Archive for ‘General’

Frame for Dad

By , 25 April, 2013, 1 Comment

Framed Picture of DadMy father passed away in 2000.  A lot of favorite pictures exist of my father, and one was a photo of him in his military uniform.  In this picture, he appears to be so young, and more than a bit sure of himself. The eyes tell the entire story.  I learned to read my Dad’s eyes from a very young age, and it was never difficult to know when he was angry, amused or affectionate. The fascination with this picture is the really young fella with my Dad’s eyes.

A few months back, Mom took the old black and white photo down and had enlarged copies made for each of us three kids.  Mine has been propped up against the wall, sitting on the edge of my desk.  I enjoyed having it there, but I feared damaging it.  Obviously it was time for a frame.

I rounded up some white oak pieces that I had left from another project, and cut them up for a frame to fit a 5 x 7 photo and glued them up.  I started with 1 1/2 inch wide material.  After looking at the photo and the frame it was clear to me that the frame needed to be more narrow.  I cut it down to 3/4 of an inch.

Next came the finish options.  I considered natural, but that did not seem appropriate. Classic dark brown and golden brown were not right, but black seemed like it would fit a black and white photo.  But, then if I wanted black, I could go to one of 100 stores and buy a black frame.  I had a number of General Dyes on my shelf, with colors including yellow, orange, blue and browns.  I dyed samples of each and eyeballed them against the photo.  Not quite right.

I ended up mixing equal parts of yellow and blue to get a green which matched the army green color of Dad’s uniform.  I liked the color except it was a bit light and the pores of the wood were not accepting the dye well deep into their bottoms.  To compensate for the two issues, I bought a very cheap black artist acrylic paint.  After spraying on a light coat of shellac, I rubbed the entire frame with the paint, I wiped it down and let it dry.  I finished it with a couple coats of finish, and I was happy with the look.

I went to the store and bought a cheap frame and took the glass and the back from it which would allow me to prop Dad’s picture up like a photo should be.  Unfortunately it does not fit where I had it for the past couple of months and I will have to find him a new home.  But he will look good anywhere he sits, and those eyes talk to me every time I look into them.



Dying With Water

By , 24 August, 2011, No Comment

In my new shop, I am far from being ready to do any serious work, so I have been experimenting some with the combination of water-based wood dyes and oil stains.  The combination of the two stains can give your wood grain an appearance boost from what I read.  I thought I would take advantage of this downtime in my shop to do some experimenting.

So far, frustrations reign.  My normal process is to sand the wood to a very nice state and then stain.  Water-based dyes raise the grain on what was a nice smooth piece of wood.  So sanding is required again.  This is bad.

I consulted some of the woodworkers on a Greene and Greene forum for advice and got some good responses.  I am close to being ready to try another sample, so I will try some of the tips that I got from the group.

I want this to work.  I have seen some of the value already from my first experiments, and I like some of what I am seeing.

Right now, I am using products from General Finishes if you want to check out their product line.  Also a link to their how-to page.

I am going to include a couple of the links passed along to me for others to read as well.

Dorset Custom Furniture

Jeff Jewitt

Fine Woodworking

Charles Niel

 The Wood Whisperer


By , 19 July, 2011, No Comment
New Shop Area

New Shop Area

My wife and I moved a couple of weeks ago into the city of Omaha.  After living 25 miles north in the country for 7 years, adjustments and unpacking are taking place everywhere.

The long pull for me will be the workshop.  Although small, my former shop matured to the point where I knew where things were and the items were accessible.  In the old shop, I concentrated on working the wood.  In my new shop I am stepping over things and barely able to get to the wood.

The unfinished basement needs to be walled off and separated from the piles of items that still don’t have a place, or may never have a place.  There is one pathetic light fixture, and two outlets.  Few projects will be made until I get to work building the shop.  That is unfortunate since the house has need of many woodworking projects.

I am planning on a workshop that I can enjoy for years, so lots of work ahead.


By , 31 March, 2011, 1 Comment

Readers of this blog, apart from my family, probably already know the name of James Krenov.  He passed away September 10, 2009.  Some consider Mr. Krenov to have been among our greatest contemporary furniture makers and teachers.  Sadly, I cannot say that I ever met the man in person, nor do I anticipate every owning one of his highly valued pieces.

