I just came in from the shop after an afternoon workout with my spokeshave. My current project is another crossover event that combines the George Nelson Bench Project with the Reclamation Project. Details will be available when that piece is complete, but for now I'd just like to take a little time to talk about my spokeshave. 'Cause me likey.

It's a Kunz half-round spokeshave that I picked up from Woodcraft. Why this one? 'Cause it was cheap? And I'd never used a spokeshave before so I didn't want to go all out and get something like a Boggs? And Woodcraft was having a sale?

Its name tells you exactly what it was originally used for in the caveman days (yes, I do mean caveman days- when spokeshaves were made of stone!), and that is for shaving spokes. As in, making wheels with rounded spokes. Nowadays, they see a lot of time in chair making operations for rounded spindles on chair backs and chair legs.

I've used it on a few different projects now, mostly for making tapered spindles. The current project involves turning 2x2 square pine legs into tapered spindled legs.

And hence the workout. And a pile of shavings.

Shavings good. Sawdust messy. And I don't have to wear a mask.


The End Table

A buddy of mine recently did up his garage. Floors, insulation, drywall, lighting, a new door, air, new electrical, a pop-down attic ladder, a sink, etc. A new baby can do that to a garage, especially if there're only two bedrooms in the house. This is not to say that the baby can do construction work, but that the baby causes the need to do the construction work. The 2nd bedroom becomes the baby room and the old office moves to the garage.

We went over to visit this new fangled garage office/den and I discovered two trash cans full of wood scraps. Cut up pieces, all about a foot long and a foot wide, that came from the old interior of the garage. Apparently they were long and wide planks running horizontally where stuff could be screwed or nailed to like lawn equipment, shelving or other miscellaneous garage junk.

I picked out a few choice pieces, planed 'em down, and thought to myself, "Self, what should I built out of this?"

(If anyone can tell me what kind of wood is/was used as random garage wood in the 1950's, then please feel free to email. It's a softish kinda wood, probably pine? Or doug fir? They're all 3/4" thick with widths varying from 6" to a full foot. Hmmm...)

The result is another entry in The Reclamation Project:

The End Table

The reclaimed garage wood was used for the leg structure only. The table top came from an old side table I built 10 years ago that no longer had a home in the house. It used to be a rectangle, but I oblonged it so it fit more with the look of the legs.

I didn't want to bother with a router roundover bit, so all edge easing was done with a spokeshave. There's something about that little tool that just does it for me.

Inspiration for this piece is the Bradshaw line of tables from Room&Board.

Here are my dimensions:

Length of table top: 23"
Width of table top: 17 1/2"
Height: 22 1/2"

Top is made of repurposed pine. Legs are made of reclaimed garage wood. Could be pine? Could be douglas fir (like 2x4 wood, but thinner and from the 1950's)?

Price: $150

To arrange purchase, send an email to craigwoodworks at gmail dot com


Nelson: Project Echo

The military alphabet thing started after watching the first episode of the Hit TV Show On Fox! Dollhouse! Yes, I know, why do I watch that show? Did I really fall for Fox's scheming and conniving in their attempt to attract viewers with scantily clad women? On a Friday night? Right after that Terminator show with the scantily clad girl terminator?

Anyway, Eliza Dushku's character is named Echo. And the mysterious bad guy's name is Alfa. And the other girl's name is Sierra. And I had to explain to the wife why they were named such. And it became a little thing of ours that we had to know every letter of that alphabet. Because it's always a thing of mine to know everything about everything. Because I am officially in Jeopardy! training as of last week. (More on that in another post.)

So here we are at letter E, the fifth in the Nelson Bench series, or Project Echo. I have some reclaimed red oak that I wanted to use for something- the problem being that most of the pieces were smallish or shortish or thinnish. Read more on The Reclamation Project.

Project Echo is therefore a crossover event: Like when ABC mixed up the casts of Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice. It's a member of both The George Nelson Bench Project and The Reclamation Project. Only without the blood, the witty banter, the wispy music that's better suited to the CW network, or the doctors.

