The Henry Ford Museum

Wonderful World of Charles & Ray Eames

On my July 2018 Michigan visit we went to The Henry Ford several times. On the 3rd we enjoyed a pleasant evening listening to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the U.S. Army Field Band & Soldiers’ Chorus. The fireworks display began as Tchaikovsky’s Ouverture Solennelle 1812 was concluding. Accompanying canon fire provided by 19th century field pieces [some authentic, others reproductions, but even those are over 100 years old]. That is always a great time to spend with family and friends and a few thousand potential friends.

Tea time at Cotswold Cottage

The museum featured THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF CHARLES & RAY EAMES as well as the usual wide-ranging exhibits and samples of (mostly) American life over the years.

Strolling Greenfield Village is always a treat on my Michigan visits. Below are a number of images from this year’s visits.


Schafer High School, Class of 1964 Gathering

Carol (Blades) Rillema, Tom Buhl & Anita (Denman) Sohn. Photo by Susan Bentley.

Big Bear Lodge was once again the site of the Schafer High School class of 1964 summer gathering. It was wonderful to see familiar faces as well as those many of us have not seen since 1964 – which is somewhat a long time ago.

Fred Pellegrene & Rick Kujala

We enjoyed catching up, swapping school memories and basically enjoying time together. Heartfelt smiles were the evening’s theme. A special treat this year was spending time with our favorite history teacher, Fred Pellegrene. A major shout out to Rich Kulaja for making that happen.

 Grace (Koster) Hall and Susan Bentley once again earned our gratitude for making this annual event a reality. A tip of the hat also goes to those who assisted our organizers and to all who attended. Thank you class of 1964.

If any of the photo captions have inaccuracies let myself, Grace or Sue know and we shall promptly take care of it. Keep checking your email Inbox for announcements from Grace and Sue regarding future events. 


Small Bench/Cabinet – The Finish & Finished

Initial coat being wiped on the underside of the top. Note the Buhl diamond carved with V-chisel.

The small, but robust, bench/cabinet is ready for shipping. Six coats of my usual varnish oil blend was applied with rag, wet sanded and wiped off. This creates a pleasant to the eye and touch finish to the piece.

Ready for shipping.

Overall dimensions approximately 21 x 13 x 14 inches weighing in at 25 pounds. Sides, back and fronts began as 8/4 stock to yield about 1-1/2 inch thick material less the curvature of front and back surfaces. Legs about 2 x 2 inches and the top just over one inch thick. Top is secured by stub tenons (on legs) and four figure eight fasteners.

Small bench/cabinet – top

Cut slight curves on each edge at the band saw.

The top for this piece uses my old-growth, sinker Honduras Mahogany from Greener Lumber, LLC. One edge (one side only) had some severe cracks and voids. I filled those with tinted epoxy, then milled the top. After cutting to overall dimensions, I created gentle curves on each edge. Those cuts were cleaned up with rasps and sandpaper followed by routing a round over both top- and under-side.

Ready for finishing after final sanding.

The legs have fat, stub tenons so corresponding mortises were cut with a straight router bit and chisel. A Buhl-diamond was cut on the underside with V-chisel and final sanding prepared the piece for finishing.



Small Bench-Cabinet – The Case

Case dry fit prior to leg and surface shaping. Rather clunky looking, but that should improve as I proceed.

I am revisiting a design for the fourth time. Each time offers opportunity to refine or experiment. The overall look has stayed consistent (after the initial prototype) with slight alterations in materials, dimensions or techniques.

This version uses 8/4 cherry for sides and faces. The legs are H. Mahogany which was not a great choice this time. I usually seek rift-sawn material for legs, which this was supposed to be but, alas, it was not. The material itself was rather soft and did not take tooling well. Besides tear out, it just wanted to be fuzzy. I had selected and milled the legs prior to choosing the 8/4 cherry. That cherry would have been great for the legs. Next time!

Below are pix of the process of putting together and shaping the case. Subsequent post(s) will cover drawer creation and other details including the show top. Drawer front half-blind dovetails had to be made prior to shaping the curve. That process will be shown in the drawer post. Typically posts are sequential, but there will be a bit of jumping around this time.

I am currently applying the finish. The small but robust piece is a surprise gift for friends.

Office Roubo at the finish line

Assembled workbench prior to final top sanding and finishing.

The leg-to-top joinery was checked and declared ready to go. Once dry assembled, I trimmed the tenons with hand saw and re-verified fit. Final sanding and pre-finish applied to base components, the underside and edges of the top. 

The workbench was assembled in my office to avoid squeezing through doors and obstructions our home offers. Once knocked together the top received final sanding and two (or was it three?) coats of oil/varnish finish.

Base for tool cabinet showing half-lap joinery

The bench is not glued together so it may be knocked apart in the future. Should be solid enough for my endeavors. Friction and gravity will be sufficient.

My intent and plan (at least at some point in the design process) was for the existing tool cabinet to rest on the stretchers. However, somewhere along the way that objective was lost. The cabinet was not deep enough to rest on the stretchers. So I had to create a new base. Cut up an old Philippine Mahogany desk to create a simple base using half lap joinery. This base is (mostly) hidden from view. 

That my friends, is a wrap.

Office Roubo Top Mortises

Base positioned on top to mark mortise locations

With the top glued up and dog holes bored, it was time to make the through mortises for the legs and base assembly. The base is assembled (no glue) and held square with clamps. 2x4s were half lapped as temporary upper stretchers to eliminate possibility of legs splaying. The half laps matched the lower stretchers.

The base is positioned on the top (underside) and leg tenons (and dovetails) marked. First up were the rectangular mortises. Chisel v-cuts avoided blow out when the boring waste. I used a 3/8-inch boring bit to drill multiple holes halfway down, then flipped the top and drilled from the other direction. After boring, a mortise chisel cleaned out bulk of remaining waste followed by wider chisel to clean up edges.

After cuts with backsaw a mortise chisel makes quick work of the waste.

The dovetail slots were cut just shy of the boundary line and then relief cuts made in the waste area. Those cuts made chopping bulk of waste an easy and fun process. A wide chisel pared to the angled lines, followed by combination of chisel and route plane to create a flat and perpendicular surface. Test fitting, followed by tweaking kept me entertained and challenged.

Office Roubo Top Prep

Glue up three sections

The top will be about 2-3/4 inches thick, 21 deep and 37 long. Made laminates from 8/4 cherry. After milling, I glued up in three section for easier handling. Dog holes were bored then the sections were glue together. I attempted to keep them well-aligned at glue up to minimize further flattening. Result was close enough that sanding with ROS took care of ridges.

Hand saw work

I trimmed the ends with hand saw. For the first side I used a batten, but not with satisfactory results. Even with a guide (batten) there is a learning curve … which I have not mastered, obviously. Required considerable, tedious chisel cleanup. The other side I drew my guideline and another AVOID GOING THIS FAR OFF line 1/16 inch inside the real line. Sawed to the line with reasonable results. 

Next up, mortises for leg assembly.

Office Roubo Leg Joinery

Each leg has double through tenons that will go into the workbench top. I left the tenons about 1/8 inch proud for handling. Will trim flush after final assembly. The outer tenon has a dovetail shape and is open at its narrow face to create a flush surface between the edge of top, face of leg and face of long stretchers. Pretty cool. 

That matching mortise in the top is pretty fragile. Pushing the tenons home did break out the sharp corners in several places. I patched a few, but mostly left it looking rustic.

Stretchers with faces cut. Upper and lower shoulder still to be created.

The lower stretchers have fat tenons which require double pass with my 3/8 inch spiral router bit. I had considerable burning as that bit (since replaced) was rather fried from previous efforts. The burned walls are not visible when assembled and they can’t impact glue bond as I am not glueing the workbench. Semi-knock apart style. Good joinery and plenty of gravity should hold it sound and stable.