The “Friday” Cabinet

“Friday”, as in Robinson Crusoe.  It’s a helper that I can push to wherever I am working and reach my tools and have a place to put things as I work.

My goal was to build the cabinet, but my constraint was that I had to use only materials that were already in my shop – no running to Woodcraft or buying hardware from Brusso.  I had four casters, good start.  I had a panel from an old house remodel that I could use as an interesting top.  I had various pieces of plywood.  I had some very weathered, but usable, get this, Purple Heart wood that I could use as the drawer fronts.

So let the building begin.

I had several pieces of plywood cutoffs, as well as some left over poplar and white and red oak.

The plywood here provided both sides and the bottom.  I had a 1/4″ piece of white oak left over from a previous cabinet that served as the back.


On the left is a 100 year old panel removed from a remodeling job.  There is some oak there and some poplar.


And this is the purple heart a friend gave me.  See how weathered it is?  I resawed them so they were about 3/8″ thick to use as drawer fronts.


I had some Baltic birch that I made the drawer boxes from.  I also had two sets of full extension drawer slides.  You can see the ends of them on the bottom two drawers.


For the top three, I added low “skid plates” for the drawers to bear on to reduce friction.  I have seen this in older construction.  Made from scrap purple heart



Now I am applying the drawer fronts.  The bottom two drawers are made from two lengths of purple heart with a white oak strip laminated in the middle.

The face frame is also white oak, and I have added the wheels.

You might notice the handles.


Since I had no budget for hardware, I made the handles out of purple heart as well!


I sanded the top real nice and I’m ready to go!


I actually cheated.  I spent about $9 buying the nuts, bolts, and washers to fasten the handles.




Kona Living

Kona Living is all about style and natural beauty.  These pieces use the signature vertical bias bevel in the frames and the horizontal surfaces use beautiful wood veneers or unusual stone.  Below are some samples.

Nested Tables:

With vibrant red and the unparalleled beauty of Hawaiin koa wood, these are spectacular pieces.


Stunning hand cut book matched veneers.


Brilliant dyes that allow the grain of the wood to shine through.


Create your own piece of paradise.


And a matching bookcase, using the same design features.  This one using hand cut cherry veneer.

Mardi Gras Furniture-11Mardi Gras Furniture-5Mardi Gras Furniture-9

There are more in the works.  I will post on my blog and add pics here.

Mardi Gras Living

The day of Mardi Gras is the last binge before the discipline of Lent.  Food, drink, music, fun.  Once a year.  But we can live Mardi Gras a little bit every day by surrounding ourselves with reminders that life can be fun, exuberant, colorful, and happy.  That is what I call Mardi Gras Living.

These tables are dyed poplar with canvas tops in the colors of Mardi Gras – purple, gold, and green.  The top is stenciled with a fleur de lis.


Clown not included, but I might throw in the beads!


Jackson Pollack #8

But Mardi Gras comes in all colors!  How about this to spice up a room?  Made from prints of Jackson Pollack’s #8, done during his classical period in 1949.   Laissez les bon temps roller!


And a closeup showing the light texture of the top.


I have some others planned in this design vein.  If you have something in particular that you want, I can do that.


The Lit Wall Etagere

Something smaller and with a utility that I personally wanted.  Both of these are lit with battery powered LED lights that are easily removable and can be aimed back and forth.  The light powers off automatically after 30 minutes.

There is also a very simple mounting system that is secure and allows an inch or so of side to side adjustment.


I have started another in solid red oak and I would like to do a few in some other wood species as well.

The Dressing Room

The bathroom itself was tiny, but there was a nice dressing area just outside that had a walk in closet, and a vanity with a sink, one drawer, and a two door cabinet.  But man was it ugly!


An 1890’s New Orleans whore house mirror (just kidding) was mounted over the small window …partially, complemented by floral wallpaper, a formica cabinet, and a fake marble countertop.  I can’t forget the fake brass ceiling light, so I won’t.

