December Adjustments

Referencing back to ‘October Organizations‘, specifically the piles of wood on the right, there are positive functional adjustments.

This may look devil-may-care, but far from it really. Pieces requiring proper stacking are stacked (ok, that was hasty), the pile itself can be circumnavigated, and the long table top aspect is at the right height to double as a temporary workbench.

Here it is layered in protective scrap 2 x 8’s. It served nicely to harvest boards from the wiggly cherry standing in the background.

Primitive Joys

A few years ago the floor in the pantry of my 200+ year old house fell in. The old paint had strong sense of having served admirably, and the wood was surprisingly viable. Couldn’t toss it.

Cleaning the barn this past month I decided to do something with the old boards I’d saved. How much utility will be garnered, that’s quite unclear. The process however, and the naive delight of just making something(s), those make it all worth it.

October Organizations

Began with clean up of the barn. A great pile of wood, long at the center of the barn, was sorted. Cinder blocks were allocated, 2 x 8’s were cut. A place in the basement was made and they were set atop the 2 x 8’s that in turn were set atop the cinder blocks, all in reverse order of course. This activity, un-pictured, caused the usual reaction by the local wooden Buddha community.

and how could it not be so, will such a magnitude of space liberated in which to exercise freedom?

Now what to do with such freedom? Heavens, there really are no limits except time and strength and blood and vision, boundless really. I guess then to reach heavenward, at least colloquially, a good first step.

There was a ten foot long wooden pallet that had arrived earlier in the summer. It spoke of not being garbage, of wanting to be involved in a higher enterprise. So be it, my ready answer, a trellis thou shalt become –

Probably sixteen more slats before fit for deployment. There is a small plateau on the southwest side of the yard, the grapevine plateau, all of 18′ x 10′ that seethes with grapevines, also bittersweet, Boston ivy, woody nightshade, a great richness of vines. The trellis will be set there to host a great dance of coexistence.

Stay tuned.

Orb Support

To be happy as a delicate glass bubble you must earnestly hope that the world around you offers proper support.

You may recall a few years ago the construction of a (naive) orb support from an old hand-hewn beam. A proud thing but not deep on design to resist the rage and power of rot. Rot gripped viciously from below, the scraps shown here –

Orb support, some might say that this is what folks do, protect their delicate orbs so carefully, indeed, I felt compelled as well. I had some pressure treated wood lying about. After chopping off the rotted base I affixed it.

The prospect of a better world can be enticing, of course. Rather than a cross a windmill, not for any symbolic reason, simply to avoid any further hacking into the central column.

By this endeavor an interval has been purchased. Absent some graver and more particular calamity the support should last for, hmm, my bet is a decade, I could lose that bet. We never really know the weather.

Not lilac

Sumac has a bit of a curly/twisty growth habit, as does lilac. They’re quite different woods, the former soft and brown green, the latter hard and white purple. Old dead things though, I was clearing old brush and thought I had a great old lilac and that the wood had discolored with age. Not so. It took surprisingly long to clear the misapprehension.

I did make a knife/stirrer out of a piece.

It was the working characteristics, and the absence of the very distinctive smell of lilac wood, that finally hipped me to the present reality. It’s funny how strongly a (potentially false) first impression shapes belief.

It’s staghorn sumac. Not really the right kind of wood for a kitchen implement, but then again I only made it thinking it was lilac. This is one way a nonesuch can be born.

Peace, Love, Joy, and


You may recall the temporary ‘rescue‘ of a butter knife blade from the dustbin of history. That went well for a year or two but the wood selected for the handle was a trifle punky, the whole solution did not well resist the delicately tenacious influence of frequent washing. We don’t surrender here, though. Such indignities will not be suffered whilst there is power yet within us. No, we will fix the tools, we will raise the banner, we will march forward, and not only that, but with peace, love, joy, and humor.

The wood here is some non-endangered tropical hardwood, an ipe or ipe cousin perhaps. I had a nice scrap of it lying around. The blades are again Meriden cutlery.

My father’s father was a type-setter for the New York Daily News. He died when I was but a year old. I was told that in his role he was the final editor. Could you imagine, having to set blocks to stamp ink on paper? Manually adjusting micro-spacing? As I used these old letter punches I began to imagine.

The three knives pictured all had the same (short round) tang. Cutting the narrow handle blocks and centering the place for said tang took a little more precision than I usually deliver. A few tries, a old Chinese drill press, got it done with approximate correctness.

The last one, which was the one that had formerly been rescued, had a short flat tang. I tried a sawdust/glue mixture to fill the gaps, that worked fine for adhesion, but not so gracefully for the stamping.

You can see the cracks introduced, yet maybe this was a graceful turn, a suggestion from the universe (if one like to talk that way). I ran with it on the other side.

Surely you can follow.

Zebrawood Napkin Holder

Not too many of these. I was almost willing to bet that a search for “Zebrawood Napkin Holder” would whiff Google, but nay, one result.

There it is in the making. Quarter inch black walnut dowels will go down and across.


Deployed. Nothing learned here but at least avoided were the many common and hideous representations of mediocrity that often fill the function.

Not a birdhouse

Verily, as so many things are not birdhouses. The overwhelming majority, in fact.

But it looks like it might want to be a birdhouse, yes? This cannot be said of most things.

Fact is that it is to be a soap dish. You can see the soap dish that it will replace on the right. The old one was pine on the bottom and cedar on the side. This is teak on the bottom and red birch on the sides. The key design improvement is the orientation into the corner. The old one wanted to pull off the wall. This one will resist that inclination as it anchors on two walls. Wood joined with dowels. Impervious to rust.

There it is, deployed. MTBF perhaps 5 years.

Spoon 6

of lilac. Endeavor had a hanger-on as well, a stirrer knife thing. Stirrer knife thing failed.

Easily roughed with jigsaw, Arbortech ball gouge, hand tools.

The stirrer knife started with promise but lilac is often twisty and cracks follow those twists in the drying.

Next showing what the stirrer knife had to be reduced to in order to get around the cracks.

The thinness at the middle was not strong enough, even though lilac is a tough wood, again due to … micro-flaws!.

Nonetheless the spoon was deployed and now serves happily. The failed implement will help kindle some future fire.