Small Table – Old-growth Honduras Mahogany

Small table of Honduras Mahogany salvaged from Belize rivers by Greener Lumber, LLC.

A small table with floating top is one of the few designs I have built several times. The heights vary and some small tweaks in other dimensions to suit material on hand. This particular version was made for a Michigan friend.

Mortises were cut on legs with 3/8-inch spiral uncut router bit and edge guide. Tenons created to fit using dado stack on the table saw before shaping. At this time the ship lap notches were cut for the overlapping stretchers.

The shapes at top of legs was done in several steps. Rough miters (45 degrees) were cut with backsaw, then taken close to layout lines with chisel and final smoothing with sanding block(s). The leg bottoms received a small bevel with block plane. Stretcher curves cut with bandsaw and cleaned up with spokeshaves and sandpaper.

The one-piece top (roughly 14 x 16 inches) was too wide for my jointer, so I used a No. 7 jointer plane to create one side capable of being stable as feed through the drum sander. There was a large missing chunk on one edge. I kept that as part of the table’s character, but did clean up some of the punk material with carving gouges. A Buhl-diamond was carved on the underside with a V-gouge.

After final sanding and easing of edges my usual oil-varnish blend was applied in multiple wipe on, wet sanded and rubbed out coats. Perhaps eight coats total. 

First finish coat going on the underside of top. Note punk area and the Buhl-diamond.

The legs, stretchers and top were packed in a suitcase and taken to Michigan for final assembly and glue-up. Hide glue was used for the mortise and tenons and four screws driven up through the upper stretchers into the top hold things together. 

Working outside of my usual environment muddled my brain and I mixed up the stretchers. I did not catch this major mistake until after the glue had set up. Knocking it apart split one stretcher in half. So before doing a rebuild I had to glue that together. Not a perfect fit, but hopefully, it will hold up for at least one generation.

It was delivered to my friend on the streets of Detroit near the Wayne State University campus. I trust it is enjoying its new home in the big city.


House Industries at The Henry Ford Museum

Entry to the House Industries exhibit

While in Michigan this summer I visited the House Industries exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum. Marvelous presentation of stunning visuals, a trip down a typographer’s memory lane and exploration of the creative process.

“Out-of-the-Box” is a phrase commonly used. But how do we incorporate that in our problem solving, designs and critical thinking? Is it just being weird? The House exhibit offers insights into their journey and perhaps nudge you along a richer path in your own.

I never created an alphabet nor did I do much hand lettering, but I sure love insights into those processes. Seeing a collection of fun or wild fonts often feels like shopping in a large store. Too many choices and not enough context. This exhibit give context to the process and the results. Excellent.

Traverse City & Long Lake 2017

Don & Kathy’s home on Long Lake

Skid, Kathy and I took a quick trip “up north” to visit cousin Don and Kathy this July. Their home is on Long Lake in Traverse City area.

Gallery is mostly from our boat ride around Long Lake and connected, Mickey Lake. Also some images of the home.

Don’s sister, Shelly and her grandson joined us for the afternoon. Good times with good people.

I Madonnari 2017

The 2017 featured artist at the base of the mission steps.

The 2017 I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival was held this past weekend. I was a participating artist in twenty-five of these events, but between knee and shoulder replacements I have retired…or transitioned to being part of the all-important audience. Camera in hand, I joined hundreds of others at the Santa Barbara Mission mid-day Saturday to catch the early stages of this marvelous event.

The Mission Santa Barbara, home of the I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival.

My Aunt Sandi was in town for the first two days. Fun to share this tradition with her. The images below were taken Saturday and Sunday of this three-day festival. There will be another post of images taken early Monday evening when the artists had completed their magic. This festival has been held for thirty-one years. Make your plans to join us next year over the Memorial Day weekend

April 29, 2017 Ballroom Dance

Gastil and Tom ready for a slow waltz

On the first anniversary of the Gastil-Buhl 70th Birthday Dance Party, we attended the recently revived, monthly City Parks & Recreation 4th (or 5th) Saturday Ballroom Dance.

