Resource Sharing

The architects of the early ARPAnet likely didn’t anticipate the negativity of YouTube trolls or the Yik Yak hate speech fueling a raging race fire. However, I’d like to think in the deep recesses of their minds they dreamt about seemingly abstract entities, with avatars and blog personas, creating actual human, bonds. One of these bonds started about a year ago when I first read about the now defunct Lost Art Press Forum. That’s where I first heard about Brian Clites of Heights Modern and The Wood Prof fame.


Brian and the Boys

Fast forward a few months to December of 2015. Brian and I drove over to a local lumberyard to get some wood for upcoming projects. During this trip we discussed 2016 and the idea of going to each other’s shop once a month to bounce ideas off each other, help each other out, and get things done. So far we’ve done this only once but it was a tremendous boon to my confidence and my workflow.

Back in July Brian came over and gave me some pointers on how to fit half blind dovetails. He showed me the techniques learned from Chris Schwarz during an ATC class. This lesson was an example of how theory can only go so far and where experience takes over. Now, I’m still no expert but I have much more knowledge on when to pound a little harder or pare a little more. Combine these learnings with the sustained contact high from WIA and you get some serious progress in the saga of The Dresser.

You may recall, the last big hurdle was cutting the dovetails for the drawers. The piece won’t be complete once they are cut, but I’ll be in the falling action portion of the story for sure. As I organized pictures for the post I realized I started working on these drawers back in January of 2015. Ouch.


With that being said, as I post this I have two drawers completely glued up and the remaining five waiting for some shop to time to do the final fine tuning and add the glue.


The first drawer

Thanks Brian for the help on getting over the dovetail hump both mentally and physically. I think we’ve done those nerdy internet pioneers proud and I’m hoping for at least one more shop date before the end of the year.

Posted in General Philosophy, The Dresser | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

22 Hours in Covington: WIA 2016

Every year when the announcement for WIA comes out I get excited. When the announcement says it’s in Cincinnati I get more excited because it’s an easy four hour drive. I always want to go but it’s tough to justify a mini vacation given our hectic lives and relatively low amount of vacation time. That’s something for a different blog, but it’s incredibly frustrating when the job market dictates frequent job changes and those changes affect your ability to accumulate vacation time. I can easily see a scenario where my wife and I celebrate our 40th birthdays both having only two weeks of vacation. I digress…

Where was I? Oh yeah, I went to WIA last weekend. Brian Clites (the woodworker formerly known as The Woodprof) picked me up early on Friday morning and we headed down to Columbus for our first stop: Woodwerks. If you’re ever in Columbus, I highly recommend you stop here. I didn’t get anything but I still had fun perusing. We hopped back on the road and pulled into Northern KY around 2:30 PM. For the next 22 hours we crammed in as much woodworking inspiration as we could.

We only had time to visit the marketplace but this helped keep costs down. I met some people I’ve only known via the interwebs (James_Son_of_James, Dyami, Narayan, Marc Spags, and others). Plus I shook hands with peeps I regularly see in Cincinnati like Megan Fitzpatrick, George Walker, The Schwarz and his band of  Merry Pranksters, etc. Two highlights for me were seeing John Switzer‘s hand forged work up close and Brendan Gaffney‘s prototype sector. I left with a few things to keep me busy including some olive wood, which I’ve never used but want for some serving boards, and a hand saw vise from Brian (thanks!). Just before we left I spotted April Wilkerson who is a favorite of my daughter. She was gracious enough to make this video with me. My little girl was over the moon.


In the end, I wish I was able to stay longer, but this brief stint left me tremendously inspired and with a deep wantonness to get in the shop. And that I did. Check out my IG feed if you want a sneak peak.

Posted in Travels, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Breaking Bread

As I mentioned in the last post, I added to my cutting boards resume over the summer. I was fortunate enough to be the best man in my friends’ wedding and knew I couldn’t just get something off the registry. Not when the groom gifted me hand carved knives to temporarily substitute for the back-ordered blacksmith versions he ordered from Drew Langsner’s Country Workshops.

Thoughtful gifts

Thoughtful gifts

You see, Charlie and I have a kinship going on 20 years. The stories are many but for the purposes of this post I’ll just say we had a great time during his summer internship at North House Folk School. I had to be in Minneapolis for work first thing on a Monday morning. Instead of flying in late on Sunday, I left early on Saturday and flew into Duluth where I rented a car and drove up to see him. It was May 1st. It snowed. It was perfect. This trip was a turning point in our friendship as we transitioned many of our conversations from music, bands, and instruments to muses, banding, and hand tools. So when he asked me to be in his wedding, I knew my gift should reflect our relationship. Charlie is known for baking bread; a cutting board was an obvious choice.

Charlie on our hike many years ago

Charlie on our hike many years ago

I started by reviewing an old article from Fine Woodworking that I’d printed out when I first started woodworking. I had never made a cutting board long enough to cut up a large baguette and I knew this would be a good time to experiment and use up some scrap. I found some maple and some small pieces of purpleheart and padauk that would be perfect for “inlay.” I used the article to build a template for the long board.

