You Just Don’t Know Me Anymore


I got off a plane recently and my ride didn’t recognize me (though we’ve met a great number of times over the last decade). The sandwich shop in my neighborhood used to start writing down my standing order when I walked in the door; now the servers act as if we’ve never met. At the local bar, I get the same summer drink every time; the bartender used to reach for the bottle when she saw me. Now she says, “What can I get for you?” And more than one person has done a double take.

I have, you see, given in to my 40s; I’ve stopped dyeing my hair (which I’ve been doing since it first started turning from strawberry to grey a decade ago). It simply took too much time every five to six weeks; I hate sitting still. Plus, it cost a lot of money; I’d rather spend that on handplanes and walnut.

But it seems my hair was the only recognizable thing about me. Now, you’ll just have to find me by the faint whiff of sawdust. And old-lady smell (read: cats).


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‘Once More into the Beech’

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 9.09.55 PM

Four years ago, we received at PopWood a couple review copies of “500 Cabinets” (Lark) in which were pictured…500 cabinets. The book was (and still is, one presumes) chock-full of interesting and creative casework, much of it modern. And for some reason, a lot of modern furniture gets what I think are amusing and confusing (and often-times pretentious) names. Christopher Schwarz wrote a much funnier post about it than can I – so click here to read it; I’ll wait.

For the next issue of the magazine, I’ve attempted a nod toward modernity (though the Shaker influence is clear) – a hanging cabinet with contrasting woods (walnut and spalted beech, from a beech buy that’s shown up in several other PW articles in the last decade) and a live-edge top that has a void at one end.

This thing needs a pretentious name. My suggestion is the headline above – though I also like “Travaille Épuisant en Noyer.”

I’m showing it to you here in black and white with a fuzz filter…because that seems more pretentious. And also because I don’t want to give it all away on our first date; you’ll have to pay $5.99 first.

Please offer your suggestions below. (Chris likes “Follies of Pumping Equipment No. 12.) The winner (as determined by me) gets a box of Gitanes, a black turtleneck and the right to don a supercilious sneer. (Not really. I’m not giving up my black turtleneck sweater or my sneer. But I’ll send you a box of Gitanes if you like.)

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Not Dead Yet


The picture above pretty much says it all (and it also says, correctly, that I am a slob). My next woodworking project may well be a trundle bed that fits under my desk (of course, I’ll have to move the boxes and other crap currently underneath to make room).

My fervent hope is that after Woodworking in America, I’ll have a spare hour or so to go shopping for the mattress.


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Welcome-mat Voodoo

It once had a lovely motif of birds, branches and blooms. Really it did.

It once had a lovely motif of birds, branches and blooms. Really it did.

Curb appeal: That’s what my mother thinks caused my house to not sell last year. Well, not curb appeal, but the lack thereof. It all boiled down, she said, to the un-welcoming welcome mat. Never mind that the house has been recently painted and the garden actually has in it living and flowering plants.

I think that’s ridiculous. A 24″ x 36″ bit of coir simply can’t mean the difference between “I MUST buy this house!” and “RUN AWAY!” Can it?

But yeah, the mat was a bit ratty.

So, now that a) my house is off the market, b) I found a mat I like on sale and c) my mom can’t prove herself right,  I bought a new door mat.

Basically, it’s a $20 cat-scratching pad. But colorful! Not (yet) shredded! And welcoming! (The pineapple is, after all, the symbol for hospitality.)

And if someone comes knocking at my door with an offer, well, mom beats St. Joseph, and I will eat crow.


And oh dear. In looking at the above photo, I’m pretty sure her next directive will be to paint the black planters.

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Not Yet Ready For Prime Time

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 3.39.53 PMAfter the many, many dovetails I cut for the kitchen drawers (including those for the several boxes I made the wrong size…oops), added to those I cut at the Lie-Nielsen open house* two weeks back, I’m not yet ready to again pick up my DT saw (OK, one of my DT saws).

I’m now working on a project for PWM. A very rough model of the back is shown above; the front will be revealed in the mag. I’ve not yet worked out all (any, really) of the interior details. What I do know is that there isn’t one dovetail in it. Time to get reacquainted with my tenon saw (of which I have but one).

* For those of you who were in Maine, I was cutting less-than-stellar joints on purpose, dammit! The point was to show how to fix mistakes. Tactical error on my part; next time, I’ll pack some perfect corners. Or, ya know, demonstrate hand-cut mortise-and-tenon joints instead.

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The Look of Lazy

My stunt cats, JJ and Possum. I bribed 'em with Greenies treats. (Viola is too cool for such obvious tricks.)

My stunt cats, JJ and Possum. I bribed ‘em with Greenies treats. (Viola is too cool for such obvious tricks.)

Nope. Not a lick of progress.

I needed a place at which to eat, so I moved the ill-fitting antique table back into the kitchen, where it offends me daily by violating the plane of the window trim and window. And on which I bark my knees every time I sit down to eat.

The last piece of base moulding? Still not attached. I’ve not even contemplated buying the shoe moulding, lumber for the cabinets’ faux feet or beams for the mini-Roubo island thingy. The beech backsplashes that I need to install on the non-sink counters? Still sitting on my bench at work, in unprocessed board form.

Most of the tools, the air compressor and empty hardware and appliances boxes? Still in the dining room.

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

Lots of travel, a conference to plan, a dissertation to write, freelance manuscripts and a magazine to edit…I’m simply swamped.

But it’s all driving me a little nutty. I want to be finished…if only I could find the time.

There is, after all, a third-floor bathroom that is in need of a total gut job. Fun!



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A Vintage Cottage Kitchen


Deciding to not sell my house right away has resulted in extreme laziness regarding the finishing touches to my kitchen. Everything is now functional; who needs toe-kicks, thresholds or shoe moulding, really? Plus, I’ve been busy with more pressing concerns: my dissertation, editing Roy Underhill’s delightful, funny and thought-provoking “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker! (A Novel with Measured Drawings)” and copy-editing Peter Galbert’s book on Windsor chairmaking (which is wicked good).

Also, I’ve been out of town a bit, and the cats don’t give two paw swipes about how the kitchen looks; to them, it is merely the room in which food is always available…and treats are in the offing therein if they meow at me in a pitiful enough manner (read: in any manner).

While in North Carolina two weeks ago, I stayed in the the cottage above. It’s on Roy and Jane Underhill’s mill property, so it will be no surprise to learn that being there feels much like stepping back 80 years in time (despite the Internet service, air-conditioning and plenty of hot water).

Roy has been renovating the cottage (which I believe is where the keeper lived when the mill was in operation) for several years now, and the kitchen is almost done. Last year, I recall there being a late 70s refrigerator and stove; now, it’s decked out with period-appropriate appliances. When I do get around to selling my house and tackling a new rehab (preferably before my knees give out completely), I’d like to match the look of the appliances to the house’s period. But I like Victorians; it’s hell getting blocks of ice delivered these days.


Adorable – but it doesn’t fit a boxed 12-pack of Diet Coke.

The “new” cottage refrigerator is adorable – but it hearkens back to a time when there weren’t as many readily available items that require cold storage…or maybe I need to cut down on the number of wine, Diet Coke and malt-liquor beverages I keep on hand.

The stove, however, is awesome – despite gas rings that are either fully on or off, and must be lit with a match. It did a fine job of heating water for morning coffee and evening tea – though past experience leads me to suspect the oven temps are a bit inconsistent (we had a similar stove when I was a kid).


The rest of the cottage is decorated in a similar vintage nature, with period furniture, overflowing bookshelves, a wood stove for heating (I’ve never been there during cold months…are there cold months?) and an old typewriter at a window overlooking the woods and stream behind the trees.



Plus, there is a bust of Shakespeare beneath a picture of a cat. I felt right at home.


But now that I am home, I suppose I should attach that last piece of base moulding and get started on the toe kicks, backsplash, etc. Or not. Another few months of ignoring the missing/unimportant bits, and I’ll forget about them. How do I know? I finally completed the bathroom trim two days before putting the house on the market last summer. That renovation was otherwise finished six years ago.

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