Posted on Leave a comment

Enter My Father’s Day Giveaway!

The past month or so has been crazy if my absence from the blog is any indication. I haven’t spent as much time in the shop as I wanted to, either, although I’ve made up for it recently. But one thing that’s been in the works for a few months is happening as planned…

A Father’s Day giveaway!

Check out this beautiful gel pen made of spalted Florida Live Oak. It’s got a twist cap that looks good on either end. The pen cartridge can be replaced once the ink runs out. (We buy ours at Staples.) Make sure you scroll to the bottom of this post and enter to win!

The contest is open to the U.S. and Canada only and runs from 12:00 a.m. on June 1 until 11:59 p.m. on June 13. The winner will be notified on June 14. Prize is valued at $60.00 USD.

Check out these pictures.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Enter the giveaway now!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted on Leave a comment

In the Shop: Birch Tealights

As all good things in the shop do, my latest project started with an idea. Could I make candle holders? What would they look like?

For my first few attempts, I’m sticking with tealights, and I’m spending time with the birch I got in December. I love the grain in general, but right now that it’s spalted, I find it more beautiful than before.

With the weather warming up as the Florida summer looms, I’m not sure how much more time I’ll get in the shop to play around with new ideas. For now, I’ll enjoy the outcome of my latest endeavor.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This set has a natural edge to it and is meant to look like a couple of mushrooms. Tell me you see it. The other set I’ve done reminds me of upside down flower pots. I’ve got video of me making them – actually, stripping the bark from the birch – but no real pictures yet. I may have to fix that.

I’ve enjoyed making them, but (for now) it’s labor intensive and a set can take me most of the day out in the shop. Of course, that’s a part I enjoy so I’m definitely not complaining.

So that’s what I’m doing in the shop right now. In case you’re curious, yes, a tealight really does fit in the holder.

Posted on Leave a comment

Fiction: Where’s My Theme Song?

“Pop, pop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is!”

No, that’s not right.

“I’d like to teach the world to sing…I’d like to buy the world a…”

Nope. I’m still getting this wrong.

“It’s Miller time!”

Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. The pop. The fizz. That cold sigh as the top releases, and you know you’re about to drink a cold one. That’s what I do. My whole purpose is to make thirsty people, hot people, even (some) desperate people as happy as possible.

I produce the happiest sound ever heard by most adults of a certain age. Not the glug-glug of greedy slurping. Not the clink as the glass slams down on the table. Not even the satisified, “Ahhhhh” after a long swig.

Nope. I have a better job than that. I’m the reason for the satisfying crack when a seal breaks. I’m the reason your hand doesn’t sting. When you’re struggling to make those manly hands work, I get the job done in one smooth move.

Yeah, I’m the best. I know it. It’s not bragging if it’s true.

And when you’re covered in sweat, with a tongue like sandpaper, and clothes sticking to every inch of you, I’m your best friend. You need me. You’re desperate for me. You’d do anything for me.

Wouldn’t you? You know you would. If I’m not around, you can’t have what you want. And I think that deserves it’s own theme song. Something that shows how much you love me, want me, need me.

Maybe something like this…

You know you love me. And why shouldn’t you?

I’m your trusty bottle opener.

Custom turned bottle openers
Custom turned bottle openers

Available here – the bottle opener with an ego bigger than itself but that always gets the job done. It’s not bragging if it’s true, right?

Posted on Leave a comment

3 Types of Reclaimed Wood I Use

I get teased around here for looking for reasons to buy a new tool. (That might be true.) But my last purchase – a chainsaw – was necessary. I’d found a local tree company who hated getting rid of the wood when they cut down trees and were too happy for an eager woodworker to take some off their hands.

Every so often, I load the chainsaw in the back of my RAV 4, grab a tarp, and go find out what they have. So far, I’ve gotten oak and eucalyptus wood with birch brought to me from out of state. I don’t think these are the only reclaimed woods I’ll work with, but they’re a good start.

