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An aggregate of many different woodworking blog feeds from across the 'net all in one place! These are my favorite blogs that I read everyday...
Attending the Woodworking in America conference was a little different for us this year. My wife and I were both running cameras for various sessions (which got us in free!). On the first day, my wife ran cameras for Graham Blackburn, as well as for Brian Coe, a joiner who supervises all the costumed interpreters at Old Salem. Meanwhile, I took my own kids down to Old Salem to see the sights.
The next day, I ran camera for Phil Lowe as he showed how to make a full-scale drawing of a chair, and for Matt Cianci as he taught saw sharpening. Thanks to Matt, I now know what I’ve been doing wrong. My next sharpening attempts should be better. I also took a quick spin with the kids around the Marketplace. I could have spent all day there, but as it was, the kids seemed to hover between enjoyment and bemusement.
My son, R, found a mallet just his size at the Lee Valley display. He promptly tried to hammer in the pegs it had been hanging on.
My kids also got a good look at the high-tech, mechanized side of woodworking. The Legacy CNC Woodworking booth featured a CNC machine that was cutting names and designs into pieces of cedar.
All four of the kids took home a custom-made nameplate.
Since this event was part of the kids’ schooling experience (life is learning, after all), we made up a pictorial scavenger hunt for the Marketplace. To make the list, my wife and I looked at the list of exhibitors online, visited their websites, and picked out pictures of items we thought would be likely to show up at their booths. I think the kids found everything on the list, except for Roy Underhill.
One of the items on the list was the Knew Concepts fretsaw. My daughter, A, got to try it out. (My wife wants one now.) My youngest daughter, M, learned to positively identify a backsaw, and she went around the room picking out every single backsaw she could find.
K also got to try out the travishers made by Claire Minihan and offered by Peter Galbert. Claire was on hand to give K some pointers, but she got the hang of it pretty quickly. I hope to see this more often: young women working wood.
More pictures of the event coming soon!
Tagged: Brian Coe, Claire Minihan, CNC, Graham Blackburn, Knew Concepts, Lee Valley, Matt Cianci, Old Salem, Peter Galbert, Phil Lowe, WIA, WIA 2014, Woodworking in America
When I left Plimoth Plantation in June, I wrote that I would be pursuing other aspects of woodworking beyond 17th-century joined oak furniture. But I also laid out that I wasn’t giving up the oak stuff, just adding to it. Bowls, spoons, baskets, weirdo boxes (coming soon) and more…
And I have had the best summer ever, picking away at aspects of woodworking both old and new to me…but now it’s time to bring back to the blog some joined oak furniture, carved all over.
I dug my “real” workbench out of storage, and some tools and borrowed a work-space from my friend Ted Curtin – who thankfully almost never makes joined furniture anymore, (he’s a school teacher now – that’s good, because he’s better than me at oak stuff!)
Today I shuffled some stuff around, and will start in soon on shooting carved boxes, chests and more for an upcoming book on joinery.
Between travels that is…
It’s Sunday afternoon on September 14 and I’m on my way home from Woodworking in America 2014. As I stare out the airplane window I can already feel the beginning of what I refer to as “the WIA mourning period” kicking in.
It’s not a regret that I attended or didn’t make it to every class on my list, instead it is a feeling of loneliness that occurs shortly after I leave the event and head home.
As a fellow woodworker, you know ours is a solitary hobby. We frequently work alone in our shops for hours on end, and equally often we don’t have nearby friends or family who are also woodworkers. So outside of the shop there’s no one to share our enthusiasm and excitement over mastering a new skill or purchasing a tool.
At Woodworking in America the whole paradigm of solitary woodworking is turned upside down and on its head. You find yourself surrounded by people who not only know exactly why it is that you get excited about a hand-cut dovetail, but share with you their own elation for them.
And while at home, typically the closest you might get to seeing some of the instructors who were talking at WIA is by reading an article in a magazine, picking up a copy of one of their books, or even watching a DVD. While at WIA you’ll have had a chance to watch them speak in front of a class, ask them a question in the hallway, and maybe even hang out with them at an event in the evening.
Of course what really brings on the “mourning period” for me is the last night. When we meet for dinner and drinks one more time, talk about what excited us, show off what we bought in the marketplace, and what we’ll get started on when we get home.