During the cutting-up-the-old-red-oak process, I discovered lots of worminess in the wood. At this time I'd like to officially rename the term worminess to character. All the little trails and divots impart lots of character into this piece. Yeah.

The legs are skinny, tapered and rounded by hand (with the spokeshave again), and are stained a dark chocolate brown. One of these days I'll use the spokeshave for the purpose by which it is named: making a wheel with spokes.

Project Echo's name? The Plant Stand.

It was supposed to be some sort of end table or side table, but since it's so light and airy and delicate and small and has skinny legs, then it had to be demoted to a Plant Stand. Of course you can put whatever you want on it. Just don't sit on it.

Dimensions are as follows:

Table top: 14 1/4" x 13 1/2"
Height: 25"

Construction is of repurposed red oak, with ash end pieces (the toothed parts), and ash legs.

Price: No longer available. Given to my mother for Mother's Day.

To arrange purchase, send an email to craigwoodworks@gmail.com


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Current items within the Reclamation Project:

The End Table
The Plant Stand* (aka Nelson Project Echo)
The Cork Trivet
The Spindled Bench* (aka Nelson Project Foxtrot)

*The Plant Stand and The Spindled Bench are crossover events with The George Nelson Bench Project. They both utilize reclaimed/repurposed/reused/recycled wood and are also constructed in the slats tradition of the George Nelson Bench.

What is The Reclamation Project? Read on...

There used to be a room attached to the back of our garage. It was old and creaky and smelly and leaning slightly to the lef
t. I once had visions of using it as a workshop or an office-- until the insurance people said that it wasn't to code, it was built too close to the property line, and it looked like it was gonna cave in on itself and maim somebody.

So we tore it down. And by "we" I mean a group of four of us did it and we didn't hire a crew of demolitioners. At the base of this so-called room, we found that the brilliant constructioners built it up on top of sheets of plywood nailed to some 2x4's laid flat on the ground. No concrete foundation, no pressure treated lumber, no vapor barrier, no nothing. Good stuff, yo.

The result of the demolitioning was a truckload of lumber. 2x4s, 2x6s, 2x8s, lots of plywood.

Now to the point: Why throw it all away? Why get a big phat dumpster and send all of it into a landfill? That was my thinking at the time. Too bad I didn't act on it right away.

The lumber sat in a large pile outside the garage for years before I decided to build myself a dining table. I picked out the choicest of the 2x8's, cut 'em so they were 8 feet long, got some 4x4's from another demolition of a wood fence surrounding our property, built some legs and a stretcher structure. Say that 10 times fast- stretcher structure.

The cool part was getting a bucket of chocolate brown oops paint from Lowes ($5!) and slathering it on my gigantic dining table. I think the final dimensions were 4 feet wide by 8 feet long- all with the intention of being able to seat eight people at a time for dinner. There was an additional bench project that went along with this dining table, but it didn't turn out quite like I wanted it to so it never served its purpose as seating for this table.

Above is the only picture I could find of the table. Ignore the shopvac and the miscellaneous junk surrounding it. Below that is the bench with glasses. Not a bench that has a vision problem, but a bench used as a wine glass staging area for a dinner party (with lots and lots of wine; 'cause why else would I set out 24 wine glasses?).

The table was dismantled a year later and the dining room was turned into a living room. The top of the table is still intact and I'll probably reuse it soon. The base was repurposed for use as the base of my woodshop assembly table/planer stand. The bench is now an outdoor seat in our breezeway.

Similarly, I built another dining table 10 years ago that was purpose-built for a small space in our old house. Since it had no place to go in our new house, it was relegated to the backyard and used as a gardening/planting table. Exposed to the severe weather of Southern California, it slowly deteriorated into a table-not-so-much. But it was oak! Solid red oak!

So I cut it up, picked out the good parts, planed down the tore up surfaces, and now most of the oak is definitely useable.

Keyword Number One: Reduce. By not buying wood, I am reducing my impact on new wood use and ancillary costs of transporting that wood to the end user.

Keyword Number Two: Reuse. We tore down an old structure and I am using the doug fir for other purposes. I built a table 10 years ago that subsequently deteriorated and would have ended up in a landfill if I had not cut it up and replaned it.

Keyword Number Three: Recycle. Same as keyword number two. Other words that fit: repurpose, reclaim, reinvigorate, restore.


Nelson: Project Delta

For the fourth project in the Nelson Series, I present The Foot Stool.

Find out more about The George Nelson Bench Project.

What do you do with smallish leftover pieces of ash from Project Charlie? Make a smallish Nelson Bench, of course!

This was a fun project. Quick and dirty. Not too many teeth to cut. And I even got to use my brand spanking new spokeshave and make some spindles. Yessirree, hand cut spindles. I don't own a lathe and I probably won't get a lathe any time in the near future. Come to think of it, I've never used a lathe in my life. During woodshop class in junior high school, our family was on an extended vacation when they covered turning, so I missed out. Now all I do is watch that turning guy on PBS and think to myself, hmmm someday I'll get around to messing with turning. But not now.

So what do you do with this little bench? Sit on it? Let your kid sit on it 'cause it's tiny? Use it as a footstool while relaxing on the sofa? Use it as a footstool at the foot of the bed so you can put your shoes on without having to bend over all the way to the floor? Anything like that will do.

My favorite idea for a use for this one is as a coconut grater. All one would have to do is find one of these:

And attach it to the end of the stool and make something like this:

And there you have it! Coconut grater stool!

My grandfather made one of these (not a Nelson coconut grater of course, but one similar to the line drawing above) and used to grate coconuts in the garage. Actually, he probably made a few of them and gave one to each of my aunts and uncles. He made all sorts of things out of wood and didn't need no stinkin' power tools. Give him a hand saw and a screwdriver and anything was possible.

Perhaps a Nelson project in the future will be the coconut grater.

As for this project, here are the dimensions:

Length: 13 3/4"
Width: 7 1/4"
Height: 8 1/2"

All solid ash construction.

Price: $50

Although this piece has sold (yippee!), one can be custom-crafted for you if this style of piece is what you're interested in. Any size or any wood species-- it's up to you. Email me with your ideas and I'll SketchItUp for you and give you a price estimate.

To arrange purchase, send an email to craigwoodworks at gmail dot com

Nelson: Project Charlie

Ah, number Three, Project Charlie. The Other Piano Bench.

For more on The George Nelson Bench Project, go here.

Note: Piano not included.

I'll admit now that I have a thing for the usage of something that's not a piano bench as a piano bench. Because frankly, standard piano benches are just plain ugly. They usually come in two flavors: Flavor One is a wooden topped thing (with or without a hinged top) with tapered legs. Flavor Two is a cushion topped thing that's just a bulbous piece of nonsense. Since flavor two usually has some sort of height adjustment dealie built in, the bulbousness of the cushioned top makes it just too bulbous to look at. Bulbous. That's a great word.

Example of a bulbous bulbousity:

Please note: I absolutely did not make the bench pictured above. I don't believe I would want to make the bench pictured above. I don't believe I would want to sit on the bench pictured above. I don't believe I would subject my piano to being accompanied by the bench pictured above. Sure my piano is an old rickety thing, but it does have some sense of decency and style left in her.

My sister's piano didn't come with a bench either. She went to Cost Plus and picked up a cool looking piece with flared legs and an undulating rattan top. Now, that's a piano bench with some chutzpah!

And now here's my contribution to the family of piano benches that don't look like standard piano benches: The Nelson Piano Bench.

The first iteration of The Nelson Piano Bench (Project Alpha) wasn't exactly a Nelson because of the glued up end pieces and the absence of the teeth with the notches. This bench does have the teeth and the notches and even has the requisite center toothed piece.

The legs aren't angled 'cause I was concerned about stability. Some piano players (myself included) get way too animated and physically involved with their playing that a back and forth swaying motion might be detrimental to the player's uprightness if the angled legs were present. Therefore, I kept the legs straight. The dadoes within which the legs rest were cut on all the slats including the outer ones. This was a little thing I wanted to try to see if it looked cool that the leg ends were visible. I think they're cool.