The half inch exotics were still too clunky, so I resawed them on the bandsaw and then double-stick-taped them to a planer sled. When they came out of the planer I touched them up with a sharp hand plane. Next, I glued them up with a purposeful offset, roughed out the shape, and pattern routed them to the templates.

I was quite proud of the way they turned out. But, being short on time, I totally forgot to take any glamour shots when it was done. Fortunately, Charlie’s wife, Katy, sent me some artsy pics of the boards for me to post and share with you.


The only thing left in this story is to share some bread made by one friend and serve it on a gift from another.

Posted in General Philosophy, Kitchen Accessories | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Cutting Boards: For Me Finally

I made a slew of cutting boards over the last two summers for my woodworking club. They didn’t need any this year, so I decided to finally make some for my house along with some for my recently married friends. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any glamour shots of their cutting boards before my wife wrapped them up; it didn’t help that the last coat of oil went on just before I had to leave for the rehearsal dinner. Next time I’m over at their place I’ll snap some shots and put up a post.

Now, back to me.

It started with a Pinterest board cleverly entitled, Cutting Boards. To date there are about 70 inspirational pictures on there as I’m fond of cutting boards. I really enjoy I see in Ina Garten’s kitchen when I watch her show Barefoot Contessa. I wanted the same aesthetic for our kitchen. Going through the offcuts I found a piece of gnarly, twisted ambrosia maple, which made the move from Cincinnati five years ago, and some #2 common  walnut. I thought it would be a good idea to fill the beetle holes with epoxy and then butterfly keys for some of the cracks. This is good practice for the big dining table I promised over a year ago. Here’s a  pictorial rundown on the process.

I ended up with two similar sized maple boards and two small walnut versions. The first set will stay on my kitchen counter and the others will be filed away as gifts or maybe I’ll try to sell them – I’m not sure. Here are some glamour shots.

Now onto more procrastinating…

Posted in Kitchen Accessories | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Finishing Up the Barn Board (For Now)


Note the white haze, which is actually crystalline borate.

On a steamy summer Friday, I reluctantly traded happy hour for a date with my three season room. First, I examined the boards for any signs of bugs and lucky didn’t find any, but I did see a lot of white haze and crystals. The nice gentleman at Quality Borate warned me of this possibility because of the “thinness” of my boards (3/4″), their species (pine), and their moisture content (bone dry). Basically, I must lightly dampen the boards until all the borate crystals dissolve into the wood. It’s purely for aesthetics.

Undeterred, I began putting up the boards. You’ll note the gap at the bottom, which was caused by haphazard measurements and a loosey-goosey disposition. I kept thinking the trim would cover everything up but I didn’t think about the pitch of the room. The measurement at the house was nearly 2″ shorter than the measurement closest to the yard. The installers pitched the floor since it was likely an outdoor slab at one time. By the time I got to the end of that wall, it looked a bit wonky. I was able to go back in and patch a few sections with scrap but I should’ve measured and cut each board individually instead of cutting them all at once and hoping for the best. Rookie mistake.


First wall up but a bit short.

I called it a night knowing I had reinforcements coming the next morning (i.e. my father-in-law). We made quick work of the second wall within an hour. Unfortunately, that sinking feeling settled in when I realized my plan of wrapping the whole room in trim and not wanting to overbuy meant I was out of material with a fair amount of work left. It wasn’t a lot but it meant I had to go back to the supplier and work with what he had. I  gave my father-in-law instructions on what to do (patch, electrical, wait, etc.) and set out with my wife to pick up a second batch of wood. We scored a few more boards from the same barn but not enough 10-footers to wrap the room like I wanted. Instead we scored some white oak fence posts for the trim. We also scored more critters. Grrr! I sent my help home and spent the rest of the afternoon sanding and treating the wood.

My second batch of lu

My second batch of lumber

I examined the wood the next morning and saw no signs of life in the boards. My next task involved a bit of head scratching to layout the material for the best yield. This is where years of Tetris helped. I laid everything out and we got to cutting. We utilized every tool in the shop that day: track saw, table saw, jigsaw, block plane, chop saw, hand saw, chisels, nail gun, and a great new edition – the 13 x 13 foot canopy (read lifesaver when the rain started).  There are very little pictures of the last day due to the pending rain storm and wantonness to get things done. Here are some shots of how it looked at the end of the day.

We’ve been enjoying the room for about a month and love it. I have some final touches to incorporate such as the following:

  1. Misting/washing the boards to remove the white haze.
  2. Applying a vinegar/steel wool solution to the exposed, freshly cut trim edges. This should help blend them in with the rest of the pieces.
  3. Installing 2″ black wrought-head nails to the trim for holding power and aesthetics
  4. And then, down the road, finishing the rest of the room. The remaining painted 2 x 4’s look awful with all this great work in the rest of the space.