But, I do own two of his books.  I am currently reading The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking published originally in 1977 when he would have been about 55 years old.  I am finding this book a challenge to read, because it is so inspiring that I can only read about 2-3 pages at a time before I am fired up to get back into the shop.  I see wood differently, and I see making something from wood differently when I read his books.

He communicates thoughts and feelings and ideas rather than presenting plans and joints.  My wife read the first book and thoroughly enjoyed the book.  She is not a woodworker.  But the man is a fascinating read.  He seems to have written down so many of my thoughts and feelings.  How amazing to find someone that expresses what you feel and think.

For example, with a couple of my projects, I have struggled greatly with details and many steps in the projects caused me much stress.  I found myself distraught with fears of ruining a piece.  I then needed to take a half hour or hour break before I could continue.  My next experience might be euphoric as I saw such beauty in the wood and the project as it came together.  I could not explain that to myself, or to my wife.  This was supposed to be a relaxing and enjoyable hobby!

But, then I read this section from The Fine Art Of Cabinetmaking, “I am cautious almost to the point of paralysis.  Afraid to spoil something, and get off the track.  Oh, I am afraid: when I have the most wonderful wood, I flutter between delight and terror.  Yet, I do go on, wanting that wholeness where nothing lets you down.” pp 38.

Well, here is a man writing down my feelings 35 years ago.  Perhaps he wrote down yours too.  If you cannot explain your passion for wood, tools to work wood and the rise in your blood pressure over photographs of beautiful furniture, then maybe you need Mr. Krenov to explain it to you and to your loved ones.

Having taken a long hiatus from woodworking, I grow frustrated each day to realize that I cheated myself of one more day to enjoy this passion.  My projects still resemble those of first-year students rather than those of a seasoned master of grain, color, shape and varieties of wood.  Sigh.

Thank you James Krenov for enabling me to understand my own thoughts and feelings.  Thank you for blessing my energy, time and money spent on my shop and projects.  Thank you for explaining that unexplainable urge to hoard beautiful pieces of wood in my home.  Pieces that I have to walk around every day to get into and out of my shop. Thank you for giving light to the path ahead, so that here in Nebraska, far away from your shop and the college you began, I know where my skills ought to take me.

Thank you for spending the time with me.  I’m glad that I got to know you.

Judy’s Father

By , 15 February, 2010, 1 Comment
Curt L Regehr and daughter Judy

Curt L Regehr and his daughter Judy

Shortly after our last child was born, Judy and I moved to her home town in Kansas.  A lot of influences went into that decision, and one of them was the opportunity to work with Judy’s father, Curt L Regehr.

Curt, like so many in the area where he lived was equal parts farmer and carpenter.  I never had the appreciation for the land and the animals like Curt, but I was eager to learn some things from him on the job.  Unfortunately for me, he was winding down his career.  The number of jobs that we worked together were small and short, but I discovered some life lessons.

I found out something unusual about the man.  One day while we were digging some footings for a fellow from his own church, I learned that this same fellow had utilized dad’s services before, but had never paid his debt.  I wondered then why were we there doing more work for him when it was unlikely that he would pay this time either.  Dad responded that he felt it to be the right thing to do.  He had been asked, and he could not turn him down because he was a church friend.  I never forgot that.  Sometimes you do what you should do, because it is the right thing to do — not because you are going to get rewarded for it.

Dad had a good friend, Ben who worked on those same jobs with us.  I loved Ben.  He seemed slow, but what a dry whit!  We always had on the local Christian radio station when indoors, and a lot of good messages were digested while working.  I enjoyed watching the relationship between the two of them, and relished some of the inside jokes they shared.

I had the privilege of using some of the tools that Curt had acquired over the years, and many of them had great patina.  Like their owner, they had served well, and they carried the marks of age and ownership.  Many years later, Curt and his wife Marie sold their belongings and left the farm.  I bought a few of those tools for myself so that I could remember the man, and hoped that they would serve me as they served him.  And, just maybe I might be the better man through imitation.

Curt passed away a couple of years ago, and when I got out a nice number 7 Stanley plane of his for a project that I am working on, it brought back a lot of memories.  I wondered how many places that plane had been utilized, and how many other men besides me and Curt’s four sons had used it to make something.

I’m now using it build a desk.  Check back, and I will tell you more about it.