GunPowder Artfest 2013

Come see me at the Gun Powder River art show this Saturday June 1st from noon to 7 pm. The proceeds go to the up and comers with the chance to earn a college scholarship. It’s a good time with music and food at Boordy vineyards so you can get your drink on too! Lots of great vendors that made stuff just for you so come with the intention to buy something it really does help the local economy! IMG_2015

Green Woodworking Classes

IMG_2011Spring classes are filling in nicely. If you’ve ever had an urge to try some woodworking from the beginning, like starting from the log but thought it to hard or overwhelming I can ease that feeling and you’ll find its a quite natural process. I have some good Red Oak bolts to work with now. The spoon and bowl stock is getting a bit thin thanks to Annie and myself. She came and took two separate spoon carving classes about a month apart and the Cherry chips added up quickly. A great example of this kind of wood working, she had never done anything like this before. The first day was slow the second was much easier and the hand holds came together as did the concept surprisingly fast. Next Elliot and Johnathan, two guys that contacted me separately and attended at different times, took the “Green wood and the shaving horse” class. It was fun to share this kind of woodworking. These are great introductory classes and additional days can be added at your convenience for the best learning experience. Elliot has some projects he wants to do on his own but wanted a jump start in riving and working green wood with the shaving horse. He bought one of the shaving horses I made and use in the class, to expedite his work process at home. I try to supply tools at the classes with the option to use and buy. Johnathan wants to make a ladder back with me and can come random days or maybe spend a week of vacation. He follows Peter’s blog a bit and has his book with the goal to make something using those techniques and also wants to make a river paddle split out of Ash. These one day classes are designed to teach the basics and then hone those skills at home or add more days for a more saturated experience. These are just a few examples of how these classes can be beneficial.

Riven post squared using the draw knife.

Riven post squared using the draw knife.

Alexander always said “Wood is Wonderful!” I couldn’t agree more! Arbor Day is the first Wednesday in April in Maryland, go hug a tree! IMG_2018 IMG_2013

Carved Boxes and Bowls With Lids

IMG_1910This is a box I made for a fifth wedding anniversary gift my sister in law was giving to her husband, the box is white oak that I sawed from the log with my chainsaw mill, it’s one of the quarter sawn boards, and the top and bottom are from the Bernudy road pine, a 200+ year old pine that I milled a couple years ago with a friend’s swing blade sawmill. IMG_1914I learned the basic techniques in a class at Country Workshops that Peter Follansbee taught in 2007, from here the only limitation (within reason) is your imagination on the size and scope of this construction and carving. This one is kinda small 9″ long 7″ deep and 4″ high. So it got me thinking about making a carved bowl with a lid. How could I do it with out using a metal hinge and having it made entirely from the same piece of wood.IMG_1919It’s a green (wet, freshly cut) piece of poplar that I split in half , straightened and removed the pith with an axe and smoothed with a plane then the adze to hollow and more axe work. Until I was happy with the shape and idea in my head of how to achieve this. Then hand sawed the top off, back to where the hinge is to be. If it would have fit I would have done that on the band saw but since it’s wet and poplar, a pretty soft wood, it was no big deal to hand saw. I kind of messed up here, the hinge is above the deck of the bowl, if you look at the box the hinge pins are level with the deck or top of box. IMG_1921That’s how I saw it in my heads so…. I got some ideas but it means a lot more fussin with making it work. Now the next thing that I don’t like to admit to is I went to far carving the bottom, easy to do but frustrating when it happens.IMG_1925This is a close up of the bottom inside of the bowl, that orange is the light coming through. I didn’t carve completely through but it’s just as bad, it wont hold up. In an effort to save this prototype I tried something Ive been thinking about for a long time, gluing veneers to the sore spot. I have glued new bottoms on bowls that this happened to in the past and it made it a functional piece but left a bad taste in my mouth, not literally, I just don’t like having it happen and any fix is a blatant reminder to me.IMG_1923Those are the shaving from when the deck and top of bowl were hand planed flat. Using scissors and selecting the whitest of the shavings I cut patches or veneers, used a chip brush dipped in water to wet the bottom of the bowl and painted white glue on all surfaces, also wetting the shavings with water first and limbering them up helped a lot.IMG_1924IMG_1928and just kept layering them up.IMG_1933Here it is dried and ready to be sanded, something I haven’t had time to do. The unforeseen danger, and I new there would be some, is with the water and glue drying off and shrinking the already thin ass area, stresses are created. I may have gotten lucky it wasn’t worse but it wrinkled up the underside real good.IMG_1931I was able to hand plane most of it out but I think I’m gonna cut my losses and stop there, work on the inside before I plane any more.It sits flat the way it is so no need beyond aesthetics to go farther.IMG_1984I’ll let cha know when it’s done.  

