Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Screws that won't budge. What to do.....

As a restorer  I often am taking something apart and reassembling it. Often the screws that I am removing are slotted. I know, I know. Most of you hate slotted. But I on the other hand love them. So what do you do when a screw doesn't want to budge? Well a long time ago I learned by heating the head of the screw with a soldering iron you can make the wood pull away from the heat. Also if you heat the screw hot enough, once the metal cools it shrinks just enough for the screw to  be loosen. The soldering iron tip I find the most useful is the one that tapers on all four faces and fits into the screw slot.  

Once the screw has been heated a very important too you will need is a proper screw driver that fits properly in the screw slot. Another great tip is to bevel the corners of the screw driver tip so it doesn't ruin the slot.  We restorers like to keep things nice and tidy. Lastly once you've heated the screw and everything is cooled down, make sure to first twist right to break any bond and than rotate left to remove the screw. 

The next blog post will be about keeping track of your hardware. So stay tuned for that. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Shop essentials- "Rags"

Shop rags are very handy items. I have 70 pounds or so in the shop. I use them for finishing, dusting, waxing, wiping sharpening grit and grime, cleaning up furniture or glue.  But finding quality and consistent rags that don't cost you an arm and a leg is a different discussion. Or is it? For years I would buy quality rags, 5 pounds $25 dollars. I thought this was a great deal since the rags were all the same size and the quality was great. Come to find out the rags were way over priced. So I went to the big box stores for rags to save a buck. Boy was that a mistake.   

So a few years ago when I was visiting a school I noticed they had cases of rags. The instructor at the school noticed me looking at the rag box and said take some we have tons. I felt I had to take some since I already spent almost $500 on rags that year already. As I always say anything to save me some money.  While grabbing a hand full of rags I noticed a shipping label that said Textile Waste Supply Company. 

It didn't take long for me to google the company and find the company headquarters. The information can be seen below in image one.  I bet you can guess where I  purchase my recycled high cotton count sheet rags and t-shirt rags in 5 pound billets today. Lets just say the savings are just amazing. 

If you are in the market to save money and need quality rags than I highly recommend Textile Waste Supply Company in Charlestown MA. 

Happy Wiping. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Parlee Lumber and Box Co.- Thank you.

I often hear many woodworkers complaining about lumber mills/yards becoming fewer and fewer. I always smirked and said I don't have to worry about that. Or so I thought. Sadly one of the oldest, if not oldest mill in New England is closing down. The company has been around for about 250 years and located in Littleton MA. Once called Parlee Lumber and Box Co. a family owned lumber yard and a staple for all craftspeople in New England. 

The lumber mainly sold at Parlee was Eastern White Pine but if you knew them well like I did,  than you would know that they also had Walnut, Cherry, Birch, and Maple in the way back hidden for the best customers. I was lucky and honored enough to be called a great customer. But I really think I got to become a great customer because of the respect I had for the yard. I always stacked the racks just as good or better than I found them, and I always paid respects to the workers.   

The pine available was either air dried or kiln dried. In C select or D Select. Clear one side. But they also offered pine mulch, tongue and groove, shipped lapped, stakes, live edge, table top cuts, and 40 inch wide 20 feet long. It was amazing what the mill had. 

But sadly it all comes to an end in a month or so. Which is depressing. What will replace it? Most likely crappy condos, townhouses, or possibly poorly built homes without any character or proper proportions.   

What also saddens me is the marking of a second lumber yard that has disappeared locally. Where does that leave me or should I say us? Well now I am like many others starting to complain that I need to travel at least an hour each way to get my lumber. Soon even that will disappear. What are we truly suppose to do as craftspeople if our sources of supply are disappearing?  But what is worst is the quality of lumber is shrinking and the prices are doubling.  

Sunday, July 9, 2017

My favorite sideboard

My inspirations for form, style, and proportions come from the pass. I love the sideboard seen below but sadly its in storage and hasn't seen the light in many years, which I find ridiculous. I'm pretty familiar with the form and construction of this piece but can't get into the details of it due to a contract I signed. Which is another ridiculous story.  But I am hoping to get access to this piece in the near future and bring it to life by making a reproduction of all the awesome details.



Object Place: New York City, New York


Overall: 100 x 205.1 x 78.7 cm (39 3/8 x 80 3/4 x 31 in.)




Mahogany ,satinwood inlays, pine, poplar (?)


1928, Harry V. Weil, dealer; 1920s, Israel Sack, dealer; sold to Edward R. Fearing (private collector); ca. 1962, reacquired by the Sack firm; later acquired by Lewis Cabot; by descent to the donor, Mrs. Judy Cabot Bullitt, 120 East End Ave., New York (Accession Date September 13, 1978)

Credit Line

Gift of the Lewis P. Cabot Family

Chest on Chest in The MFA Boston

Design and carving attributed to Samuel McIntire (American, 1757–1811)

Object Place: Salem, Massachusetts


Overall: 229.6 x 118.7 cm (90 3/8 x 46 3/4 in.)




Mahogany, mahogany veneer, ebony and satinwood inlay, pine


James and Darcy Marsh Gallery (Gallery 121D)

A masterpiece of American furniture, this is likely the “Case of mahogany drawers $55” listed in the inventory as being in “Madame Derby’s” bedchamber. The carving is indicative of McIntire’s late career, when his skills were at their height. The central basket brimming with flowers and the allegorical figure of America appear elsewhere in his carving, as do the urns, which relate to his carving above the door in the Oak Hill parlor. Elizabeth Derby’s interest in the neoclassical style, in symbols of America, and in preserving the traditions of her distinguished family is clear in this chest. The overall form-inspired by eighteenth-century, Rococo case furniture-also relates to other examples of this form purchased from Boston and Salem craftsmen by members of the Derby family.


Said to have been made for Elizabeth Derby West; by descent in the Derby family of Salem to the Curtis family of Boston; purchased in 1939 for the M. and M. Karolik Collection of Eighteenth-Century American Arts from nine members of the Curtis family, including Miss Frances G. Curtis; Gift of Maxim Karolik, 1941.

Monday, July 3, 2017

MakerCast Podcast Interview

A couple weeks ago I had the honor to partake in one of my favorite podcast, The MakerCast podcast. The podcast is hosted by Jon Berard a machinist who dives into craftspeople pass and current journey in world of makers. Its a great podcast and one I highly recommend.  The current episode is about me, my journey, my schooling, my business, my struggles, and much more. Please give it a listen and let me know what you think. Here is the link:


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

School Box Class at Lie-Nielsen Tool Works

On June 3rd & 4th I was invited to teach a class at Lie Nielsen Tool Works, located in Warren, Maine. For me this is a humbling opportunity and well now its an experience.  I am happy to say the class was sold out and everyone learned a ton and had fun. Many of the students completed the school box and many are in the final stages of completion.  

If you don't know of the school box project than please head over to Lost Art Press and take a look at the amazing book titled, "The Joiner and Cabinetmaker". The school box is one of three projects detailed in the book.   

Jim was one of those students that was so good that I had to keep up with him . 

 The two photographs above are from my studio where I am in middle of making the school box. I always make the project before the class starts to prepare myself mentally and verbally. More importantly I consider the possible mistakes that may occur and the possible options to correct the possible mistakes.

Highlights of the class....

Planes just hanging out. Ready to be used and tested. 

All the saws are sharp and ready for work. 

The students hard at work. 

Deneb from Lie Nielsen going over the honing guide, the sharpening process, and the ruler trick. I think I am  a convert. 
 Highlights of the showroom....

Every tool Lie Nielsen offers is available for use. 

I went and visited a BNB that a few of the Cerritos Woodworking College Students were staying at.
The view was amazing. 

Hanging cabinet by Chris Schwarz.
Another highlight of the weekend was Liz my assistant in the class. Liz works at Lie Nielsen and has a major in furniture design and making.  I personally think Liz will make a great instructor. The passion she has and the skill she possess is just amazing. 


Camerino was one of two students from the Cerritos College of Woodworking.  I honestly have never seen a modern woodworker cut dovetails so flawless and so perfect. It was scary how skilled this kid was. I wish he lived closer so I can hire him to work with me. 

Just about every 1/2 hour I would inform the class that if this starts to feel like work it means its time to sharpen. 

Mark was very happy in the progress. 

Mr. Carpenter was a hard worker. There was huge progress in the hand skills after this weekend. 

There may not be many of us FIMsters but one thing is certain we are damn good. 

Glue up time. 

Nailing the bottom. 

Cut away plane. 

Cut away low angle jack. 

We use blue tape to hold things in place while the glue dries. 

Eric one the students from Cerritos Woodworking School in California. I took this image because he reminds me of Cheech. In all seriousness Eric is very talented and a great person. I hope he is very success in his woodworking career. 

Benjamin another student from Cerritos College is a great person. So skilled and passionate. Benjamin and I have a lot  in common. I wish he lived closer. I think we would become great friends. Another young man that I would love to hire. 

Just fitting those dovetails. These dovetails were flawless. It was breathtaking.

Well that is all folks. The class was a success. I work hard in having the students leave with a completed or almost completed project. I hate having students leaving with piles of parts. So my goal is to work them like employees but in a fun enjoyable atmosphere. I think I did just that.

Till next happy dovetails and remember this stuff is just wood and it grows on trees.