Kitchen Workstation

Here is a kitchen workstation I recently built for my sister in law Lani who is a wonderful chef. She gave me the dimensions and some ideas she wanted and left the details up to me. It’s quite large; the top is 48” X 32” and the height is 34”

The legs and apron are made of white ash. I rarely stain any of my projects since I always love the natural look of wood grain. For this project, I used India ink to ‘ebonize’ the ash and create a pleasing contrast with the cherry top. India Ink is translucent and allows the grain to show through so when finished with a lacquer it gives quite a stunning appearance.

The top is done with 1 1/4 inch solid black cherry with 5 coats of a food safe waterborne urethane finish.

The two slatted shelves are made of ash with a clear lacquer finish.

A Greene and Greene Project, Finally

Recently I began work on a project I have wanted to do for some time.  I am building a Greene and Greene inspired cabinet based on a design by Dale Barnard, a craftsman from Paoli Indiana. Below is a picture of Dale’s cabinet.

It is based on a cabinet built by the Greene’s at the William R Thorsen House in Berkley California.  Here is a picture of the Thorsen House original cabinet.

You can see how this cabinet would inspire many a craftsman to want to build something as beautiful and well designed as the Green’s work in the Thorsen House. Notice the leaded glass panels in the door.

There is a bit of a story behind this, I will be attending a 3-day wood working class at Dale’s shop in Paoli in June learning how to build a wonderful craftsman style wall sconce like the one below.  My wife Kathy will also attend and she will learn the stained glass part while I learn the wood and joinery part.  I all goes as planned we will leave Paoli with two beautiful sconces.

different view

As I considered signing up for Dale’s course I decided do some research on him and stumbled on an online course that he did a few years back where he built the wall cabinet inspired by the Green’s. So, I took the course and finally had a chance to start.

This project involved a number of mortise and tenon joints and the ones in the door construction seem incredibly complicated.  The muntins and mullions are all on a different plane from the door frame.  The door itself is set in from the frame as well. The large proud finger joints on the front a side aprons will be a first for me. There is also a secret hiding area accessible by removing the front finger joint which is attached by rare earth magnets.

Here is my first weeks progress, I was able to cut and rough fit all of the pieces.

Rough Fit

I finished the individual pieces before the glue up. The door was a very difficult glue up and a bit nerve wracking since my wood glue only has a 15 minute open time before setting up. I used a mahogany stain and a padded shellac finish. A little darker than I would like but I’m happy with the results.

Here is the cabinet assembled with out the door attached.

Glue Up, Door Fitted Not installed

Waiting on my hinges, once arrived I can attach the door. The last task will be to make the leaded glass panels and insert them into the door.I have a busy schedule the next several weeks so it may be July before I finish this project.

Guess Who’s Going to be a Grandpa!

I’m going g to be a Grandpa!  My daughter Laura and her husband Brian are expecting in August. I always envisioned myself building my grandchild’s cradle so I wasted no time in getting started.  I decided to build a time tested bedside swinging cradle but with a bit of a twist from a selfish standpoint.

Recently, I became interested in designs that use contrasting woods. I like the look and so I experimented with my first piece, an ash table where I used India ink to sort of ebonize the legs and apron while leaving the top in it’s natural state.  Here are some pictures of that table. 

Using India ink with a lacquer finish leaves a beautiful translucent finish where the wood grain can still be seen through the black dye, the picture does not do it justice and I’m a better wood worker than a photographer.

Anyway, about 4 years ago on Craigslist, I found some old rustic walnut stored in a barn for 30 years.  I bought all of it and I remember thinking that some day I will use this to build a cradle for a grandchild. I decided to use that walnut and some beautiful white ash for this project.

I added a soft round edge all around and spaced the slats closer than federal guidelines require.

Here are a few shots of the finished product, I should say almost finished.  I need this to be able to be taken apart, shipped to Seattle and than put back together and touch up finishing applied. You may notice some small square holes where the screws go, they will be hidden with square pegs sanded flush once I put this together in Seattle. Packaging and shipping will be fun and expensive I’m sure.

It was not a highly complicated project although the slats in the cradle sides each needed two mortise and tenons.  Finding the appropriate hardware for the swinging part was a challenge and I’m not 100 percent sure it’s the final solution.  All of the wood is in its natural state with a clear lacquer finish and eased edges for safety.

I am happy with the way this turned out and it was really enjoyed working on it and can’t wait to see it with a tiny new Burbank resting peacefully while mom rocks her or him to sleep.

Fiberglassing The Hull

This morning along with Kathy’s help we fiberglassed the hull.  I had applied a seal coat on Thursday in preparation for the glassing today. It took us about 2 hours start to finish. I used a 6″ foam roller to apply the epoxy.  Kathy kept me going by mixing up fresh batches as we progressed.  She also did a wonderful job using a brush on the stems which require a lot of patience.

It will harden up overnight.  Tomorrow I will sand off any imperfections and apply a fill coat.  I will probably add one more fill coat on Monday or Tuesday.  then it is time to flip the boat and work on the inside.  When I do flip it I will have a chance to weigh it.

Today was a big milestone.  I am happy with the result.

Below are some photos of our progress.

This was taken right after the seal coat was applied. 

Here I have the fiberglass cloth draped over the hull. you can see how I smoothed it out at the far end.

Just getting started, Kathy working on the stem area.

Finished hull!


Outer Hull Progress

It’s been a few weeks since my last progress report.  Some spring and summer projects have gotten in the way.

The outer hull has been scraped and sanded (faired) and ready for fiberglass. It did require some filling where the strips did not mate perfectly.  I used a combination of epoxy and sawdust for the fill material.  Overall I’m pleased with the result of the hulls surface. Here are a couple of pictures of the sanded hull.



As for the stems, that’s another story.  I would grade myself a D as far as the stem and bow lines came out.  Let’s just say the stem fit leaves a lot to be desired.  If you can picture where the strips on each side meet at the bow and stern the width along the line should be consistent and perfectly flat in order to receive the stem. Below is a picture of the stem piece cut to rough shape but not fitted and finished. The stems will require some planing and sanding in order to achieve the final shape.


Here I’m holding the stem in it’s fixed position but not permanently attached.


I’ll need to come up with a way to to assure that the stems fit well and are solidly attached.  There is definitely some work to do where the stem meets the hull. More on that later. Thanks for looking.

Stripping the Hull is Complete- A Milestone Day!



Today I finished laying the last few strips. The project now moves from construction stage to finishing stage, at least for a while. I am fairly happy with the way the hull turned out.   By the way I laid up a total of about  60 full length (17-18′ ) strips and a few shorter ones. With each strip having  2 surfaces that receive glue I figure that I have about a half a mile of glue line.

Here are a few pictures and some comments.

First, here is the hull fully stripped. It looks messy because of some glue runs and smears,they will clean up with some sanding.

Getting to this stage can be frustrating at times and a challenge for someone like me with less than normal patience. At times you are bending wood a two directions. The pics below illustrate some of the challenges involved in laying the strips and a few of the unique clamping methods employed along the way.

Arriving at the bottom board requires some real thought, getting the strips to bend two ways and stay down required some extra help.


The next step is a stage called hull fairing.  Essentially this is the process of smoothing out the hull, repairing small imperfections and filling any holes or gaps that appear.  It involves a lot of hand planing and sanding. I’ll be here for a week or so and then bring you another update when completed.


Thanks for following.

Stripping The Guideboat

I’ve finally reached the point where I can begin stripping the guideboat.  After visiting a few boat building forums and consulting with Newfound Woodwork’s I decided to not follow the sheer line indicated by the the forms.  Because of the steepness in the hull curve the bends would become more compound and more difficult.  The solution is to flatten out the curve by using what are called cheater strips. They will fill in along the sheer line where it is its steepest. More on that later.

I also realized that in my previous post on making strip I did not cover the scarf joint portion as completely as I would have liked. I left out the process of actually joining the 2 strips together, so here it is.

Here is the jig I used to glue scarf joints.  Its a simple flat board with a strait edge fence to keep the mating strips aligned.

First I place a piece of wax paper where the joint will be.  I then apply some 5 minute epoxy to each strip where the scarf cut was made.  I then align the 2 strips and clamp them in place and apply a final clamp at the joint.  Don’t be fooled by the 5 minute claim, I let it sit for a few hours before I move it. I wait 2 days  before I actually use it.

Preparing to Start Stripping

Assemble everything you will need once you begin laying the strips.  Here is my list:

I use Gorilla White Glue

Small spring clamps, I like to have one per station.  These can be purchased for 99 cents at the big box stores.

A few quick grip clamps can also be handy.

1/4″ dowels cut into 3″ lengths.

1″ wide masking tape, explained later.

#4 X 3/4 pan head screws.

Japanese back saw

Wet rags for glue cleanup.

Step 1

Apply a couple coats of masking tape to each of the forms outer edge.  This will prevent the strips from being glued to the forms.  Duct tape or packing tape also works.

Step 2

Lay the starter strip cove side up.  Find and mark the  center of one of the scarfed strips and align it with the bottom of the form marked ‘0’.  Drive a #4 screw through the strip into the form.  Cut off any excess at each end leaving an inch or two beyond the stem. i also drove a screw into both the # 1 forms. Let the two ends droop down and make a mark along the top of the strip where it meets the stem.  Now make the same mark on each of the stems on both sides so you should have 4 marks.  Bend the strip to meet the line on the stem, apply some glue and clamp it.Do this for all 4 marks.  I then let it sit for 24 hrs.

Step 3

The second and subsequent strips begin by placing a thin bead of glue into the cove the entire length of the strip.  Then starting in the center you fit the next strip bead side down and secure with clamps. I also use some masking tape to keep them tight. You should see some glue squeeze out which can be wiped off with a wet rag.

After a few hours you can remove the tape and clamps and let things sit for several hours.  On a typical day I can do three strips each side. One early in the morning, early afternoon and at night.  As approach the bottom board and the bends become more difficult I may only be able to do one per side. Once the strip has is secure cut of the overlapping end with a back saw.  I leave a little extra so I can do a final trim to match the stem exact.

You can face some difficult areas along the strip length when the two strips do not seem want to go together well especially as you near the stem.  In that case a 1/4′ dowel and a quick grip clamp will help.


After a few days I have about 20 or so strips applied.  It’s starting to take the shape of  a boat.


I’ll check in again as I apply the cheater strips and approach the bottom board.




Making The Cedar Strips

Adirondack Guideboat –  Making the Cedar Strips

I have reached a point where I can begin getting ready to apply the cedar strips.  I need approximately 70 strips 3/4 x 1/4 x 17′.  I’m going to cut my strips from western red cedar lumber which unfortunately is not available locally beyond 16′ lengths. This will; add another step to the process called scarfing.  Scarfing is creating 1 long strip from 2 short strips. Where to 2 boards join together is called the scarf joint.

The most traditional scarf joint in canoe building is a joint with a ratio of 8:1Scarf copy

Some builders use a 45 degree cut and some even say they have used a simple butt joint as they build.

The steps involved in getting the strips ready to apply is as follows:

1)Acquire the cedar.  As I mentioned before, I have access locally to some beautiful clear western red cedar and they allow me to pick through the stacks so I can find the ones I am looking for.  I look for color variation, straightness and minimal checking or other blemishes.

2)Rip strips from lumber to just over 1/4″ wide.

For this step I need to set up my table saw for repeat 1/4″+ cuts and for safety I need to create infeed and outfeed tables. Here is my set up.  The blue gauge stays firmly in place, I simply move the fence and board in until the board just touches the roller.  I found the set up quite easy and the results great.  There was very little if any deviation in the thickness of the strips.


3)Cut the ends of two pieces at a step angle to create a 8:1, join 2 pieces together with epoxy.

Here is the setup I used on my miter saw station, it seemed to work well.

I clamped a 2 x 6 block to the saw to increase the angle.

4)Plane or sand each strip to 1/4″

For this I decided to use my drum sander, much slower than the planer but my planer was leaving to many chatter marks.

5)Apply the bead edge to the strips

Be sure to mill the bead edge first otherwise you could damage the delicate edges of the cove cut when running it against the fence of your router table..  Below is my router table set up.  My feather boards keep the strips tight to the fence.  When I get near the end of pushing a strip all the way through I simply start another but butting it up against the first and pushing it through.  A better solution is to have a helper that can pull and stack the strips as they approach the end.

6)Apply a cove edge to each strip.

Use the same setup process as above to mill the coves.


When finished you should end up with a stack the looks like this.


The last step for me was to sort the strips into groups by color. As I begin to strip I like to have a variation of color from strip to strip. just my personal preference.

Here I have sorted by color.

Sort (1)

Hopefully this week I will be able to begin stripping.


Making The Bottom Board

Adirondack Guideboat -Making the Bottom Board

Just as the strongback is the rock solid foundation for setting the forms the bottom board is the guideboats backbone particularly in a ribless design like mine.

Guideboats are often referred to as flat bottom boats but actually there is a slight curve along its entire length. As an avid ice skater whenever I buy new skates I always have them rockered. Rockering skates simply means changing the curve of the blade so that less blade is in contact with the ice at any given time.   The same principle applies to the guideboats bottom board and this slight curve is what helps make the boat handle so wonderfully.

The bottom board is shaped like a long narrow diamond, just shy of 16′ long and 8 3/4″ wide at the center.   It tapers down along a very slight curve to a narrow point at each end. Since this is a 16′ version of the guideboat I will need to find a 16′ piece of white pine at least 9″ wide and clear of any defects. Then I will need to create the pattern, cut it with a jig saw, plane it to 1/2″ thickness and then create a rolling bevel it along the entire length on each side.

It all begins width a trip to a local lumber yard. I’m blessed to have a yard nearby the specializes in clear western red cedar and clear pine. After a sorting through several boards I find one that looks straight and flat, it’s a 16′ 1 X 12, slightly wider than needed.  this is stuff you won’t find a the local big box.


