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Vermont Made Custom Walnut Dining Table
Handcrafted Walnut Dining Table with Curly Maple Detail
Friday, November 21, 2014

OFF TO CALIFORNIA

As I mentioned in my last Newsletter, I have been working with a gentleman in California who had never seen any of my pieces of handmade furniture in person, but had only seen images on my website. I was honored that he trusted my craftsmanship and design abilities enough to order my Pickwell Table sight unseen. I was determined, as I am with all of my clients, that my table exceed his expectations. This is a quote from an email I received after delivery of his Walnut dining table: "Honestly, the pictures really don’t do your work justice. All I can say is that looking at your table actually left me speechless…. which is rare. Thank you so much for doing such an unbelievable job on it!" Obviously, I am chuffed! (An English expression meaning really pleased.)

Locally sourced Vermont walnut boards for handcrafted dining table
Raw Walnut Boards For Handmade Dining Table
Custom Walnut Table Top
Table Top in Process
Vermont Made Handcrafted Walnut Dining Table with Maple Detail
Curly Maple Detail on Walnut Dining Table
Chickens outside the shop door
Monday, September 29, 2014

Chicken Woodworkers

The other day I was working in my shop getting a set of dining chairs underway, when I heard a quiet clucking sound coming from beneath my work bench. And there, happily scratching around in the sawdust, was a chicken! She and her buddies snuck in through my barn door, which I keep open in the summer. I counted three in total, and then realized that one was roosting in my wood rack. Although I enjoy having them around, they poop all over the place so I have to shoo them outside. They've become very determined - they run away from me out the door, scoot off in multiple directions, and run right back in again! This is becoming a daily comedy of errors! I think I will miss my feathery friends once the weather gets cold and I have to shut my barn doors for the Winter.

Going up the stairs!
Hiding in the wood rack
Cherry Desk with Quilted Makore Drawer Fronts and Wenge Pulls
Monday, September 8, 2014

Desk for Lake House

I was recently contacted by clients asking me to design and construct a simple, clean, beautiful desk for their lake house.The desk now lives under a large window looking out over Converse Bay on Lake Champlain. I used Cherry as the base wood, Quilted Makore for the drawer fronts, and I hand carved the pulls in Wenge.

That is Sammy hiding under the desk! He was staying with us this summer while his parents were in Europe.

Cherry desk with quilted Makore drawer front and Wenge pulls
Back of the desk
Pencil Post Bed
Pencil Post Bed in Walnut
Monday, June 23, 2014

Pencil Post Bed

Here is an example of a recent bespoke Walnut Pencil Post Bed I've made for a house in Yarmouth, Maine. This is a contemporary take on a traditional design which originally would have had a tester to hold curtains.

Pencil Post Bed in Walnut
Pencil Post Bed Headboard in Walnut
Sapperton Chest of Drawers
Chest of Drawers, Sapperton Line
Friday, June 6, 2014

Custom Chest of Drawers for a Playwright

There are many aspects to the creation of custom furniture that fill me with gratitude: designing furniture that is beautiful and functional, working through the complexities of executing those designs, bringing out the best of domestic and exotic woods, the satisfaction of working on my doorstep and being my own boss etc... But what I most appreciate are my clients. Each and every one has an incredible story to tell. I feel honored to work with them and to call many of them my friends. Recently, I finished a custom Sapperton Chest of Drawers for a playwright. He needed a tall chest with lots of drawers to hold his scripts. I love the connection that something I made from my mind and hands will be storing something he created from his mind and hands. How cool is that!

Waterfall niters accentuate this clean design
Monday, April 28, 2014

Simple Does Not Mean Easy In Handmade Furniture

"It's a very simple design, John." Whenever I hear those words from my client, I know my skills are about to be tested - which I love - because simple does not necessarily mean easy when dealing with hand made furniture. I have made many pieces for her: Trestle Table and Pinnacle Chairs, along with a large coffee table, side table, and banquette of her design. Now she handed me drawings for 2 stunning side tables with clean, crisp lines, allowing the wood to speak for itself. I found the most interesting challenge to be the waterfall miters which allow the beautiful grain of the wood to seamlessly "flow" off the edges, down the front, back and sides of the rails and legs, creating a perfect union between the design and the wood. It is my pleasure to work with talented designers who trust my skills to bring to life their artistic visions.

John on crutches heading to the workshop in a snow storm
Crutches make the commute challenging!
Monday, March 31, 2014

The Challenging Winter Commute

I never thought the business of custom furniture making would be so treacherous! Sadly, I sprained my ankle the other day leaving my workshop. I was wearing my Dansko "Man Clogs" (my children's name for those ugly things) - which are great for standing on concrete all day long, but are certainly NOT good running shoes! (I've learned my lesson.) Then the snow started... I spent the first day of the storm with my foot elevated and iced. But with deadlines to be met, I had to get to the workshop on day 2. So my back pack, crutches and I headed out in the storm. I managed to hobble around on the crutches all day and did get some work done. By day 3, I was only using one crutch and by the end of the week, no crutches at all! Hurry up Spring!

Contrast in new Pickwell Sideboard vs. 5 year old Pickwell Dining Table and Chalford Chairs
Monday, March 10, 2014

What A Difference Time Makes in the Natural Aging Process of Cherry

This past weekend, my clients in Stowe received their new Cherry and Maple Pickwell Sideboard to accompany their 5 year old custom, handmade Dining Room Table and Chairs. They were quite surprised to see the difference in the color of the new piece - although beautiful, it looked almost anemic next to the deep, lusterous aged wood of the dining table and chairs. I assured them the natural wood of the new sideboard would age rapidly, and ultimately "catch up" with the gorgeous color of the older pieces. Cherry ages quickly in the first 6 months, and then tends to slow down, although it is impossible to guarantee the new cherry sidebaord will look EXACTLY like the older dining table and chairs - each piece of wood has its own unique grain and characteristics. As stated in Popular Woodworking: "While all wood is in some measure chromophoric (meaning it changes when exposed to light), cherry has a more immediate and noticeable reaction to ultraviolet (UV) light than do most other domestic hardwoods."

A Gorgeous Maple Farmhouse Table Made From a Fallen Tree
Monday, February 17, 2014

From Shady Backyard to Bustling Dining Area

I was recently contacted by clients who had a beautiful old Maple tree in their backyard which sadly fell down. They couldn't bear the idea of parting with it, so they decided to do something special with the wood. They loved my Farmhouse Dining Table - one of the most popular pieces of handmade custom furniture I have designed - and asked me to make one for their Glover, VT home. It was important to work with the character of the wood by utilizing the knots, the color inconsistencies, and imperfections to make a totally unique and beautiful table top. I used a tinted epoxy to fill in the knots and imperfections, then sanded everything perfectly smooth. The result is a one-of-a-kind, beautiful dining table with incredible character.

Boards Cut For the Legs of the Farmhouse Table
Table Top Clamped
Imperfections Make Up The Character Of The Table Top
Farmhouse Sideboard
Sideboard - Farmhouse Design with exotic details
Monday, January 27, 2014

'Tis The Season For Sideboards!

There seems to be a trend occurring in my furniture studio this year - sideboards!! I have made 4 sideboards in the past few months and have more orders on the way. My Farmhouse Sideboard, Gloucester Sideboard and Pinnacle Sideboard are being ordered with exotic drawer fronts, door panels, pulls, pegs and inlaid stringing. It is such a pleasure for me to create each piece to suit the individual styles and needs of my clients. These are all versatile designs with clean, crisp lines that allow the exotic woods to stand out, creating one of a kind pieces of custom furniture that fit in to many different settings and environments. I am particularly proud of the handmade Farmhouse sideboard I made for our dear friends, Kate and Drew, in Westfield, New Jersey. I was so thrilled to be told that the sideboard was "beyond beautiful" when they saw the first photograph of the completed piece.

Hand Cut Dovetail
Sideboard with hand cut dovetail
Exotic woods on sideboard
Sideboard with Exotic Woods
Pinnacle Sideboard
Sideboard in Pickwell Design
Ice covers everything on my short commute to work
Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Deep Freeze

Who knew when I went from driving 1 to 3 hours a day to work I would be in more danger during my morning commute by walking 100 feet from my front door to the door of the workshop! The ice storm a few weeks back, followed by temperatures I can barely fathom, has created an ice rink across our entire yard and drive. I feel like an elephant in stillettos trying to navigate my way without falling and injuring a wrist - or worse! I have joined the throngs of other workers who are on their feet all day long by purchasing a pair of "man clogs" (as my son jokes, rolling his teenage eyes) and without crampons strapped to the bottom, I would not make the walk safely. I am anxiously awaiting, along with everyone else suffering through this Polar Vortex, a January thaw to melt the ice and return to my leisurely stroll up the drive each morning. Please be safe out there everyone!

CURRENT HANDMADE FURNITURE IN THE SHOP

Right now I am working on a custom sideboard for some dear friends of ours. It is a "souped up" version of the Farmhouse Sideboard. It has similar clean lines but adds exotic accents - quilted makore doors, curly cherry drawer fronts and ebonized tenon pegs. I will show the completed piece in my next blog.

Carcass Under Construction
Quilted Makore Door Fronts and Curly Cherry Drawer Fronts