that are competitive, along with other items I don’t make that they focus on (jewelry boxes, furniture, etc).
  • So, a very robust environment for woodworkers. Can I stay strong?
  • Last year, the event organizer asked if she could buy a large group of items for a charity auction benefiting a local community autism organization. It was my pleasure to match her purchase, dollar for dollar. This year … she wants to do it again.
  • It’s my pleasure to match her, dollar for dollar.
  • Sunday afternoon started to heat up … and then it got hotter. I actually did 20% of our total sales in the last hour. That’s a big number … and we just made it.
  • We just made it. Fifth year in a row.

Best. Event. Ever.

  • Requests included items with a California Quail engraved, a moose and a dresser organizer.

The Food

  • Best Meal: We couldn’t get into our favorite French restaurant, Mon Reve. We settled for our favorite Mexican restaurant, Olvera’s.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 268
  • Booth cost: $758
  • Food cost: $247
  • Travel cost: $224
  • Total sales: $6,211
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 3
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • # transactions: busy, busy
  • # soap & lotion vendors: 4 others
  • # woodworking vendors: 5 others
  • Returning next year? Definitely

Boards sold: 59

  • Coaster Sets: 2
  • Hearts: 2
  • Custom Order: 3
  • Cutting Boards: 13
  • Cheese Boards: 7
  • Trivets: 8
  • Cribbage Boards: 2
  • Serving Pieces: 7
  • CNC Signs: 5
  • Chess Board: 2
  • Small Boards: 2
  • Clipboard: 1
  • MBOs: 3
  • Lazy Susans: 2

The Board Chronicles: California Strawberry Festival 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!

** ** **

Have I mentioned I love strawberries?

This event has been one of my favorites for several years. It’s local-ish. It’s a handmade event. It’s well run. And, it’s big. Very big. Attendance is in the 60,000+ range.

You can read about our history here: 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. The event is always the 3rd weekend in May.

Yes, this is our 5th year in a row at the California Strawberry Festival, Very, very few events are that popular with Mrs M’s Handmade!

New Ideas

  • We’re upping our game and doing a triple booth here for the first time. Their current booth configuration is 4 booth pods (every booth is a corner!) so we have an L-shaped booth that’s a bit awkward … but, still, familiar territory. I’m under the Trimline, and Mrs M will be under the adjacent pop-up.
  • Mrs M opted out again to work at her “job”, so I enlisted Miss M to join me in Oxnard. She likes hanging with Dad once in a while … until someone asks her if she’s Mrs M.

Observations

  • I arrived on time for a 1pm set-up … and there were probably 20 vendor canopies already up. I guess early can be on time, too.
  • The majority of vendors for this event set up on the Oxnard College soccer field. This year, the college is coordinating with the promoter, providing college students on sports teams for hire to set up and take down. I’m happy to help the baseball team buy uniforms, as they do the heavy lifting for me.
  • The load in for this event is not easy: I’ve got about a 100 yard haul from the trailer to the booth, and most of the haul is on turf. I typically need about a dozen trips to deliver everything to the booth. With the triple booth set-up for this event, it doesn’t get any easier.
  • Worst non-customer ever: “Excuse me, sir, can you move so I can read the sign behind you?”
  • I like the set up for this event, really, but it is also true that there’s absolutely no way to tell someone where you are. There are no markers that distinguish aisles at all. There’s nothing good about customers not being able to find you easily.
  • I lost a sale today because the piece was on display, and the buyer didn’t want to buy the one that everyone had touched. The piece was unique, of course, and pristine … but it had been touched by the great unwashed masses. Not what the customer wanted.
  • Best T-shirt pair of the weekend – it was a his & hers.
    • His: She’s My Sweet Potato
    • Hers: I Yam
  • OK, I like cute. Sometimes.
  • This event changed in 2018, when the vendor area moved from a street (with very easy trailer access) to the soccer field. Sales peaked in 2016, and declined in 2017, and then again in 2018. This year … down again. This is still a solid event, but it is an expensive one that is a fundraiser for the Oxnard community. Luckily, my only expenses are for the booth, gas and temporary help; I stay at home for this event that’s about an hour away.
  • Note that sales declined in spite of the triple booth. Hmmmm.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 216
  • Booth cost: $1,050
  • Food cost: $82
  • Total sales: $3,213
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • # transactions: Not as many as needed
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there are a few
  • # woodworking vendors: none that do what I do, but there’s a maker of shaped plastic boards as well as other woodworkers
  • Returning next year? Yes

Boards sold: 26

  • Signs: 4
  • Large Serving Piece: 1
  • Small Boards: 4
  • Card Boxes: 2
  • Cribbage Board: 1
  • Cutting Boards: 5
  • Chess Board: 1
  • Clipboard: 1
  • Cheese Boards: 2
  • Pig: 1
  • Cheese Slicer: 1
  • Heart: 1
  • Trivets: 2

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