These Carrillo Ballroom dances are hosted by a rotation of popular dance instructors. April’s dance was hosted by the fabulous Kookie. She lead an hour-long Samba lesson followed by two hours of social dancing.  Kookie put together a play list of recorded music for waltz, foxtrot, Viennese waltz, quickstep, rumba, cha cha, swing (Lindy and West Coast), salsa and hustle.

Tom, Crosby and Lila. Honored to be with two special youngsters.

Besides dancers, a number of Tom’s  friends came by to share birthday wishes. We enjoyed a surprise visitor from Colorado, Lila Ferguson, Crosby’s dear friend since Montessori days.

I danced a bit (waltz and foxtrot), took lots of photos and smiled often. It was a great evening. Gastil’s teacher, Vasilly Golovin (Dance Fever Studios), attended as well as a number of other instructors and high-level dancers. The floor handled all of us, from beginners (me and my kind), through intermediate level and the brilliant, experienced dancers. 

Tom and Crosby doing a slow waltz at the legendary Carrillo Ballroom.

After the dance I went to La Arcada Bistro for a pint of Guinness and a sip (or two) of Willie Quinn’s favorite (value) Irish whiskey with long-time friends Larry and Betty.

A grand evening, appropriate to celebrate the first anniversary of my 70th birthday. A gallery of images is below.

Penny Collector Frame, finished

The Penny Collector poster nestled into its new home.

The Penny Collector poster is ready for hanging in my office. I carved a simple Buhl-diamond on the backside of the top rail with V-gouge. Then finished with multiple, thin coats of Tru-Oil finish. I may take the sheen down a bit after it is fully cured with light 0000 steel wool buffing  or I may leave it as is. Time will tell. I found out about Tru-Oil from the BenchCrafted blog []. Jameel’s blog and BenchCrafted are at the top of my list for insights and inspiration.

Cherry plywood for backer

I wanted to make the backer from material on hand. Made one using left-over teak plywood. Liked the look (not that it will matter facing the wall), but the board had severe cup which would stress the hardware holding it in place. Oh, btw, I used two figure-eight connectors for that task.

Next I dug out some cherry plywood left over from one earliest projects (before I swore off plywood). The figure is not particularly pleasing, but it will amuse the spiders as they spin their webs in the dark.

The glass was cut to size (12 x 18) at my local glass shop and placed along with the poster and backer into position. Then it was photo time.

If you missed part one of this short series, this letterpress poster was from Carrie Elkin [] as part of her Kickstarter campaign for THE PENNY COLLECTOR.

Penny Collector Frame, p2 – Glue up and repairs

Epoxy time

We left the last post with a destroyed lower rail. Before attempting a patch, I felt it necessary to stabilize that rail from the back side. Flowed lots of West Systems epoxy into the rotted areas, but did not attempt to level the surface. Once cured I sanded any epoxy above the rail’s plane.

Drawing rail shapes

I drew a curve for the upper rail as well as angled ends of each rail then blended those with rounded corners. Cut the angles and curves at the bandsaw and cleaned up with rasps and sanding. I also drilled a shallow hole which will have a shiny penny placed once everything is complete. 

Dry fit test. Shows hole for penny and the destruction to the right side of the lower rail.

Here you can see the consequence of the destruction. My material supply was pretty limited but I found a piece to create a full-width patch. After gluing the frame I routed a shallow rabbet to capture the patch. When gluing the patch in place I did not notice it had slipped away from the cavity. I used liquid hide glue so was able to apply water and prying to remove the patch.

Patch number two

However, the fragile patch did not survive. Next I made a patch of two separate pieces which matched each other pretty well, though not as well at the ledge as my first attempt. Glued those into place while paying better attention this time. The patch was sanded level with the ledge of original material and edges cleaned up. 

After a final sanding it was time to begin finishing. Jameel of BenchCrafted had blogged of Tru-Oil a while back. I tried it for one of my Esherick-style music stands and liked the look. No sure I would do a large piece that way. But this would be a good opportunity give it another look. 

Next up: Putting it all together