Entertainment Center

IMG_1888Recently I finished and installed this entertainment center. I don’t do much with plywood unless asked to and recently a few jobs have come my way. This guy is pretty straight forward no request for anything unusual, really no request at all it was left up to me to come up with the design. It was to go on a wall that was huge at least 15′ tall and just as long if not more, then when I went to install it they decided to put it in another room as long as it fit and it did. For it to aesthetically accommodate the original room it needed to be substantial or the room would make it look small so I went with 9’long and 7’plus high. The room has a lot of windows and so I wanted to use a dark stain and kind of recess the TV so their wouldn’t be any glare issue, I think it would have worked out. It is made from sheets of Maple ply and trimmed out with maple and has a Minwax Jacobean stain with a sprayed lacquer finish. The cove molding around the top I made on the table saw, I’ve done that once before a long time ago. I like it, it’s a huge piece for me and I’m happy the way the proportions worked out. Not fancy but has ton’s of storage and is built to last. Too bad I couldn’t get a good pic. IMG_1900 IMG_1881 IMG_1884

Sealer Coat

Kitchen Work Table


I delivered my first project of 2013 the other day. A kitchen work table. Miss Keri cooks a lot, has a huge garden, they keep bees and have the best honey, grow shitake mushrooms and have enough chickens to never have to buy an egg even with selling them daily. This house is one of the coolest I’ve ever seen, trees hold up the first and second floor not mere post, the hand rails up the steps are carefully selected limbs and the spindles branches. Randy Slaysman did the access door for a brick oven in the stone chimney that reaches through the center of the house joining the kitchen.


The wood is Ash and the entire table came from the same tree (-drawers), I know because I was there when it was milled. It’s a small operation and we do the best we can. After the sawn boards and slab air dried out side for six months or so I selected the boards I wanted to use in this table and put them in the loft of a small barn last spring where they dried very nicely (without checking or twisting badly) through the summer and fall down to 12% moisture content. So it’s air dried not kiln, my preferred method.

Ash is great, I find it to dry and work predictably. It also has many uses from the log, riven stock is excellent for basket making, tool handles, steam bending, post and rung construction and pretty much any thing green oak can do.

iphone pics 001

I put a raised edge around the bottom shelf so when you set stuff down there it doesn’t get shoved off the back side when the next thing is slid on. The drawer slides are wood and the drawers are pine, they asked for them to be in response to some carrying/drawers I made for them a while back, there is enough Ash to make them if that idea changes.


The top is a beast 5′ long and 3″ thick. My circular saw wouldn’t complete the cut, had to finish it up with the hand saw and plane the saw marks out then a very light sand on the end grain. Folks see my shaving horse and say I’ve wanted to make one of those but wouldn’t use it enough to justify it, and I say if you have it you will find many uses for it, here it’s a standing bench, often its a sawing bench and when company comes its a sitting bench that holds your beverage of choice wonderfully!


The top has a couple large checks in the center, this is because the pith of the tree is partially in the slab. That also means this cut is on the ray plane, the most stable cut when milling. The wood shrinks the least and in turn moves the least along this plane. The farther away you get from the pith on a wide cut the more cupping you’ll see.

I wanted to fill this crack because the top will be used to prepare food but I didn’t want to hide it, it’s the natural goings on of the tree. West System makes a clear two part epoxy the 207. It’s twofold, it’ll keep the top from cracking more, which I don’t think it will anyway and fills the check with a clarity that makes it as though there isn’t any filler, you can still see the strands and fibers in the recess…..natural! The finish is Waterlox, great water resistance, heat and chemical resistance but it takes a long time to dry and does not build as fast as I’d like so the pores are not filled flat. That’s not a bad thing it’s a different look than some people expect these days but I feel the best product for a counter top.

