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Earlier this year my territory changed for my job and I acquired the Lowe’s in Morehead, KY as one of my accounts. Whenever I would drive down to that Lowe’s, I would always drive by the Harold White Lumber Co. I was always impressed by the amount of logs the mill had on its lot, but I saw no showroom or retail office, so I always kept driving. That was until a few weeks ago, when I decided to pull in and see what the place was all about. I figured the worse thing that could happen is they would tell me they only sell to wholesale accounts and kick me out.
I stopped at the mill work office and asked if they sold to retail customers. They said they did, but I would have to drive over to the lumber office so, I got back into my car and headed down the driveway to another office. There I met the office manager who asked what type of wood I was looking for. I said “nothing at the moment, just wondered if you sell to retail customers”. She gave me their price list and asked the plant manager to show me around the mill. He took me where they keep the short stacks of lumber with loads of cherry, oak, wormy maple and poplar. He told me that the 4/4 poplar was only $.80 board foot. I usually pay $2.20 for 4/4 poplar at my current lumber yard in Cincinnati. I would have bought some that day, but I didn’t bring any cash with me plus, I was just looking for info at the time and had no intention of buying anything anyway.
The mill is huge with thousands of logs on their land. I looked at their price list and they carry all the major domestic species, but they also have basswood, sycamore, sassafras, hemlock, and coffee tree. I was told by the office manager that they don’t always have the rare species in stock, but if you call ahead, they may be able to mill some up. You can even buy a whole log if you want to mill the wood yourself.
So today, I went back and I told the same office manager I was interested in the four-foot shorts. She had an employee follow me back to the area they keep them so they could load it in my car. The last time I was here, this whole area was stacked with bundles of lumber. The guy told me that the shorts don’t last long. They even have a big dumpster where people can dumpster dive for one to two foot long boards.
I came home with 20 board feet of 4/4 FAS White Oak for $30.00 for a whiskey barrel coffee table my cousin wants me to make for her. The wood should be enough to make the base and top of the table as I already bought a halved whiskey barrel last weekend. The next time I go back, I’m going to stock up on poplar, maple, cherry, and walnut. It’s nice to have place where I can buy hardwood lumber dirt cheap.
Several months ago, I started making a shelving unit out of southern yellow pine that my wife asked me to make for her booth. I got this far and it sat in my shop unfinished for months. After much contemplation, my wife and I both realized that the shelving unit was really too big to fit in our Ford Edge.
The best thing we could do, is take it apart and resize the thing smaller so we wouldn’t have to rent a trailer to transport it. Luckily, I put the shelf together almost entirely with pocket screws. The part that was glued, I cut apart on the band saw.
After, I cut the shelves shorter, I used my router and cut floating tenons on all the pieces instead of using pocket holes screws like I did before.
A few hours later, I had the new resized shelving unit put back together. The height stayed the same at five feet, but the length was cut down from five feet to forty inches so that it would fit in our car.
My wife always wanted the unit to roll so I added four old casters to the bottom. We actually bought the casters many months before we decided to make the shelving unit just in case someday we needed them.
With 1/2″ plywood installed for the shelves, the unit was built, but unfinished.
Anita wanted the unit to look somewhat old, so I smacked the wood around with a hammer and crowbar to give it an aged look.
I bought a few piece of thin gauge metal, drilled some holes in it, bent it over in my vise, painted them black, and screwed them to the corners of the shelving unit to give it a more industrial look. The brackets and the dark stain really makes the unit pop. Now it was ready to throw in the Edge and bring it to our booth. Saved us $50 not having to rent a trailer and we both feel it looks nicer then it did before.
It was thirty years ago this summer. I was thirteen years old visiting my grand parent’s house on my Mom’s side in Detroit, Michigan when I walked into my Grandpa’s garage and spotted this little drill press on top of his cabinet.
It’s was a little German-made drill press. It had no manufacturer’s name on it, so I have no idea who made it, but I thought it was the coolest tool I ever saw. I played with it for a few minutes, and my Grandpa seeing I took a liking to it, gave it to me. I was stoked.