Florida Oak

Often called Florida Live Oak by the locals, I’ve got a big stack of oak in the shop that I really enjoy using. It’s a nice, solid hardwood that can be difficult to work with because of how hard it is. When you get it going, turned oak makes beautiful pieces. I’ve used it in everything from pens to bowls. By far the most interesting thing about oak, to me, is the interesting bark patterns that show up when I turn natural edge pieces like some of the bowls I’ve made.

Birch Wood

My dad lives in upstate New York and at Christmas time I asked him to bring me any wood he had and couldn’t use. What I received was a huge stack of birch. It’s a cool wood to work with because the color is different from piece to piece, from white to a light tan. Sometimes, you can see the color change in a single piece of wood. Birch is a wet wood which means that when it spalts, new colors are added to the grain which changes the appearance of the wood and adds an extra dimension to it. So far, I’ve made a box and tea lights.

Eucalyptus

Okay, to be honest, I haven’t actually had a chance to use my stash of eucalyptus yet, but I’m looking forward to it. What I find fascinating is that eucalyptus is so diverse. The oil can be used for respiratory problems, in aromatherapy, and as an essential oil that I use in my homemade pre-shave oil (yes, I make that, too). All that makes me wonder, what kind of wood have I got here? I’m really excited to try it because the pieces in my shop have really interesting branching patterns which should translate into unique grain patterns.

I’ve always felt better when I re-use something or find a new use for an old thing rather then throwing it away. Using reclaimed wood lets me take something unwanted, forgotten, and destined for a wood chipper, and turn it into something useful and beautiful. I still love the exotic woods and the acrylics I use, but using reclaimed wood makes me feel good.

Posted on Leave a comment

Find Me At: Tarpon Springs First Friday (My First!)

I think we’ve established that I love my shop. I love turning wood. I love making the things that pop into my head.

My “introvert card” might pulled over this one, but I really like craft shows and fairs, too. I’ve done a few since last fall at the Florida Estates Winery and a new one for Tampa Bay Cat Alliance. My next one isn’t a new event, but it is new to me:

Tarpon Springs First Friday

Vendors line up in downtown Tarpon Springs and people from all over walk through, find something good to eat, get themselves a drink, and hopefully find a gift or a unique item they can’t live without. I’ve been a few times and told myself I wanted to be a part of it as a vendor at some point.

That time has arrived. On Friday, April 7, my little (blue not red) wagon and I will arrive with tables, tableclothes, signs, and my entire inventory to see what the locals think of my woodworking. If it’s like previous shows, I’ll probably have to explain a few things:

No, I don’t work for a manufacturer.

Yes, I made all of these by hand.

Yes, the pens, bottle openers, wine stoppers, and brushes work.

It’s pretty cool to see someone’s eyes light up when they hold something I’ve made, amazed at the wood grain or that a person can actually make such a thing. Of course, when they pull out their wallet to buy something, that’s even better.

Are you a Tampa Bay local? Look for me in downtown Tarpon Springs on April 7, 2017!

Posted on Leave a comment

In the Shop: Taboti Men’s Shaving Set

The rules of polite blogging probably mean you shouldn’t showcase your own work in the exact same way twice in a row, but I can’t help myself.

I’m really proud of this last project.

While I’ve had some extra time in the shop, I worked on all kinds of things: keychains, pens, bowls, and more but the Tamboti Men’s Shaving Set is my absolute favorite. Every piece comes from one block of wood, which means the grain is the same throughout. I did that on purpose to give the set continuity and because I wondered if I could.

Most of what I do in my shop starts from that point. I think, “I wonder if I can…” and then I go out and see if I really can. Sometimes a bowl cracks or the acrylic chips. Sometimes I can fix it, sometimes I can’t. I’ve had my share of small injuries and mishaps – cuts, scrapes, gouges, and a blister that made Michaela cringe every time she saw it. (Maybe I shouldn’t have shoved my finger in her face and said, “Look!” multiple times.)

Anyway, maybe I can be forgiven for showing off again this month. Maybe if you take a look at it, you’ll agree that it’s beautiful, too. Either way, what I see when I look at it is a continuing improvement in my woodworking abilities as well as the outcome of wondering “What if…”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Love it and want one for yourself? You can see my shaving sets here or you can contact me for a custom order.

Posted on Leave a comment

A Story in Pictures: Making My First Box

I don’t think I’ve ever considered myself a creative person. Certainly not an artist. Ever since I began turning wood and making the things that pop into my head, I’ve had to rethink that assessment.

This week I’m off of work and in the shop. An idea came to me, and since I had the time and the wood, I gave it a go.

I started with beautiful birch wood brought down from New York – my dad came at Christmas and loaded his truck for me…

 

I had this picture in my head of what I wanted the finished product to look like. Since it’s a new project, though, there’s no way to really know. But you have to start somewhere…

 

I started with one piece of wood but ended up with two parts. Making sure it matched up was the first step. Then it was time to make the picture in my head match the reality of the wood…

 

For a first try, it’s not bad. But I’m not satisfied. Oh, my fiance tells me its beautiful. Even the kids were impressed that I made a box. The oldest asked if he could have it. I told him no, not this one. Maybe I’ll make him one for his own.

Maybe I’m a “typical” artist (whatever that means) or maybe I just need more practice. I’m proud of it, but it’s not what I saw in my head. Which is plenty of incentive to keep making more…

What do you think? I think I’ll make more and maybe one day I’ll make it exactly as I envision it. But until then, this is a good start.

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Wooden Bowls – Just Doing My Job

I see you there. I know your footsteps. The murmur of your voice as you pass by. But you don’t see me, do you?

Whatever you need, it’s always there. I don’t complain, though. I know my job. Give ’em what they want. Give ’em what they need. That’s me.

You don’t even notice when things start to run low, do you? I do, though.

I can’t complain too much. I know I’m the most sought after in the entire office. People don’t know why they crave me. Maybe they shouldn’t. Maybe it’s enough to have a need and know where to go to fill it. Maybe I serve a greater purpose that way.

Ah, hell, is a little gratitude that hard, though? Is it so difficult to acknowledge me? Nod your head. Smile. Make eye contact. Anything.

Bunch of ungrateful babies.

No, they don’t notice me until something runs out. Then they’re shocked. Annoyed. Pissed. Even worse, they leave. They run out to get what they need. Damn it, give me a minute, and I’ll get you what you want. Don’t I always? Have I ever really let you down?

Jerks! Run out, see if I care! You’ll be back. Everyone comes back. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But in a few days, you’ll wander mindlessly by with your hand out for what only I can give you.

How do I know? How can I be so damned sure?

Because I’m the office candy dish, that’s why…

If your candy dish, office or otherwise, doesn’t have quite the same attitude as mine, maybe it’s time to o something a little different.

Check out all my wooden bowls! Click here to shop.

 

Posted on Leave a comment

5 Things You Do When You Buy from a Woodworker

I almost called this “What happens when you buy from a crafter” and while I might technically be considered that for tax purposes, in my mind I’m a woodworker/woodturner. Yes, I make pens and wine stoppers from acrylic but my first love is wood.

I can’t speak for every small crafter or woodworker out there, but if you ever wondered what difference you’re making when you buy from someone’s Etsy shop or a booth at a craft fair or flea market, let me explain.

We talk about shopping local – which I believe in – and buying American (assuming you’re in America, of course). And those things are very good for local communities and small businesses. But there’s also the benefits when you buy from the small artist, the crafter at her kitchen table, or the woodworker in his (okay, my) one-car garage – even if we’re online and across the country from you.

You help me build my confidence.

I turn wood because I love it. Even if I never sold a single bowl or pen, I’d keep doing it. But it’s easy to wonder if I’m really any good especially when examples of people who do it better or more creatively are all around. When someone buys a pen or a bowl, you’re letting me know you think my work is worth paying for. It’s a huge ego and confidence booster – even if I am always surprised when it happens.

You’re showing approval and appreciation for what I do.

I just said I’d do this even if no one bought a thing. I meant that. But buying from me (or another crafter) means you like what we’re doing. You give me the nod to make more, try new versions, and/or keep cranking out more finished products.

You’re helping build a small business.

Right now, the business side of woodturning is what my fiance tells me is a “side hustle” – okay, if that’s what we call it now. My goal is to one day make this my main source of income, especially when I retire. I have a long way to go (Rome and businesses aren’t built overnight). Each time a sale is made, it’s another baby step toward a bigger dream.

You make it possible to buy supplies.

Going into crazy debt to make pens and bowls isn’t my idea of a good time. Each sale means I can buy a few more supplies. The plan for 2017 is to save up for a bigger lathe so I can do bigger and better projects. To save on buying supplies, you’ll see me using a lot more reclaimed wood and finishing projects that don’t require a lot of purchased hardware.

You’re supporting the little guy (or gal).

At craft shows, especially, people tell me I should let my “manufacturer” know they do good work. People assume I’m a vendor selling for a bigger company. Imagine their surprise when I explain that I made the things they see in front of them. I’m one of the little guys just trying to support my habit and build something. Every purchase makes that possible.

You should buy things because you need them, they’re beautiful, or you love them. You should buy from vendors and businesses you believe in, like, or offer the best price. But if you have a choice, buy from a small crafter. You’ll be doing so much more than buying a product.

Shameless self-promotion time! Check out my Etsy shop where I’m adding more items each month. Click the link below:

The Wood Dom

Looking for other small crafters to peruse through? Here are a couple I recommend:

Cardinal Moon Crochet – Peggy is talented and a personal friend!

Tasha Hussy Body – I love her shaving soap!

Posted on Leave a comment

4 Things I Love as Much as Woodworking

Valentine’s Day is almost here, and while I’m running around trying to do something nice for my fiancee, and getting over a bad cold, I’m not doing much in the shop.

Even though I’m known as the Wood Dom, and I spend much of my free time in the shop as I can, turning wood isn’t the only thing I love. In honor of the holiday, here are a few things I love just as much – and sometimes more.

Coffee

Don’t talk to me until I’ve had at least half a cup in the morning. And maybe don’t joke too much until I’m on my second cup. I’m known as a grumpy polar bear without it. I also drink a cup at night, sometimes two.

I’m a Starbucks fiend, collecting gold stars through my mobile app and racking up free drinks. Let’s put it this way, we have two bags of coffee beans in the freezer, plans to buy another, a cabinet full of coffee mugs, and one of the baristas I know best always asks, “Another hot white mocha, John?” when I walk in. It’s not so much love as it is an obsession.

Doctor Who

Oh yeah, I’m a Whovian. I have all the most recent episodes from Christopher Eccleston to the last Christmas special, and we watch them over and over again. My love for the Doctor and his companions (Clara is currently my favorite with Amy Pond as a close second) is so well known around here that not a single birthday or Christmas goes by without some little something related to Doctor Who.

The Walking Dead

I’m always watching new episodes a few days late, so I have to avoid spoilers on Monday mornings, but The Walking Dead is another of my loves. Negan is a total asshole. I’m looking forward to Rick getting his bad-assery back (Shhhh, I haven’t seen episode 8 yet!) and…

I can’t wait to see what happens with Ezekiel and his crew.

My Honda Shadow

Okay, so I’m not the type to love too many inanimate objects, and I’ve had my eye on a few different bikes, but my Honda Shadow is my baby. I haven’t gotten to ride much lately, but it’s still at the top of my list. For several years, this was my only mode of transportation – even on the coldest days and the rainy downpours.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the best riding partner a man could have…

Now that she and her boys are in my life, I know what family is supposed to be and what a solid, stable, enduring love should feel like. She already knows how much I love her, and I don’t need a holiday to show it.

So there you have it, a few things (and one special person) I love besides woodworking and turning wood.

Happy Valentine’s Day!