Thursday, September 28, 2023

old work


I have been at my work for some time now, and some of it has travelled far from home. A woman contacted me, asking "Is this your work?" and included two photos of a mirror and frame I'd made and sold in 1984. The frame is cherry and inlaid with a variety of Arkansas hardwoods. I etched the mirror using a sandblasting technique to give it a bit of extra value.

It is nice to see that it was  well cared for a number of years before being turned in for resale at a Goodwill Store in Ohio.

I commented that it seemed well cared for, and the buyer assured me that she would care for it as well. Who knows how long it will last?

Today I went over a pre-release article on making giant Froebel blocks I wrote and photographed for Make Magazine. It will come out in the next issue.

Make, fix and create...

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

How in the world to pay for it?

In a Senate subcommittee meeting this last week, Senator Kennedy from Louisiana got a chance to grill a labor expert on the effects of the covid pandemic on children and child care. He insisted that there's no money in the budget to do the things necessary to keep our children safe. The expert assured him that if we were to raise taxes, there would be plenty of money, and that our budgetary problems are the result of 40 years of budget cuts resulting from the failed philosophy of trickle down economics.

Wishful thinking assumes that given the opportunity to make more money, rich folks, instead of becoming lazy and self-satisfied, will be driven to create new jobs. 

After testing the theory for the last 40 years, we have a society in which the rich became very, very rich, and we have children living in squalor and parents living in desperation.

Isn't it time to get real? Let's raise taxes on the wealthy and spend wisely to insure that every child has the opportunity to rise to full potential.

How do we spend wisely? "What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, he wants for all children as well."

In my woodshop today I'm preparing stock for making boxes to fill orders that were put on the shelf while working on the book. I'm made thousands in the past, so getting back in the swing of things is comforting.

Make, fix and create... Assist others in learning likewise.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

My own moon jar

This is a vessel I made as a potter in 1976.

Make, fix and create... Assist others in learning likewise.

in the meantime...

There was a serious motorcycle accident on hwy 23 North last night in a spot that has had many other accidents in the past. Today the roar of motorcycles will likely be that of bikers headed home, and I hope their journeys are safe. Many of us  who live here look forward to quieter times.

I'm working with my editor at Taunton Press to tie up the various loose ends of my new book, Designing Boxes

How-to books are different than fiction.  What I do and portray is real, and the object is that readers be enabled to do what I do. The editorial process, involving text editing, photo editing and careful layout requires a team to get the best results. How-to writers do not have the luxury of just making stuff up and careful editing can lend value to any book. That's one of the clear values of working with Taunton Press.

When presenting lessons to woodworkers on design, many have never thought of such things before. So it was interesting and rewarding to present an array of boxes in physical form  on Friday for art students to use in our joint exercise exploring the principles and elements of design. One student from Korea found the box shown above to be particularly appealing due to its irregularities. She said, as she moved her hands across the irregularity of the surface of the lid, "I love this box." We discussed the perfection of the imperfect and the spontaneity involved in making it. Later she equated this simple box to the Korean moon jars that sell for millions of dollars due to their rarity and cherished irregularly spherical shape.

You can find this box for sale on for far less than a million dollars.

Make, fix and create... Assist others in learning likewise.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

wail of sirens, thunder of cycles.

Here Eureka Springs today I'm sitting on my front porch with Rosie. The rumble of motorcycles from the highway below our home is steady, pierced only by the occasional sirens of ambulances. Fortunately most of the injuries are relatively minor and from which bikers will recover to ride next year.

I've heard that some local businesses are closed here due to the belligerence of some of our guests. Those who truly love this place will learn to schedule their visits when the swarms of motorcyclists are not here. And I remind myself that many of the bikers are nice, like the couple that stood in front of me at the Post Office. They were shipping home several packages of stuff they''ed purchased in our local galleries... art, no doubt.

We console ourselves in the current situation by remembering the money the bikers leave in bars and restaurants and remembering that while the noise is overwhelming, they are only here disturbing our peace for a short time, and will carry their resounding rumble home after the weekend.

Many locals just hunker down for the weekend and let the bikers ride it out. 

A study suggested that there are 21% more organ donors and 26% more organ donations during major bike rallies in the US...  reflecting a great loss for some and the savings of others. And so it goes. We are connected with each other in unseen ways, and I'm attempting to learn better of my fellow man.

To my college students yesterday I mentioned that making a box ought to be a requirement for high school graduation. Never having made boxes before, but were watching me make some, they agreed. Making a box you learn the truth of what Ruskin had said, (paraphrasing here): 

Take a straight shaving from a plank or lay a brick level in its mortar and you'll have learned things that the lips of man cannot teach.

Make, fix and create... assist others in learning likewise.

Friday, September 22, 2023

A great two days...

I did an afternoon presentation yesterday in the U of A Sculpture studio yesterday afternoon, and today I did an all day box-making demonstration. We made two boxes, one with a hinged lid, another with a lift off lid. 

Then I made another partial box to demonstrate the making of a mitered finger joint box. Then one of the students asked if I could demonstrate making a bandsawn box. Taking a piece of spalted maple left over from a demonstration by artist Robyn Horn, I quickly designed and made a bandsawn box.

I also made a sled, and led an exploration of the principles and elements of design. These were two good days and now I get to refocus on the edits for my new book, and spend time with Rosie on the front porch.

The photo shows my young audience for my Thursday afternoon talk.

Make, fix and create... Assist others in learning likewise.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

this afternoon

I have a presentation to deliver at the University of Arkansas Sculpture department at 5:30 this evening. It is open to the public at 687 W. Praxis Lane. 

In the meantime, folks have been working with wood for over half a billion years, according to discoveries described in the New York Times. Ancient Logs Offer Earliest Example of Human Woodworking. I'm not surprised.

Make, fix and create... Assist others in learning likewise.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

a video preview...

The new Museum of Eureka Springs Art is taking shape at the Eureka Springs Community Center thanks to a team of volunteers and donors. Thank you Jim Nelson for the video. 

We have new lighting, a polished concrete floor, rolling walls that can be arranged however we want, and plywood panels offering display areas on the concrete block walls. Art comes next.

Make, fix and create... assist others in learning likewise.


Monday, September 18, 2023

U of A Lecture 9/21/2023

On Thursday September 21, 2023 I'll be making a presentation at the University of Arkansas Sculpture Department. This poster offers the details. The Thursday afternoon presentation is open to the public.

Make, fix and create... assist others in living likewise.


Sunday, September 17, 2023

beyond the gift of individuality

We are each given the gift of individuality. Some are given a greater gift of seeing beyond it. 

I learned this morning of the death of a good friend... a talented woodworker, a student in my classes, a supporter of the Clear Spring School's woodworking program, a loving father, grandfather and husband. His physical presence will be missed.

In my friend's honor I share my dad's favorite poem, that I also found in a mimeographed book of poems collected for manual arts teachers.

Isn't it strange that princes and kings,
And clowns that caper in sawdust rings
And common folk like you and me
All share this common destiny:
Each is given a set of rules,
A lump of stone and bag of tools,
That each may carve ere life has flown
A stumbling block or stepping stone. — Anonymous 

Here's to you Bob. You lifted us up, enabled us to reach higher places and made the world a brighter place. 

Make, fix and create... assist others in learning likewise.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Fresh from five days

After a five day class at ESSA building small cabinets, I plan to spend the day putting things away, cleaning the shop, and responding to my editor on questions regarding my new book.

I got a question from a reader concerning a process in my book 25 Beautiful Boxes, which is a compilation of projects drawn from my first two books, written over 20 years ago. I'll need to go back and try to refresh my memory as to what he's talking about. He wrote, that as a novice woodworker, he was trying to build the project in chapter 20, and had questions about a particular joint. In a way that's like starting Moby Dick at chapter 89, except that fiction does not require chapter by chapter growth, the way a how-to book may.

I try to order my chapters the way we grow in skill and understanding... from the easy to more difficult, and from the simple to the complex. In fiction, no particular development of the individual is required. In how-to books, you have the option of passivity if you choose, or to use what's offered to actually change your life and the physical world in which you reside. And that's rarely as easy as it looks. 

Human beings of all ages learn through the same pattern of growth. We start with the interests of the child,  then move from the known to the unknown, from the easy to the more difficult, from the simple to the complex and from the concrete to the abstract. I mentioned to my reader that building a sample joint might help him to come to a better understanding of the joinery used in chapter 20. Maybe so. 

In any case, I'll look back at the book and see if I can figure out how I might help.

Make, fix and create... assist others in learning likewise.

Friday, September 15, 2023

sale at ETSY is having a sale in which any order over $25 can receive a $5.00 discount on my products, or the products of other makers.The discount comes from ETSY not the merchant. The discount code is Get5  My shop is located here:

My students and I had a great class building small cabinets at ESSA as you can see.

Make, fix and create... assist others in learning likewise.

Thursday, September 14, 2023


My students in my small cabinet making class all have doors, so tomorrow we will finish assembly and plan on putting on hinges and hardware. The photo shows an example.

Make, fix and create... assist others in learning likewise.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Today at ESSA, doors

Today in my making small cabinets  class at ESSA we are ready to begin making doors. I woke up early this morning to go through the process of making bridle joint doors, for both glass and raised panels, as my students will be making both. I am so lucky to have practiced such things over the years and to have skills to share and to have found a market for these skills. 

My book on designing boxes is moving through the assembly process. A cover is being designed, marketing materials are being developed, the words and photos are going through the usual editorial processes, an illustrator has been chosen, and there again I'm lucky to have skills to share and a great team to help me share them. This will be my fourteenth how-to book, not including three translated and published in German.

The photo shows one of my student's small cabinets in trial assembly state.

Make, fix and create... Assist others in learning likewise.

Monday, September 11, 2023

Building small cabinets.

Today we had day one of my class Building Small Cabinets. To make things interesting the students determined the sizses of the cabinets that would be most useful in their homes.

All the students chose cherry as their wood of choice though some may add accents of white oak to offer contrast.

This was also the first day in using our new Harvey Dust Collector. That was a resounding success. At low speed it handled the table saws and jointer, and at a decibel level that allowed conversation. With various tools running it was hard to tell by sound whether the dust collector was turned on or not. As an added bonus, it is low profile so we now have a clear view of the table saw from all sides. That allows for closer observation of student safety.

In the photo students are drilling dowel holes in cabinet sides. Dowel holes to fit the top and bottom will be drilled tomorrow, and we will begin making cabinet doors.

For those not in class this week, my entire DVD Building Small Cabinets is available on my youtube site.

Make, fix and create... Assist others in learning likewise.

Thursday, September 07, 2023

New dust collector

Yesterday we installed a new dust collector at ESSA with the intention of improving the noise level and teaching environment. It's made by Harvey and has a low profile, fitting neatly between table saws, and at a height low enough that materials can pass over. 

I'm preparing for a class at ESSA on building small cabinets, that begins on Monday.

Make, fix and create... Assist others in learning likewise.

let there be legs

I've made a few walnut legs to fit to boxes. They are easy to make and assemble, and can be shaped using the band saw, scroll saw and sanding to a variety of interesting shapes.

My book, Designing Boxes is now in the editing stage, and an illustrator has been assigned to take my drawings to a more refined state.

On editing, I'm grateful to be working with Peter Chapman, former director of Taunton Books, and with whom I've worked before.

To make the legs, I simply cut a miter down one side of a piece of walnut, then cut it into lengths. I tape the mitered edges together with glue and then after the glue dries, I had a reinforcement piece that also serves as a place upon which the box rests as the legs are attached.

Today I'll assist with the kindergarten woodworking class at the Clear Spring School and help to install a new dust collector at the Eureka Springs School of Arts, ESSA.

Make, fix and create... Assist others in learning likewise.


Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Reality poised to strike

Yesterday at this time, I'd boarded my flight home from Atlanta, and was ready for takeoff. The Atlanta airport is believed to be the busiest in the US with more traffic even than LAX in Los Angeles or JFK in New York. Today I'm sitting on my front porch. Rosie has a stick to chew. A gentle breeze is passing through the trees and it looks like it might rain.

I had a curious ride from the Woodcraft Store in Alpharetta, Georgia to the Springhill Suites at the Atlanta airport where I spent the night prior to my flight. The driver was talkative as he wove in and out of lanes, telling me that if they were to attach an alternator to each wheel of the car, it would need neither a battery nor engine, as the power for propulsion would be provided by the alternators drawn from the rotation of the wheels. Would that not be a  great thing? He then wanted to tell me about an investment opportunity in which a 10,000 dollar investment would be turned into 2.5 million over a 2 year period, guaranteed and without risk. I simply said, "that's great," not wanting to distract him further from getting me to my destination.

There's a great editorial in the New York Times this morning by Michelle Goldberg, "A Brilliant Examination of a Berserk Political Moment." It describes in detail how folks go off the deep end. I'm concerned that living detached from nature and spending way too much time in altered reality states is a danger to us all. 

Crafts are a great way to get involved in real reality, as we watch and measure the transformation of materials and as we hone useful beauty in our own hands. With my driver to the airport, I left a couple questions unasked. The first was that if his investment is such a good one, "Why was he still driving a car?" The second was that "If he'd made so much money, why he didn't invest in alternators for each wheel and save on gas?" For all of those of us who would rather live in fantasy, I'll note that sooner or later, reality speaks on its own behalf.

Make, fix and create... Assist others in learning likewise.

Sunday, September 03, 2023


I had a great class with the Woodworkers Guild of Georgia and will be headed home in the morning.  I ws too busy to take photos

Make, fix and create... Assist others in learning likewise.

Friday, September 01, 2023

Woodworkers Guild of Georgia

This afternoon I fly to Atlanta for two days of classes with the Woodworkers Guild of Georgia. I plan to make two or three boxes in the two day demonstration class with nearly fifty woodworkers attending I'm also taking a large checked bag with boxes to initiate a discussion of design.

At ESSA we're installing a new Harvey dust collector to serve two table saws and a jointer. It has a low profile and will sit between saws allowing a clear line of site for monitoring safety of student work, and being the same height as the tops of the saws will not impede the movement of materials. It's also promised to be quieter for a classroom setting. I'm excited about the new addition. And our setting for this piece of equipment is ideal.

Make, fix and create... Assist others in learning likewise.