Monday, December 28, 2009


This was a gift for some close family friends. I thought it would be really simple to glue some boards together and throw them on my lathe and make a bowl. I had never actually used my lathe before. To make a long story short, it was a lot more work and time than I had predicted and the final product is not quite what I had envisioned when I was starting out, but it still turned out really nice, all things considered. I learned that the keys to making a bowl are as follows: 1) don't make it too deep. 2) Sharpen your chisels constantly. 3) Accept that you will waste a lot of wood, and don't waste your time trying to save the wood in the middle. 4) Buy a shorter tool rest. 5) Spend a long time with your gritty sandpaper before moving on to the finer grits. 6) Keep going all the way to 400 grit- it will start to look like glass. Next time I'm going to see if I can track down anything finer- do they make 1000 grit sandpaper? Would that just be printer paper basically?

The light wood is Ikea butcher block, left over from when we replaced the counters in our condo's kitchen four years ago. I think it's birch, but my dad thought it was maple, so I'm not sure, but it seemed too soft and pliable for maple in my opinion. The dark wood is walnut that my friend and former furniture builder Bill found in one of his storage units somewhere and gave to me (does that count as salvaged, reclaimed, green, etc.?).

Thanks to my dad who came over to the shop to redirect my efforts every time I got stuck or frustrated, and thanks to Caleb for explaining to me that I was doing it all wrong and completely straightening me out, and for actually working on it for a little while. Thanks Lou for the great pictures!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Wall Unit

This wall unit was commissioned by a really cool gal named Jaina in Eagle Rock who previously bought a bedroom set from me. She designed it, but I like to think of it as somewhat of a joint design, since the final product had many similar design elements to the one I designed for Jana (my wife) and I. I used this sweet wood that I'd never used before called Pecan Hickory.
I also used a biscuit joiner for the first time, which was super smooth (thanks for loaning me your biscuit joiner Ivan!), though it did make for an interesting challenge when I glued the final side to the rest of the unit- I used 16 clamps, and I was really 4 short of what I needed.

Once the unit was affixed to the wall I built a pedestal type foot to support it so that it rests about 8 inches off the ground. We originally decided on this because of a floor heater right underneath the corner of the unit, figuring that we should lift it up to avoid fire hazard. But I actually think the foot ended up adding a nice additional element to the look. Once it was installed I used a clear oil to finish it so that the light wood would have a nice contrast with the dark floors. Jaina took all of these great pictures (except for the two in my shop, which are decidedly less awesome)- thanks Jaina!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Storage Bed

This bed was inspired by the many laments I heard about my previous bed that, as great as it was, it would be so much better if it had storage underneath. After months of brainstorming ways to add drawers without tampering with the basic design of the bed, I came up with this design.

Basically, when the drawers slide completely out, it's the exact same bed as before. When the drawers are in, they are hardly noticed, and since they are made from solid walnut like the rest of the bed, if they do get seen it's all good. The drawers slide both ways and slide completely out for cleaning.
My wife Jana still prefers all of the open space under our bed, but I think (and hope) that a lot more people are going to jump for the storage. We'll find out.

Thanks to Ryan for taking these great pictures for me- what a difference a real photographer can make.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bedroom Set

I built this same bed for Jana and I when she suggested that I should build her a bed, and that it should look like this. It was a natural progression then to start thinking about building night stands, though there was a lot more involved with them than I had imagined. Primarily, they took a lot longer than I anticipated because they required jointing numerous walnut boards to reach the desired depth- something I'd never done before.

I couldn't be happier with the way they turned out though, especially the sliding mechanism on the drawers, which consist of dado grooves on each side of the drawer and two guiding blocks that the grooves slip onto.

I built these to sell with the bed as a set, to raise some much needed summer funds (figuring that I'd build a set for us in the near future), but when we got one in our room to take a couple pictures for Craigslist, we immediately saw that it was going to be no easy task parting with them.

I was tipped off yesterday to a very cool website called Apartment Therapy (thanks Cayenne!) who apparently liked my work and added it to their front page. Check it out here.