Remember the innocent and the heros only

Credit due to- Kevin P. Duffus his book “War Zone world war ll off the North Carolina coast” IMG_1833 While world war ll was well under its horrific way in Europe few people knew it was POUNDING on Americas front door. German U-Boats were sinking merchant marine vessels mostly off the coast of North Carolina’s Outer Banks at an alarming rate. The good folks of Ocracoake, Rodanthe, Hatteras Villages watched, heard and felt the explosions from the torpedoing German subs. The merchant marines are civilians that transport goods and people. March 29, 1942 Palm Sunday, the 452 foot long passenger freighter City of New York was steaming north. At 12:45 pm Oberleutnant Georg Lassen of the U-160 pieced the side of the flagship freighter with a torpedo. With that Desanka Mohorovicic, pregnant with a due date approaching in two weeks climbed into a crowded life boat another person on the life boat was a doctor who had fallen and broke two ribs. They were lowered into the 15 foot seas, 51 degree 25-knot winds, and a water temp of 72, they were in the gulf stream. Rowing as hard and fast as they could to escape the flying cargo that rocketed out of the ocean as the freighter went down. Underneath a canvas sail being used as a privacy screen and to protect, at 2:30 am Monday morning a healthy eight pound baby boy was born in the darkness with the doctors help roughly 5o miles due east of Rodanthe Village. Now 26 hours later and 100 miles due east of Kitty Hawk a flair lit up the night sky from the life boat at 4:28 am. Eight miles south was the USS Jesse Roper who saw the light and sped towards it finding 21 survivors from the City of New York plus one. A cargo net was draped over the side of the destroyer so all who were able could climb to safety. A stretcher was lowered for the baby and might have been the hardest part of the whole experience for Desanka when she had to send her child up alone, she then made the climb, the only other person to use the stretcher was an elderly woman. From there they safely made it to port in Norfolk Va. IMG_1835 It’s truly amazing and inspiring the things we are capable of when called on. Now as then these are confusing tough times. It’s hard to wrap your head around the destruction one person with a gun will do and they seem to do it more and more to innocent people. There are no words for what happened last Friday no words I can give to ease the pain the parents will live with. We need to raise our kids to be better than this and be in their lives, teach right and wrong and the privilege and responsibility of using a gun. I was brought up with a huge respect for guns. I couldn’t hold one until I was a certain age then I had to wait until I was older to fire one older yet before I could go hunting with out any supervision but really all along being supervised and taught real gun safety. maybe I’ll find it all different when my kids are older and I find myself so removed from there lives-moods-needs etc. and have no way of getting back in but I will always try. As parents we have a responsibility to not allow this to happen. breaks my heart  

#4 is done

Ready for delivery on Friday. It has a Helmsman Spar Urethane finish then past wax over that. The glue is the Titebond lll which I really like using on an assembly this big, it doesn’t set up as fast as their yellow glue so the risk of having a part freeze up before you get it all together isn’t as bad and it’s more water proof than the yellow Titebond ll, although the exterior pieces Ive made using the yellow have never failed at the glue joint. A seat rotted out on chair I made in the late 90’s the glue joints are still sound. It’s lived outside for the last four years with no finish on it and rain/snow water sits in the seat. I still use it.

If you click on this pic (you then have to click on it again) and blow it up you see a piece of metal under the arm rest in the seat, its a bullet probably a 22 cal there were three of them in this seat I didn’t know until I started planing and carving the seat. They were where the dark scars are. My hand plane irons cut right through the lead with out nicking the edge! I’ve planed over bullets before and they did nick the blade. It is a 200 year old tree, it’s seen some abuse.

                                   I’m ready to start another!!! who wants one!?!


As mentioned in the last post I started another settee, # 4. This will be the fourth one in three years. I want to make a few a year really one a month would be cool. They take about sixty hours to make. It’s very old school, the rout I take to achieve this.

I use the table saw, band saw and planer some but the majority of work is detail work.To me detail work involves hand tools and there are a lot of parts to these guys so your going over each piece a few times with different tools. I like this process, you start with the freshly cut tree, split out and prep your parts. Its the best when I have a surplus of stuff roughed out and dried down then its like going to a stocked kitchen and mix and match or come up with something different all together.


That said I am always open to speed the process up with out loosing much of the connection that doing things without power tools gives you. keeping it real to what it is, made from our natural surroundings to aid in our everyday to make us more comfortable and close to our natural surroundings.

I had some stainless steel plate cut for me over the summer to use on the boat where the outboard motor through bolts the transom.The washers and nuts were stressing the fiberglass too much and the force needed to be spread over a larger area. These pieces are to thick , had to go with thinner stock and it worked great, better than the thick 3/8″ ones would have. Expensive mistake so I’m glad to use the stuff up.