My Grandpa was never really a woodworker. He was a mechanic who restored old cars like Ford Model T’s and Maxwell’s, so he had no use for the press. I just started to work with wood in my parent’s basement, so I was glad to have it.
A few days later, my Mom, Grandparents, and I went to the flea market. While there, I started hunting for more cool tools. I found some old wrenches and a Ohio Tool Co wooden razee fore plane that I still use to this day. The only money I had was a few bucks I saved up from my allowance of cutting the grass, so I bought all my tools dirt cheap. Nevertheless, even though I didn’t realize it at the time, it was the start of my antique tool collecting.
As the months and years went by, I started buying more and more old tools. I’d buy planes, chisels, drills, saws and clean them up. As my tool collection grew, my woodworking skills developed right along with every tool I bought as I learned how to use it. I enjoyed the process of restoring old planes so much that I kept buying more of them and before I knew it, I had collected nearly 100 old tools by the time I was sixteen years old. I used to have white bookshelves in my parent’s basement filled with all my tools. My friends would come over, take a look, and asked what the hell was wrong with me.
At the height of my collecting I had over 600 tools. Then one day, I stared at all of it and decided that enough was enough. I took some of the tools I didn’t care much for and threw them on eBay. I watched the auctions end and realized that I enjoyed that process as well, so I threw more tools on eBay. Before I knew it, I was buying and selling tools on a regular basis.
Today, I’ve figured that I have bought, restored, and sold almost three thousand tools on eBay. It’s become a hobby within a hobby. Something that I would never have believed would have happened thirty years ago when my Grandpa gave me his little drill press.
For several years, I’ve been storing my photos on Photobucket.com. I never paid for it so I was willing to deal with the endless pop up ads every time I wanted to upload some of my photos for my blog. All was well until a few days ago when I noticed that the photos in my blog postings were being blocked. Apparently, Photobucket changed their user agreement and they will no longer support third-party hosting of any of the photos in their site. The only way to get the photos back is to pay a monthly subscription fee. Fat chance of that.
I was using Flickr several years before I switched to Photobucket because I ran out of free space. So, the very early blog posts should be fine for now until Flickr does the same thing. I liked Photobucket because even though I had 300 pictures stored on their site, I was only using 3% of free space on my account. Now I’m in a pickle. I assume I could download all my Photobucket photos onto a hard drive and import them back into blog posts, but that is a lot of work.
I noticed a few months ago that WordPress wouldn’t allow me to cut and paste directly from Photobucket onto my blog page. I had to start loading the image onto WordPress first. Now I know why, which is why my most recent posts are fine. The last working post is from four months ago when I smashed my finger. Every post after that until three years ago is blocked.
Thank God I don’t do this for a living! What a nightmare this must be for professional bloggers who blog two or three times a day. I read on Reddit about people who are in dire straits because of this.
For now, I’m going to start using Imgur.com for storing my photos. Maybe I’ll even buy an external hard drive and store my photos on that so this never happens again.
I call this piece the “everyday table” because you see this design everyday. I spotted this one at Home Goods just last week. It’s kind of a cross between a table and a bookcase. As far as construction goes, it’s very simple. Six framed legs with a top, a couple of shelves and a cross “X” on each side. In fact, there’s a website that shows how to build this table, pocket screws and all.
Say what you want about the design and construction, but they are very popular and super easy to build. My wife found the website the other week and asked me to customize one to fit in our dining room as a coffee bar.
Being true to form, I built ours out of southern yellow pine (2 x 10’s). I wasn’t a fan of the thick 2 x 4 legs so I milled all the parts down to 1″ thick.
Keeping it simple, I used pocket screws and glue to attach all the pieces. The shelves are southern yellow pine boards I ripped and glued back together to create a quarter sawn panel so they wouldn’t expand and contract too much.
