Monday, May 11, 2015

Big Changes

I'm going to try and keep this short. I've always had a hard time trying to keep this website updated. 

So first things first, go checkout my Facebook page for Armory Woodworks. I will more than likely not be updating this blog in the future. I find it much easier to keep people updated on what's going on in the shop by posting on Facebook. 

You can also shop my Etsy store straight from Facebook with the My Etsy Shop tab. 

So if you have been following me on Facebook you know that in August of last year I quit my day job, and moved to the Catskills. 

I've taken an adjunct instructor position at a small SUNY campus. This allows me much more free time to pursue designing, crafting and building things out of wood and metal for Armory Woodworks.

I've moved my shop into a beautiful old storefront building in the sleepy town of Franklin NY. I've got plenty more space than I had in DC. Work is starting to come in and I'm definitely keeping busy. It was a very harsh winter here in NY but now that spring is finally here it's like the town woke up after a long sleep. 

So if you need any custom woodworking, machining, or welding please feel free to contact me via Facebook, or email at

Saturday, August 09, 2014

In the shop...

I've gone full bore and changed the blog title. It's now just Armory Woodworks. I've also included a link on the side to my Etsy shop. I don't have any items listed yet but I hope to soon.

After a month or so of little woodworking I'm back into it. I've got some big plans in the works and they've helped inspire me to get back to it. There has been a flurry of activity in the past two weeks. Here's what I've been working on.

I've finished up some utilitarian boxes that I was making for myself. They are roughly the size of a shoe box and I added a nesting rabbet to the top and bottom so they stack. These are for general storage. I like their simplicity and I might add them to my stable of "products" I'm thinking of putting on Etsy.

I had a friend commission me to make some Cornhole boards.  They are Carolina blue for a UNC theme.

I've got some more work done on a batch of small gift boxes that will eventually be put up on Etsy.

I've started working on two slide top boxes that I just decided to make out of some wood scraps.

I need a portable toolbox for when I'm working away from the shop. I'm planning on building one from plans in the book Made by Hand by Tom Fidgen. The design struck me as a bit too fussy at first but then I realized how nice some of the little features are. I will make it slightly larger and modify a few things in the design. Here's all the pieces cut and ready for assembly.

I was sorting through my lumber pile to find enough cherry to make the toolbox and realized I had enough to make another shaker side table. So I'm hoping to get that done soon and listed in my Etsy shop as well.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Projects, projects, projects.

As a follow up to my last post I'd like to point out that although I have struggled recently with finishing some things, I am keeping very busy.

As I noted previously I came up with a name for my shop, Armory Woodworks, and registered the domain. I've had a friend design a logo that I still need to implement. I've also set up an Etsy store. You will not find it yet because I have not actually listed any items. I'm trying to get a few extra boxes made and take some nice photographs before I list them.

I've also been improving the "shop" or lack thereof with some exciting new tools that have expanded my capabilities. The biggest is my purchase and restoration of a Clausing 4914 metal lathe. You can follow the complete tear-down and rebuild on my other blog. Despite the lack of updates there as well that project is actually finished! Here's a shot of the finished machine crammed into my tiny shed.

I've started making some tools and fixing some tools with the lathe including this floating die holder. Another finished project.

I've also built a mobile cart for my mig welder.

I've relocated my metal melting crucible furnace from my hometown to my current residence and look forward to getting this up and running, possibly utilizing waste oil as a fuel source. In a brain fart moment I did not actually bring what I needed with me to load it hence this ridiculous improvisation.

I am expecting delivery of a Grizzly G0704 metal mill tomorrow as well. I plan on eventually converting this small mill to CNC. This will expand my capabilities tenfold.

This seems to be a lot of metalworking for a woodworker you say? Well I'd have to agree with you, but as a large part of my interest is in tools and making them, eventually I'm going to want to be able to work some metal as well. Armory Toolworks has a nice ring to it...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Finished yet?

I'm starting to sound like a broken record... has it really been that long since my last post? In the last few years I've noticed some common themes throughout my life.

  1. Their just isn't enough time in the day to do everything I want to do, and still maintain a full time job. 
  2. I have a very hard time finishing anything. 

I've been thinking a lot about the first theme as my day job has been unbearably slow lately. Pile this on top of the fact that I've been working on a project at work that has been going on for 5 years now and has not even moved out of the initial design phase. Which leaves me a lot of time to think about all the projects that I could be building or working on, and even finishing, instead of sitting here at my desk wasting away. But then it always comes down to the bottom line doesn't it? Sitting here doing nothing somehow pays the bills while being productive in my home shop does not.... yet.

I wish I could attribute lack of time to the problem of not finishing things but I know it goes deeper than that. I love starting projects. The research, the planning, the design. That initial excitement of learning a new technique or how to use a new tool to complete that project. On more complex projects I have a tendency to get analysis paralysis. I get so involved in trying to figure out the "perfect" design, which includes every feature under the sun and meets all my needs in every possible way that I end up not even moving past the design phase. What's that saying, the perfect is the enemy of the done? I think this may be a perversion of a Voltaire poem but you get the idea.

On other projects I actually do get something built, but then halfway through I lose steam. Someone once told me it's because I love a challenge, and when I'm halfway through a project and I can foresee the finished product and that I can finish it and I lose interest. But can I actually finish it? Apparently not.

Luckily this all sounds worse than it is. I can finish things, the blog posts below prove that I can, I just find it challenging. Sorry for all the psychobabble. If anyone that reads this has the same problem or has some tips on overcoming this please feel free to comment or email me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Shaker Side Table

This is the second one of these I made. I never posted any of the work I had done on the first one because it was a 2011 Christmas present for my sister and brother in-law. So I didn't want anyone figuring out who it was for. I was probably being overly cautious.

My sister loved it so much as a bedside table that she asked me to make another. This time for her husband's birthday. I had barely finished the first one in time for Christmas, I ended up putting the final coats of shellac on it in their basement after I had given it to them. It was still missing its drawer pull as well.

This is straight out of Autumn 2004 Woodworking Magazine . I've seen so many of these side tables in the shaker aesthetic, but this one I think looks the best. I think it's the proportions of the tapered legs and the bevel on the underside of the top that makes this design the most pleasing in my opinion. It makes the table look very slender. I've seen some that look way overbuilt and downright clunky.

I figured the second one would go much easier than the first. In my mind, it did not. I made a few minor mistakes. However when I delivered the finished piece (OK I had to actually put the final coats of shellac on the second one in their basement... again!) I was able to compare the two. I was surprised to see that the fit and finish on the second one was a step above. My dovetails where much tighter. The drawer action a bit smoother. Finally, solid proof that my skills are advancing.

I really enjoy this project as it has many small challenges that helped add to my skill set. These two pieces were the first time I had actually built a drawer that fit into a carcass. I have to say that I think the action on these drawers is quite fine. The other nicety is that this is a small enough piece of "real" furniture that it doesn't  challenge my tiny shop all that much.

As is typical of my work, the raw stock preparation was done on my jointer and planer and bandsaw. The rest was mostly done by hand. The tapers on the legs were achieved by band sawing outside of the finish line then planing to final dimension with my jointer plane.

The finish is shellac which is rubbed out with 000 steel wool and paste wax. I don't have any actual pictures of the construction on this one. I was so focused on keeping track of how long it took me to make it that I just didn't bother with pictures. It took me approximately 24 hours total. Not as fast as I'd have liked but not awfully long either.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

New Site Name

This post is more of a housekeeping update. The very few of you that actually read this blog may notice that if you went to the old blogger URL it automatically re-directs you to At least I hope it does. This is my new URL which I'll be expanding upon in the coming months as the online identity of the venture I call "Armory Woodworks".

