Farmhouse Table in Pictures

I don’t really know what to call this project. But when A+N asked if I could build something like this, I jumped at the chance. Mrs. Jo was a bit curious that I decided to tackle this project which involved about 30 techniques I’ve never tried before. I’ll walk you through the process in pictures.

Everything starts with good lumber. I picked up ~200 bd.ft. of beautiful walnut from Tervol’s south of Jackson. While it was a bit of a shlep to get there, I highly recommend these guys- they were super helpful in picking out good boards and ripping straight edges and flat faces. After that, milling at home was a breeze. A very, very heavy breeze.

Tervol's rockin the Woodmizer mill

13"x10'x2" walnut=heavy


jointing a straight edge

ripping a parallel edge

planing faces smooth and flat-ish

probably had about 30 gallons of planer shavings. no joke.

Note: I usually value the planer shavings from projects- they’re great in the chicken run, in the coop as bedding, or in the compost pile as a hearty source of carbon. All parts of walnut trees, however, contain high levels of juglone, a naturally-occurring compound that is toxic to most plants and animals. Not good for garden beds or chicken coops, and especially not for horse stables. So unfortunately, I had to throw all this great material away.

The table top took quite a bit more time than anticipated. Lesson learned. The 37″x72″ top features 7″ wide breadboards. These took a long time to fit, but I’m pretty pleased with the final outcome.

gluing up the table top in sections

milling the tenon

shaping the haunched tenons

Juno can get quite bored when I spend too much time in the shop and not playing with her. She retorts by pulling everything out of the garbage can and strewing it across the yard.

play with me. now.

Then I did a whole bunch more stuff but forgot to take pictures. Let your imagination run free picturing me gluing up 4″x4″ legs, milling the aprons and stretchers, and working out the joinery for the base. I had to move indoors for all the glue-ups because it was getting too cold for the glue to properly cure. The base was assembled upside-down, then flipped to square (thanks, Jo!).

base glue-up

Next, a whole bunch more things happened which I failed to document. Finally, it was time for the finish, which is 4 coats of Waterlox Original wiping varnish. A note about using Waterlox or any other varnish in the winter: don’t. I tried to apply a coat indoors with the window open and fan on when nighttime temps bottomed around 20F with predictable results: a very cold house filled with a noxious odor and less-than-pleased fiancee. We ended up huffing it to another warmer space (thanks, Jo!) where the finishing progressed much more smoothly (wised up to wearing a respirator).

I admit, there was steep learning curve for the entire project. But overall, I learned a lot and I believe they’re quite pleased with the final product.

completed table

tabletop attached with cabinet buttons to (hopefully) accomodate seasonal expansion

Note the hand-cut dovetail half lap medial stretcher thank you very much.

There you have it. Are you inspired to commission a project? Awesome! I’m ready! (ps I’d like to do a similar table with a trestle base)


Detroit Holiday Food Bazaar

Well, I say the 2nd annual Detroit Holiday Food Bazaar was a smashing success. Big ups to Mrs. Joanna for her help and to Noelle and the other organizers for hustling to put this thing together. Thanks to all the customers and well-wishers who stopped by our table- I’m still glowing from all of your positive comments and feedback. I am a bit bummed I don’t have any pics of all the product we sold- if the owner of the massive oak slab with turquoise inlay reads this, could you please send me a pic of your new board? I liked that one a lot…

I do have a bit more stock left if you’re still looking for something this holiday season, including a whole bunch of heavy duty (emphasis on the heavy) chopping blocks. You can always find OWW goodies at City Bird and (soon to be) Nest.

As the weather turns, I look to catch up on this neglected blog. Stay tuned for stories of machinery brought back from the dead, 300lb tables, and handcrafted engagement rings (!).


And, back to cutting boards (I do have other projects, but don’t have any good photos right now).

These boards would have been completed earlier, but I could only work in the garage for a maximum of 1/2 hour at a time from December-February before my fingers froze in protest.

#1 is maple and jatoba, or Brazilian cherry (which is not botanically related to North American cherry). Seriously heavy and hard wood. This baby clocks in at almost 8lbs.

