A natural extension of my model building activities has been many woodworking projects - both building
and refinishing. Without going into a lot of detail, here are some of the projects for which I happen
to have photographic documentation.
My workshop currently consists of a 10" radial arm saw, a 12" drill press, 9" dia. / 6"x48"
disc/belt sander, 14" band saw, and a router table - all Craftsman. A pretty good assortment of hand-held
sanders, drills, and routers tops off the for power tools list. A pretty respectable assortment of clamps,
hand tools, wood vise and metal vise, and good size wooden work benches help get the job done.
I'll post a few photos at some point ... just in case you might care ;-)
After just 33 years, this crewel picture that Melanie
stitched is complete and has a custom
frame. If memory serves correctly, we bought the crewel kit at a Ben Franklin store
in Severna Park, Maryland, in 1985 while living in Arnold, Maryland. She started it shortly
after getting it, and then it was put away until last year, 2017, when she decided to
complete the project. Most, if not all, of the needlework pictures Melanie has done over
the years have been placed in custom frames made by me. I've used pine, oak, teak, hickory,
mahogany, and now maple for this frame. The maple wood ...
around the year 2000, while we were living in Fairfield, Ohio, our daughter, Sally, made a diorama of
a Tae Kwon Do martial arts dojo that was inspired by the school she was attending at the time. Unbeknownst
to Sally, Melanie and I had kept the diorama in a cardboard box for lo these many years. We decided
to make a nice wood and Plexiglas display case for it and present it to her for her birthday. The case
is made from some scrap walnut given to me by a friend. Korean, Chinese, and Japanese versions of "Greensboro Martial Arts Academy"
and a few decorative flourishes were
We have had one of those ubiquitous 'farm tables' since sometime in
the late 1980s, back when they were made of wood that is about 50% thicker than today's variety.
Over the decades, it has been used variably as a school desk for our kids, as a sewing table,
as a computer desk, and as a surface for building model airplanes. It has endured no fewer
than ten household moves in that time (don't ask). After all
that, it was understandably due for being repaired and refinished
For as long as both Melanie and I can remember
this old coat tree has been standing in her parent's house - first in Hagerstown,
Maryland, then in two locations in West Virginia, and finally back in Hagerstown,
Maryland. After her mother moved into a senior care home, we 'inherited' it, which was
great for me because, being obviously old, I really liked it. As you can see from the
'before' picture, it was in pretty rough shape and having been heavily used for who knows
how many decades? Any glue that might have been used had long since disintegrated, and the
finish was heavily worn. A few small nails held everything together in a very wobbly
manner. It probably started out life in York, Pennsylvania. from whence her parents both
After searching occasionally for many years for another
Crosley 03CB radio in a location close enough to drive to, I finally saw one on
Craigslist in Harrisburg, PA, about 300 miles from my home in Erie, PA. Melanie and I picked it up yesterday.
It needs - and will receive - a total restoration for both the cabinet and the electronics, but it appears
to be in better condition that my first pre-restored Crosley 03CB. This radio is Chassis #95. As of
this writing (July 2013) all the parts have been disassembled and the woodwork on the cabinet is underway.
Some joints needed gluing and the lamination had separated in a few areas. The metal faceplate components
are ready to paint, and the mounting hardware has been re-plated with copper per the original. There
is still a lot left to be accomplished, including a complete disassembly
During our frequent walks around the neighborhood here in Erie,
PA, Melanie and I would see houses that had flower boxes installed beneath the windows and vowed that
some days we would do the same for our house. Finally, as a present to Melanie for her birthday, I made
measurements and drew up some plans for a set to put on the front of our house. After doing a search
on the Internet for ideas, I decided on a fairly unique configuration where the boxes themselves sit
on a shelf that is mounted to the house. That allows the boxes to be easily removed for servicing
Another of Melanie's family's relics is this pine clothes chest.
After more than 100 years of use and abuse, this chest was in dire need of restoration. Construction
is very low density pine, with dovetailed corners. Finish was a clear varnish with no stain. The bottom,
back, and inside had no finish at all. Restoration consisted of knocking apart and re-gluing most joints,
sanding, and filling in the multiple dings and scratches where they were really deep. Minor imperfections
were kept for the sake of character. Minwax dark walnut stain was used inside and out, and allowed to
dry for a week. Then, two coats of Deft satin clear were brushed on with
cobbler's bench has been in Melanie's family for a couple generations. It was in pretty
rough shape. I chose to sand the finish off rather than use chemical stripper because it
was fairly brittle and came off easily. A leg had been broken and some drawer joints
needed re-gluing. All of the square strips on the work surface were removed for sanding.
The wood is very soft pine. Final finish was Minwax stain and Minwax Polyurethane.