I've struggled enough with the name of my blog in the past so I will be keeping the name that way, only it will soon become only one part of a larger site. So look for what I hope to be some exciting updates in the near future.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Got Wood?

Well I do! Lots of it. This whole endeavor started when my sister told me a large Norway Maple tree in their front yard was struck by lightning. They had it looked at by an arborist who said it had to be taken down. Yay for me! The tree was huge. It took some convincing but I eventually got my brother in law to agree to let me have the first log of the tree. He seems to have remembered a few other logs that sat in my mom's backyard for a few years. So the tree came down. It is hard to tell how big it is in the first picture without something for scale. Normally I take logs to Gene Hamilton, a custom sawyer in Doylestown, PA. However his Woodmizer is not big enough to handle this tree. It measured roughly 42" at its largest diameter! After some searching, I found an article in Fine Woodworking which led me to Hudock's Hardwoods with a 55" capacity.

Eventually a flat bed tow truck came to haul this behemoth off to the mill. When Dan Hudock received it he told me it was quite a whopper. I sent Dan a drawing of my cut list which I planned out thinking that I wanted two 3" slabs from the widest center of the tree for live edge table tops. One 5" slab for a Roubo workbench top, enough 6" x 6" material for four workbench legs and the rest cut into 2" slabs for whatever else I could think of. 

I had scheduled to go up to PA on Memorial day weekend to pick up the lumber, however it wasn't all cut yet. This actually turned out to be a good thing. Dan estimated the log's weight at 7,000 lbs.! When we put four 2" thick slabs into my Dodge Dakota, the suspension bottomed out. It could only handle two slabs. That's when I realized, I'm gonna need a bigger truck! I also realized that a 2" slab is plenty of material for a table top. What was I thinking? Reality started to settle in on how ridiculously heavy these things were going to be. 

First thing I did was find out how much weight a U-haul truck can carry. Their 14' truck had just enough weight capacity without being ridiculously huge, so I set up a reservation. I also picked up a 2 ton chain hoist from Harbor Freight as well as a one ton lifting strap. 

So on the second trip to Hudock's we loaded up the rest of the wood. Dan is quite the maestro with the fork lift. He picked up the stacks closer to one side just past the center of gravity so he could slide them into the back of the truck. This required me to jump on one end as ballast the stack didn't tip. Then we supported the stack with a post while he re-positioned the forklift to push the stack the rest of the way inside the truck.
Great, now all I had to worry about was how me and my friend Matt were going to unload this without a forklift. A quick pit stop on the way home at Ace hardware and I got a few joist hangers and some huge Timberlock screws. When we got to my mom's garage (my former shop) we installed a 1" steel pipe in the ceiling with some additional 2x6 blocking and the joist hangars. I ran a Timberlock through the joists into the end grain of the blocking for good measure. I think the weakest link to our whole setup was actually how much weight the loft in the garage could handle. I had rebuilt this several years ago but the joists are only 2x6's. Oh, and their is probably several thousand pounds of wood already stored up there! This is what we hung the chain hoist on, directly above the lumber stack. 

Finally the moment of truth. We backed up the truck as far as we could get it to the garage. Low and behold the chain hoist wasn't even long enough to reach inside the truck. Luckily I had also brought up my 4 ton come-along (or cable winch puller). This enabled us to reach the lifting strap and slowly slide the wood off the truck. It was more of a controlled fall actually. With only a few minor mishaps, but no serious injuries we were able to unload in less than 2 hours. I was actually impressed that we were able to do it at all. 

Oh, and the wood? It is some really beautiful stuff. Check out the grain. Some of it has some really cool spalting as well. So, if anyone out there is actually reading this, and would like to purchase a slab or two, feel free to contact me. I think I have enough wood to last me a while. I also highly recommend Hudock's Hardwoods. Check this album out for some more photos of the adventure.