Here's My Woodworking!
by Mike Stafford
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I have always loved wood and feel very lucky that I have had so much opportunity to explore the many facets of wood and woodworking. I grew up in North Idaho helping my grandfather with his logging business. I enjoy working with my hands and have always had a great curiosity for how things are built. I am very fortunate to be at a part of my life where I finally have all the time I want to enjoy working with wood and building things.
I am now a hobby woodworker with a passion for walnut, but really, I fall in love with whatever wood I am working with at the time. Kathie, my wife, and I owned and ran a plastering company for twenty-five years before retiring in 2010. This whole thing started in 2006 when Kathie and I decided to remodel the kitchen. I volunteered to build the cabinets if she would design what she wanted. She drew up the designs and I built them. Kathie was thrilled with them and I knew the satisfaction of having made them myself. I was hooked.
The bedroom furniture project started with a need to have a better bedroom set. My old dresser was one and a half feet taller than Kathie which meant the top drawers were useless for her. Kathie has a 1930's walnut dressing table with serpentine top drawers and hexagonal columns, which she really loves. Kathie designed the bedroom set to feature serpentine drawers and hexagonal columns in the new pieces so that the dressing table would work with the new bedroom set. After the sketches were completed, I started work on the nightstands with Kathie's design input.
To get a wide selection of boards, we purchased a couple of milled walnut trees. The walnut in all the bedroom pieces came from the same tree. I am always amazed at the variety of color, texture and illusions that nature provides in a single piece of wood; just one of the many wonderments of nature. Once the nightstands were completed, we had a good idea of how to develop the two dressers. Again, we were using Kathie's design and my woodworking.
The drawers are the focal point of the night stands. The top drawer is straight grained walnut cut in a serpentine pattern which shows off the vertical lines in the wood. The lower two drawers have an outside 'frame' in very uniform grained walnut sapwood. A maple inlay sets off the book matched walnut crotch wood as the inside face of the drawer frame. They were all re-sawn with a Highland Legendary Re-sawing blade. There is a hexagonal column on each side of the inset drawers.
Next are the dressers. She varied the design a little bit on each one to add some variety to the set. As with the nightstands, the dresser drawers are all book matched crotch wood. The drawer details in the night stand drawer fronts are the same in the dressers as in the nightstands. She decided to make the hexagonal columns a little larger in the dressers to avoid a 'spindly' look. There are columns between the banks of drawers in her dresser, but not in mine. My dresser features two serpentine drawers that join one another so it appears to be only one drawer. We decided not to put hardware on these drawers because we didn't want to interfere with the smoothness of the look. Instead I carved a little notch into the bottom of each drawer underneath so that they could be easily opened.
The hardware on the flat drawers is original 1930's Art Deco Bakelite with bronze metal. The serpentine drawers have glass pulls. We think the hardware sets off the drawers perfectly and feel very lucky to have found enough of them online to complete the set. The drawer sides and backs are made from red oak. The drawer slides are maple. The finish is General Brand Arm-R-Seal wipe on gloss. It is very easy to use and gives a beautiful durable finish.
We collect old movies and have a lot of them. This Spring, we decided that we needed to start the furniture in our sitting room with a credenza to store all our movies. It would need to hold a lot of movies and also to hold the DVD and the satellite receiver with easy access to the wiring. The television sits on top. We didn't want anything massive that would overpower the room. It needed to coordinate with the bedroom furniture, but not be identical. Kathie designed a credenza where the drawers would be the central focus with the frame having very simple clean lines.
I decided the best way to put this piece together was to use the same construction as a 'barrister' book case. So the credenza is actually three separate parts. The pieces are stable because of the cleats that notch them together.
Each bank of drawers is book matched and the faces have incredible depth. We spent a lot of time selecting the wood for the drawer fronts so that we could get something very special. We chose them for their color and intricate figuring. The drawers are almost iridescent.
We found some drawer pulls in matte bronze with an art deco design impressed on them. The finish is again, Arm-R-Seal wipe on finish. The beauty and variety of the wood is my inspiration. I like to make boxes because unique, small pieces of wood get to 'show off' their glory. I like to put different combinations of cuts and shapes together to see how they turn out. I am working on a bunch of boxes now just for the fun of it. I also like to make meat boards because of the opportunity to combine different varieties of wood in the same piece.
Future projects are the rest of the sitting room furniture. Kathie has got a design for the guest room furniture rattling around in her head along with a new coffee table. I also like making Christmas gifts for my children and grandchildren.
I am always inspired by the work of other woodworkers and learn a lot from them. I have been reading Highland Wood News for years and am very glad to see it's now online. I moderate the Woodbarter Message Board. Stop by sometime I love to converse with other woodworkers. It's a great group of people from beginners to professional woodcrafters.
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