Why, Heavens to Mergatroid! It’s Walnut!

Walnut Writing Desk

Finally, finally finished the Bow Front Walnut Writing Desk I’d started in January. Actually most of the work had been done prior to a vacation sprint in early March. All that was left was to finalize the drawer pull, complete the shaping and attaching of the top, and finishing. It is always amazing to me how applying a finish will ‘pop’ the grain, especially on walnut. This piece has 6 coats of hand applied oil-urethane combo and will not need refinishing for a very, very long time. And, no stain. Let the wood sing! That’s what I always say….:)

I’d seen this design, in different forms, primarily in Fine Woodworking magazine. They actually have a set of plans for a desk similar to this and, in an issue from 2018, posted a picture of a beautiful bow front desk built by a student at a woodworking school out west. I couldn’t take my eyes off it nor could I quit thinking about it so I built a similar desk. Admittedly, this one is simplified from the other designs but, in fact, that’s one of the things I love about this…simple, elegant design. Anyway, go to the gallery and take a look…please send any comments through the Contact page..

Think I’ll take a couple of summer months off…..refresh and recreate. And do honey-do’s. See you in the fall.

Wait! Hold the phone, Dories’ on!

Per my last posting (20 Feb 2019) I was working on a walnut writing desk. In fact,  just as I was finishing the ‘building’ part ( as opposed to the ‘finishing’ part) I was invited to participate in a ‘Florida Adventure’. So, my friend and I headed south on 28 Feb (my birthday) and went to Amelia Island, Jacksonville, Ormon Beach, Daytona, then across the state to Ocala National Park, and on to Tampa. From there we went to Crystal River and spent a few days enjoying the Manatee, good food, and mixed in a little business. While in Crystal River Dorie and I connected through CustomMade and decided to build her a new ladder-back bookcase for her new Study. While at it she had a ‘store bought’ desk dropped shipped to me to assemble and finish the same as her new bookcase. Take a look at the images in the gallery….I was happy with the result, she was happy, her husband was happy, we were all happy!

Still Goin’

After Kathy’s table in late fall (2018) I decided to take a break from the shop for the holidays. Although I did a few projects to improve efficiency in the shop I really have had no significant builds. I am now, however, working on a writing desk. I saw this piece in a recent “Fine Woodworking” issue and couldn’t take my eyes off of it….so I’ve decided to build it (at least my version of it). So far, so good…the legs are shaped, the aprons attached, the single drawer face has been shaped (bowed) and I’ve just finished the dovetails for the drawer. Once I have the drawer finished and ‘tuned in’ I’ll turn to the top. Hopefully I’ll be done in a couple of weeks and, to be sure, I’ll have some pics of the finished product on this website. Until then thanks for checking in. Let’s make sawdust!

Kathy’s Sofa Table

Kathy wanted a replica of an antique Irish Pine Sofa Table. After some discussion (emails, texts, and photographs) on the particulars and specifications of the table we set about a build. Kathy lives  approximately 4 hours from my location so an in-person visit to measure the table wasn’t easily achieved….. so we set about specifying and making measurements and communicating all of the above by email. Remarkably this method worked although Kathy probably took the brunt of the task. The only change from the original piece was overall height and one drawer instead of two. I’ve posted a picture of her original piece for comparison, below. The re-creation is in the Gallery.

I have to say that this was not only a fun build but very satisfying to me as a craftsman. Mortise and tenon, breadboard ends, rustic nature, and some creative fun with the aprons made it a joy to build.

Kathy’s antique Sofa Table

The Island…Finished

I had posted, earlier, an island build for my daughter and family. I finally have gotten around to posting the final pictures. Thanks for looking.


Pam’s Table

Pam’s Table

Pam wanted a farmhouse table and matching stool. Wood finished top and painted bases. And ‘chunky’ which means you could land a VW on it and it won’t collapse :). A lot more detail in the gallery…..


