You can also view my gallery at Designs en Bois.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Walking a Fine Line

In this episode, I really had to make some difficult choices around stringing for the drawers. In a lot of cases, it pays to do some mock-ups and experimentation to really come up with the best solution to any woodworking problem. In this episode, I put the finishing touches on the drawers, fix my little snafu from episode two, and get the final finish and hardware in place. In the end, this project was far more work than I expected it to be. I always seem to introduce either changes in direction (via mistakes) or additional complexity that seems simple in the design phase, but a lot more effort in practice. But that's what makes woodworking fun and challenging, and why I keep coming back for more!

Friday, May 8, 2015

When doves make me cry

It’s no secret that I like to incorporate lots of curved lines into my pieces. Generally I start with a concept and decide where I want to bend some lines to add visual appeal, and most of the time I have little concern for how much more complex it will make the project. As a result, I almost always underestimate the extra work involved in adding even simple curvature. So of course this piece is no different. In my mind, dovetailing into the sides of a curved drawer front is really no different than a flat drawer front.

But especially with a bow-front drawer, this is not the case at all. There are angles that need to be cut in the top and the shoulders of each tail that then need to fit into a similar angle in the dovetail sockets. So this episode focuses not on how to hand cut dovetail drawers, but more how the process differs for bow-front drawers. 

Monday, November 10, 2014


With the hanging cabinet project, I saved the hardest part for the end - the drawers. Because the base is bowed, the drawer construction takes on an added element of difficulty. In this episode, I tackle fitting and shaping the drawer fronts from a single piece of mahogany. In many ways, I assumed that by doing a smaller project like this would actually make construction easier. But in reality, the diminutive size can actually make things a bit tricker in some cases, such as the drawer fronts. But why would I want to make thing easy on myself?

Monday, October 6, 2014

Back in stile

Remember the hanging wall cabinet? Well it still doesn't have any doors or drawers - so let's remedy that situation.  I decided the door fronts would be first, and why not amp it up a bit with through haunched tenons. I love haunched tenons because they let me cut all the grooves straight down all the rails and stiles on the router table without having to square anything off with hand tools.  But they do add an extra level of difficulty to the tenon construction. So I'll show you a way I quickly measure out the haunches and cut them with a hand saw.

And with stiles just an inch wide, I was worried shorter tenons might not be strong enough. So I decided to just run the mortises all the way through the stock. Top it off with some raised cherry panels for effect, I think these door fronts will really complement the hanging wall cabinet. Which reminds me, I need to start looking for some hinges pretty soon. Enjoy!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Fitting in

The final carcass construction for the hanging wall cabinet requires a lot of fine tuning of the drawer dividers and shelves. Even on a small piece like this, dialing in the thickness of the dividers and notching everything out to create a nice clean joint really makes the difference in a hand-built piece. Any gaps or loose joints will definitely get noticed, especially in the drawer dividers where there's nowhere to hide. This short episode also shows how important hand tools are even if you have a predominantly electron-fueled shop. Then, in the next episodes I will focus on the door fronts and then the curved drawers.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Divide and conquer

Well, this one isn't called the groove project for nothin'. While I now have all the shelves in place, I still needed to address the divider that will house the three drawers. Since the vertical dividers need to slide into grooves in both the horizontal divider and case bottom, this is the last step before being able to glue up the carcass. While it sounds like a fairly simple task, I decided to make these stopped grooves which eliminated a few options such as the dado stack on my table saw. But I thought of an old trick on a rarely-used jig to solve the problem.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Making Lemonade

Moving along in my hanging wall cabinet project, I was really starting to feel like I was getting my groove back. In this next phase of the project, however, I needed to tackle some tricky joinery with some fairly thin stock. While this project originally seemed like a good way to ease myself back into woodworking game shape, I quickly realized the joinery I decided to use - stopped dados and sliding dovetails - wasn't going to be quite a easy as I hoped.

As it turns out, my biggest challenge actually had little to do with experience, technique, or materials. But rather a simple design flaw in a tool that can be found in almost every shop. In this episode, you can find out where I ran into trouble and how I plan to make lemons out of lemonade.

Monday, March 24, 2014

How Bois got his groove back...

Sometimes, despite your best intentions you just can't always find time to get into the shop. I hear it all the time from fellow woodworkers, but I was sure I was immune to this terrible condition. Well it finally happened to me - for about the last nine months. But I was not discouraged. I believe that in many ways woodworking is just like riding a bike - you hop back on and it all comes back. But when it comes to more refined techniques and skills, these are things you need to hone on a regular basis to stay in shape.

So with a big project looming in the future, I was a bit hesitant to just jump right back on the saddle. I decided to design something that would help me hone those skills again with a lower risk factor, while also resulting in something I could be proud of and share. You know, something to help me get my groove back. So this next episode is what I call my "groove" project. And as I'm finding out, this will take on a double meaning as you get into a few episodes. If nothing else, I hope I can inspire some folks who have been arm-chair quarterbacking to get back in the game. Or back it the saddle. Or whatever metaphor works best for you. Enjoy!

Monday, February 24, 2014

The definitive shop tour

It's been a long time since my last post, and I've gotten a lot of emails and questions about my time off. Well sometimes life just happens. I have a job now that requires quite a bit more travel and free time has gotten tougher to come by. However, I did find the time to work on one of the most requested "projects" I've gotten over the past few years - a shop tour.

I'm at the stage now with the shop where I have the tools and the workflow in place to accommodate my design and construction methods. I have a few more tweaks I want to make here and there, and a shop is never truly done. But for the most part I'm at a point in the evolution of my shop that I'm tuning rather than filling major gaps.

I have also completed the design and dimensioning phases of my next project, which will be my next series. In my time off I also spent some time and money to upgrade my entire video and audio setup as well as my production software. As a result, you should see a much higher quality of production in this new series (sadly the shop tour was done entirely on my old equipment).

If you have any questions about my shop setup, rationale for various decisions, or feedback on any of the tools and processes, just shoot me a comment. As always I'm happy to respond (at least when I'm not at 40,000 feet).

Right click to download the HD version of this video

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A photo finish

I think I made this project far more complicated than it needed to be. But despite my mistakes and design changes, I think I actually ended up with something at least presentable in the end. I built this piece from the beginning to show at The Furniture Project, which Eli Cleveland and crew put on every year to promote hand crafted furniture to the public. Hopefully I did the show (and an unsuspecting walnut tree) proud.

Sadly, this marks the end of this project, but have a few concepts already in mind for the next one. In the meantime, I'm thinking a proper shop tour is long overdue, and it might be the perfect intermission to the next big thing.

 Right click to download the HD version of this video