Author Archive

Greene Co. Tenn. Flat back cupboard

 This is how the cupboard looked when I first saw it in the back of an antique shop. The owner wanted me to restore the piece. It had several coats of paint on it. The feet had half rotted off, the crown molding was missing as were the doors, and the cupboard had been sawed into. The ends were originally one board. To strip it took 40 hours, three gallons of stripper, and three gallons of Acetone. When I had it stripped down to bare wood I realized that some time in the past that it had been refinished with a belt sander. The original wood surface with patina was Gone. Had I known this I would have taken it to someone that had a stripping tank. This is only the second antique that I have ever had to sand out because of the course belt sanding marks left on it.

The mate to this cupboard can be found  on page 188 Fig. 232 in the book “Art and Mystery of Tennessee Furniture”.  That one was made out of walnut and is dated to 1790 – 1820. This one is made out of cherry but they were both made in the same shop.

 I used old lumber to restore this with. I restored the bracket foot base, made new doors, and crown molding. The total time to restore this piece was 138 hours.

Fireplace Mantel

This is a style that I have not worked in very much. A friend had been on to me for a couple of years to build a mantel for him. When he showed me a picture of this I fell in love with it. I found some curly red oak for this project. The back board is curly English brown oak. The fans on the pilasters are chemically stained. I used a lock miter to build the pilasters. I spent a lot of time turning the boards over and end for end to get the best reflection out of this curly oak. It took 150 hours to build this mantel.




This is a mantel that I designed and built for a client. It is made out of curly cherry that the client furnished so it would match the rest of the interior floor and moldings. The brick work originally just stuck out into the room and didn’t go to the ceiling. They asked me to build the wall out . Building the wall out took 10 hours.

The reeding is curved not flat. I made a scraping tool to produce the reeding with. It took 201 hours to build this mantel.


Mill Wheel

001 One of my clients brought me a 6′ diameter mill wheel that had been sitting the dirt for years and a third of it had rotted away. It was made out of popular which is prone to rot if not keep dry. This wheel was a pulley in the mill. It took 62 hours to rebuild this .


Pediment for Tall Case Clock


This tall case clock was missing the pediment on top of the bonnet. The client had found a brass cherub that he wanted included into the new pediment. The challenge was to design a pediment to match and flow with the existing moldings and carving of the clock. When I finished and sat the pediment in place the client, a clock repairman , and I stood there in amazement because all three of us saw how well it matched the rest of the clock. This pediment took 57 hours to complete.



Kitchen Island Worktable

This is a recently finished commission in cherry. The clients wanted a worktable in their kitchen. Also they wanted saw marks to show and sapwood left in the boards.  I ask him to come over when I was planing to tell me when to stop so he could have the saw marks left. The cleats on the top or as some call them breadboard ends have four deep tenons into the cleats. The tenons are dead tight in thickness and are only glued on the inside of the center tenons. In width the sides of the tenons are cut loose to allow for expansion and contraction . The dimensions are: Height 36″, Width 72″, Depth 28″. This commission took 90 hours to complete.    005001

Klingspor’s Woodworking Shop


There is a great new woodworking store in our area. Klingspor long known for high quality sandpaper  has opened four new woodworking stores in North Carolina. Just about anything for the shop, tools,router bits,exotic lumber,finishing supplies and much more they have in stock. They are friendly and helpful, just good folks to deal with.

The closest store to the Tri-cities is just south of Asheville in Fletcher N.C. . I know you’ll enjoy their store as much as I do.

40 Years at the Bench

About this time of year, in July 1974, I started full time work as a cabinetmaker. That was 40 years ago. I’m blessed in that I absolutely love what I do in life and where I live. Wood is a material that is very unique not only in it’s grain, color, and texture but it is an organic material with a soul or spirit to it. To the Daoist everything has Qi which is the life force. Even after the wood is cut there is still Qi in it. When working with the wood my Qi and the wood’s Qi mingle in a dance that that is really extraordinary in the results. The most visible of which is beauty , harmony ,and proportions. These are the basics of classical art and architecture which are derived from nature. My first shop was in Knoxville, Tenn. . It was small 600 sq.ft. you didn’t have room for two cat to dance in that shop. But some pretty amazing pieces of furniture and work came out of that wee shop. As that valley where my house and shop were grew with subdivisions and noise I still had a beautiful view to the Cumberland mountains. I moved to Flag Pond, Tenn., population 850 souls, a little over nine years ago to study Traditional Chinese Medicine which is my second love in life. I’ve used Chinese Medicine for all of my medical needs for the last nineteen years and will continue to use that unless I need surgery for something. When the school closed because of financial trouble I decided to build the shop that I had always wanted.  The new shop is 2,500 sq. ft. and sits by a creek up here in the mountains. All that I can hear in either the house or the shop is the sound of the creek running and the clocks ticking. There have been good times and hard times over the last 40 years but I wouldn’t trade the way I’ve spent it for anything. This art, craft,and trade is a way of life for me. I see my time growing shorter at 64 years now but with any luck here is to the next 20 years. Also a word of thanks to all of my old clients, present clients, and new clients yet to be for making all of this possible.

Library Table

IMG_3852 IMG_3841 IMG_3849Here are three views of the finished table. This is going into my friends library/music room.  The dutch-man keys are Ebony that were placed into cracks to reduce further cracking.

One Board table

A dear old friend has asked me for years for one of my wide boards. He knew the story of my lumber. That is was all cut before 1934 in the region of our mountains that was to become  the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. This lumber was cut sometime between 1930-1934 by the Little River Lumber Company. Bob Emmitt whom I studied with was privately employed by James Van Derventer to build furniture for him. They knew the park was coming in and that would be the last of the timber to come out of the region. So Bob  Emmitt and a helper were sent up to Townsend, Tennessee to buy the lumber they needed from the Little River Lumber Company. Bob said there were stacks of lumber three stories high and he would just stand there studying the ends of the board. By studying the ends he could tell which boards came from the same tree. He wanted the lumber to match in color and grain. But two boards caught his eye. They were cherry from the same tree and 39 1/2″ wide without the heart of the tree in either board. Bob later used part of one board to make a Chippendale Pie Crust Table. About seven years after Bob’s death I was able to by the lumber form Bob’s widow Peggy Emmitt.IMG_3631This is one of the cherry boards. The thickness goes from 2 1/2″ to 1 1/2″ x 39 1/2″ wide and 12’in length. The mate to it is what I’m using for my friends table top.IMG_3738This will be the top of the table. It is 1 3/4″to 1″in thickness x 38 1/2″ wide x 6′ long. Because it is so wide there isn’t a planer that can thickness it . So I started with the bow side up and with my hand planes have been dressing this side. The under side will be left with the band saw marks and the far end will be left with the axe notch and crosscut saw marks.IMG_3769After leveling about a third with hand planes I started using a router and a 1 1/2″ bit to make a row of cut 1/16″ deep. Then I would remove every other one out with the router.IMG_3762The scrub plane is used to remove the ridges that were left. Notice the axe notch in the lower right corner of the board.IMG_3764A straight edge and #6 and#7 bench planes are used to level the top again before another pass with the router.IMG_3766A pair of winding sticks are used to check for any twist it the top.IMG_3768One more pass with the router and leveling then it will be ready for finish planing. The final surface will be from the #3 and #4 1/2 bench planes. I can produce a finer surface quicker with the hand planes than can be obtained by sanding.

New York Sideboard circa 1790-1810

This is a restoration of a New York sideboard circa 1790-1810 that I have just completed for a client. This sideboard had been worked on many times over the years.  It has had four sets of hardware added from previous work. I found evidence that the original was a 2″ brass knob from the imprint left in the wood. I ordered the new Sheraton knobs from Ball and Ball. The back plate covers two later boring holes but I still had to patch two boring holes on either side from  pulls that were added later.   I made small oval patches and inlayed them to cover the boring holes.Image  The sideboard came with two back boards, neither was correct.  After doing some research into  sideboards of this period  I found a very similar side board in

The cabinet-makers London book of prices, and designs of cabinet-work in perspective, by the London society of cabinet-makers, 1803

I designed  this back board taken from that plate in the book on page 325. I had some very old mahogany circa 1840 that I worked into the new back board.

At first the inlay looked very impressive but the more I looked at it something wasn’t quite right. I believe that the birds -eye maple ovals , circle and broad line inlay on the case , drawers, and doors was added later. Also the broader inlay over the drawers was later. The reason for this is because of the poor craftsmanship of the insetting  as they were put in. In my opinion there are too many gaps and too much filler between the inlay and the mahogany veneer I do believe that the narrower (1/8″) vertical  inlay and the cross banding inlay in between the lines are original to the sideboard.  The vertical line inlay is made up of three layers of holly, walnut, and holly or maple, mahogany, and maple . It is very hard to identify the wood in the inlay.

Coffee Table with ball & claw feet


This is a coffee table made out of walnut that I did for some clients. The clients had found the tiles for the top while in Europe. They contacted me to design a table for the tiles. Their sofa has ball and claw feet and this table was to go in front of it so I suggested we carry that into the coffee table.


This is a close up of the leg. It takes me eight hours to carve a ball and claw foot , for the foot alone. The total time in this table was 120 hours.IMG_3384

I scrolled the apron to match the c-scrolls in the pattern of the tiles.

Router Workshop, Feb.25, 2012

Sat. Feb. 25 ,20012 from 1pm to 5 pm I’ll be doing a router workshop. The router is a work horse in the shop. It will be more demonstration but will include some hands on. The workshop will cover router safety, router tables, jigs & fixtures, raised panels, doors, dovetails, molding, pattern work, and free hand router use.
The class will be limited to 8 people. Each person needs to bring safety glasses and hearing protection. Cost will be $75.00 per student.

Call 423-743-5643 or email me at

Timber Frame for Sale ( Caldwell Springs 1812-1815)

Old houses are just big pieces of furniture. In 2004 I took down Caldwell Springs. This house was built between 1812 and 1815 in east Knox Co.. It is in a Tidewater style of timber framing.The wall were noggin infilled. This is the back side of the house with the clapboard removed. There is a later addition in the left of the photo. I did not bother with the addition. I was given 14 days to take it down or it would have been bulldozed down and burned. It took me 16 days to take it down. The fellow was very kind to give me two more days.

This is the front of the house. The porch was original to the house. There was some water damage to the left front side of the house. The house measured 16″ X 28′.

The house was built out of Southern Heart Pine.I have the frame, flooring, joist, rafters, clapboard, door and window frames, and stair case. There is app. 2,500 board feet of lumber in the materials. All nails were pulled. I did not get the doors, windows, moldings, mantels, or ceilings boards.  The house has been stored in Knoxville. It has been put on sticks and covered with tin off the ground. $3,000.00 ( SOLD)

Woodcraft of Johnson City

The best store in the area for all your woodworking needs as well as power tools,hand tools, finishing supplies, hardware, and hard woods.

I recently had a class on Handsaw Sharpening, and hope to do more in the future. See their site at Woodcraft of Johnson City

The Shoppe at 350 Market

If you ever towards Clinton, TN, it’s a short drive to The Shoppe at 350 Market. Worth the trip, Sandy has a collection of Antiques, and Fine Art and garden accessories. Please check out his shop at, you guessed it , 350 Market street in downtown Clinton TN.

The Shoppe at 350 Market



Mary May – Woodcarver

Please take a look at her wonderful work at Cornerstone Creations, LLC in Charleston, SC. As well her blog “Wood Carving Journeys” for all her current projects.

The sideboard has a new top.

The new top has been put on the base.

Close up of the  new top.

I want to start sharing the number of hours that it takes to complete a project.  On this top to veneer it up, start to finish,  was 57 hours. I hope this will help others to make better estimates on similar work.  I may go back to older post and give the hours on the work.

Out of the veneer press

The top came out of the veneer press perfect.  The vacuum press does a wonderful job by applying an even pressure of 1200 lbs.  per square foot .

New top being taped up

After doing a full size layout I made four different templates to cut out the pattern. I use blue painters tape to hold the parts together. All the veneer was sized before cutting. This makes the veneer more flexible when handling and cutting.

After the main pattern of the top was taped I added the inlay.

The last step was to add the cross banding to the top.  Then it went into a vacuum bag to be pressed until the glue sets.  I use a two part resin glue for gluing.

Veneer Sled

This is a veneer sled that I use to join veneer.  I made it out of white pine because it is very stable. The sled runs in the miter grove of the saw.  I ripped the left hand side of the sled on the saw. The  blade is even with the side of the sled. The board that holds the veneer is bowed so the clamps hold the veneer tight to the sled. Sleds can be made any length to accommodate different length of veneer. This  one is about 6′ long.

English Sideboard (Breakfast Furniture)

This is an English Sideboard made before breakfast this morning, Breakfast Furniture. A client bought it in the dark by flashlight. Never do that. The top is made of two pieces of deal and then veneered. The deal substrait  had badly cupped and shrank. This had an adverse affect on the veneer.

The only solution to this  problem was to make a new top.

Class date has been changed

The date of the class for blind dovetailed ogee bracket feet has been changed to Sat. Dec. 10. There are still openings for the class.

Wooton Desk

This is a Ladies Model Plain Wooton Desk made out of oak. I will give this desk to whom ever pays me to restore it.

I got this desk from a neighbor of mine in Knoxville several years ago. His grandfather worked for the railroad in  southwest Virginia at the turn of the 20th century. The train station caught on fire one night. They rushed in and threw this desk out in order to save the papers it held.

I think that it  will be about $10,000.00 to restore this desk.