I’ve surfaced some of my other end grain boards in my 13″ planer, stupidly ignoring the sage advice of many, many woodworkers. But I didn’t want to risk it with this board, and so I spent quite possibly 10 hours working it flat with a belt sander. Back in the day, woodworkers would surface end grain butchers’ blocks with bevel-up hand planes, which became known as ‘block planes’. While I harbor a certain Luddite leanings/nostalgia for woodworking in general, there’s simply no way in hell I’d spend the time flattening a board like this with a plane.

I’m particularly proud of #2. I took my time on this commission for B&B‘s B&B, and started to develop an interesting new skill called “patience”. Glue up done in sections; maple, cherry, and jatoba, finished with ‘salad bowl’ varnish.


Oh boy. This IOTM is long overdue from February. Forgive, and allow me to introduce Samuel Moyer. Based in in Downtown LA, Sam’s team creates exquisite, balanced, living furniture that straddles my favorite line between modern and rustic, raw and finished. It’s always good to hear the artist describe their own work (from an interview with Apartment Therapy):

[T]he thing I loved the most about the furniture is that it is imperfect. That is, I leave a lot of cracks, and checks, and weird bits in there. I use more of than most furniture designers, I bet. I love those weird parts the most. And I think, deep down, we all recognize our own imperfection, and that’s why this furniture speaks to people, because it is not trying to hide that it is imperfect. Rather, it is putting that imperfect “foot,” as it were, forward. And you know, the thing that we most try to hide, is the thing that is our strength.

We’ve seen similar aesthetic touches in previous IOTMs: live edges, whole slabs, exposed joinery, subtle hand tool flourishes. Feast:

OWW has many projects in the hopper. Stay tuned…

Inlay take 1

A quick post of a small cutting board inlaid with crushed stone. This little slab of oak was a gift from my friendly neighborhood lumberyard (ok well they threw it in after I spent ___$ one day). The figure is starting to burl, which is awesome to look at but impossible to plane without tearing out.

(thanks to Stacey for the sweet pic)

Breakfast is on the way, so I’ll have to detail the inlay process in a later post. In short, it involves filling holes and cracks with a crushed stone (in this case, turquoise), setting it with CA glue or epoxy, and grinding+sanding for approximately 1000 hours. I’ve been experimenting a lot lately; stay tuned for updates.


Tom Svec is a furniture maker in eastern PA. Professional furniture makers get to write statements like this one from his website:

A person elevates the status of a design object by animating it with regular use. A well-designed object responds by merging the intent of its maker with the needs of the user. These objects can only work their magic if they are given a special place in the daily rituals of people who are willing to respect the creative energy invested in them. We make these choices constantly in the things we choose to surround ourselves with…All pieces are original in concept, minimal in their use of materials, and respectful of the sustainable hardwood timber resources indigenous to the Northeast. The intent is to produce timeless, utilitarian design objects that will enrich the environments in which they are placed.

I’m down with that. He surely is a superb craftsman; I appreciate the way he lets his wood selection shine, simple joinery, and touch-the-wood finishes. Dig it:

Maybe my new shop will look like where Tom gets to work every day:

I first encountered his work at the Selo/Shevel Gallery in Ann Arbor. He was at the opening, and we talked for a while about using live edge slabs, working with bark, and his finishing techniques. He was very encouraging and happy to share his trade secrets to an inquisitive amateur. A few more details of his treatment of wood true to its form:

Wall Art

A couple simple projects on currently gracing our walls.

The first is a completely and totally unoriginal arrangement. I have this lovely instructable to thank for the idea as well as detailed plans.

The arrangement is based on the Golden Ratio. From Wikipedia:

In mathematics and the arts, two quantities are in the golden ratio if the ratio of the sum of the quantities to the larger quantity is equal to the ratio of the larger quantity to the smaller one. The golden ratio is an irrational mathematical constant, approximately 1.6180339887.

Or as we like to say around the house,

This one was done in pine that I stained, but I’m down to try it again in something fancier.

Number 2 is a simple shelf in teak. I thought the wood had some sort of spalting going on, but my man Mike at the lumberyard said its actually sap running through the grain of the wood. I’m taking his word for it because he works at a lumberyard and I don’t. I tried mighty hard to get a good picture but I’m still not pleased. Y’all will just have to come over and visit us to get a good look.

I found the test tubes and the flora is courtesy of Belle Isle. I have grand plans of changing the display with the seasons. Watch out forsythia bushes.