The hardest part about building the piece are the X’s on the sides, but all that entails is cutting a couple of half lap joints.
Here is the finished bar with a vinegar steel wool solution and gel stain on top to give the wood some depth. The coffee bar has turned more into a display table for my wife’s Rae Dunn collection, but that is another story for another day.
I have since played around with the design again and built another one using eastern white pine. Construction is similar except I used floating tenons instead of pocket screws to build the frames. I’ll still use the vinegar and steel wool solution again on this one and stain it a dark color. My third design will probably have a thicker top and I may use plywood for the shelves. Stay tuned.
Spending some time in Washington DC last week, my wife and I went to Mt. Vernon to visit George Washington’s estate. After we bought our tickets to the view of the house, we had some time to kill, so we walked around the grounds to see what else was around.
On the right side of the estate near the near the back, was the blacksmith shop. It appeared to be about 15′ x 20′ in size.
We arrived in front and saw one of the blacksmiths making a large hinge. You can see how soaked his shirt is as it was nearly 90 degrees that day. He must lose twenty pounds during the summer working in there.
Here’s a shot of the bench with a scrap iron on the ground waiting for use.
Here are some of the items the blacksmiths make at the estate. What’s really cool is they make axe heads and other tools.
On the side of the shop sat a bin full of coal which stank to high heaven. The smell of burning coal is not a pleasant thing.
I looked around the other buildings for a carpentry or cabinet shop, but found nothing. I find it odd that Washington didn’t have one on his estate somewhere. The only thing I saw was display case inside the museum with this panel raising plane.
Last week my wife and I decided to take a trip out to Washington DC. She had never been there and I went there on a summer trip when I was in the seventh grade. She booked tickets to go to the White House by contacting our local congressman, Steve Chabot, several weeks in advance.
We arrived at the White House at 7:15 am and stood on the outside by a fence before our tour began at 7:30. The guards made us walk into a fenced corral only to make us leave ten minutes later. None of us knew what was going on until we saw the Secret Service walk down that corral with bomb sniffing dogs after we left. Once we passed that part of security, we had to go though three more security check points before we were ever allowed inside.
The first piece of furniture I saw was a china cabinet with a bunch of presidential plates inside. I whipped out my phone and took as many pictures of the furniture as I could. A lot of the rooms were roped off so I couldn’t get too many close up details of most of the furniture.
Here is the detail of the cabinet’s molding.
Here’s a shot of the hand cut dovetails on the drawer. What’s going on with that bottom dovetail? It looks like I cut that one.
Detail of the finial.
More details of the cabinet.
Nice round table with a piece of glass to protect the top.
Mahogany deck and chair inside one of the rooms.
A nice hall clock stood on top of a small set of stairs.
A closer look at the clocks face.
A nice drop leaf table with a piece of glass fitting over only one side of the drop leaf.
A mahogany chair sitting in the room with a closeup of the chair’s detail.
Another table with a piece of fitted glass to protect the top.
Inside the Red Room with a couple of chairs and what looks like a round game table which I doubt was unless you were playing Q-Bert.
This secretary desk was my favorite. This stood on the back-end of the Red Room.
A long dining table where President Trump holds dinners with guests. He was planning on having his birthday dinner here later that night.
Another side table outside the dining room. Notice the plastic on the bottom to protect the table’s claw feet from visitors.
Even the doors are made incredibly well with a beaded detail down the edge.
After we left the White House, the Secret Service rushed us across the street as they didn’t want anyone lallygagging around in the front. After our tour, we walked down the street to a Starbucks to get some coffee where we found out that while we were inside the White House, it was the same time that some goofball loser shot the Congressman in Alexandria, VA which was one of the reasons for the heightened security.
This morning I had some time to kill in between store visits, so I decided to stop in a local Sears to browse their tool department for a few minutes. I wasn’t expecting much since I knew that Sears had fallen on hard times in recent years, but what I encountered was just plain sad.
I was so taken back by their tool department that I grabbed my cell phone and took some pictures of their shelves. There was hardly any selection of any kind. I remember about twenty years ago, Sears was one of the main places to buy tools. They had a huge selection with competitive prices. I used to buy all my tools from Sears. From clamps to power tools, to automotive wrenches. In fact I still own a Craftsman bench top radial drill press that still works like a champ to this day.
I was wondering if this was a store that was closing so, I looked around for clearance signs, but found none. The only reason I could think of why they don’t have any products on their shelves is because they are probably on COD only terms with the majority of their suppliers. I remember the company I used to work for a few years ago had the same problem. They couldn’t order any product from the manufacturers to resell it to their dealers and ended up going bankrupt within six months. It’s been so bad for Sears lately that they sold the Craftsman brand name to Stanley Black and Decker late last year to generate cash.
This is what’s left of their machinery selection. A radial arm saw and a cheap looking band saw. There was one old lady working the entire department who looked like she was 82 years old. I remember back in the day, there would be at least three or four clerks around to help you out.
When things get this bad, there’s no way I would even buy anything from them in the first place. There’s a good chance that if I did buy something from them and the product ended up breaking within the 30 days of my purchase, with my luck, the company’s doors would be closed leaving me high and dry. When was the last time you bought something from Sears? I can’t even remember the last time I did.
I don’t get many custom orders as I’m usually too busy with my day job and restoring antique tools to do them anyway. However, my wife’s friend asked her if I could make him some American flag trees. She showed me a picture of what he wanted and it seemed simple enough, so I told her I could make them for him.
These trees were offered by Martha Stewart a few years ago on her website but, have since been discontinued. The only thing I had to go on was the fact that they were about 20″ tall. Assuming the whole tree was 20″ tall, I figured the largest diameter of the post was probably 1 1/2″ in diameter. I glued some maple together and created 2″ square stock to turn on my lathe. I then used my Peter Galbert calipers to turn the stock to 1 1/2″ in diameter down the whole shaft.
Studying the photo, I eyeballed the shape of the post, cutting the bottom of the vases to 1″ in diameter. I cut a little finial on the top and a cove and bead detail on the bottom that kind of looks like an old cast iron pot. Again, all eyeballing with no plans. Just imagining things in my head.
At the bottom, I turned a 3/4″ diameter tenon. This will fit in a hole I will drill in the base with my drill press. I use a 3/4″ open end wrench to turn the tenon the perfect size.
After about an hour on the lathe, I turned all four posts and pads for the trees. They are all similar but, none of them are an exact copy of one another.
The tree has four rows of flags with six flags on each row. In order to mark the holes in right spot, each hole would have to be 60 degrees away from each other (360 degrees / 6 = 60 degrees). Instead of grabbing my protractor and trying to mark every 60 degree angle, I took my compass and set it to the radius of the post. I then walked around the circumference of the circle marking it at every spot. That left me with six equal segments that were perfectly spaced from one another.
I did the same thing on the other end of the post starting at the same point. I then drew lines down the post and took a straight edge, lining up the lines on each end of the post marking where the holes would go on the top of the vases. I only marked on the first and third vase for those marks. On the second and fourth vases, I marked a line in between the first and third marks so that the flags on the tree were more spaced apart.
Even though I figured out where the holes went on the tree, I was still wasn’t comfortable drilling my holes in the final piece. I took a scrap post and did all the markings again and used a 1/4″ drill to drill holes in the post at a 60 degree angle. After I drilled all the holes and stuck the flags in, the sample turned out well.
When it was time for the real drilling, I took my time. Putting the post back on the lathe, I lined up the marks of the post so they were perpendicular to the lathe bed. This way I only had to worry about the angle of my drill bit as I knew I could sight down the bed of my lathe keeping the bit drilling straight down the shaft. I drilled about an inch in using a brad point drill bit.
After drilling all 24 holes and giving the piece a light sanding, I drilled a hole in my base and glued the post into it. This is a simple project that I can bang out in case my wife’s friend wants more than the four I made him.