Update: In addition to telling me about Apartment Therapy, Cayenne also bought this bed and wrote about it on her blog. Check it out here.

Wall Unit

This project was born out of need- a sprawling record collection threatening to take over our small living room. The records used to sit in an IKEA bookshelf that only used about half this wall space while the rest of the wall sat unemployed. I realize that you need calming dead space here and there, but it was a luxury we could not afford here. The metal posts were Nate's idea- a last minute call that added so much. I actually wish I would have used the poles in at least one more place, but whatever. The wood is all teak-veneered plywood with an oil finish, all joints are dado and glue (no screws, except to anchor it to the wall). Functionally speaking, this piece is worth its weight in gold, as it houses the records with room to grow and doubles as Luke and Graham's toy hub. We are running out of room for books though, so we'll probably have to revisit this situation before too long.

Book Shelf Wall

My friend Eric asked me to help him build a wall to separate his garage into two parts: one for storage and one for an office. Knowing Eric's love for books and recognizing his need for book storage, I suggested we build a wall that would actually be a book shelf. The pictures show the result.
I took the quick and dirty approach on this- no dado, no glue, no sanding, no finish- just a bunch of pine, a square, a level, a chop saw, a nail gun, and two days to get it done. I think it's really Eric's imposing book collection that makes this thing pop, but given the constraints of the job I'm super happy with the way it turned out.

Speaker Shelf

I saw some shelves like this at my friend Brian's house, which doubled at the time as a funky furniture store. He wanted $30 for 4 of them I think, but I only wanted one and he didn't want to break up his set, so I used some leftover teak veneered plywood to build one myself. It was meant to be a stand for a rear speaker, but Jana has decided that she likes it better for now as a candle stand, at least until I build another one for the speaker on the other side of the couch (which I thought worked well on the end table over there, but Jana disagrees on this now).

Booster Seat

This might not look like much, but I think it could actually be the next big thing. Anyone who has kids and a bit of modern pretension has encountered the problem that there is only one type of booster seat on the market- plastic, primary colored crap. I'm sure that 99 out of 100 parents couldn't care less, but for that other 1% there's a real dilemma. That's where this teak booster seat could fill a real void I think. I tried to tell IKEA about it but apparently they don't accept product submissions. Too bad- they don't carry any booster seat at all, and they could probably produce something that looks just like this with their cheap, wall-paper wrapped fiber board for about $5.00 a chair and sell them for $30- a real win win for everyone. So I'm debating whether I should start pumping these out and craigslisting them, or ebay, or what. I'm also concerned about all of the child product regulations I could probably get sued for, so I'm just not sure what to do with my brilliant idea.

Entertainment Cabinent/Credenza

This project was my first attempt at mid century modern style furniture. We wanted a cabinet that was about a foot higher than a typical credenza because it was covering a hot-water heater closet, but we also couldn't go with a wall unit because we needed wall space for a projector screen above it (of course, I use the word "needed" quite loosely). We found a few items that were kind of in the ball park of what we wanted, but nothing that was quite right or anywhere near a reasonable price. Thus, after some convincing with my wife Jana (this was my first attempt at a project of this scale), I set about creating something that, as far as I'm aware, doesn't really exist- a mid century styled entertainment center, or a really high credenza with sliding doors and two drawers.

As my skills have improved, I've found more and more details that I wish I would have treated differently and flaws that could have easily been avoided. In truth though, this piece turned out way better than it had any right to be, and we still love it. It is constructed from 3/4 inch teak veneer plywood with solid teak legs. All joints are dado and glue except for the legs, which are screwed to the unit with wood plugs hiding the screw heads. This piece and the wall unit both made it onto the "show your space" site, for whatever that's worth. I tried to find a link but apparently Dwell doesn't do "show your space" anymore, so I'm guessing it's not there anymore.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Sunday School Shelves

I built these for one of the Sunday school rooms at my church. The idea is for the shelves to house learning manipulatives, and for doors to slide into place to hide the items when not in use.

I used birch-veneered plywood for the bulk of the structure and solid birch for the face. The joints are dado and glue- no nails were used, except to secure the melamine to the back. They're finished with a sealer and polyurethane.