Into the ENTU

After some major remodeling in our home we started a furniture upgrade and a re-arrangement of our primary living space….our Family Room. With new sofas and recliners and such it came down to the smaller items…..specifically end tables. We needed two for our new space. So after various online and catalog searches my SO determined the ‘Crate and Barrel’ ENTU end table was the ticket. Me too, for that matter, until I saw the price tag.

Now, these tables are simple, contemporary design that employs very basic woodworking joinery methods. Easy to build, don’t need fancy wood, so let the fun begin!

Because of it’s color and grain patterns we chose Butternut (White Walnut) as the wood species of choice with no stain (let the wood stand for itself) and a top coat of oil based urethane so make sure the finish will resist water rings, coffee stains, etc.

Only took a few hours and most of the time was waiting for finish to dry. I admit, however, to some help. A young son (14) of a family friend, Aaron,  has been spending some time with me in the shop and he actually did a lot of the work on this. Good job Aaron!

Now, these pictures are not great and distort the geometry of the piece a bit. Once I can get around to the second table I’ll do some beauty shots that Aaron and I can be proud of. Until then, well, just make the best

of it.


An Island Unto Itself

My daughter, Jill, and husband, Allen, are doing a ‘to the studs’ kitchen renovation and asked me to build them a ‘furniture grade’ kitchen island as part of their reno. . I was very honored and pleased that they asked not only because I like to do this type of work(my hobby) and they believe my quality of work to be good, but because I will be a contributor to and part of their home for many years to come, and that’s quite an honor.

Of course there were discussions and deliberations on size, location, features, accessories, and color. Drawings were done andeverything checked: rail and stile sizes, drawer slides and hinge types, even the topcoat (oil vs. waterborne urethane). But most importantly, the wood. This was the toughie….what species….and finally Jill nailed it with Walnut. After checking availability and prices at several suppliers I happened upon a Sawer near Laurens, SC that carried Walnut and, more specifically, had a barn-find, 20 yr old, air dried SC Walnut stack. I bought ~85 brd. ft. and we were on our way.

This posting is late in the game but the project isn’t finished yet. Thought I’d post a few pics just to get started. These are not ‘beauty shots’ and were taken in my shop with an iPhone under shop fluorescents but it’ll give you an idea of the final product. Once all is in and the reno is complete (maybe in a month) I’ll take a few beauty shots and post ’em.

Otherwise this project has been a great learning experience for me and fun to build witha fair share of challenges.

More, later. If you have a question please email me… otherwise, back to work!

Over The Top

Recently good friends decided they wanted to install a ‘booth’ in their kitchen and dispense with a ‘space eating’ kitchen table and chairs.  I volunteered to help.  This project gave me the opportunity to dress the booth seats up with raised panels and it also gave me the opportunity to work with re-claimed chestnut for their new table top. The end result is gorgeous!

Gothic Pulpit

Amazing how things work out sometime…..

In March ’17 an Upstate SC Anglican church emailed me with a photo of an antique Gothic Pulpit.

“Can you build this?”, was the question.

“Maybe”, I responded, “Let’s talk.”

After a meeting with the church Rector and a little pre-design ciphering we agreed to proceed and, 4 months later, the pulpit was completed.

Without a doubt this is the most complicated piece I’ve ever done or will probably ever do. There are, seemingly, no plans or even dimensions for this type of pulpit on the internet, in books, or anywhere else I could find so it all had to be ‘created’.

It is made of Cherry because the original intention was a pulpit of ‘medium color’. However, after the pieces started coming together the Rector decided to go dark, so I finished it with a Red Mahogany stain and several top coats of General Finishes Oil/Urethane blend (hand applied). This thing would have been amazing in Mahogany or Sapele, but, what can you do….

Many, many lessons learned on this build….for example, how to dial in a perfect 22.5 degree cut; heavily pigmented stain application techniques; angled bandsaw cuts, just to name a few.

It now sits in the church, my shop looks barren and undergoing a major cleanup/re-org, and I’m beginning to look to the next build. Probably something simple.

What next?