We exchange contact information, take pictures and maybe even make plans to get together long before the next WIA. It’s no exaggeration when I write that every time I’ve attended Woodworking in America I’ve left with more friends than I arrived with.
If you ask me what my favorite part of the weekend was, you better plan on having a long conversation, because there wasn’t just one or two things, it was everything!
The staff at Popular Woodworking Magazine manage to consistently pull off an event that can’t be topped. Year-after-year they bring in top-notch instructors, assemble an amazing market place and plan extra events that are like nothing you’ll find elsewhere.
If you’ve never attended an event like Woodworking in America, you need to plan on it at least once. I can say without a doubt that you won’t regret it.
We’ll have additional coverage of what went on at WIA – pictures, videos and blog posts – as the week goes on! Keep an eye on this space for more.
I got a couple of hours in the shop before it got too hot to work today (when is the weather going to break anyway?), and made good progress on the stained glass for the Thorsen cabinet door. If I could get a solid day in the shop I’d be long since done I think.
Anyway, I started by re-making two pieces of the top pane with a different color for more contrast. I think it will look better this way. So it changes from this:
Once the seams were soldered the first one would have looked less uniform, but I like having the purple there. It’s hard to get the final effect looking at just the pieces, so I’m going on faith a little . If it looks horrible when I’m done I can always hurl it across the shop after all.
Then I started on the small panels on the right, I laid out the clear, cut and found all there panels. I followed the same sequence as I showed in my last post, I cut and ground the full sized pane to fit the opening in my copper framework, then I cut and ground the areas the needed to be removed for the colored areas. With some nice music on the stereo this goes really quickly.
Then I started cutting and fitting the colored glass. I laid out which colors I wanted to use in which spots on my master pattern to keep it straight. Where I cloud shape should span two panes I made them the same color. Again, that effect is lost when you’re just looking at the pieces, so it important to have a master pattern with this information.
So that just leaves the large pane on the bottom left. The larger panes are trickier for me, especially with glass glass like this that has inclusions and irregularities. It’s really prone to having the crack propagate away from the scored line, but I have three sheets, so I should be able to get it done.
In my above video I share how I apply a finish to a new or antique saw handle, including a trick for keeping fingers off of the finish! This will be very useful for people who like to refurbish old saw handles.
What are some of your tricks for applying a finish to a woodworking saw handle? My trick involves having fishing line from the ceiling and looping both ends around a bolt that protrudes through the saw handle hole.
It helps me to keep my hands off the finish as much as possible, and allows the wet handle to air dry without any part resting on a surface. You could also run a slim dowel through the saw handle and place it on top of a box.
What finish do I now use on my handsaw and handplane handles? A few months ago my friend Bill Anderson encouraged me to try Minwax Antique Oil Finish (best price here) followed by a coat of Mylands Traditional Wax Polish (best price here). Bill’s friend Larry Preuss, a planemaker from Michigan, introduced him to this finishing combo. Now I love this high-build finish, because of its ease in application and it’s lovely finish. I’ve even used it as a top coat over milk paint, and it works great.
I just apply 2-3 coats of the Minwax oil, according to the directions on the can. Then when the final coat has dried for 24 hours I apply the furniture wax and again buff it until it has a nice sheen.
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Tomorrow morning, I depart Winston-Salem for a long and lonely drive to Cincinnati in the slow, loud and uncomfortable 24′-long truck (I can’t believe I’m allowed to operate this thing without a CDL license!). So I have a little time to kill. After four days of fun, frivolity and being on my feet nonstop, I just don’t think I have it in me to walk any farther than the room […]
I got some responses about the 0.1 mm setting of the chipbreaker. For me personally that's nothing extraordinary. Usually I have it set a bit further away in my smoother, but when the need arises, there is no problem to set it that close. But I understand it is not easy for everyone. Here is a tip I read on UKworkshop.co.uk allthough I have seen it before.
I use a piece of softwood, Set the blade upright and push it down into the wood. Then I slide the chipbreaker down and tighten the screw.
The result when looking on the microscope is a very usefull 0.13 mm distance:
Before it got too hot yesterday and I abandoned ship to go buy a new TV (and ultimately returned to the shop to knock together a kludge to hold the TV and related paraphernalia) I made a credible start on the stained glass for the door of the Thorsen Cabinet.
