How Do I Pass the Time

When I attended the 12-week furniture intensive course at Center for Furniture Craftsmanship several years ago, our first project was a bench.  It was the perfect starter project for honing skills like hand-cut dovetails and through wedged tenons.  It is an easy project that takes less than a week to build.

CFC bench


Which is why in between bigger furniture projects I will still sometimes return to benches to keep my hand skills sharp and to play with different types of hand-cut joints.

This is a basic cherry bench that replicates my first project at Center for Furniture Craftsmanship:

cherry bench 1 cherry bench 2


This is a maple and cherry bench with ebony inlays:

benchbench joints


This summer, I had an apprentice, and her first project was also a bench.  She took a creative approach to the joints and came away with a nice first project:

apprentice (1) apprentice (2)

In addition to benches, boxes also provide a good way to use small scraps of wood and keep those hand skills in tune.  The smaller the piece, the more precise the hand cuts must be because flaws are more noticeable on a smaller piece.  I enjoy the exercise of putting together boxes using different types of hand-cut joints and showcasing different types of wood.

box (2) boxboxes


While I prefer the more fun and complex furniture pieces, I still value the small, simple projects for practicing hand-cut joints.  And they are great quick and easy starter projects.  Like my apprentice with her bench, I have taught several box making courses, and people are always pleased with their take home hand-made projects.



Floating Curves

A couple months ago I was commissioned to build a floating desk for a client.  I was given no parameters other than the approximate size and that the concept was that it would be a floating desk to be installed so the client can stand while working at his computer.  I drew up a couple design options, and my client picked one that had a curved bottom.  I enjoy bending wood, so was happy to have the opportunity to make a curved piece.

I chose to make the piece out of cherry because it is one of my favorite woods, and it is relatively affordable for the client.

When making a piece for the first time, I start by creating a full scale drawing.  I then build a maquette or small mock-up.  This lets me work out my proportions and joinery.

Then construction began.  With this piece, the first step was to work out the build of the curved bottom.  To do this, I have to make a form, which involves figuring out the curve of the bottom, then building a torsion box that I can put into a vacuum press.  I lay out my veneer and interlace bendable plywood that runs perpendicular to each subsequent layer until I have my desired thickness, sandwiched on each side by the veneer.  I then lay the veneer sandwich over the form and vacuum press it.

IMG_6197IMG_6313 IMG_6312vacuumIMG_6316 IMG_6353

After the curved part was completed, I needed to build its hardwood nose.  For this, I did bent laminations, which involves cutting thin strips of hardwood that I then glue back together over a form.


Once I had the curved piece completed, I worked on my sides and middle divider.  Making the joinery for this was the difficult part of the build.  I had to figure out my angles to determine square from the curve.  Once my angle was determined, I made my cuts and joined my sides long.  To make the divider, I used a tapered sliding dovetail.

curved angle cuttingIMG_6471 IMG_6486 IMG_6489

The top was made from a single thick board that was re-sawed in half, then book matched.

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The drawers were made with hand-cut dovetails out of quarter sawn white oak.  I had to make wooden drawer rails for them to slide on.  The handles were hand shaped from zebra wood.

dovetailszebra wood

The piece was finished with 8 to 10 coats of water lox, an oil varnish mixture.  The interior was finished before the glue up to make finishing easier.

IMG_6986 IMG_7008


And here it is installed:

floating desk

Mixing Media

I love to draw.

Doodles.  Illustrations.  Cartoons.

Whatever you want to call them, if there is a piece of paper and pen in front of me, there will soon be drawings.


And if I go to a restaurant that uses brown paper instead of linens on the table, there will also soon be drawings.


But when I first started woodworking, I did not think about merging my drawings with my furniture.  One was fun and not meant for public dissemination; the other was refined.  But soon, I started realizing that many of my favorite furniture artists are ones who weave whimsy into their art, and I thought about adding more fun elements – that are more expressive of my personality – into my pieces.  I drew inspiration from people like Katie Hudnall (, and first introduced drawings on milk paint to a China Cabinet I made several years ago.