Here are the dimensions:

Length: 30"
Width: 14"
Height: 18 3/4"

The length of 30" is more in line with a typical piano bench length. Project Alpha was much shorter. The height is just a tad lower than Project Alpha because as I mentioned in the Project Alpha description, it felt a little high. A quarter of an inch lower feels just right.

Ash top, with poplar legs. Yeah, I know, the legs are poplar. I ran out of ash for the legs so I had to resort to whatever else was on hand. Hence the poplar. What little pieces of ash I had left went to Project Delta.

Price: $150

Although this piece has sold (yippee!), one can be custom-crafted for you if this style of piece is what you're interested in. Any size or any wood species-- it's up to you. Email me with your ideas and I'll SketchItUp for you and give you a price estimate.

To arrange purchase, send an email to craigwoodworks at gmail dot com

Nelson: Project Bravo

Number Two on the Nelson Project list is, well, The Nelson Bench.

Get more info on The George Nelson Bench Project.

OK, I lied. In the description of what The George Nelson Bench Project is, I stated that I won't actually make a George Nelson Bench. Well it seems that I somehow had to make one just to make sure I was able to make one and keep it as for real as possible. Note that when saying the words "for real" out loud, don't pronounce the "r." It'll sound something like "fo real." Never mind.

So here it is. Project Bravo is a four foot Nelson Bench complete with proper toothed ends and notched slats and a center support as well. The legs are angled inward to give it that oh so sexy Nelson flair. The stain on the legs is more of a chocolate brown than a true ebony-- so that'll be my little distinctive difference from a Nelson Bench that you can find elsewhere.

The dimensions:

Length: 48"
Width: 18"
Height: 14"

See? Even the dimensions are authentic!

All solid ash construction.

Price: Inquire

To arrange purchase, send an email to craigwoodworks at gmail dot com

Nelson: Project Alfa

The first project in the Nelson Series is The Piano Bench.

Check out more information on The George Nelson Bench Project.

My piano came without a bench and I've been using a swivel chair. While the swivel chair is definitely comfortable/ergonomic/infinitely adjustable, it just doesn't look right in front of the jet black fantasticism of a piano. I don't think fantasticism is a word.

Granted, my piano cost me a whopping $2.25, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be paired with a decent bench, right? Yes, I said $2.25. Well actually it came out to $102.25 including the piano mover's fee. The wonders of eBay.

So to inaugurate my new woodshop and tweak the new tools and make sure they cut straight and make sure I still know how to cut straight, the first project was a simple exercise.

I call it The Piano Bench because of its initial usage, but in the pictures it's being used as a side table / cafe table / end table. And therefore those are the options for your usage as well. Bear in mind that the title of the piece does have the word bench in it, so you can sit on it too. Note that the two lovely chairs flanking this piece in the first picture are not included.

A real Nelson bench has teeth on the sides of the slats where the notched slats fit comfortably. I didn't mess with that process yet and decided to do a straight ahead glue up on the ends. The grain of the alternating pieces is rotated to face upwards so there's some contrast between the slats and the center pieces.

The legs are perpendicular to their adjoining horizontal supports and are not angled inwards as in a real Nelson bench.

Oh yeah, it's all pine. 'Cause that's the wood I happened to have on hand at the time. I had a whole bunch of ash and maple as well, but they were still getting acclimated to my shop, so I saved them for later projects.

Here are the dimensions:

Length: 22 3/4"
Width: 14 1/4"
Height: 19"

I looked up standard piano bench heights and got anywhere from 18" to 20". I split the difference and made it 19". For some reason it seems a little high for my piano. Or maybe I just got so used to sitting a little low with the swivel chair. Low rider swivel chair.

Price: $75 Sold!

Although this piece has sold (yippee!), one can be custom-crafted for you if this style of piece is what you're interested in. It's different from the other Nelson pieces since it doesn't have toothed ends and is a simpler alternating grain direction glue-up. Any size or any wood species-- it's up to you. Email me with your ideas and I'll SketchItUp for you and give you a price estimate.


