Thursday, December 4, 2008

ground zero present

title> Freedom Tower Site
source> My Flickr

Part of the perks of my job is getting to work on or next to interesting projects. I was recently working on a building adjacent to ground zero and got to snap some pictures of it from above. As you can see, they've started quite a bit of work on the new freedom tower site. I just thought I'd share since it's such a symbol.

dreams will be dreams?

title> Sampling of Hardware
material> various
source> My Flickr

It's an ongoing dream of mine to attend The North Bennett Street School in Boston, MA. It is a trades school that has quite a reputation. They recently had their annual open house, so I decided to go and check it out, again. This was the second time I've gone there and everytime I go I just yearn more and more to attend. I believe that one day, I'll be in a position to at least take classes there but that day is not today so it's kind of a moot point. Anyway, It was very nice to get to talk to people in all of the programs. I'm
particularly interested in the Preservation Carpentry program and Furnituremaking/Cabinetmaking program, go figure. The focus of this school is fine craftsmanship and it is absolutely apparent when you walk into every classroom. Workbenches are filled with objects of beauty and attention to detail. You can tell they spend a lot of time going over handskills and technique.

title> Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
source> My Flickr

While in Boston I also went to see the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum. If you are ever in Boston I think it's probably one of my top 3 things to go see. Bascially its a retired mansion turned museum filled with perfectly preserved books, antiques, and art masterpieces. You would never know of all the treasures that hid inside from the outside of the building but that's part of the awesomeness.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


my latest research obsession has been Yosegi (japanese mosaic style) and Himitsu-Baku (japanese puzzle boxes). Ironically, the first time I saw one of these boxes was in Epcot Center at Walt Disney World. I guess that's why I love disney world so much, it always suprises me. Anyway, I spent a long time playing with it and figuring it out. I couldn't believe how precise all the joints were and the mosaic work. Not to mention if all the box did was just sit there that would be beautiful enough. There is not a whole lot of information that I could find on making these boxes but I did find a little bit about them. You can click here if you want to read more about the art of yosegi.

title> Himitsu-Baku Japanese Puzzle Box
style> Yosegi
material> wood and mosaic wood

source> and

Thursday, October 16, 2008

work meetings

title> Trinity Building Lobby in Manhattan
style> Gothic I believe
material> Wood, Stained Glass, Awesomeness

source> my flickr> blog photos

I happened to have a meeting in the trinity building in manhattan this week. Managed to get some not so stellar photographs. But it was one of the most amazingly beautiful building i've been to in a while. The exterior is really exquisite too but I didn't take a picture of it.

plane progress

title> Masking before the painting
my flickr> blog photos

title> Still a ways to go but look how shiny it is!
source> my flickr> blog photos

title> Not a bad start
source> my flickr> blog photos

My plane restoration is coming along slowly mostly because my time is limited. But anyway I thought I'd post some pictures. I started with cleaning up the body. I used some naval jelly to eat the rust and then I gave it a nice fresh coat of rust-begone-leum. Mostly I've just been lapping the sole. go figure. started with 100 grit and decided that I'd be better starting off with a lower grit. we shall see how that goes. At least things are starting to look nice. Maybe I'll take a break from lapping and sand the handles.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

hand plane anatomy

title> Anatomy of a Hand Plane

style> diagram
Taunton Press> Using Bench Planes Article

Like most beginner woodworkers everything I'm doing is self-taught. As well, this will be my first time of tuning up a hand plane. I thought that it might be useful to post some of the resources that I've found to figure out how to do this. Also, I decided it wouldn't hurt to just post a diagram of all the plane parts since every article talks about specific plane parts and it would be pretty hard to understand what they're talking about it you don't have a diagram.

As for hand plane restoration here are some videos and websites that I've read/watched through to mix and match a method for restoring my new-old planes:

Woodtreks's Website> Tune-Up and Restore Your Hand Plane
Folding Rule Show Blog> Stanley Hand Plane Restoration Parts I, II, and III
Major Panic's Website> Hand Plane Restoration Images (I'm mostly using this as my guide)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

restoring my hand planes

title> ebay special handplanes
style> old
my Flickr>l Handplane Restoration

So I've been busy restoring my old-new planes. They finally arrived in the mail after some mailing issues. I purchased a #4 and #5 Stanley-Bailey handplane from ebay a while ago. I got them for about $20 each. The list price for the #4 is $64.99 and #5 is $74.99. I'm curious to see how much time/money it will take to restore them compared to the cost of a new one. They actually didn't look too bad when I opened the box. The bottoms are pretty flat already which is the biggest deal when buying a handplane. I think the irons are pretty salvagable as well. All the parts are there and none of the screws are broken or rusted through. The only thing that was not so nice that I'll probably replace is the handle on the #4. Looks like the previous owner tried to make their own replacement and did a bad job fitting it. There is a bit of rust but that was expected and I'll be dealing with that in the restoration. There will be more pictures to come following my process.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Met

title> Misc. Pictures from The Met
style> various time periods American and European
material> various
source> The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Went to The Metropolitan Museum of Art recently. One of my favorite museums in NYC mainly because you could spend a week there and still not see all of it. We kind of rushed through most of it because we were on a strict time constraint but I did get to snap some pictures in some of their period rooms. There is always amazingly preserved furniture there. I always wonder how long it took to make each of these pieces especially during the Baroque period where everything was just over-the-top ornate. Well, maybe I'll be able to find out how long it takes me to make one of these one day.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Beagle and Pots Woodworking

title> Kitchen Design
style> contemporary
source> Beagle and Pots Gallery

I've recently started working part time at Beagle and Pots Woodworking. They are a small cabinetmaking shop that only really deals with pre-veneered plywood. It certainly makes the operation much more simple when you aren't dealing with solid wood. I guess most cabinetmaking shops are structured like this. Since, I can't really afford to take classes right now I figured getting paid and learning at the same time was the best way to go. We've arranged a sort of exchange. I offer my graphic design expertise and they teach me woodworking. I hope it works out.

**update: looks like this isn't really working

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

hobbitty hobbit.

Sure with the new Al Gore Green age there is all kinds of easily found green/sustainable building materials. But what could be better than using 100% natural building. Well this is how this pseudo-hobbit made his home and many others.

title> Plans for Woodland Home
style> Natural Building
material> Natural Materials
source> A Low Impact Woodland Home

title> Woodland Home Front
style> Natural Building
material> Natural Materials
source> A Low Impact Woodland Home

title> Woodland Home Inside
style> Natural Building
material> Natural Materials
source> A Low Impact Woodland Home

Monday, September 15, 2008


so i'm slowly collecting tools. I just bought my first ebay planes (a #4 and #5). Haven't recieved them yet but hopefully they'll be in okay shape, at least in good enough shape to be able to tune up. I also got a set of norton waterstones which I tested out today. I'm happy to report that i have happy sharp chisels now.

spiral stairs in the future.

title> Sprial Staircase at Iowa Capital Library
source> flickr user: haylcron

whenever I'm thinking about what my "future" house might look like I always envision a library with a spiral staircase. it would be cool if I could build one as awesome as this, maybe a smaller version.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

research and development.

When I first decided that I might want to be a professional woodworker I went to a million woodworking forums to see what people generally felt about switching careers to woodworking. I thought I would post some quotes from responses I read at forums for anyone else who might be in the same position as me. These are a mix of people who want their own business and people who just wanted to work for wood shops.

Ultimately, I feel that anyone should go for their dreams but be smart about it. Things don't just happen overnight. And you don't have to reinvent the wheel either. Companies will spend billions of dollars in the research and development sectors. If you're trying to do something that you don't know much about then the first step is to admit it and do the research and learn everything you can about it. Also, you have to be patient and motivated. I'm still figuring it all out as I go so we'll see if I can turn this dream into reality.


Somebody will always do it cheaper than you will, and most people are driven by price. I've gone from a team of 6 to working by myself and still can't do enough to pay the bills unless I work 80 hours a week and my 50 year old body won't allow that anymore. So I'm working to get into construction management or something like that where somebody else is responsible for payroll and all those headaches that make the cabinet business much less fun than just building cabinets. " - contributor from

"I've been in the business about 10 years after leaving government at 30. Many days I wonder what I was smoking... No pension, ridiculously low income, fixing mistakes, etc. I have a good market and lots of business, but with average margins, all it takes is one employee's mistake, or my own mistake, and all profit is gone. We do a lot of what I consider beautiful work, but as I get older, the need to make money is taking over." - contributor from

"Bad time... worst market... no health insurance... no retirement." - contributor from

"This is the largest hobby in the US (and Canada?), so there are literally millions that have that dream of telling the digit boss to cram it, buying some flannel shirts, and walking off into the haze of a woodshop to be that guy they always wanted to be. I think it is just a daydream, a fantasy, to be out in the dust and noise and slam and bam of a woodshop as compared to clicking keyboards and electrons racing around flipping digits. Indulge that fantasy and what will be the next? " - contributor from


I'm almost 60 and it's all in the challenge, pushing one's limits, learning something new. I'll probably never get rich at this. Mildly successful would be okay. You can't buy the personal satisfaction I take home every day. After all, money isn't everything." - contributor from

"He wishes to be an employee, not start a shop. So if he's unhappy in his present career and thinks that he'll be happier learning the trade, well why not? Life's too short to not pursue happiness." - contributor from

"Yep, some people dream of doing something rewarding. And some go to the grave regretting that they never tried. Some will actually try and fail. Some will do it for 5 or 10 or 35 years and get sick of it and move on to something else. So what? Who said you have to pick one thing and do it for your whole life? (Except your parents and high school guidance counselor, that is.) " - contributor from

"I have yet to experience any sexist problems in the work place. I have worked in three different settings and every place I have been, the guys I worked with respected me for my work ethic and ability as a serious cabinetmaker. I have absolutely no problem asking for help from any of the guys, and every one of them is willing to spend the time and effort to teach me new skills." - contributor from


"I'm sure you know how important it is to have a business plan, and a backup plan. But just knowing this isn't enough. You have to actually follow it. Only you know if this is right for you. Many people have done the same thing. Many have failed, some have succeeded, some may not make much money, but are extremely content with what they are doing." - contributor from

"If you're serious about crossing over to professional status, then take the time up front to accurately plan how you'll start, run, manage and promote your business. Get it down on paper so you'll have a clear and decisive direction to go in. This will help you work out a lot of the "starting a business" bugs most people don't think about until it's too late." - contributor from

"Women in construction and woodworking trades are always treated with disrespect. My suggestion? Venture out on your own. Start your own home improvement business beginning with small jobs such as trimwork, painting, cabinet refacing, and a host of other small jobs." - contributor from

Saturday, September 13, 2008

simple. multiple. beauty.

title> Wood Chandelier
style> contemp
material> probably recycled pine
source> unplggd

I usually go for the ornate. But I find that there is something very pleasing about simplistic aesthetics too.

in the beginning.

title> The First Table
style> shaker
material> quarter sawn sycamore and black walnut
source> made this in Woodworking 101

This little baby is what started my passionate adventures in crafting wood. I've always wanted to have a career in something creative. That is what led me to chose graphic design as my undergrad major. The gist of that story is that I ended up becoming more and more unhappy at the prospect of being a designer and a slave to the computer screen. It lacked a tactile, hands-on quality to it that made me yearn to be crafty. During my senior year I decided to fit extra credits into my schedule and take a woodworking class. This table is the product of that class and I realized that nothing made me more happy than when I was making wood sweat sawdust.

At the time, it was almost insane to think about throwing 5 hardworking years towards my degree away to switch to another career. It was by far the most idealistic and ambitious idea I had in my life. My carefully planned future had been thwarted by the invasion of wood. I thought that the rational alternative was to woodwork as a hobby and enjoy it that way. But i could not let go of the fact that graphic design was completely depressing me and I wanted a better match for a career choice.

I researched possible woodworking schools but my relationship situation brought me to NYC and there was no woodworking schools here to attend. I decided the next best thing was to get my foot into the door through a pre-apprenticeship training for building trades> Nontradional employment for Women (NEW). Building trade = cabinetmaking = woodworking and that would be a good place to start. Upon finishing program I found a internship at a woodworking shop> Hudson Furniture Inc. That was my first success and failure at getting a foot in the door of the woodworking world. Obviously, they make really cool furniture and it was a good experience but aside from it being the worst working environment, I was working in the office and not in the shop. I don't work there anymore.

So with that little bio-history, it brings me to today, the start of my blog. I have been in NYC for a year now and feel that my progress is worth documenting just because it consumes so much of what I am right now. I will be sharing my stories of success and failures and as well all the things that inspire me towards my goal of becoming a woodworker. One day when I've learned enough I hope to get my own design/build shop together but for now baby steps.