Noodling Around

A few months ago a co-worker commissioned me to build a Noodle Board. Never heard of it? Me either. Google it – it’s interesting and yes, you can do it at work without generating nastygrams from IT about your nefarious website traffic. I asked my 100% Sicilian mom about it and she said she remembers a few of her grandmother’s friends using it to roll out fresh pasta every couple of days.

The guy I made this for wanted it for use in making his mom’s pastry/dough recipes. I’m all for carrying on family traditions so I jumped at the opportunity. Of course, it took me three times longer than planned but turn out just fine. The client was very specific about the boards dimensions and actually made a drawing for me. 3/4″ thick x 22″ long x 25″ wide. Also, Cleats needed to go on each end to help keep the board from sliding when rolling out the dough. Capish?


Here’s how I did it.

Step 1: Breakdown the soft maple board I’d chosen.


Step 2: Glue up.


Step 3: Kick yourself for not using cauls to keep the panel more flat when you glued it up.

Step 4: Flatten. Sweat. Rinse. Repeat.



I was only able to get one side flat using the jack plane. I broke down and drove to my community shop to utilize the 22″ drum sander for the rest.

Step 5: Attach the cleats with dominoes.

Step 6: Apply two coats of salad bowl finish.


Now I just need to sample the fruits of my labor when my customer makes some pastries for me to try.

Posted in Kitchen Accessories | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Mantel Do Over

When we started the renovation I wanted to do something with the mantel and wood beams. There were grand thoughts of barn wood and reclaimed oak. In the end, I was much more practical and it turned out for the better. Here is a where I started in case you’re curious. The picture below is for reference.

Ugly blah stain lameness

Ugly blah stain lameness

Taking down the mantel was a bit more work than I thought but I got it out and down to the basement for some planning and sanding. As the previous post shows, it worked pretty well. Unfortunately, in the chaos of living through a renovation, my wife disgarded the four little oak dowel/washers made by some carpenter back in the day when the mantel was attached to the brick. Sigh… more on that later.

First, the staining process. I loosely used this technique from Ana White’s site about staining “that dark espresso” color. Normally, I don’t like to do this but the wood was free (minus sweat labor) and anything was better than the old 60s brownish color that was there. My version involved General Finishes Oil Based Gel Stain in Java since it was actually easier for me to get (my Lowes didn’t have the Minwax stains in the colors I wanted). Both my wife and I were happy with the final color.

Installing it back required a bit more ingenuity. I didn’t want to screw from the top with anchors into the mortar joints like the previous install. The screw holes were plugged with putty and it didn’t look right. Plus the “back side” was rough and you could still see some mill marks. This look is more in keeping with our aesthetic so I wanted to reverse the orientation of the board. This meant I had to use the holes in the brick and attach from the bottom up (if only I had some type of dowels custom sized to fill the oblonged holes).


Top view of the oblong holes needing a dowel.

Thank goodness for good French craftsmen and a little bit of patience walking up and down the stairs.

The rasp made short work of oblonging these stock dowels.

The rasp made short work of oblonging these stock dowels. Note the sole surviving dowel from the original build in the background.

Each of the four had to be custom fit and then I used Liquid nails to give them some extra holding power in the holes.

A nice tight fit but not pounded all the way in

A nice tight fit but not pounded all the way in

After making all four dowels, I drilled holes from the bottom up and used hefty lag screws to attach the mantel.


Not too shabby

I’m really happy with the results. Now I just have to figure out how to get the beams down without jacking up the walls so I can do the same thing to them.

Posted in Home Improvement, Living Room, Mud Room, The Big Reno | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Old Oak: Real Old

A few months ago my co-worker informed me of some old beams from his 1850s house. It was one of the first 10 homes built here in our community. He brought me in a sample and I knew right away: white oak…old white oak. We did some experimenting on ways to cut it into smaller parts for a Lindberry Cart he wanted as a coffee table. He ended up aging some cedar boards from the home center instead but I did get a chance to use another friends kick ass Laguna HD16  bandsaw in the process. It made short work of resawing a 3′ long section I brought along. So choice.

These beams where part of the original structure to his house (sill plate maybe?). He removed them 10 years ago when he put on a two story addition. He knew they were worth saving but he had to cut them in half because he simply couldn’t move them as they were. They’ve been in his garage ever since. We moved them to his yard a few weeks ago since he’s tearing down the garage. He has no use from them and says they’re mine for the taking. Free of charge.

I’m not exactly sure what to do with them but I’ll be cleaning them up with some friends and resawing them into smaller boards.  I need another project, and more wood to store, like I need a hole in the head but I don’t want to pass this up.

What should I do with them? Should I saw them into smaller boards? Should I fumigate them before bringing them in? Would them make a good top for a Roubo? Any thoughts are appreciated.

Posted in NCCW, Shop Stuff | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Cutting Board Season 2015

I’m trying to update the blog over the next few weeks with about two month’s worth of work. The low blog activity is actually due to getting more stuff done on the house and in the shop…and sometimes a combination of the two. I’ll be on the road, which is always a good time for me to get my thoughts straightened out and pics uploaded.

Today’s installment shows a subset of the cutting boards I made for The Northcoast Community Woodshop. Here are some pics of us working the booth.

We used mostly scraps from our collective shop bins along with some stuff from the community shop I’d categorize as mostly firewood. As such, a few pieces of walnut developed some serious checking. I decided to use some extra light cherry I had laying around already shaped like butterflys and do an inlay using just a chisel and some good jams in the ear buds. It was fun and inspired by this video from Matt Cremona. I did some butterfly keys about a year ago with a router. I’m not sure if one way is better than the other but it’s good to change things up a bit.

The craft show wasn’t as successful as last year but we had a few laughs and made some new contacts. I’m eager to see where they lead.


Posted in NCCW, Kitchen Accessories | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Old Man

The past few weeks have been a blur. More out of town guests, miscellaneous versions of the contractor’s punch list, pre-school graduation, and various trips to the hardware store. I’ve got pictures to get off the camera and updates for when the time is right. Now is not that time.

Today is Father’s Day. It’s a day I have mostly ignored since my dad passed away in 2006. Before that I hadn’t lived in the same state as him for eight years. Needless to say, I haven’t spent Father’s Day with my dad in a long time. Sure, my wife and girls have done an amazing job making the day special but it’s still not on my radar. My wife had to remind me on Friday that Sunday was Father’s Day.

But today things might’ve changed.

I woke up to my girls running into my bedroom wishing me a Happy Father’s Day. They helped me open a few small gifts and a sweet little card. Then my wife bought me a weekend design class with George Walker. Not a bad way to start the day.

IMG_4217The point where I knew things were really different happened in the afternoon. I got a few minutes to work on the doors for the living room bookcase. I want to remove the louvers since they don’t fit the style we’re going for. I decided to just smash the hell out of them with a chisel.

The Old Man's chisel at work

The Old Man’s chisel at work

It was therapeutic to smash away. After a few slats, I realized I was using my old man’s chisels. They are the classic Stanley’s with plastic handles circa 1970 something. I tuned them up a few years ago and bring them out when I want to do some rough work. I looked up through my basement window and gave the blue sky a teary smile. Then I got back to work.

Thanks dad.

Posted in General Philosophy, Home Improvement, Living Room | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments


I haven’t updated things because I’ve been busy staying up late working on the house, popping Advil, and entertaining out of town guests. As of last weekend, the Living Room like like this.

On the contractor side of things, they’ve been busy as well. Counter tops, plumbing, trim work, floors, and backslash are done.

You might have noticed there is no range. Thank you Best Buy for completely sucking on delivery. Seriously…it’s been a nightmare. The punch list is next up for the contractors and hopefully they’ll be gone by the end of next week. I’m up next on the hot seat but at least we’ll be able to go back to some semblance of normal.

Posted in Home Improvement, Living Room, Mudroom, The Big Reno | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Floors and More

Week 5 concluded with 95% of the floors coming in and about 80% of the paint on the walls.

I spent all of Memorial Day knocking working in the Family Room. By 11 PM the entire room was primed and I was exhausted. Here’s a shout out to my painter who suggested Sherwin Williams’ Pro Block Oil Based spray primer. It was a little messy and quite noxious but I had all the baseboard, bookcase, and window trim primed in about 60 minutes. That’s a lot faster than doing it by hand.

The light at the end of the tunnel is nearing.

Posted in Home Improvement, Living Room, Mudroom, The Big Reno | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment