Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Where can I buy thick veneer?

 Today veneers are often sawn paper thin on automated machines. While this is understandable I also fear the pieces we make won’t last as long as we hoped. This is why sawing your own veneers is a recommend option. 

Below are two example on how veneer was sliced in the old days.

Today I recommend using a bandsaw or buying from certainly wood who offers a thick veneer section on their website. There isn’t a ton of designer options but there is plenty of great material.

Examples from certainly wood website:

Another issue with manufactured sliced veneer being so thin is that the logs are soaked in water for a long time and steam dry heated as they are sawn. This removes a lot of the beauty and color of the wood. But I’ll dive into this much later on another blog post. 

A bandsaw like a delta 14 inch with a 1/2 inch wide blade with 2-4 teeth per inch skip tooth does wonder in resawing solid stock. If you can get air dried lumber the results I believe are even better. Just reminder to set up the bandsaw properly have your jointer and planer tuned up so the veneer can be cleaned up with ease.

Lastly don’t fear trying veneer, it amazing what you can do with wood at 1/16 of inch thick. 


Sunday, August 13, 2023

Veneer thickness these days!


 When I got into the trades I remember my mentors complaining how thin veneer was being sawn/sliced. At the time 1/32 veneer became the norm versus 1/28. If you’ve never worked with veneer the 1/32 designation means in 1 inch thick material the veneer manufacturer cuts 32 pieces (1/32 means 32 pieces). Fast forward to today 1/42 is the the standard thickness.

I understand that wood is precious and sadly we as humans have destroyed our Forrest. But I’m also thinking longevity and the future of the pieces made.

Unfortunately at the 1/42 thickness the veneer fractures and tiny cracks appear over time and really there isn’t a great fix for it.

Thicker veneer allows for filling and sanding. At 1/42 in thickness I wouldn’t bother since you will burn through the veneer and hit the substrate quickly.  

This is the reason I believe in sawing my own veneer at 1/16 of an inch or thicker. This thickness allows me to hand plane, scrape, sand, and smile that the future restorers have the ability to fix my furniture/cabinetry. 

Now please understand this process of sawing my own veneer is more time consuming and often mor money. But I’m not just making for the current, but for the future. 

With all that said, there are still amazing makers making pieces with this thickness of veneer. The main difference is that these pieces won’t be abused in the everyday life, but they will be cherished and not used daily. This ensures longevity. 

So think long and hard before you just grab a piece of veneer off the shelf. 

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Climbing that mountain

 Sometimes the journey of climbing the mountain is more overwhelming when looking up. But once you start you just need focus on just one step at time or better yet a 1/4 mile at a time. 

As you climb the air becomes more restrictive but you adjust and power through with a slower pace or pause here or there to see the view from where you are. Often you realize holy shit look how far I’ve made it already. This process repeats itself and once you make it to the top you savor the moment. 

Now this isn’t Mount Everest, but this isn’t your first mountain you climbed and battled through. 

This is similar to owning a business and there is nothing wrong with finding the next mountain to climb that is bigger and more challenging. And there is nothing wrong with saying this was a hell of a ride but now the next mountain I want to be part of team and climb this mountain together. 

So whatever choice you make just know it’s okay to join a team and it’s okay to tackle that new mountain together. This team could be the people you hire or the team you join. But sooner or later reflect back on how easy those small mountains were and how life catches up to you and how life is flying by.

Sometimes life throws you lemons 🍋 and you make lemonade. But the story doesn’t end there, sometimes someone has vodka and it’s time to sit back and savor the skills gained and work doing what you love with a lot less headaches.

This is where I am in life. I am a maker first who loves working with his hands. But houses were my first love and working on them is my true passion. I am happy to have learned all the skills from high end furniture work and I use these skills daily. 

But in my life there has been many bumps in the road and I needed to look in the mirror and realize there is more to life than work. That this American dream I thought isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. 

So here I am happier than ever before because I made the decision to make what I want for me, and to work with a team and climb that mountain with more guarantees.

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Sorry we’re closed! Permanently

 The hardest decision in my career was to close shop to the public and not take on work.

As I reflect back to this still new decision I must say it was the best decision I made! This sounds crazy for some folks who think they know me, but I made a choice to live, to have a life, to work less, to better my health and to reduce stress.

Don’t get me wrong I love and miss my shop. I love all my tools, working behind my bench and working from my tool chest. 

What I don’t miss is all the phone calls, all the emails of inquiry, the contracts, the shop help or the lack of productivity in 99 percent of anyone I hired. I hated chasing money! I especially disliked dealing with scumbag contractors! Or the people who don’t pay and make every excuse in the book. Yet they are still out there spending money they don’t have. 

What many people don’t realize is that repair work has one speed, and that one speed is needed for 40 hours. When you don’t produce at that speed you lose money. This effort or lack thereof can make or break you in a small business over time. This work isn’t hgtv. The work isn’t fancy. The abuse on your body and health is real. 

But this whole make or break methodology is what I lived by. The whole hustle and grind. The dirty hands clean money. The do what you love and never work a day in your life. Better yet my favorite statement was, I work half days (12 hours).  I can’t believe I was proud to work 12 hour days 6 days a week for years! 

Now all these statements are great motivators at some point in your life, but they can also swallow you up and make you realize life has passed you by. 

I have realized these past few years that many of us shouldn’t work for ourselves, including myself. I am a great employee and I hustle and grind for my employer. The biggest difference is that I hustle and grind at work for 8 hours a day and I’m done. I work 40 hours a week and I’m done. It’s amazing and I love it. 

For me this new work flow is a luxury and a blessing. Especially after 18 years working for myself. This new life of not being a slave to my trade allows me to make what I want, how I want it, and no one to answer to other than myself. 

There is some inner peace with this approach and I truly look forward to making a house full of furniture that my family and I can enjoy and pass on.

So while I’m sorry we’re closed. In reality I’m so happy to walk away and go back to doing what I love the most! But this time I’m living a beautiful peaceful life as well. 



Sunday, April 30, 2023

Never imagined!


These last 5 years have been a roller coaster  and surely many of you feel the same way. Life is significantly different for me, with the loss of  Master Phil Lowe and the loss of my mother. I can say the death of these two  have truly effected me and changed my life. 

As I reflect back these 5 years I am reminded of  the last phone conversation I had with Master Lowe. The conversation went as so; Fred, sorry for your loss. I love you so much. Life has a way to throw you a curveball. Listen, don’t work as much as I did. Don’t think legacy is all that matters. Family matters more. I’m proud of you. I love you. We talk again soon. 

End of conversation. 

This of course brought back memories of the last conversation I had face to face with my mother. My mother TERESA gave me a great hug/kiss and said, be safe we don’t know what Covid is yet and I am so scared. She cried in my arms and of course I cried. We said I love you and I was off. 

 I lost my mother a month or so later to Covid. Covid took her from us in just 3 days at the hospital. We couldn’t see her or feel her. The vision of our last video call with her is an image I can’t forget.

As I write this the tears are flowing. The anger and sadness is still there and this feels like this event just happened. 

Now don’t get me wrong I screwed up plenty before and after the loss of my heroes. I tried to drown myself with work to keep my mind busy. I failed miserably. But no one seemed to truly care. All they cared about was where is my stuff. And this is understandable now as I reflect back, but during this time period I was depressed, angry, and lost. While my pain isn’t an excuse, it’s the truth.

Fast forward to Mother’s Day 2022. My amazing wife and mother in law sat me down for what basically feels like an intervention. They both shared their love for me as a partner and a son. They saw me fading away and being a shell of myself.  And what can I say but agree.

After this conversation I lead myself down roads of reflection, stubbornness, sadness, and exploration. This in turn lead me to the biggest decision of my career. 

It was time to visit the doctor, to close down shop for the public and take a job. More on this decision and my process at a later date. But for now I can tell you I never dreamed to be where I am today. 

Saturday, April 22, 2023

The Contracting Handbook Podcast

 Hello all!

It’s been a while! It’s amazing how life has changed in so many ways. My work flow has changed and my business has changed as well. But more about that later as I try to get back to writing again and sharing my business decisions. I hope to share in the near future how and why everything changed, my failures in running a business, my regrets, and how the passing of ones in life has effected me. 

But today I wanted to share an episode recording I participated in for the Contractor Handbook. Here is a link:

In this episode you start to learn how life has changed and how I have changed. I hope you can listen and enjoy the episode. 

My passion for the craft is back, which is something I had lost these past few years. I’m very excited again for the future and my craft.

Until next time.


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Remembrance for Master Lowe


My last semester at the Furniture Institute of Massachusetts (FIM) was in 2006. Unfortunately, I reached a place where I realized I was not able to pay for my last semester of school, despite working full time while also going to school. I was faced with making what felt like an impossible decision: pack up and return home, meaning I would not graduate; or, become homeless, so I could use my rent money towards FIM. I approached Phil, hoping we could come up with a payment plan so I could remain his student. I believe that Phil saw the stress in my eyes and my passion for remaining at FIM. Shortly thereafter, he called me into his office and he told me that he wanted me to finish. He made me an offer I could never refuse, and for which I will always be grateful. Phil asked me to work for him, generously putting 50% of every job on which I worked towards my balance for the semester. Phil made a personal sacrifice in not having my tuition up front, in order to continue fostering my love for woodworking. Phil Lowe was a master of his craft, an outstanding teacher, and above all, a truly generous man.