Although polyurethane is hard to work with because if runs so easily ...
This regulator wall clock was purchased
on eBay for around $50 in early 2007. The mechanical pendulum-regulated, spring-driven escapement movement
took a bit of cleaning, oiling and adjusting to get working; it can be seen in action online on
The finish as received was in really awful shape. It took a lot of chemical stripper to remove the finish.
I removed as many parts as possible for sanding and the reinstalling. The design on the top plate was
made of copper and was in very poor shape, with parts of it corroded away, I just disposed of it. The
brass dial ring, hinges, and pendulum were wire-wheeled and lacquered. The glass is silkscreened on
the back surface. Interestingly, the clock was made in China (circa 1899), and has what looks like a
Star of David pattern on in the middle. My standard Minwax stain with Deft lacquer clear coat was applied.
Here is an antique secretary cabinet that was given to us by
Melanie's parents shortly after we were married. As received, it was in fairly good shape, but the finish
was very tired and stained, and most of the joints were loose. There was no glass in the door, and the
beveled mirror panel was missing most of its silver backing. We used it for many years after just buying
a piece of glass for the door.
Sometime around 1998 I decided to refinish it. At that point the decision was made to
totally disassemble the entire secretary because all of the joints were so loose. It came
apart like a puzzle with just a few whacks of a mallet. All the pieces were stacked in a
neat, flat pile and ended up being moved twice until finally in Loveland, Colorado, in
2001, I got up the nerve to tackle the job of assembling and finishing it. After much
chemical stripping and sanding ...
This is my second-favorite picture that Melanie has made. It
is made using a form of embroidery called crewel. This is a fairly large picture that is mounted in an 18" x 22" oak frame.
I did not make the frame.
two regulator clocks were built from plans by Klockit. The wood was from scrap that Melanie's father
had torn off their old house in West Virginia. The pendulum movements are electronic. We gave one to
my sister, Gayle and her husband, and the other to Melanie's sister, Melissa and her husband for Christmas
These two counted cross stitch pictures were done by Melanie
sometime in the mid 1980s, when we lived in Arnold, Maryland. I made the octagonal frames out of mahogany
sticks that we bought at Hechinger (a home store similar to Lowes
and The Home Depot) that were being sold
as stakes for tomato plants. The glass was cut from some old window panes that had been left in the
basement of our house when we bought it. The frames are about 9½ inches from side to side.
Two other pictures in the country building series were complete in later years.
The rectangular oak frames for those two were purchased.
Wow, talk about waxing nostalgic over a recently discovered
photo! This was taken in the basement of our first home in Arnold, Maryland (just
outside of Annapolis), sometime in 1985. Melanie is in maternity clothes, working on a cross-stitch
picture, whilst awaiting the birth of our son, Philip. You can see my head to the left with the radial
arm saw. The basement was damp and dank; I put a lot of effort into trying to keep it dry enough to
not rust the tools. In that workshop I built the weather station and a lot of the picture frames shown
on this page.
There are many videos on YouTube showing some pretty ingenious
dust collectors for radial arm saws. Most use a fairly small enclosure located just behind the fence,
with a shop vac attachment for forcefully inhaling the sawdust. They appear to work extremely well for
cuts that are at 90° to the fence and to the table surface. Maybe my interpretation of the dust collectors
is wrong and they adapt to any angle. Since I only have a small shop vac and do not like to have to
turn it on every time I make a cut, my ...
For decades, I have had my hobby workbench set up with collectible
coffee mugs sitting around to hold all of my hand tools - pliers, picks, files, scissors, rulers, screwdrivers,
etc. Over time the number of coffee mugs has grown considerably, so it seemed like the time had arrived
to finally get a tool box to put everything in so as to have a tidier and more efficient work space.
A search for a nice oak toolbox
showed that anything worth getting would cost many hundreds of dollars if purchased new. There are a
few el cheapo wood toolboxes out there, but the customer reviews are overwhelmingly bad. Lousy joints,
easily scratched finish, and sticking drawers are a few of the most common complaints
We found a nice antique Queen Anne style chair at the
Erie City Mission. It had been reupholstered
at some point based on a tag still attached. It was in excellent condition except the two front leg
glue joints had broken away from the frame. Screws had been used, but the wood in the frame was chewed
up and splintered from many prior attempts. I clamped the inside and outside edges, then saturated the
wood with cyanoacrylate glue (Super Glue). In some place I drilled 1/16" holes in the wood to allow
In the picture to the right, I was trimming a short section of
oak floor molding. The cut came out very nicely. You can see that I did not put the tape as far to the
left as I should have in order to protect the cut edge, but it was nice and clean anyway, with no splintering.