The George Nelson Bench Project

Project Alfa: The Piano Bench
Project Bravo: The Nelson Bench
Project Charlie: The Other Piano Bench
Project Delta: The Footstool
Project Echo: The Plant Stand
Project Foxtrot: The Spindled Bench
Project Golf: The Nelson Door
Project Hotel: The Square Coffee Table
Project India: The Wall Structure
Project Juliet: The Shoe Rack
Project Kilo: The Fence (proposed)
Project Lima: The Piano Bench, Part III (proposed and desperately needed)
Project Mike: The Headboard (not for sale)
Project November: The Six Foot Nelson Bench

This is an extensive tribute to the George Nelson Bench, which was first introduced in 1946 for Herman Miller. The picture below is from the Room and Board website: a fabulous example of an officially licensed place that sells Herman Miller / George Nelson reproductions.

While I do not intend to just build regular Nelson benches which are available through numerous retailers (both with Herman Miller's permission and without), I do intend to do a sort of theme and variations on the Nelson style. More to the point, each of my creations will have slats of some sort.

This will be a 26-part series, with 26 unique builds. Why 26? Because there are 26 letters in the alphabet and the designation system I chose utilizes the military letter system: Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, etc. Why this lettering system? Because it's cool.

All work is custom built to your specifications. While the projects pictured above and the projects linked to above are all possible creations for you, let your imagination run wild and propose something out there and wacky and unnaturally dimensioned and even without slats.

Every proposed build comes with free 3D Google SketchUp renderings. This way you can get a real feel for what the end product will look like, and sort of wrap your head around the concept. These drawings being 3D, it is then a literal wrap around.

To order something like the benches above, or to propose your own bench, send email to craigwoodworks (at) gmail (dot) com

I Like Wood (a haiku)

i like to build things
furniture with wood is good
power tools are loud


About Me

I've been woodworking since 1999 and have been producing a variety of furniture pieces off and on since then. After a rather extended recent wood hiatus and relocation to a new house, I've created a new and improved shop space inside our two-car garage and have embarked on a furniture odyssey with a different twist.

This twist will center around producing pieces that have a distinctly Mid-Century Modern feel. Blame my wife for this twist since she's the one who has had an infatuation with Mid-Century modernist styles, including furniture, decor and the upcoming total redesign of our house. A few of her favorite words she likes to throw around that have also struck a chord with me: Eichler, Eames, Saarinen and Wikkelso.

Some of my pieces will be as close to reproductions as I can muster, given just a photo. Others of my pieces will be inspired by original designs. And still others will be complete originals that in my eye will have some hint of the 40's/50's/60's vibe.

I do not work from plans. I draw up everything on paper or work up everything using Google SketchUp.

Everything I make will be made for sale. This might cause some friction in the household because some pieces will be created with a specific purpose and for a specific place in our house. But I think I'll list everything anyway, 'cause I can always make another one if need be.

While my current listings are the ones that are physically available and for purchase immediately, anything you desire can be created. Scratch that. Anything you desire can be created, so long as it fits within the design feel of mid-century modern.

Drop me an email if you have questions or would like to discuss the creation of a piece. All proposals, estimates and preliminary drawings are available free of charge.

Current items for sale can be found here. Email to craigwoodworks@gmail.com for purchase information. Delivery available to anywhere in the US. Or free delivery if you live in Southern California.


If you have questions, comments or concerns, or would like to place an order, please do not hesitate to email.

Proposals, estimates and preliminary drawings for any custom piece are available free of charge. Send an email with your ideas and we'll discuss the creation of the mid-century modern furniture item (or other wooden item) of your dreams.

Email to craigwoodworks at gmail dot com

What's Available for Purchase?

What's available for purchase, you ask?

Everything's available for purchase, I answer!

All pieces are custom made to your specifications. All pieces are drawn up in SketchUp for you to get a 3D idea of what the thing will look like when it's done. 

Of course, custom can also mean that you want it exactly like an existing piece. Take for instance one my of recent customers who wanted an exact duplication of a George Nelson six foot slat bench: http://craigwoodworks.blogspot.com/2010/07/george-nelson-bench-6-footer.html. For info on pieces in my George Nelson bench series, check this out.

Please contact me with your furniture or wooden object needs and I'll get back to you right quick:
craigwoodworks at gmail dot com