I’ll publish an update when I do items 1 – 3 but item 4 won’t happen for a LONG time. In closing, I have one request: please leave a comment describing what you think I should do with the leftover wood. Most of the pieces are 2 – 4 feet long with widths of about 4 – 10 inches. I’d appreciate it.

Posted in Home Improvement, The Big Reno, Three Season Room | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

My B-52’s Impression

Like most things these days, it all started on Pinterest. If you aren’t using this resource as a tool to share with your spouse, better half, co-designer, or clients you’re truly missing out. Get to pinning. After looking around for a few month we settled on corrugated metal for the roof and exposed screws with simple wood trim. The picture below is one of the many inspirational pins we used as a guideline.

Having never worked with metal, I immediately turned to my father-in-law. He spent 11 years teaching industrial arts and then another 25 setting up machines at a machine shop. He knows his way around a construction site to say the least. With his help we spent a full Saturday putting up the ceiling.

We had one hiccup,which I might or might not fix. We somehow mismeasured the hole for the ceiling fan. Without any pieces to spare, we did our best to fudge it and I might have to get back on Pinterest for some ideas on make-shift wooden medallions. It’s really minor but it’ll likely bother me; just not right now.

The last step before installing the wood was to create a dark backdrop to cover up the OSB. This is essential due to all the holes and gaps associated with the rough barn board. Originally, I was going to paint it black but while at the home center I saw roofing felt in the same aisle as the corrugated metal. Using a tack hammer and a utility knife this went up in about 45 minutes. It was much faster than painting.

The final post is the actual install of the wood…and another expensive trip to the reclaimed wood supplier.

Posted in Home Improvement, The Big Reno, Three Season Room | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Working With Reclaimed Barn Board

If you followed the blog last year, you might recall The Big Reno, which was an HGTV-style down-to-the-studs, open-up-the-walls, live-in-a-construction-zone experience. It’s not for the faint of heart, but the results are worth it. The plan was to have 75% of the work done by our contractor and 25% done by us. The Living Room and Mud Room are examples of our progress so far. Next up on the to-do list was our three-season room. Below is a repost along with comment from the starting point.

Here is the three season room from the outside. The slider will go into one door and I'm responsible for something cool to the left. Maybe barn wood siding?

Here is the three season room from the outside. The slider will go into one door and I’m responsible for something cool to the left. Maybe barn wood siding?

Since May of last year, we’ve been staring at OSB whenever we go out the backdoor (about 10 times per day). The picture below isn’t perfect, but in the background you can see the two-tone OSB. It screams, “FINISH ME,” as evidenced by my lack of a good picture – I must’ve subconsciously tried to black this out of my memory.  We vowed to end that look.

Imagine this background every time you step outside

Imagine this background every time you step outside

Our first stop was to a local guy specializing in reclaimed barn board.  I’ll warn you upfront, this stuff is expensive and it likely comes with nails, lead paint, and in my case, bugs.  The initial delivery delayed things a bit. But, once the boards arrived, I spent an afternoon de-nailing and lightly sanding the wood. You’ll see in the pictures the boards have one painted side and one raw side.

The only Festool purchase I’ve claimed to mildly regret is my Rotex 150 but that’s no longer true. The DIY stuff I’ve accomplished over the past year were made much easier with this tool. It’s not a woodworking tool but it’s a helluva DIY tool so it’s staying in the arsenal. To that end, I used it to just lightly remove the grime and muck without damaging the patina. I went straight to 180 grit paper in Rotex mode and had at it. On the painted side, I just used a wire brush to knock off the loose paint; no need to make more work than necessary. After three hours I had everything done that I could do (more on that later)

It’s been a hot, muggy summer here in Northern Ohio and I felt it that afternoon. But with limited time to do these things, I turned my attention to the remaining siding. I should’ve had the demo crew take this down but we weren’t 100% sure of what we wanted or how things would work out budget-wise. So I channeled my inner Fitzy and started smashing and pry-baring. While I was demoing, I decided to remove some of the other trim in the room so we could wrap the reclaimed wood around the entire space and not just the two walls (I felt my wallet shutter).

The final step with the reclaimed wood was an unexpected detour but a critical one. I noticed on the first board some very, very, very tiny white bugs. I did some googling but couldn’t identify just what they were. They didn’t look like termites or powder post beetles but they had to go. I recalled this recent post from Don Williams and found it quite useful. It put me in touch with a local Cleveland company specializing in this situation. Two days later this powder showed up. I mixed it with water and applied it to the wood with an old paintbrush.

Good-bye bugs

Good-bye bugs

It went on easy and I bought enough for two coats. This might not have been the best move (more on that in follow-on post) but I didn’t want to take any chances. I left it stickered for a few days and checked the wood. There was no sign of critters. Success.

Next up is the roof.

Posted in Home Improvement, The Big Reno, Three Season Room | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment