Monday, December 04, 2023

a stash box

Medical marijuana is legal in many states, and a friend of my wife asked if I could make a stash box to hold various paraphernalia. In the old days I know many of my boxes were used for objects associated with the use of marijuana. But that was never discussed. The advantage of this box is that it has two levels of storage, under the lid and in the drawer and we can talk about it.

The top is frame and panel construction, and the drawer is made with a mortise and tenon technique that I always use on small drawers. The wood used is walnut except for the bottom panels (Baltic birch) and the drawer sides (maple.) 

Plans for a similar box can be found in my book Beautiful Boxes: Design and Technique  

With the stash box finished, it will be shipped today. 

Make, fix and create...

Friday, December 01, 2023

Things to love about walnut

One of the things to love about walnut is the  rich shift in color and tone that results when a penetrating finish is applied. Compare the box shown with the unfinished box earlier in the day and you can see the richness that results. I have one or two more coats of finish to apply, but must wait hours between coats

Another reason to prize walnut is shown in the top panel, selected for the curly figure that results from the wood having grown close to a major limb.  The straight grained walnut surrounding it frame it nicely.

Make, fix and create. 

My 7 year old website

 In 2016 Cat Templeton designed my current website. I've been trying to get better at keeping up with it. It looks as fresh and lovely, I think, as the day it was launched. Normally websites are out of date in a year or so. This one may last a decade or more.

One thing I'll not change on it is the photo on the publications page
t showing my books arranged on the top of my work bench. It shows 8 books. In the intervening years I've written several more that you can find on Amazon at this link: 
 Just in time for holiday shopping. A book can be a great gift. As a gift to yourself it might guide you in making gifts for others.

Shown on the same workbench today is a walnut stash box ready for final sanding and finish.

Make, fix and create...

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Making Classic Toys that Teach

At one time Froebel's classic gifts consisting of numbered sets of blocks, tiles and other interesting learning objects were made by artisans in small villages throughout Europe. Predating Maria Montessori by about 75 years, Froebel's gifts were among the earliest toys developed for early childhood developmental learning.

While you can buy Froebel's gifts in a manufactured form, that they were also made by individual village craftsmen, suggested that I write a book, Making Classic Toys that Teach to guide you in making them yourself. That you can make them yourself, for your own children or grandchildren is really, for me, a big deal. You learn some basic woodworking. Your children or grandchildren learn also, and you receive greater pleasure in watching them learn, because you've made the instruments used for their learning.

You can order the book for your holiday giving and enjoyment through Amazon here. Or from my Etsy store, here. 

A good description of Froebel's gifts can be found here: You have about 25 making days before Christmas. Other holidays are more closely upon us.

Make, fix and create...

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Buy a book, read, and promote the concept of hands-on learning

If you are beginning to shop for Christmas or any other seasonal holiday and are a maker or one of those who love working with your hands in the kitchen, garden, or workshop and you wish others might understand you better, this little book of mine may help you to explain yourself to others. Buy it as a gift to yourself, as I know you'll enjoy it. Give it as a gift to others as a way of enlisting friends in a revolution.

We have about 30 making days left before Christmas.

Make, fix and create.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Seeking quality

We are killing ourselves and our planet with cheap stuff.

On Wednesday I picked up a computer desk I'd made about 20 years ago, it being donated by friends to the Museum of Eureka Springs Art. I'm building a base for it that will allow it to be easily moved around the museum. After a quick refresh of the finish, it will be good as new... not just because it was well made, but also because it's pretty enough to have been  taken good care of.

We must begin a renewed emphasis on quality, as it's the only thing that will save us as we hurtle toward planetary disaster. Things should be made to last, and things should be made to be repaired in the event they fail, and the sad fact is that they are not.

I'm not telling you this to preach, but also to remind myself. There are ships at sea, bringing us all cheap stuff. stuff that we have the right to refuse.

At this point we have about 30 making days left before Christmas. This is black Friday, a day celebrated by buying cheap stuff. It would be a better day to begin projects that develop skills and serve others.

Make, fix and create...

Monday, November 20, 2023

small drawers...

I'm making small drawers to fit the walnut stash boxes. The grooves for drawer guides have been cut, the bottoms fitted and the mortise and tenon joints that give the drawers strength and long life have been fitted and glued. A small square is used to assure assembly is square so it will fit in the body of the box.

Make, fix and create...

Wednesday, November 15, 2023


I finished repairing and refinishing the music stand that Crescent Dragonwagon commissioned for Ned Shank. That it leans to the right was not intentional. That resulted from gravity and from it being made from green wood.

Art often tells stories within communities, describing the relationships we have with each other. Illustrating those relationships, telling those stories, is one of the reasons our new museum is important. It can describe for visitors and residents alike, how the arts build communities and how artists nourish and sustain one another.

Make, fix and create...

On the wonders of wood

On the wonders of wood... There are clearly wonderful things about wood. It grows from the earth. It pulls minerals and water from the earth, processes carbon dioxide from the air to make oxygen and then grows large and strong in its relationship to gravity and light. There is no type of living thing that has engaged man's imagination more than our trees. We write poems about them.

Steel, glass, clay and stone are each materials that must be forcibly extracted from the earth before our use of them. Wood emerges abundantly on the surface of the earth, nearly as a gift. There is no material friendlier to the touch. Steel, glass and stone are either cold or hot to the touch. Wood, even in the harshest of conditions is mild to the touch. It may be rough and with splinters at first and yet, the touch can solve that problem as well. It becomes polished to perfection through our caress.

You can walk right into the forest with an axe or a knife, find a deadfall branch and begin making art. No other material lends itself so directly to man's creative genius.

Wood can be such a simple and direct material with such depth of integrity, and yet we know that the wood most people have in the furnishings of their homes isn't really wood at all, but material mixed and compressed from a stew of random forest fibers, reshaped and decorated with printed images on plastic film.

There are several factors that go into the value of an object. One is the integrity of the material. You might ask, is it real? Real wood can be sanded, repaired and refinished. A piece of furniture made from real wood can thus be made to last generations. Another factor is the integrity of the craftsmanship. A craftsman can put into the making of things, the full extent of his knowledge and experience. How can he really know how to do that with newly invented materials? The best craftsmen choose materials with integrity that allow their use of techniques that make their work last beyond their own times. The third factor is the care that is given when the craftsman's work is done. Real wood sustains greater wear without loss of value or appearance, and seldom reaches that sorry point at which the owner of the work no longer cares for it.

The photo above is of a steam bent hickory music stand I made for a violinist. My intent was for it to look as though it just waltzed from the woods. In a sense, it did.

Make, fix and create...