Bubinga Sideboard Top Refinished

Sanding off the original finish

Around 2010 I built a sideboard using highly figured Bubinga. I was still in my experimenting with finishes stage. The top was too shiny for my taste, but I left it that way for a long time. Finally, I decided to refinish the top more to my liking.

Removed the top and sanded with 50 grit paper and proceeded through grits to 220. The original top also showed planer snipe at one end which was only visible in certain lighting angles. The sanding also removed the snipe. Thank you, very much.

Fresh matte finish and snipe removed

Finished with usual varnish/BLO/mineral spirits wipe on/wipe off procedure. Besides being more to my taste, I removed the wince that would cross my face every time I looked at that piece.

In response to Shawn’s query I looked at the original photo gallery (and the actual cabinet). Flipping through the images I see a number of processes that no longer fit my style. The hollow chisel mortiser is gone. Replaced that process with either uncut spiral bit in the router (with edge guide) or by hand with mortising chisel. I do not use a pattern router bit on curves any more. These days I’ll cut close to the line on band saw (as before) and then shape with planes, spokeshaves, rasps and sandpaper.

I do not ever expect to use the hidden Soss hinges again. They caused all sorts of issues. My solutions created rather weak stiles on the hinge sides as I had to round them over to gain clearance. These days I would use knife hinges.

Side pieces surface glued. Note figure on outside piece, more common figure on inner

Shawn asked of rationale for not using secondary wood for non-visible portions such as the case top (buried below the show top). I had enough of the fabulous Bubinga for the show top, sides, drawer fronts and door panels. “Regular” (but still nicely colored and patterned) material for the rest. Pure indulgence. For instance, the sides are built to 1-1/2 inches thick from the figured material on outside and regular, but lovely material, on the inside of the sandwich. That is hidden below the top (above) and the legs (front view), but it was fun to do it that way. The inside surface is visible when you have the door(s) open.

Interestingly the hardwood dealer (Soboba) charged the same for the highly figured material as the regular Bubinga. When I saw it in his shop, I immediately got out my checkbook without a specific use in mind. 

I used Philippine Mahogany for top row of drawer runners (aka web frame). Also used P.M. for drawer sides and bottoms as well as the back ship lapped back slats. Legs of Padauk.


Tortuga Bay, 2006

Palm trees, white sand beaches and turquoise sea

Tortuga Bay Hotel, endowed with miles of stunning, white-sand beaches on the eastern shores of the Dominican Republic, is poised to become a favored retreat for those seeking the truly exceptional. Their commitment to service begins when you arrive at Punta Cana Airport, the world’s only privately built and owned international airport, where you are greeted, whisked through immigration, your bags are collected and you are on a private shuttle. Ten minutes later your personal villa manager is helping you settle in. Responsible for just two villas, he remains just a page away. The attractive staff is genuine and generous with their time and attention, a reflection of the dedication and vision of co-founder and president, Frank Rainieri. His love affair with this land and his devotion to responsible stewardship is manifested throughout the 15,000 acres under his watch.

Frank Rainieri and Tom Buhl at La Yola

While impressive development continues, guests can feel the care taken to do it the right way rather rampant building for the sake of having rooms to fill. Creating their own international airport, partnering with Cornell University on a 1,500-acre ecological research park and providing a K through 12th grade bi-lingual school are just a few symbols of the thought and consideration at work here. Characteristically, the school’s tuition is based on salary, so that sons and daughters of housekeeping attend classes with the founder’s grandchildren.

Oscar de la Renta designed living space

We loved the Oscar de la Renta-designed stylish and spacious villas. A two-bedroom configuration is over 3,000 square feet. The layout is equally comfortable for a quiet evening with family or for hosting a formal reception. Each bedroom suite has its own coralline stone bathroom featuring Jacuzzi bath and glass-enclosed shower, walk-in closet and double French doors opening to the large, ocean-view patio. With only fifteen villas gracing this lovely setting, privacy and security are ensured. Visit www.puntacana.com and use the Tortuga Bay Hotel link.

Faces of New Orleans, 2007

This colorful character seemed to be everywhere. Later Gastil and I used this image for our I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival chalk art.

I attended the 7th Annual Satchmo Summerfest in New Orleans [August, 2007].  Staying at Harrah’s near the French Quarter, I savored the sounds, sights and people. A jazz mass at historic St. Augustine’s was followed by a second line parade to a multi-stage festival venue that swung all day and into the evening. Great fun.





Gastil-Buhl Wedding

Center Stage Box Office, downtown Santa Barbara

Center Stage Theater was the scene of the Gastil-Buhl wedding, September 18, 2005. Friends and family gathered in a circle as Aunt Sandi officiated the ceremony, Julie and her friends provided uplifting music and several of our dear friends shared readings to reinforce our wedding pledges. As Gastil and Tom left the circle as a married couple the curtain closed on Act I.

A ring for the finger

Refreshments were served on the patio as the stage was prepared for Act II.  Magically, the wedding circle had converted to cafe seating and a small dance floor. We shared a lovely meal as toasts were offered in recognition Tom and Gastil’s marriage.

A big thank you to Cindy Clark for taking the photographs of the event. Preparation and set up images were taken by Tom.


Memorial Meeting for R. Russell Gordon Gastil [1928 – 2012]

Gordon prepares to make THE catch

These photos are from the Memorial Meeting for Worship held at the San Diego Friends Center, San Diego, October 27, 2012. 
A legacy web site containing more photographs, memories from friends and colleagues and biography may be found at:
http://memorialwebsites.legacy.com/gordongastil/Homepage.aspx. That site will be active until Oct. 11, 2013 (longer it seems).

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.