The board on the left is a 12′ 1 X 12 Wester Red Cedar, the left is the 16′ 1 x 12 White Pine.

Back at home I now need to create the shape for cutting. First I use a small combination square to mark the end of the forms flat areas.


The extra width actually worked out to be a bonus. Since I need to rip the board to 9″ I decided to make a few 1/4″ strips from the excess. They are very white and will make great accent strips when the time comes.



A note about ripping long boards on a table saw. Make sure you have some help, proper accessories and some type of in feed and out feed support. The photo below shows a solid fence, feather board for keeping the board tight to the fence and a rather crude but functional out feed and in feed support. Kathy was my helper here so she is lobbying for official recognition as a co-builder.


Now I need to plane it to 1/2″. Just as with ripping, proper set up is important. Make sure you have help and some accessories to create in feed and out feed support.


One I have the board ripped and planed I now I place it on the forms and begin marking the underside at each of the marks made with the square. When flipped over you can start to see the shape of the bottom board.


Now I place a small finishing nail at each point. I then take one of the strips I just created and using a few spring clamps create a nice curve that I can trace with a pencil.



I now have my bottom board pattern shaped.Time now for cutting.   Using a jig saw I cut just outside the line. Pine is soft so it is easy to sand, I then sand to the line.

Jig Saw


After a few minor adjustments I have my bottom board shaped. Now for the rolling bevel. If you look closely at the forms you see that they each approach the bottom board at different angles. You want the angle of the form to continue onto the bottom board. I’ll use a small hand plan and some sanding tools to accomplish this.


I’ve created the rolling bevel along the entire edge of the bottom board.  I’ll make final adjustments as begin to approach the board with my strips.

Completed Bottom Board

Well, believe it or not I am now at the point where the stripping begins. First I need to make the strips.  More later.






Building an Adirondack Guideboat

The Inner Stems

Adirondack Guideboats have inner stems at both the bow and stern. The inner stems are an integral part of the boat. The bottom board ties into the inner stem at each end and the inner stem also provides a ending attachment point for the cedar strips that form the hull. It adds strength to the hull.

Stems are typically made by laminating thin strips of wood together and bending around a form. I have seen others bend solid pieces of wood around a form after a couple hours of steaming the wood. I just happen to have a steam box I built for furniture pieces so I decided to compare each approach.

My plans call for an inner stem that is 7/8 high and 15/16 wide. I start by cutting thin (1/8) strips from a blank of spruce. I set up my table saw using a thin cut jig (pictured below)

Thin Cut Jig

Each time I make a cut I just move the fence in until the board touches the roller on the jig then cut again. Each piece comes out exactly the same width. For each stem I cut 8 pieces. I also cut a couple out of cherry to provide a little contrast in the stem. Once I have my lamination’s cut I lay them out and spread glue using a squeegee.


Then I clamp them to the stem form and leave overnight.

Clamped Stem

Once the clamps come off I will run it through my jointer to flatten one edge then plane it to the final width. You might notice some masking tape on the stem form, this is to make sure I do not accidentally glue the stem to the form.

Stem Jointer

Now for the bending.   I cut two pieces from the spruce blank measuring 15/16 X 7/8 and place them in my homemade steamer box.

The steam box shown above is built form plywood. It’s 4 foot long and 6″ X 8″. I attached a wall paper steamer using a fiitting from Home Depot. I can steam for about 2 1/2 hours on one fill of the tank. After a couple of hours I’m ready to bend the stem.


I’ll leave this for 24 hours and then see if there is any spring back when the clamps are released.   After 24 hours I removed the clamps and the stem showed a lot of spring back. I’ll stick with the laminated ones which fit the curve perfectly.

Bend1spring back

After cleaning up the inner stems on the jointer I reattach them with a few clamps and then cut the top off with a Japanese pull saw. I say top but it’s actually the bottom.

Remember the boat is built upside down. The bottom board will terminate at each stem. The other end of the stem will be cut near the end of the project when decks are applied.

The inner stems will also have a rolling bevel on both sides to assure that the cedar strips sit flush on the stem. A rolling bevel is a bevel where the angle continuously changes. In the case of the guideboat it changes from somewhat sever to somewhat flat. The two  photos below illustrate that. Closer to the bottom of the boat the cedar strips approach the stem at a steep angle while nearer the top the angle start to flatten out.

I will use a spokeshave, block plane and sander to accomplish the bevel. I will do this later when I am ready to begin stripping.   Now I’m off to find a suitable piece of white pine for my bottom board. It needs to be approximately 16′ long 9″ wide and clear of any knots.  Progress will start to slow as I expect the bottom board to be time consuming, lots of cutting and shaping. More later.