On the outside, it is refined:

Louis Cahill Photography

On the inside – fun:

Louis Cahill PhotographyIMG_0845 IMG_0846

After not really mixing media for a couple years, I recently started finding joy in drawing again.  In the last couple of months, I’ve done a few drawings on milk painted maple plywood as stand alone pieces for friends and family.


And I’ve been working on some wall cabinet prototypes that blend cabinetry and drawings like my China Cabinet:

photo 1 photo 4

Meanwhile, one of our local restaurants, Datz (, is featuring the artwork of different local artists or designers on its menu covers.  I was invited to submit a drawing, and my artwork is currently on the cover:


I’ve been having a lot of fun with my drawings lately.  Hope you enjoy them, too.  More mixed media wall cabinets are in the works.  Stay tuned.

Catching Up

Happy 2013!  I have to slip this blog post in while the year is still “new”.  It’s been almost a year since I said I would try to keep this blog more current, but the end of the year does seem to get away from me between finishing projects, hosting family dinners and enjoying the festivities of the holidays.

So…  here’s a quick recap of the end of 2012.  The executive desk (which I had the luxury of working on at my leisure between other projects) was finished and delivered.  I wanted this to be a showcase piece.  As noted in earlier posts, I used cherry hardwood, curly maple veneers and included a walnut inlay.  The finished project is beautiful.



desk11The drawer boxes were made of birch and joined with walnut pegs (though you cannot quite see that detail in this picture).

desk detailI love this picture of the desk detail.

desk installedAnd here is the desk after delivery.  The client chose long antique bronze drawer pulls, which complimented the style of the desk.

In addition to various corporate projects that kept me busy at the end of the year, I also had some fun making butcher block cutting boards out of cherry, maple, and walnut.  These were popular with people who really enjoy cooking and several were given as holiday presents.

cutting board 2 cutting board 3 cutting board 4


2013 is off to a great start.  I have started working on some wall cabinets to install as gallery pieces and have a bed and entertainment center to build for a client.  In addition, I am partnering with Infinity Cutting Tools to teach some woodworking classes.  Our first offering is an Introduction To Routing & Router Bits class on February 9, 2013.  If you are in the Tampa Bay area and interested, you should check it out!

Looking forward to the new opportunities and exciting projects this year will bring!


Adding Inlays

I have been working on the inlay on the executive desk I am building.  I am using a walnut inlay between the maple veneer panels and cherry frame.

Inlays can be beautiful, but they require precise work and a lot of sweat equity.

I routed out a 1/8 inch groove in between the hardwood edge and veneer.

Routing the lines required accurate measurement and setup.

I then inlaid a thin strip of walnut that I planed down to size.

I next hand planed and scraped the surface until it was flush.

Hand planing and scraping next to a thin veneer is super sketchy, but the result is worth it.

Next, I will sand and finish it…

The Bank Job

No, not a bank heist.  A bank job.  I built large custom pieces for a bank that coordinated with cabinetry supplied by Mid Continent Cabinetry.

Here are a couple of the pieces in process in my shop:



The installation was done over a weekend, and had to be coordinated with other installers, including the guy installing the granite countertops.  Everything came together smoothly, and the bank was very happy with the  finished product:




First Florida Show

As mentioned in my last post, three of my pieces were selected to be part of the Florida Craftsmen Annual Member Show.  This is a juried exhibition for Florida Craftsmen Members.  The show is from August 6 to October 10 at the Lighthouse ArtCenter in Tequesta, Florida.

On Thursday, August 16, we drove across the State to attend the opening reception.  One of my pieces was featured on the outside signage at the gallery.

Inside, my pieces were in three different rooms.  There was a nice variety of work of work from Florida artists, but only one other furniture artist.

Here are pictures of my pieces as they were staged throughout the exhibition:

There was a nice turn out at the opening reception, and I got to speak to a number of people about my work.

Looking forward to working on some new pieces for the Florida Craftsmen gallery in St. Petersburg and to submit to next year’s exhibition.