My solution to this:

Cherry wood, granite, grass paper on the walls, and a little continuity in the choice of fixtures.


…and a metal fish on the wall.  That actually is from New Orleans.  Note the common elliptical curves in the lights, the medicine cabinet mirrors, the sink – and the fish.  The window is gone.

The cabinet is surfaced in cherry veneer, to match the door casings and baseboards.  I also added a second drawer, a sort of his and hers deal.  There are no pulls on the drawers or cabinets because there is a reverse bevel, allowing you to grab the top or sides and pull.


This is the vessel sink, in a super heavy and variegated blue glass.  It matches the granite countertop, which isn’t really a granite at all.  It is anorthosite, and contains blue inclusions of labradorite that shine an iridescent blue at the right angle.  The stone is  called Volga Blue if you want to find it.


Since the sink sits on top of the counter, I could add another drawer.  You can see the back bevel, painted a blue green, complimentary to the reds of the cherry, and similar to the color of the grass paper.


This is a closeup of the cherry trim.  I tried to put the most interestingly figured pieces at eye level.  You can also really see the texture of the wallpaper. (Not to mention the overspray inside the header of the pocket door)


As a side note, when this house was sold the new owner painted all the cherry white.  Nuf to make a grown man cry.


And, Hey, I Do Repairs!

My repair of fine wooden things began with vintage ukuleles.  I would repair loose braces, patch cracks and missing pieces.  I even replaced the whole back of a rare 1960 concert size ukulele made by Martin.


Furniture is a bit different, much bigger, but the techniques of wood shaping, joining, and finishing have many commonalities.

Here are some of my recent repairs


The Heirloom Hutch

This woman had recently moved into her house and was having a lot of work done.  Because of that she had furniture shuffled about and resting in strange places.

Sadly, one of those pieces, a hutch made by her grandfather many decades ago, had been knocked off the the chest it sat on and fell to the floor.  The cornice was destroyed, as was one of the glass panel door frames.  Amazingly neither of the etched leaded glass panels were broken!


Only the left stile was damaged and fortunately, I could get the stile router bit to match the ogee pattern of the frame.  I found a piece of red oak with similar grain, shaped it, and reglued the frame.

The cornice was made of three pieces.  Two were very damaged so it was best to simply replace the whole thing.  Patterns for cornice and crown mold are almost impossible to match anyway.

So here it is all put back together.  Can’t tell is was ever broken.


And this time I screwed the hutch to the base.  It won’t flop over again!


The Heirloom Secretary

I really wish I had a good “before” picture of this damage.  The right front leg of this beautiful antique secretary had been completely snapped off by movers.  With dagger sharp broken wood it would just about make you cry.  But I fixed it.

Repairs - 3 (1)

The two leg parts have already been glued and clamped together.  The challenge now is to fasten it back to the bottom of the cabinet.  You can see the leg is buttressed by two blocks that are carefully carved and dowelled.  Something back in this cabinet’s past had caused the blocks to separate and someone along the line attempted to fix it.  I undid that “repair” and started fresh, with a clean surface and cleaned up parts.

A thin shingle of wood had cracked off and was still glued to the cabinet.  That had to be put back correctly as well.


I wish I had a picture of the glue up.  It was quite a bristle of clamps, rags, and cauls, but it came out great.

IMG_0049 IMG_0048

But now for the inlay on the front hinged desk.  It had several insults, one being initials carved by some 10 year old who didn’t realize he was proving his own guilt, the other being a missing piece of inlay.  The initials gave it character, so those stay, but the inlay needs fixing.

Now, first of all, this is a magnificent piece of curly mahogany.  You just don’t see wood like this in furniture any more.  The grain flows in so many directions, and it shows a lot of pores.  There is some chatter up there in the top right, the result of grain direction piercing the surface of the piece at a low angle – but that changing of grain direction is what creates the depth and appeal of highly figured wood.  You can also see two tiny, round, mother of pearl inlays.