I started by setting up a wood frame to hold the two copper surrounds I made earlier. The intent with the pattern board is to hold the two copper frames in orientation as they will be in the door, and to keep from springing the sides and messing up the fit.
I fit some paper into the wood frame, and started developing the pattern for the glass. I traces the inside edge of the copper frame, then sketched the “cloud” design in pencil, tweaking it until I was happy with it, then I inked in with a fine point sharpie.
The process for cutting the glass is pretty simple in concept, score and snap, but the reality is that curves add complexity. And the uneven texture of the glass gives it a mind of it’s own. I cut the pieces of glass for the left side first, but got a crack in the big one. That’s life, I bought extra expecting that nibbling out little pieces in a big sheet was going to be tricky.
I really love this clear glass. It has a few bubbles and an irregular hand-made appearance. It’s “iridized”, which means it has a thin metallic coating that gives it a purplish cast. Part of why this piece got away from me is that I scored it on the front instead of the back. The back is smoother. Also the glass needs to be well-supported when scoring, otherwise the pressure from scoring will start a crack.
So I ignored the bottom section and focused on finishing the top section first. I used grozing pliers to snap off any little pieces that didn’t come off and the score, then I ground the edge so it was a slightly loose fit in the opening in the copper.
Then I laid it over my pattern and traced the cut lines for the cloud design. I flipped the glass face down and scored it in stages. First a straight or sweeping cut to get close to the layout line. This can be snapped by hand or with “running pliers”. I’ll have to do a separate post on the tools as I don’t have pictures handy.
Once the first cut is snapped, I scored a service of shallow arcs into the inside curves. These will be snapped off using the grozing pliers. I’m not really very good at this, but it seems to work. If I can get within a 1/16″ of my line I’m happy.
After snapping all the little bits, and repeating the cuts on the other end of this piece, I’m ready to take it to the glass grinder.
These are the three pieces of glass I got to use for the cloud shapes. I’m starting out with the one on the bottom left, which is spear, white, pink and champagne. I suspect I’ll make a few pieces in more than one color as I go through this and decide what looks best. All of these have an iridized coating like the clear that I’m using.
Same process for the little pieces, with a slight twist. Since the glass isn’t clear I have to use a light box to see the pattern through the glass. I ink it onto the front of the glass, then flip the glass over on the light box and ink it onto the back. The difference in color between the two sides is surprising.
I score and break from the back, and grind from the front. I am aiming for a slightly loose fit between the pieces — not gaps (there will be some, and that’s OK) — but enough clearance for the copper foil that will wrap all the bits. Without the lead boarder the design looks a little anemic at this point. I’m also going to re-make one or two of the parts in different colors for more variety. But this is where I left off before my son convinced me to stop so we could go TV shopping.
For, at least the last year I have been seriously weighing my options when it comes to building a new work bench. I built my current bench at a transition point in my life. Tired of tooling around learning how to do a little of this and a little of that, I decided I would focus my creative endeavors on woodworking, something I had played with and enjoyed, but now set forth to attempt to master.
|The inspiration, Chris Schwarz's take on the Nicholson Bench|
At this time I also started blogging about my work and time in the shop. At the time I thought this was a unique idea (little did I know what I was getting myself into) My current bench, a hybrid idea between the Nicholson Workbench Chris Schwarz shows in his original blue workbench book and a bench he built called "The $175 Workbench". Made from pine with a laminated 2X4 top.
|The original, just finished circa summer 2009.|
|My bench as it sits today, in my perfect little corner of the world.|
I knew we were going to move after I built the bench, so in my naivete I didn't make the connection between the legs and the bench top very solid. In fact the legs are slanted boxes that attach to the top with lag bolts and the bottom shelf with carriage bolts. Not exactly bomb proof joinery. So the bench racks a bit when planing. I solved that by screwing it to the wall!
The second and larger problem. The top has warped over time and not just a little bit. Enough so planing it flat is less than feasible to it's survival. It's not that I can't work on it, and can't work around it. handling long stock is the only real time its a big issue. Mostly I'm just tired of settling and working around the issues included in something I could have, should have done better.
