Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Marc Spagnuolo’s Coming up in 2012 post struck a chord with me.  There’s something empowering about calling out what you plan to do in the next year.  I think that’s the essence of a resolution that I’d never really understood.  In the last couple days since reading his post, my plans for the year have been constantly on my mind.  So, in order to do the same, I’m calling out my plans for the year.

New Workshop Setup

In October, my fiancé Vanessa and I bought a house.  One of the top priorities in our search was good shop space for me.   The house we ended up with has a 20’x20′ room on the ground floor for my shop plus a small 2 car garage.  Because we live in California, there’s no question about cars (not) living in garages. This lets me put my lumber storage, jointer, and planer in the garage leaving me with a reasonably spacious and beautiful workspace.

I’ve already made a lot of progress towards setting things up.  I had new circuits installed (a 30A@220VAC, 20A@220VAC, and a 20A@110VAC in both the garage and main shop.)  I hung a healthy amount of shop lighting.  I installed a Clear Vue CV1800 and ran ducting throughout the power tool area.  And, I setup a computer workstation with a large flatpanel so I can watch woodworking videos and look at plans from anywhere in my shop.

A few things have found permanent places but I’m still primarily working out of boxes of tools.   An outfeed table and storage cabinet under the tablesaw extension wing will give much needed storage to the power tool area while some closet organization will lend harmony to the hand tool and assembly areas.


One of the many things I left at the old apartment was my bench.  It was a massive, sturdy thing I inherited form a previous roommate who used it for sewing.  While it was passible for hand tool work, I’ve known for a while that a new bench was in the near future (see the end of Episode 02.)

Chris Schwarz and Shannon Rodgers have pretty well convinced me to build a French (Roubo) style workbench.  It’s simple, massive, and accommodates almost every board holding challenge you can throw at it.  To add pudding onto the galette, The Woodwhisper Guild is doing a derivative bench for this winter’s build.

My particular flavor of french treat will include a solid top,  some traditional japanese joinery, and the Hovarter Custom leg and wagon vises.  The lumber (stacked in the shop panoramic above) will be douglass fir.

Milling and top construction should start this week!

Kitchen Island Countertop

Hands down the worst part of our new kitchen is the center island.  It’s counter top is made of some tiles that I can only assume are trying to masquerade as potato chips.  Cutting boards can do little but wobble on the surface.  Our plan is to pull this top off and replace it with a laminated, long grain butcher block.  Vanessa has asked for this as a birthday present (on January 28th) so the time pressure’s on.  Thankfully it should be a fairly quick weekend project.


Bedside Tables

Along with a new house, comes a new house’s worth of furniture to build.  Our bedroom is the least well furnished of all the rooms and given how much time we spend there each day, it’s the obvious first candidate.  Bedside tables are a nice simple place to start.  I’m thinking something in cherry inspired by Harvey Ellis’ work for Gustav Stickley and the Limbert Side Table Shannon built.

Chest of Drawers

A chest of drawers is high on the list of furniture that Vanessa threatens to buy from Ikea.  While the many drawers make it a bit more daunting that the bedside tables, it will make a good followup.  The design will compliment bedside tables and will likely be heavily influenced by The No. 913 Bureau that Harvey Ellis designed for Gustav Stickley.

Film More Videos

This is the most “New Years Resolutionary” of all my plans.  I really enjoyed filming, editing, and releasing my first two videos last year.  With all projects planned, I’ll have plenty of content to publish many more this year.

Happy New Year and happy woodworking!

I bet that many drug addicts can look back on their lives and pick out the moment when everything changed.  When they went from being an occasional user to being an addict.  When their priorities shifted and the cost of the habit didn’t pose the barrier it once did.  I think today I reached that point in my life.  My drug: wood. 

It started off innocently enough, as most periods of experimentation do.  I knew I liked wood.  I’d even began to acquire a taste for the good stuff.  I’d driven almost an hour to the dodgy part of the bay area (San Jose) to visit Global Wood Source.  I came back, $50 poorer, with a striking piece of figured maple. It had that bumpy, lenticular, pattern that you’d find on school supplies in the 90’s.  With aspirations of veneering drawer fronts dancing in my head, that board was added to my modest lumber stack.

A single event does not a habit form.  No harm, no foul.  I can quit any time… until tonight.  I was doing rough layout for the Wood Whisperer Guild Adirondack Chair build when I realized I’d been taken in by my lust for wood at the lumber yard last weekend.

What did it wasn’t that I’d decided to make outdoor furniture out of Mahogany…. That’s excusable.  The Greene brothers would roll over in their cloud lifted, proud box jointed, ebony plugged graves if I did any different.  What tipped me over the edge were those few beautiful ribbon stripe boards amongst the FSC honduran mahogany.  I saw those and it was over.  Any sense of grain, color, pattern matching was out the window.  I set those aside, picked the rest of my boards, and loaded up my Subaru with my junk proudly hanging out the back hatch.  I was soaring high with my new score.  When I got home I pulled my girlfriend away from her homework to flaunt my stash.

Then came the hangover.  Those same gorgeous ribbon stripe boards tonight became a problem.  They just wouldn’t fit into the chairs.  They weren’t wide enough to make the backs.  I didn’t have enough to glue up into panels.  I spent hours pouring over them trying to fit them into the chairs without standing out.  Finally admitting defeat, I decided to shelve the boards and head back to the lumber yard this weekend to find replacements that would match the others.  No big deal.  After all, those ribbon stripe boards would make some killer panels in some cabinet doors… right…




It’s over.  I’m now a full fledged wood addict.  In the imortal words of Hunter S. Thompson “once you get into a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can”

A month an a half ago I began an experiment.

My observations:

Being at work added stress to my day.  I like my job, but it can get real intense.

Being in my shop reduces stress in my day.

Having flexible work hours, my schedule tended towards getting in late and staying late.  By the time I got home, it was too late to run any power tools.

That morning, six weeks ago, I found myself rushing to get some work done on a project before leaving for work.  Not only was I rushed, but I was stressing about getting into work “late.”  On the drive into work I realized I had it all backwards.  I should put the activity that reduces stress after the one that adds it.

My hypothesis:

If I shift my day so that I can spend time in my shop after work, I’ll be a happier Erik.

Science in hand, I set my alarm for 7:00am and the next morning was on the 7:45 shuttle to work.  I arrived earlier that I ever have, including the first day of HR indoctrination.

My data:

Preliminary data supports my hypothesis.  The past month and a half have been great.  I finished my wall hanging cabinet build in time to give it to my mom on mother’s day.  My girlfriend has noticed a calmer Erik that has a schedule closer to hers.

So, here I am, “better,” reflecting on what inspired me to push my woodworking to the forefront of my life.

It wasn’t Norm.  It wasn’t Roy.  It wasn’t David.

It was Marc.  It was Shannon. It was Matt.  It was Chris.

These are our heros of the new age of woodworking.  In an age where facebook and twitter have replaced TV, these are the people that will be inspiring the next generation.

I find these blogs, these podcasts, these videos so compelling I had to try my hand at it.  I’m going to start modestly with some blog posts.  With luck I might work my way up to some videos.  I’m making a commitment to chronicle my way though the next Guild Build and the Hand Tool School as well as some random musings and experiences along the way.  After that’s done, I’ll take a look back and see if this blogging thing’s working out for me.

I’m not done decorating yet but hop along for the ride and we’ll see where this train ends up.