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.

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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.

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Summer Seating Dilemma

IMG_2321A few months after moving into our house in Cleveland, I had to take a two-week trip to Europe for work. This was the first time I’d been away from my wife and daughter for such an extended period. Time zone differences made communication tough but on the third day I finally got ahold of my wife. For me it was noon in a noisy convention hall; for her it was dinner time IMG_2326with a hungry toddler. During our call she shrieked and said, “Oh no! Something just made a loud crashing noise in the garage.” Buglars? Rodents? Aliens? Worse. Shoddy workmanship. The previous homeowner erected shelves in the garage, which decided to partially collapse at that exact moment. We had a myriad of items on the shelf, which were now strewn about the floor. I stood helpless thousands of miles away while my wife picked up the mess. It sucked.

When I got home, I took down the remaining shelves and repurposed the boards in our hard-to-access attic above the garage. They remained there until this spring when another DIY project (installing an attic ladder and OSB above the garage) relegated them useless. They were a bit bowed and in need of a serious clean up so I figured I’d just chuck them and move on. However, having consumed so many episodes of Reclaimed Audio, I knew I couldn’t follow through. So, on Memorial Day, with grandpa’s saw in hand I got to work solving another summer seating dilemma: my little one needs a chair like her big sister for use outdoors.


Breaking down stock on the driveway

I talked about building my older daughter’s chair before but realized I never put up the pictures of it completed and in use. She picked out the stencil and color scheme. Here is a gallery of pics showing how she helped with the painting and stenciling.

Fast forward to today and I have parts milled up and ready for another chair. Here are some progress pics.

I’ll continue picking away at this with a slim chance of getting it done by the end of the summer but it’s still fun to see something old become new again.


Posted in Kids Furniture, NCCW | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Belated Mother’s Day Post

Helper Tower and Rolling Pins being used on Mother's Day

Helper Tower and Rolling Pins being used on Mother’s Day

The bleakness of blog content is all for good reason: I’ve been busy building stuff. In my last post I talked about getting into the drawers on The Dresser and prior to that I mentioned the strong desire for my oldest to go into the shop. All of those things have continued, in earnest, for the past three months. As proof, I offer up this short story from Mother’s Day.

My mom is the artsy type so picking a gift for her is pretty easy. We’re lucky to have a local art collective down the street; it’s perfect for last minute Mother’s Day gifts. I picked the little ones up from their sitter shortly before Mother’s Day and we went in to check out the wares. After a few quick passes around the store, we’d found something perfect for grandma. Done…right? Not exactly.

All things taste better when you've made the tools to make the things

All things are better when you’ve made the tools to make the things.

You see, I’d already picked up a cool gift for my wife and she isn’t one for unnecessary jewelry or knick knacks. Therefore, there was no logical reason to get something for my wife. However, the girls had other plans…They picked up this and that asking if we could get it for mommy and I stood my ground, saying no. But, we stumbled upon a ring holder dish, which my oldest pointed out needed to be replaced after my wife broke hers a few months ago. I agreed and figured I’d just chalk it up to fatherly weaknesses with daughters.

Then her eyes lit up, “Daddy, let’s put this back. We can make one. In the workshop.”

So we did.

When I arrived home, we immediately went downstairs. She had a vision of what she wanted and was on a mission. She picked out a choice piece of cherry from her scrap bin and asked to cut a hole in for mommy to put her rings. I gave her a lesson on how to use the drill press and she learned about Forstner bits as well. Then we busted out the French curves and she traced a pleasing design. I roughed everything out and she helped clean up the design at the oscillating spindle sander. She then sanded (I sanded her sanding), which was followed up by her shellacking of the piece (which was followed up by me putting shellac on when she went to bed since her attempt was a bit runny).

The next day she asked to go downstairs and make her own holder for her Frozen necklace. She didn’t want any curves or finish though; that would take too long and she is after all, only five.



See? I told you I’ve been woodworking.

Currently, I’m in the midst of two huge DIY projects for the house but now that the Cavs aren’t eating up my non-woodworking evenings, I think I’ll get back to blogging a bit more regularly.

Posted in General Philosophy | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Revisiting an Old Friend

If you’re new to this blog, then you may not have heard the saga that is The Dresser. You might’ve seen it in the background of nearly every picture since April of 2014. For the past six months I’ve been picking away at the drawers (seven of them) in between other projects. I’ve made lots of progress updates on IG but nothing over here on the blog. I hope to remedy this today.

Back in September I had some time after finishing up my little girl’s adirondack chair. At the time, and still to this day, I needed get started on a Dining Room table for us but I’m not completely clear on my design. Tom Buhl and I have started a dialogue on this and I plan to draw upon his vast design and build knowledge (thanks Tom). Anyway, it was September. I was hesitant to get started on the drawers because I’ve never cut a dovetailed drawer, let alone seven. Furthermore, I’ve only ever fit a drawer once and now I need to do it seven times.

Fortunately, I got over my fears and started cutting wood. I didn’t want to set up the dado stack because I have two different sizes of plywood for the bottoms so I just used the regular combination blade. This is one of those times where I can’t believe how easily things went. It only took about an hour to cut the bottom grooves in all the parts.

This post is long overdue as the work’s been done for many months. I makes me wonder: maybe, secretly, I don’t want this project to end. After all, it’s been a fixture in my shop for so long I’m not sure what I’ll do with all the space. My oldest was in utero when I bought the wood. Alas, I need to make room for the Dining Room table build, which is next (ish). All the dovetails are “cut” but I need to fine tune them and glue up the drawers. Hopefully I’ll have some gumption left in the tank after all this yard work I’ve been doing for the past month. Wish me luck.

Posted in The Dresser | Tagged , , | 8 Comments