Repairs - 4 (1)

Anyway, there is a hole to fill, and this wood is so unique for mahogany that it can be approximated with a small piece of Hawaiian koa, which also tends to this type of grain and pore appearance.

I found a piece with a similar pattern, then sanded it close to the thickness required. I stained it to be similar in color, and after lining up the direction of the grain, I cut out a tracing of the missing piece (upside down compared to the picture above).

Now it is patched.  A little light on the tone, but it will darken with time.  I bet no one would notice it as it is.


After a few coats of shellac, the top is complete.


And the secretary is back in action!



The Dining Table

The legs were loose and pulling away from the center post.  They were dowelled and glued, but with some heat and careful mechanical persuasion I removed two of them.  One of the two was also cracked.


I made a custom clamping caul and, using hot hide glue, clamped everything back together.

The top needed some attention, but the owner didn’t want me to refinish it.  So I did a quick patch to the broken veneer and it’s ready to go!


The Dining Chair

This was a black lacquer sprayed mahogany chair.  It had a lattice back made of plywood.  One of the back stiles was cracked completely off.  Much of the lattice was also cracked.


I repaired the lattice parts with lots of glue and lots of clamps.


Then I made a splice piece to rejoin the stile leg and back halves.


A little sanding, a little spray paint, and we are ready to go!


The Park Bench

This is a bench you see fairly often, but this particular one was very well made, with heavy cast iron and originally, with redwood slats.  But it had seen better days, having been left out in the snowy Sierra winters for many years.


What better wood to use to replace those slats than white oak?  I made a drilling jig to get all the through slots and counter bores centered and properly located so they will fit the holes in the iron.  I pre-finished the slats with McClosky Spar Varnish.


Then I sanded and repainted the iron green. With the slats attached with all brass hardware, it now looks like a bench again, only better – white oak is much more durable than redwood, and the brass fasteners give it some class.


The Portable Photo Box

There was a time when I was very interested in vintage ukuleles.  When I went to a gathering of ukulele players I wanted to take pictures of their instruments, so I built a portable photo set, especially for ukuleles!

The box had two folding doors that each contained two fluorescent light bulbs.  The background is cloth stapled to a board with two holes  that fit over two bolts at the top of the cabinet.  That way I could change the color of the background depending on the color of the subject.


All folded up, it fits in the back of my Mini Cooper.


Not Your Father’s Deck

I wanted a nice place to sit where I could just walk out the door without stairs, so I built a deck.  I added the two sconce lights and later added three metal panels to the wall that depicted different styles of the fleur de lis.

This shows detail of the railing.  The deck and railings are all redwood, except the balusters are round pine.


The center railing has lit stained glass caps.  They are powered by solar cells and rechargeable batteries, and they automatically turn on at dusk.


In retrospect, I wish I had built it out a little further.  I was constrained on each side, one by an air conditioner, the other by a hose bib I didn’t want to move.  I thought I needed the open patio space to move things around the yard but it seems I could easily have stolen another several feet.  It’s still very nice.

And one other thing.  I bought a sliding screen for the window on the right side of the deck.  That is the kitchen.  We could load our margaritas on the kitchen counter then go outside to get them.


The Barbecue Retaining Wall

Above is the finished product.  The house next door is up about two feet in elevation from the cement patio.  When it rains, or when my neighbors (nice people) forget to turn off their irrigation, I get a big flood here.  This wall shunts the water to the left (large raised garden), or to the right (smaller bed of lantana vine).  My barbecue grill sits inside this nook.

The area was pretty ugly before, bare cement, rotten wood, and an all around eyesore.  This is my prep work before I set the concrete block.

The first step is the concrete block wall.

Then I add tile, with a band of iridescent glass to spice it up.

Then it gets capped with a nice looking stone.  I don’t remember what this is called, but it is a type of schist with a lot of mica in it.  The glass shows up nicely in this pic as well.

So, now I have a nice place to grill my eggplant!

Powered by

Up ↑