Blog: Furniture & Woodworking

Heart Spoon for Mom

In my last blog post I talked about my kids carving this spoon for their mom. Here is the finished project. The wood is pine and was an easy wood for the kids to learn how to carve with. The spoon now has a permenent home on the back of the stove for all of us to look at every time we cook!

I loved how the kids’ imaginations worked while carving the spoon. It was my daughter’s idea to carve the heart into the spoon, and it was my son’s idea to carve the small notch just above the bowl. These are things I wouldn’t have even thought about doing, so I am glad that the kids got creative!

I want to thank Doug Pauls of Rocky Mountain Alphorns – he was the one that gave me the spoon blank and spurred the idea. Here is a youtube video you can watch of his journey into carving!  Watching this makes teaching my kids how to carve that much more special.

Carving a Spoon for Mom

I got inspired last winter to carve some spoons for gifts for the holiday season. My kids loved hanging out in the wood shop with me, and they decided that they wanted to help carve a wooden soup spoon for their mom.

Not only did they both participate in using the chisels to shape and texture the spoon, they also came up with the idea to carve a heart into the end of the handle. I was very proud of my son and daughter for listening to my safety expectations so that they could carefully use the sharp chisels.

I love teaching them how to use hand tools to create their own wood projects, because we get to spend that special time together and they feel so good about what they have made with their hands.

We finished the spoon with food-grade oil & beeswax finish, then wrapped it up to give to mom! Watch for the next blog to see a photo of it finished.

Butcher Block Island

After helping build this client’s kitchen with Juniper Joinery, she wanted an island to add a little more work space. Because the kitchen was too small to accommodate a full-sized island, I came up with this option. The top measures 33″ x 22″ and is small enough to pick up and slide out of the way when needed.

I designed the counter top to be a butcher block so the customer could use this space as a cutting board for preparing meals. A butcher block top is a great choice for cutting on, since the end grain of the wood doesn’t dull a knife as quickly as cutting across the grain.

I also added in a couple of shelves for storing dishes, and as a special bonus, I added a drawer with hand-cut dovetails for the joinery. And I always give my clients green options when it comes to the finish on my furniture. This piece uses a combination of Osmo oil for the base, shelves and drawer, with food-safe tung oil for the butcher block top.

 

 

My Son’s House Art

Since my woodworking shop is in the bottom floor of my house, my kids spend a lot of time in there with me. They both have a set of ear muffs and a few tools. My daughter “sets up shop” on the big flat table saw bench (blade retracted, don’t worry). She might sand or saw things with me for a bit, then she brings down blankets, pillows, books, art supplies, and snacks. She plays make believe games, calling her friends on the “phone” and inviting them over to have tea.

My son likes to work on projects at the work bench. Underneath my chop saw, there is a big tote bin with the cut offs from various pieces of wood. He sorts through them and finds ones that are interesting, then makes wood art – like the one you can see in the photo. (This process was inspired a few years ago by his one of his art teachers Nancylee Smith). The project you see is a house that he built himself. He also sweeps up the saw dust on my shop floor for a loonie (he’s saving up for a mountain bike). Pretty soon he’ll be planing timbers with me!

I love seeing his initiative and his creativity. And I love having both him and his sister hang out in my shop with me!

Asian Inspired Plant Stand

Last winter I designed and built a custom plant stand for a customer in Calgary, Alberta. The request was for a piece of furniture inspired by a Japanese garden gate that could hold a number of plants and be a decorative addition to their living room.

I was excited to take on the challenge of creating a unique piece that would be both eye pleasing and functional. The end supports are made of circles, each cut from four pieces of wood glued together. And to add another element of interest, the shelves are cut as horizontal arcs that are offset at each level of the stand.

Originally designed it without the corner braces, but the shelves were not stable enough to hold the weight of the plants. The frame was racking from side to side, and I had to adjust the design to add small corner braces at each level.

The customer was super happy with the finished piece, and she was able to display her plants – out of reach of her new puppy!

Blacksmithing 101

Recently I signed up for a blacksmithing course. I have been interested in metal working for a while now and this turned out to be the perfect opportunity to dive into this craft. I took the class in the fully equipped studio at KSA (Kootenay School of the Arts) in Nelson, BC.

The first thing I noticed and was surprised by was how easy it is to shape metal when it’s hot. I have watched movies in the past showing blacksmiths doing their thing, and I always thought they were wailing on the metal to get it to move. Not so. Once the metal is up to temperature, it’s really easy to shape it and move it. You only have about 15 seconds to work the metal until it has to go back into the forge, but you can achieve a lot with a few well-aimed hammer blows.

I am excited to explore more into the world of metal working, as I think this would be a great added skill to what I already do. From forged drawer pulls to metal brackets for my timber frames, I think this art form could add a lot of visual impact to the woodworking!

Lotus & Dragonfly Carving

Lotus & Dragonfly Carving

It was my special honour, and one I didn’t take lightly, to craft a memorial urn for a dear friend after her passing. I suggested that a carving on the top of the box would add a personalized touch, and after scrapping several design ideas and one false start on a carving, I came up with this design.

My friend loved dragonflies and lotus flowers, and I wanted to incorporate both. The wood for the carving is cedar, because I liked the colouring of the cedar contrasted with the red colour of the African padauk wood lid.

The urn is finished with natural wood finishes (tung & linseed oils and beeswax), and it is appropriate for an eco-friendly burial of a loved one’s ashes, especially if the loved one was not embalmed or was embalmed with non-toxic chemicals. Continue reading Lotus & Dragonfly Carving

Wood Urn ~ Maple & African Padauk

Wood Urn ~ Maple & African Padauk

This wood box urn is made from african padauk with a liner of maple as a contrasting colour. The padauk is a beautiful red hued wood, and the natural oil and beeswax finish really brought out the colour and grain. I also added several beads inlaid to the sides of the box as a special memorial – the beads belonged to my mom before she passed, and now they will help hold my friend’s ashes.

Using exotic hardwoods is not something I usually recommend, unless I know that the wood is not endangered or restricted. I feel it’s important to understand how our choices impact the world around us, including places that we can’t see or visit easily.

What are some of the factors to think about when considering whether a foreign-sourced wood would be suitable for a project? Continue reading Wood Urn ~ Maple & African Padauk

Beautiful Memorial

Beautiful Memorial

A memorial urn for a dear friend who passed last year. I was honoured to be asked to craft a special wooden box for an urn, and I really enjoyed the process of creating the urn, from choosing the right wood, to carving the top with some of her favourite images – a lotus flower and a dragonfly.

It meant a lot to me that I was able to give the box to her husband in person last weekend. I will post more photos of the urn in a few days so you can see the carving more closely.

~Tim