2016, A Year of “Making”

A review of 2015 is easy.


First half – all HO Studley book and exhibit, all the time.  Turned 60, meaning I have only 40-45 good years of woodworking left.  Better get cracking!


Second half – busted hip; Roubo on Furniture Making; conserving tortoiseshell


Lots of miles, lots of presentations.

2016 (and beyond) is destined to be different for many reasons, not the least of which are 1) my commitment to travel much, much less, and 2) for the first time in my life I will be concentrating on making furniture for an extended period.  Up to now I’ve mostly been repairing and conserving furniture to the detriment of making it.  My fascination with historic techniques of artistry and artisanry have yielded a fairly broad and deep vocabulary; the time has come to take that lexicon and transform it into real material culture, not simply a stack of sample boards and a library to die for.

When I read the woodworking blogs that interest me (I generally avoid woodworking discussion forums as I cannot spare any intelligence or knowledge, and I observe that these sites make you stupider and less knowledgeable by the minute, but I might not frequent the right ones), I am awestruck by the productive output of some woodworkers.

Take Joe McGlynn, whose apparently now-inactive blog McGlynn on Making made me wonder what in the world he was eating.  It seemed that he was making a new piece every week.  And the Accidental Woodworker?  I am becoming convinced that Ralph is a zombie/vampire hybrid because he must never, ever sleep.  No other explanation suffices for how he can get so much really good work done.  And blog about it!   How about Jonas Jensen?  He makes more (and better) furniture with a hack saw in the machine shop of a ship bouncing around the North Sea, using wood salvaged from crates down in the cargo hold than 99% of woodworkers can accomplish in a perfect woodworking studio.

These will be my heroes on a daily basis as I have already begun a regimen of making perhaps as many as a dozen pieces this year.


The first clients in line were the two who commissioned Gragg chairs.  I would like for this to become a yearly affair as I find these so challenging that I cannot imagine getting tired of them for many years.  Especially since they are such fertile soil for adaptations.


The next project is from a client who commissioned me to make a replica of an early 19th Century mahogany desk, similar to one I worked on a few years ago.  The excellent mahogany has been obtained, the templates made, the turning has begun, and the first (full blind) dovetails will be undertaken in a fortnight or so.

Finally (last on this list, but not in the priority) comes several pieces commissioned by Mrs. Barn for the cabin.  Most will be made from salvaged chestnut and white oak, beginning with a simple shelving cabinet for the kitchen to get warmed up, then some nicer book cases for the living room, moving on to a pair of modified Schwarzian Dutch tool chests as bedroom cabinets.  And maybe a coffee table for the living room.  And those four cherry chairs for the dining room suite…