The tenons for the back spindles are 1/2″ in the seat and 3/8″ in the crest, there are 19 of them and its very time consuming fitting them with the spoke shave. By drilling a hole in the metal plate and then pounding with a heavy mallet the same size as the hole spindle( like a 1/2″ square) through a 1/2″ hole you get a dowel the size of the hole in the plate. I worked ok for the 3/8″ tenon but the 1/2″was still to big. Better too big than small. I drill with a brace and the bits I use are Irwin, they are a little bigger than a standard drill bit by a 32nd. the twist drill was 1/2 if I pounded them they would be loose so I made those at the shaving horse. It’s a good reference point to work from and that speeds thing up but isn’t the silver bullet to a perfect tenon every time. Just need to fiddle with other drill bits.

If you use hand tools regularly you need to sharpen a lot if you sharpen a lot you need to flatten your sharpening stones a lot. I have struggled and wasted time and stones throughout the years in the flattening process.Last year I bough the DMT lapping plate and it has saved me so much time, energy and most of all frustration, sharpening isn’t such an ordeal anymore. Cris Schwarz posted about his an you know it gets a workout.


Have you ever seen something that just blows you away!? Then to actually get said thing can be the best ever! doesn’t happen much but if you put yourself out there with an open mind wild things can come. Here’s hoping we all get a taste of the giant coookie.That’s all I got… I wanted to share this cookie moment.


This is a great pic, young Stevie and Ray, candid shots like this I love, makes me wish I could be there.

So I started another settee or “bench”




a seat for two or more persons, having a back and usually arms, and often upholstered.
1710–20;  perhaps variant of settle2
That’s simple enough, mine are never upholstered though.
 Then you got your bench, I use a bench to work on, it’s the most used tool or thing in my shop and any hand tool woodworker would be a little lost having to use someone else’s. Settee seems to be such an old world term, a bit stuffy even but bench with so many definitions has been around longer.
Bench— n
1. a long seat for more than one person, usually lacking a back or arms
2. a plain stout worktable
3. ( sometimes capital ) the bench
a. a judge or magistrate sitting in court in a judicial capacity
b. judges or magistrates collectively
4. sport  the seat on which reserve players and officials sit during a game
5. geology  a flat narrow platform of land, esp one marking a former shoreline
6. a ledge in a mine or quarry from which work is carried out
7. (in a gymnasium) a low table, which may be inclined, used for various exercises
8. a platform on which dogs or other domestic animals are exhibited at shows
9. ( NZ ) a hollow on a hillside formed by sheep
10. to provide with benches
11. to exhibit (a dog, etc) at a show
12. ( NZ ) to form (a track) up a hill by excavating a flattened area
13. ( US ), ( Canadian ) sport  to take or keep (a player) out of a game, often for disciplinary reasons
before 1000; Middle English, Old English benc;  cognate with Old Frisian benk, Old Saxon, Dutch, Old High German bank, Old Norse bekkr  < Germanic *bank-i-; see bank1
Any way I started another settee the other day. Dished the seat with the adze, inshave and travisher , by the way the pine for this seat was about two hundred years old when cut down a few years ago, beautiful stuff.
 Drilling the leg mortises into the seat using sighting aids- lines and a bevel gauge and square.
The legs and stretchers are made and drilled, still a long way to go.
I went to Davidsonville Maryland the other week to present a green woodworking demo at the Annapolis woodworkers guild. It was getting down to the wire with having some wood to take, I’ve had a tough time getting any suitable Oak logs this year. But thanks to Hurricane Sandy I have a few leads on blow downs, this one came from my father-in-laws just in time for the demo.
The other day I was doing firewood with the splitter and came across some figured red oak unexpectedly and it split surprisingly straight and predictable so I set a few aside for foot rest on the three legged stools.
                                           Keep your eyes on the prize!
“It mattered little what the weather was and scarcely more as to the time of the year, John Pike must have his fishing every day and on Sundays he read about it and made flies. All the rest of the time he was thinking about it. ” – R.D. Blackmore


Weird really weird. If you have visited this site lately you could not view the pages I created, the home page came up but the rest were generic. Talked to the good people at Blue Host and after a little head scratching they figured it a hack job gone wrong , they messed up the permalinks to this site before they could do any ?hacking? so says the tech’s.

Is that really what the kids do these days for mischief? or is it some guy in his moms basement? Dude pick up a hand plane and learn how to make it sing then make something original and cool.

More post to come.