So I've been pining for a second chance, a new bench with no compromises, but finding the right materials is the tricky part. The combination of patience and fate has delivered the materials to my doorstep.
|The new workbench in its infancy.|
A week and a half ago, some folks I know dropped me a line, they had an old barn they had to burn down because they were selling the property it was on. As an after thought they thought I might like to salvage some material from it. If I'd had a few months time I'd have salvaged every usable stick, as it stood I had a one day window. I called a buddy and we went and got some beams.
I believe they are some softwood variety, which is fine with me. The big beam in front is a little more than 8x8 square. It will be the legs. The three thinner beams are around 4x8. Those will be edge joined together to make the top. They all come out to about 12 foot 4 inches long.
That means when I'm finished, unless I find something punky or bad. I have a chance at a workbench 12 feet in length and a little less than 24 inches wide.
|A close up of the row of benches show in Roubo's infamous plate 11 etching.|
That should work just fine. It'll mean rearranging the shop something fierce, but it will be a nice problem to have.
I've got a lot of nails to pull today and then the beams are going to have to wait for a little while. Maybe even the whole winter long, but soon I'll be starting and there will be no compromises this time.
Ratione et Passionis
As a crowd gathered ’round the Lee Valley Tools booth at high noon on Saturday, Sept. 13 at Woodworking in America 2014, Robin Lee, president, unlocked the chains and opened the cases to reveal a project the company has been working on for more than two years: five new Veritas “customizable” bevel-down planes (Nos. 4, 41⁄2, 5, 51⁄2 and 7 in the Stanley numbering system). I got a preview of […]
We splurged today and replaced our 20 year old, 28″ CRT TV with a modern HD setup. But of course the new behemoth won’t fit on the existing stand, and to keep things interesting no place in town had an base that was big enough for it. Honestly, I’m glad. The ones they wanted to order for me were UG-LY, and cost almost as much as the TV did.
So I poped over to Home Despot and picked up a box of screws and two sheets of 3/4″ plywood and decided to make a simple stand. It took me about two and a half hours to reduce the two sheets of plywood to the cabinet you see here. It’s not fine furniture. It isn’t even medium furniture, it’s just this side of coarse. But it’s cheap and functional and will serve until I can design and build something nice.
I didn’t sand this or put any finish on it, the whole family was eager to watch a couple of episodes of Dr. Who. In fact I forgot to drill the holed in the back to pass the cables through, so the X-ox and Satellite Receiver are still sitting on top. I’ll drill the holes and get it set up properly. The top is rock solid, the middle shelf could use a brace (or a face frame), but it’s not critical. This is stopgap at best (which probably means I’ll be using this for the next 5 years).
On the off chance you aren’t tired of Adamstown yet, this might do it. I was going to post something else for a few days but I am stuck in a hotel with connectivity that makes AT&T DSL look good. No, AT&T DSL IS bad. Nothing wrong with this set, I just thought you might like go somewhere else for a few days.
With these encouraging words, I offer you a set of pictures of smalls from that place. First is this small painted wall box:
This poor cabinet has had a hard life:
and is still slightly toasty on the back:
Notice the back is unpainted. They really didn’t care about furniture backs much. More on that later.
This is billed as a Lancaster, PA folk art child’s jelly cupboard.
I have no reason to doubt them.
This is another unusual wall box. There’s not much of a slant to the lid. It’s nearly horizontal.
And in some odd cost savings measure, they only used one hinge.
And lest you think there is only small casework, there is also small seating.
If you want to look at the rest of the smalls, go to my Flickr set HERE.
So I finished my first experiment with inlay yesterday, the end result was OK — not a good enough effort for an actual furniture project, but then my first dovetails weren’t ready for prime time either. (no snarky comments about my dovetails please!)
Thinking about the effort, there were some ergonomic problems that made this more of a struggle than it could/should have been. For both the sawing out and the excavating steps, some means of clearing the dust is a must so I can see the layout line I’m trying to work to. When I was sawing I got by with puffing the dust away, doing my Thomas the Tank Engine imitation (“I think I can…”). That worked, but I was on the verge of hyperventilating, to say nothing of it stretching my ability to do more than one thing at a time.
Another problem was working height. I had that sorted out OK for the sawing with the v-block setup I made, but I didn’t really have anything worked out for the routing step.
And finally the lighting was an issue, especially when routing out the cavity although it was an issue with sawing too. My eyesight has never been what you would call good, and as I’ve gotten older my prescription won’t work up close. I wear multi-focal contacts, which lets me get by for most things, but I still end up needing reading glass for detail work in the shop. And a 5X Optivisor for this kind of work. Sigh. I remember painting the buttons on cast lead Napoleonic solders that were only 3/4″ tall in high school.
So here is what I’m doodling as a solution, a bench riser that incorporates solutions for most of these problems.
Figuring in the height of my workbench and stool, I need a 12″ lift to get the work to the right height. The v-block for sawing will be removable, with a steel sub plate to attach it to the underside of the riser top and a fixture to hook up a shop vac. I haven’t figured out dust collection for the excavation part yet, although I have a couple of ideas about that. The choices are either a different base for the Foredom that includes dust collection (like the MicroFence Micro Plunge base), or if I can get the kinks worked out on the base I have I’ll make up a positionable hose holder.
The lighting I know what I want to do, but I haven’t found an affordable solution. What I want is a pair of gooseneck lights that attach to the sides of the riser, like the ones below from MSC. They have screw bases, a 30″ flex arm and a 700 lumen halogen bulb. But they are $130 each too. I want a $20 solution.
I think something like this would solve most of the ergonomic problems and make the inlay process go a lot smoother. I don’t plan to pursue this immediately, but certainly before I do anything with inlay again. In fact, the next time I try to do inlay it will be on a real project, so I’ll want to make sure it comes out as nicely as I can possibly do. Probably fairly soon, but today I have a box of glass that arrived that I need to turn into the panels for the Thorsen cabinet.
Wrapping up my Adamstown travelogue, I offer a refresher course on painted chests. There are several styles of painted chests that can be divided into four major groups. First is painting for the sake of painting, much like you paint a house:
Next there is the decoratively painted chests. Often religious, cultural or ethnic themes are portrayed. Some are celebratory, weddings, births. Some are just decorative:
They ya got yer faux wood grained, often done to make the chest seem to be made from a better wood. Possibly to make it look veneered.
Then we move into the abstracts, starting with imaginative wood graining and quickly moving on to things I don’t understand and might never. Wood graining on mushrooms.
And then there is this one I like but don’t get:
I had this earlier blog on painted furniture, “As Close to Easter Eggs as I’m Going to Get.”
And my legendary Flickr set of Chests.
If there are any discrepancies between this and previous blogs, rest assured that this blog is correct. It just goes to show how much I have learned and how much smarted I am now.
After the aborted first attempt at excavating the inlay cavity, I decided to try again. I applied a couple of coats of shellac to seal the wood, hoping that it would make the layout lines more visible — it didn’t. Or at least not by much. I followed the same process as last time — glue the inlay down with Duco cement, trace around it with a fresh Xacto knife, pop the inlay off and excavate with the mini router.
The hardest part of the whole inlay process was accurately excavating the cavity to fit the inlay into. I expected it would be sawing the parts, but I was wrong. What made the inletting difficult (aside from the fact that it’s 100 degrees in the shop) is a combination of tool problems and ergonomics.
I’m having issues with the mini router base not holding it’s position and a few other small issues. I’ve been emailing with William Ng, and I’m sure he’ll get it sorted out for me.
The ergonomics are a little more of a problem. I didn’t have a good way to get hold the part at the right height, I didn’t have a good solution for clearing the chips so I could see the line, and the lighting was bad. I made do, and I have an idea for how to make that better next time. In fact, I think between getting the tool and ergonomics dialed in I’ll have a much better result and more relaxing time of it overall.
The actual process of inletting was a matter of “hogging” the bulk of the waste out with a 1/8″ bit (if you can consider it “hogging” with a tiny router bit). I tried to stay about 1/16 off the line as I was hogging out. Then I switched to a 1/16″ bit and snuck up on the walls, watching for my scribed line to disappear. Sometimes the line would disappear, but when I looked closely the surface where the wood was scored would come off, but lower in the cavity the wall would still be sticking out. So the process included a lot of fine tuning until the inlay seemed like it would snap in.
After a couple of rounds of back-and-forth fine tuning (and the requisite amount of overshooting the line, and only a moderate amount of swearing) I had an inlay-shaped cavity I thought would work.
I filled the bottom of the cavity with Superglue and pressed the inlay in. The little base had broken loose from the main part, which wasn’t a problem.
I put a sheet of waxed paper over the inlay, added a caul and clamped it in my leg vise for two hours. It was with a fair amount of trepidation that I pulled it out to check. I was surprised at how deep the inlay was in the wood. I’d sawn the veneer about .125″ thick, and only routed the cavity .075″ deep, but it was almost flush. I think this was from sanding the back of the inlay assembly to remove glue, I’ll have to watch that in the future.
I started flattening this with 100 grit glued to some plywood scraps. 60 grit would be better, the 100 loaded up pretty quickly. I had to sand the inlay flush, sand off the glue, shellac and paper.
Once that was done I checked for any pinholes and gaps and filled those with Superglue.
So I’ll give myself a C+ for effort on this. It’s obviously got some problems when you look at it up close, although it isn’t a complete disaster. The problems I see are almost exclusively with the excavating of the cavity. A little neater job on that, and this would be presentable. I can see some problems with the sawing too, but surprisingly then almost disappear in the finished piece. And I’d I’d inlayed this into a dark wood the gaps around the edge would be nearly invisible.
Before I do this again I need to get the router base sorted out, and set up better ergonomics for the process. Tomorrow if it isn’t too hot I might finish the Thorsen cabinet…
Mechanics of chipbreakers and high cutting angles in woodworking planes.
Kees van der Heiden, The Netherlands, 2014.
When using handplanes, tearout is a typical problem. Two methods to prevent tearout are high cutting angles and chipbreakers set very close to the cutting edge. In previous work it was found that a cutting angle of 60° is equivalent to a chipbreaker setting of 0.1 mm behind the edge when the chipbreaker edge is beveled at 45°. Likewise an angle of 55° is equal to a 0.2 mm setting of the chipbreaker. To compare the two methods a planing machine is used with force transducers to measure the cutting force Fc and the force perpendicular to the wood surface, the normal force Fn. Fc proved to be 30% higher for the plane setups with a high cutting angle, compared to the equivalent chipbreaker settings. Fn is normally negative, pulling the edge into the wood in a standard 45° plane without the chipbreaker. When setting the chipbreaker close to the edge this negative force is slightly reduced, but in high angle planes this is reduced much more and tends towards 0 around a 60° cutting angle, under the circumstances of this experiment. A second experiment has been conducted to measure the forces after a planing distance of 100 meters. The rate of change of Fc is about equal for both methods. The rate of change of Fn is twice as fast for the high cutting angles. The conclusion is that the plane with a chipbreaker is technically more advanced then the plane with a high cutting angle. A hypothesis about how the two methods prevent tearout is proposed in this article too.
We’ve got a weekend workshop on Boullework Marquetry coming up at The Barn the first weekend of October. Recently I made a batch of artificial tortoiseshell for us to use in that workshop, with at least two pieces for each participant. One of the exercises for the weekend will be to make another batch so that each attendee can make their own once they get back home.
My method is described somewhat in an article I will post next week in the Writings section of the web site, but here again is how I did it this time. Start with a flat clean surface with a sheet of mylar on which to cast the artificial shell on.
Cast out the material on the mylar,
then create the pattern. The upper row of scutes is made to mimic “hawksbill” turtles, and the lower row “greenback” turtles. Once that is firm, cast a second layer of polymer on top of the pattern to complete the composite, and you are done.
PS – I purposefully left out all the chemistry stuff. It’s in the article
PPS If you are interested in joining us for the course, drop me a line through the “Contact” function of the web site.
Last Spring I had an interview with Charles Brock from The Highland Woodworker lined up, so I took a cue from Ron Breese and deep cleaned the workshop. Ron mentioned that he touched every thing in the shop and I vowed to do the same. It quickly reached a point I call the “Nadir”, with the usual side effects of self loathing and regret. Seventy two trips up the stairs to assemble a pile of junk visible from outer space and everything that escaped execution got scrubbed, scraped, and put right. Why didn’t I do this years ago?
Oh by the way, we had fun filming this segment for The Highland Woodworker and they even managed to make this old snapping turtle look respectable. Take a look.
The interview begins at 25:35
Note: Many of the furniture shots were from some of the fine folks who allowed Jim and I to display their work in our book By Hand & Eye. The curly maple desk and tall clock are pieces I made.
George R. Walker