Hammer Time

Second handle in as many days. Manufacturers don’t really seem to care about the way the grain runs in the handles they pump out on a daily basis, therefore they aren’t really the best possible. I have had it with store bought handles at this point so there is only one thing to do!

Make my own.

I have had a piece of riven white oak laying around for a couple years, maybe four, that I have been saving for this. I knew the day would come.I had to add something to make me smile every time I use it so a bit of carving on each side will do it. A bit of blue milk paint and oiled it up!

I carved it to fit my hand perfectly so I’d feel less fatigued at the end of my day.

It’s a beautiful thing to be able to use the materials around us to make functional and useful things.

When We Build

“When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such work that our descendants will thank us for; and let us think, as we lay stone on stone, that a time will come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that man will say, as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, “See! This our Father did for us.”

-John Ruskin.

These stones were not laid by my father. And I don’t think the man who laid them ever read Ruskin’s quote, for they were not laid with the next generation in mind.

Though they have “lasted” since the summer of 1959 they had long since settled a few inches lower than they started. I am very thankful to have that almost unusably small entryway demolished. The structure was “secured” to the house with a mere dozen 16d nails.


Over this past winter friends of mine had to make the hard decision to heavily prune back a dying black cherry tree that was shedding branches into their neighbor’s yard and driveway. They had asked if I would be able to carve something for them instead of sending the cherry through the evil tree shredding machine. Of course I would, I would love to.

I may have over done it a bit, but they were happy!

Three larger serving spoons, one small serving spoon, a spreader and of course a shrink pot to contain it all.

The finish is two coats of tavern green with the third coat of Lexington green, all Old Fashion Milk Paint. I used steel wool between each coat of paint and then let them sit in oil for a couple days.

And there is plenty of cherry left for me!

Cool Finds III

A couple weeks ago while I was working on the exterior of my home I found a handful of cool things. I love finding plane shavings. Most of the loot is buttons, but I did find a couple coins! Apparently the 1921 Mercury dime is pretty rare, and yes that penny is from 1869!

My house was built in 1728, any nails used at that time were made by fire, hammer and anvil. I have found hundreds of hand wrought nails and of course I keep the ones I feel could be used again, they are three hundred years old after all!

This one is a monster at four inches!

Cool finds II

On a job in East Bridgewater I found a beautiful relic from when the home was originally built (1808).

IMG_0915I like finding things in the walls from past craftsman. Shavings from a plane I think are the most relatable for me. I know how it feels to run a plane along a board, the sweet sound of the iron slicing the grain, it can be very enjoyable. I’ve been known to unroll a shaving to write something fun on it and put it in the wall for the next remodel.

I also found these wall carvings. Thankfully on this job the homeowner did most of the demo needed. He was having fun discovering all the items that were hiding. It was all we could do to keep home from destroying the whole house.

It’s amazing what people lose in the walls and ceilings. What’s more is how much accumulates! Love letters and poems, a school book, old tools, clothing, shoes, games, small cardboard boxes, dolls, kitchen utensils, shoot there was even a well hidden!This home had the most I think I’ve ever seen hidden in the dark unaccessible spaces.

Cabinetmaking Intensive

For a long time now I have wanted to do more cabinetmaking and furniture making. In fact when people ask what I do I respond by saying, “I’m a cabinetmaker, but I also do most general carpentry.” Like kitchen and bathroom remodels and exterior work too like decks and siding and rot repairs.

Let me introduce you to Jim Weston, a man whom I really look up to and admire. We already have a lot in common. Not only is he a custom cabinetmaker but he is also a fellow churchman and drummer. His barn is a dream set up for me, its two stories the second floor being a drum studio and a wood shop on the first. I had helped Jim out quite a few times before when he was in a time crunch, usually turning into all 12 to I think the longest was 26 hours straight. Those times were inspiring and fun (a bit crazy). I learned a good amount of cabinetmaking during those times with him. A long time ago I told him that if he should ever need to hire someone that I would jump at the opportunity.

During 2014 I was working for myself and spending some time with Jewell Contracting. Jim had called me up early spring to let me know he was going to need me for a large job he was in process of designing. Six months passed before I would get the call and physically step foot into his shop for full time employment.


The home after the demolition, obviously

The clients wanted Jim to provide custom cabinetry for almost the entire home.

That included:

The Mudroom has four large lockers, a broom cabinet, device charging station, a base cabinet with a bench seat attached.

Here they are being built. these are the lockers the broom cabinet is on the right. this is the broom cabinet with the partitions installed. A charging station was added on the right side with drawers under it.

this one is the base cabinet, it’s a pretty straight forward box with a horizontal partition.

Here they are finished and installed.

The kitchen:

A long straight run of base and upper cabinets. Unfortunately I didn’t snap pics of the build for the main run. I did get some for the ten foot Long Island.

here are the front and back of the island on the bench. These had to be spot on their dimensions because the total length had to be ten feet exact for the counter top.A couple shots of the install. completed installNote the paper towel niche.

Then there were two cabinets flanking the kitchen. They defined the two spaces and had a couple steps down into a family room. They housed four refrigerator drawers. One needed to be scribed to a brick wall and both have steel posts in their corners that were covered with paneled columns. one of two columns.

Also in the kitchen area is a workstation. The two large doors that cover the desk area are on scissor hinges that when open will slide into the cavities. U shaped shelves in the upper sections and drawers on the bottoms. I unfortunately don’t have finish shots of this.

On the opposite side of the kitchen is a wine room with three Zebrawood walls and a glass wall with a door. These sheets were carefully matched edge to edge to make the seams disappear. Then a domino joiner was used to cut mortises for floating tenons, these keep the sheets flat, and add strength to the joint. This stuff is pretty expensive so our utmost care was needed to keep these safe.

There is a lot more story and pictures to come.

To be continued:

So Much For That

So… That was quite the hiatus.

I’m back now. Hopefully more regularly.

I have been back out on my own since this past June and have thankfully been quite busy. One major reason for bagging my old gig was that I wasn’t happy with majority of the work we had. It was general remodeling work, mostly kitchens and bathrooms, which included everything in the scope of the project, aside from pluming and electrical. Demo, framing, insulation, wallboard, decks, digging for footers, concrete work, painting, concrete work, laminate, concrete work….I really don’t like concrete.

Anyway, I needed to change my focus if I want to achieve my career goals.

These next few pictures are some of the things I was doing in June. I was very inspired from my weekend at Greenwood Fest in Plymouth.

A selection of hooks

My favorite hook yet. Birch with milk paint and oil finish Serving tray, spreader and eating spoon

Large serving spoon

I really enjoy carving green wood into useful household items. It’s a lot of fun to take a branch and with axe and knife sculpt it into a functional piece of art.

Greater Action

I don’t want this blog to be a soap box from which I preach, I am no preacher. But from time to time I cannot hold it in. So here…

Two people that have impacted me lately.


First: I have recently been reading Bill Coperthwaite’s book “A Handmade Life: In Search of Simplicity”. it is a great book, there is just so much in it.

Second: The other day I went to the chapel at Eastern Nazarene College where author, and activist Shane Claiborne reminded us to take action in our communities showing the love of God. They are literally taking guns and smithing them into garden tools! How awesome is that?!

from AK-47 to shovel and pitch fork

Both, Bill and Shane, are speaking volumes to where I am right now, especially in this political era.

I want to give you an excerpt from Mr. Coperthwaite’s book that has been very timely this week.

“For many, the knowledge of a Jesus, a Lao-tzu, a Buddha, or a Gandhi is complete and unassailable. But we do them and their vision a disservice when we follow them rather than using what they have taught to build upon as we strive toward our goal of a better society.

When we merely follow another, we take a potentially creative mind out of service – our own. We tie up A natural resource, just as much as when we put away money in the mattress.

We don’t need more disciples, we need more apprentices, the difference being that an apprentice serves as a follower only temporarily and is expected to go on and work independently. Wise apprentices recognize that the masters are always a part of them, that within them is a partnership of apprentice and master artisan, including all the other masters that came before.

Good apprentices know that they are in the process of becoming masters and that as responsible artisans they must seek to improve upon the knowledge entrusted to them and go further.

As apprentices we are not better than those who went before. We are a part, an extension of our predecessors, the newest buds on an ancient, living tree. If we do not reach up to the sun and down into the soil for nourishment to help the tree grow, we have not been  faithful to the trust invested in us.

It is always easier to take the words of a Jesus, a Gandhi, a Marx, or a Confucius as constituting Holy Writ.  This involves less reading, less study, less thought, less conflict, and less independent searching, but it also means less growth toward maturity.”


Just something to think about, I pray that you will take action for the greater good.