Sunday, June 29, 2014

Groopstock Day One

Entering Monterey

Kicking things off...

The first day of Groopstock kicked off with a morning talk by David Reeves of Classic Furniture Restorations (  in Knoxville, TN. In this talk "A Meaningful Life: Thoughts on Life, Craft and Brown & Shiny", Dave used personal anecdotes in the building of his career to inspire us to spend our energy on the work we love and never cease to explore new professional avenues and methods of work. Highly reflective in character, this talk set the tone for the coming presentations.

Dave getting ready

Discussing the "brown and shiny" side of life

Our generous host, Don Williams

After Dave finished up, our host Don Williams (recently retired senior furniture conservator at the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute) and Bill Robillard of Encore Restorations ( presented a robust yet portable onsite workbench solution. Don designed this particular bench for Bill’s upcoming conservation demonstrations at a local musuem. In this first part, Don displayed some of the construction features and benefits of the design.

The skeleton of the bench

Sharon's talk

So many choices...

After lunch, violin restorer Sharon Que from Ann Harbor, MI ( presented "Replacing Missing Wood/Chalk Fitting". Sharon began with a brief powerpoint but then quickly led us to her bench where she demonstrated techniques for precision fitting of irregular concave grafts. The level of detail was meticulous and like her talk at the last Groopstock, we were all riveted. 

Sharon explaining the process

At the bench

Jon Szalay

Following Sharon, Jon Szalay (infamously known as Jersey Jon on American Pickers) from First National Restorations ( showcased his new design for a small scale forge for bronze casting. Jon discussed the design and then constructed one before our eyes in under an hour. This talk was the set up for the casting to come later in the week.

Before dinner, Brian Webster of Southern Restorations in Woodstock, Georgia ( presented on “Branding and Marketing”. He discussed what a “brand” is and should be while spurring us to think more thoroughly about our place in our market. He facilitated numerous comments and discussions.

Don's presentation

After a hearty catered dinner at the Don and Carolyn’s cabin, we were treated to an overview of "Transition from Handwork to Machine Made Furniture" by Don. This powerpoint presentation mostly focused on physical evidence of production methods seen in tool marks left by the maker. Don explained the significance of these marks and what they tell us about their genesis. About as many myths were busted as truths were revealed. It was an enlightening talk for sure.

Late night conversations...

Many of us stayed up too late around the fire that night and enjoyed each other’s company and conversation. Only at a place like this can you find true fellowship in shellac, hide glue, and all things “brown and shiny”.

Stay Tuned for Day Two…

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Arrived at Don's Barn

After 18.5 hours of driving, Freddy Roman and I arrived in Monterey, VA at Don Williams' place. The moment we got out of the car we heard the dinner bell ring and the congregants gather. It truly was a wonderful thing to be able to again see the faces I've grown close to through the Professional  Refinisher's Group.

Don has again generously agreed to host the Group's week long conference. Though I was only running on a few hours of sleep, I could not resist staying up late with the guys discussing the finer points of the drying characteristics of coalescing waterborne finishes, small business marketing, and philosophy of restoration. I hit my pillow hard.

I am off to breakfast now. Gotta get some food down before the first lecture. This is gonna be good.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

My Take on Tim's Carving Axe

Thanks to Tim Manney's excellent tutorial on Turning Your Hatchet into a Carving Axe, I finally was able to put to use this shingling hatchet head that I picked up at the Tool Barn a few years ago.

I just finished it the other day and boy is it sweet. Each time I make a new tool handle it seems to turn out better than the previous ones. Here goes...

From the bin of hatchet heads... $3.00!

Bandsaw the handle shape onto 5/4 oak

Trace the eye hole to start fitting the head

Clamped in front vise to get a good view

Saw down the cheeks

Slowly pare away material until the head can be driven down all the way

Take your time on this. You want this very tight. I drive it on with a hammer (gently).

Finally fit

Contours of the handle shaped with a spokeshave, rasp, and scraper

Cut the ugly hammer head off. Rotary tool cut off wheel first and then hacksaw to finish.

Cut out the bottom so I can choke up on the grip for delicate carving work

Thank you, rotary tool.

Walnut wedge driven in and glued in place

The 32 degree bevel was ground and honed and cut off portions smoothed on grinder


So Read Tim's carving axe tutorial and pick up one of those heads at a flea market. It's a fun project.

Here are parts 1-4:

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Visit from Freddy Roman


This past weekend, Julia and I were privileged to host my good friend Freddy Roman. Freddy is a period furniture maker and restorer in Littleton, MA. His resume is astounding and his drive to excel is unbelievable. The man loves his work and it is inspiring to be around him.

The weekend was a lot of fun. Freddy came up on Friday night and left Sunday afternoon. We got up early on Saturday and went to Liberty Tool Company and Captain Tinkham’s in Searsport. We both got some good stuff. My favorites were this 26” wooden bodied try (jointer) plane, a wonderful Thomas Appleton toothing plane, and a 2” firmer socket chisel. This along with other miscellaneous doodads barely sent me over $100. What a deal.

 26" try plane
Close up on try plane

Toothing Plane

2" Firmer

After tool hunting, we got lunch in Brooklin and I introduced him to my good friend David’s incredible espresso. We then stopped by my humble studio and talked shop. We also got to drop in at the Jonathan Fisher House. I gave him a personal tour and we spent a good amount of time discussing the collection there. Before we knew it, three hours had passed and I felt like I only skimmed the surface of the Fisher story. Freddy seemed to enjoy himself at the House and I very much appreciated his insightful feedback. It was great to be able to bounce my thoughts off such an astute craftsman.

The long overdue roof - clapboards on next!

After I exploited his intellect, I then took advantage of his muscle. Freddy helped me install the rafters over the mud oven. These things were unwieldy so it was great to have another pair of hands. Once they were installed we enjoyed the fruits of our labor: the oven remunerated us with wood-fired pizza for dinner.

Freddy left Sunday afternoon after we got home from church in Bangor. We were sad to see him go. We had a great few days and look forward to the next time we see him. In two weeks we will be driving down together to DonWilliam’s place in VA for Groopstock AKA “DonCamp” 2014, this year’s Professional Refinisher’s Group Conference. It will be a blast I know.

If you haven’t seen Freddy’s brand spankin new website yet, check it out here:

Take a look at his portfolio and prepare to be amazed.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Video Released!

Klein Furniture Restoration from Mathias Reed Visuals on Vimeo.

To view video larger click above link.

Remember that video shoot a while back? Well, my good friend, Mathias sent me the final edit tonight. I feel honored that he was willing to spend his talent and time documenting my work. He was great to work with as we emailed back and forth these past weeks discussing various edits and tweaks. Our goal was to make a 3 or so minute promotional/introduction video for my website I am very pleased.

Also make sure you check out the websites of the video’s musicians Steuart Pincombe and Rebecca Landell. Mathias and I had a vision for the music and these two just sat down at a recorder and improvised this stuff. What talent!

Thank you so much Mathias, Samuel, Steuart, and Rebecca!

3,000 bd. ft.

7 x 7s, 6 x 6s, and 4 x 4s


Some more milling for the studio has been going on. This past week, the guys and I unloaded some more timbers for the frame as well as a ton of boards. These 3,000 bd ft of 16” wide boards did not come from trees at our place but they are beautiful. It will be amazing to have such wide boards lining the walls of my studio. We have some more milling to do but I think I have enough to dive into some of the joinery now. I’ve been itching to get to that stage.

Nice wide pine boards


Eden posing for scale