Maybe that was because 1) the blade was sharp, and 2) the oak piece had recently been finished with
a couple coats of polyurethane, so the wood grain was thoroughly filled and the finish had not turned
Lorraine Grandmother Clock
is now (as of August 2013) 100% complete!
I am built the grandmother clock from plans and mechanics purchased from Klockit. For as long as
I can remember, I have wanted to build a floor model clock, and this one will fit well in our 1,500
sq.ft. house. The wood chosen is hickory both because it has beautiful grain and color variation, and
because then I can say that I have built a "Hickory Dickory Clock!" The hickory was bought from
Summit Hardwoods, just a few miles south
mantel clock is a multi-generational
heirloom. It was not expensive, but had emotional value. Melanie's family hearkens from the York, Pennsylvania,
region and this clock, I discovered, was manufactured by the Ansonia company and sold by Will K. Rebert,
Watchmaker and Jeweler, in York. Her parents gave it to me for Christmas of 2006, and I decided to refinish
it and return it to them the next Christmas. Unfortunately, Melanie's father passed away from cancer
last summer, but we were able to present it to her mother. I used chemical stripper to avoid sanding
to preserve the intricate and shallow engravings. As it turned out there was a milk paint coating underneath
the black paint that was hard as a rock. The case insides and back cover
This banjo style weather station is an original
design that I designed and built waaaaay back around 1984, shortly after Melanie and I were married.
The wood is laminated from three layers of wood that came from the side of an old farm house that Melanie's
father tore down in West Virginia. The basic pattern was cut with a handheld saber saw, and the the
final shape was formed with files and sandpaper - a lot of work. A router was used along the top edge
for decoration. The hygrometer (top), thermometer (middle), and barometer (bottom), along with the finial
at the very top, were ordered from Klockit (they've been around for a
long time - like me). All the instruments are of very high quality. 1984ish.
This antique nightstand was given to us by my Aunt Bernice, who
lived in Mayo, Maryland. Like most of our other furniture, this was used as provided for a long time
before undertaking a refinishing project. It was a pretty straightforward job. Chemical stripper followed
by sandpaper followed by stain followed by a Deft lacquer top coat. I don't recall why I chose to use
lacquer rather than polyurethane here. The drawer handle was sprayed hunter green, which looks good
against the reddish stain.
Back when Melanie had more time (around
1984), she made a lot of counted cross stitch pictures. This one remains her most ambitious project
ever - a large nautical map of the ancient world, fashioned after the works of famed cartographer Gerard
Mercator and titled with "Orbis Terrae Compendiosa
Descriptio," which is, loosely translated, Latin for "A Comprehensive Description of the World."
Melanie's work was done on 22-count fabric, and measures approximately 13" by 8" (not including white
border). Such a fine effort needed a special frame, so I set about making a custom 23" by 17" frame
out of teak wood bought at World of Hardwoods in Baltimore. The fancy fluting was done on my Craftsman
radial arm saw with the molding head. It was a scary operation with the sharp teeth flying while feeding
that teak through it. Teak, as you might know, is used extensively on boats because it weathers well.
It is an oily type wood that starts out life with a <more>
Melanie made the picture on the top for me before we were married.
Before life robbed me of my time and willingness to do such things, I used to run a couple miles every
day. I never had a dog, but the picture was a standard one from the Precious Moments collection. She
did change the hair color from the original sandy brown to black, to match mine.
The picture at the bottom was made by Melanie after were were married (May 22, 1983). Both are counted
cross stitch on 22-count fabric. I made the frames using my Craftsman table saw with a shape cutter
head. If I recall correctly, the wood was standard framing 2x4 pine.
This counted cross stitch picture with a Christmas theme was
also done by Melanie sometime in the mid 1980s. It sports the same type of custom built mahogany frame.
Melanie loves the seashore and sailboats, as you might have
inferred from her selection of topics for pictures and from her having had a radio controlled
Victoria sailboat at one time. This was her first
cross-stitch project in over a decade. It is in a 16" x 20" oak frame (purchased).
These sailboats are approximately 5" by 8".
Here is a custom design that I came up with that plots the day
of the year versus the length of the day (daylight), for the latitude of Annapolis, Maryland. Numbers
were derived from table in the Old farmer's Almanac.
Melanie made this picture for her grandmother (mother's mother),
who actually sat in a rocking chair and did needlework and sewing. It is also one of the Precious Moments
series. The frame is made in the same manner as the other pine models cut on my Craftsman table was.
Sometime around 1999,
we gave Sally a log cabin doll house kit for Christmas. It was a bit of a challenge to put together
properly, but it came out very nicely. The simulated stone on the chimney was the most difficult part
of the job.
Much more to come...
Other Woodworking Tips & Projects: