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Now Where Did I Put My Karma? Ah, There It Is…

December 12, 2012

When it comes to my woodworking hobby, lately I’ve been trying to focus strictly on doing things that will improve the shop – building a saw bench, making hanging wall storage, sorting through tools to determine what I will keep and what I will sell, determining shop layout, locating wood for my workbench top.  Up until last week, I was doing pretty good.

Then a friend of mine, Matt, put out a call for help that I couldn’t refuse. His brother, also an acquaintance of mine, has thyroid cancer. They’re taking out his thyroids later this month and then he’s going to start some fairly aggressive treatments. And he needs some financial help. Matt, being the good brother that he is, picked up the Fundraising Ball and ran with it.

Matt knows a whole lot of talented people – musicians, painters, potters, woodworkers – and thought he might be able to come up with something that involved all of them. Half of the friends who responded to his request for help are rock and metal musicians, so I think he’s going to organize a charity concert somewhere in St. Louis proper, where it would be well-attended. The other half was an eclectic group of artists and musicians who are more folksy than rock, so he was thinking about doing an art show of sorts in our home town of Washington, MO, with live folk music playing throughout the night.  If properly advertised, I think that, too, could be well attended.

Ye Olde Wine Barrel

Ye Olde Wine Barrel

My job, obviously, is to help make some of the wares he’ll have for sale. Since Matt works at a winery (did you know the hills just 40 miles southwest of St. Louis are perfect for growing quality wine grapes?), I asked him if he would want something made from wine barrel staves. He agreed that would be a great idea and we arranged to meet so he could bring me 25 barrel staves to begin working with. He plans on having the event at some point early in 2013, like February. I guess I’m shelving some shop projects until then.

But Karma has a funny way of coming around quickly in my life, for better or for worse. This time, it was for the better. Not 24 hours later, my younger brother called me and said he needed to run into St. Louis that weekend to pick up some hardware for a bed he was making for my niece. He said he had a few hours to spare if I wanted him to stop by and help me install my workshop door!

Keeping with the whole recycled/green theme, my work shop door was a Craig’s List find, the front door off of a local 100 year old house close to the river just a few miles north of St. Charles, Mo. The seller wanted $50 for it and even offered to deliver it, since it was already in the back of his pickup truck. That was two months ago. Unfortunately, it was just the door, with no frame, so I needed a bit of expert help with installing it. Framing out doors is something my brother does for a living, in a custom cabinet shop in Union, Mo, so he seemed the most likely person to help me. But he’s a busy man, so it isn’t easy to get him up to my house for such things.

New Workshop Door

New Workshop Door

So he showed up on Saturday afternoon, we met with Matt to pick up my wine barrel staves, swung by Woodcraft to pick up his bed hardware, then headed back to my house to install the door. A few hours later, I had warm, homey privacy to my new workshop.

Because of some physical structure issues in my workshop (boxing around some duct work), I was limited in how the door could be installed. The only option was to make the door open out into the basement and make the original inside of the door go on the outside of the workshop and put the weathered side of the door facing into the workshop. The inside of the door is in good condition – I probably won’t do much to it, if I do anything at all. The outside of the door, on the other hand, is a bit… beat up. I’ll probably try to sand it down some and remove the weathered wood for some fresh tight-grained slow growth fir.


The Other Side...

The Other Side…

Even though it will be a little extra work, I’m not complaining. My workshop now has a door! (My wife isn’t complaining either, as the door was parked on her side of the garage and she had to be careful to avoid hitting it with her car for most of two months.) Now I just need to figure out what I can make with some white oak wine barrel staves. Hit me up if you have any ideas (aside from the obvious votive candle holders)!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. December 13, 2012 5:14 pm

    Strother Purdy’s book on Traditional Box Projects (IIRC) has a small Shaker candle box that would be appropriate. You can modify the dimensions to match your staves. I made one in Douglas fir using only hand tools in a day.


  2. December 13, 2012 8:15 pm

    Ah, thanks for the info, Bob! I’ll see if our library has the book! If not, sounds like it might be worth picking up.


    • December 14, 2012 9:04 pm

      I just looked at your gallery and the Shaker candle box is very much like the presentation box you made for Mang.


  3. Peter Oster permalink
    January 5, 2013 4:41 pm

    Coat racks. A friend is putting screw-in coat hooks in the stave, lightly sanded, and hooks to mount them horizontally. He and his wife do the craft show circuit. She melts wine bottles so the flatten out and calls them “cheese boards”. They get $40.00 for the coat racks and can’t keep them in stock. Were in greater Syracuse, NY close to NY wine country.


    • January 5, 2013 4:59 pm

      Thanks for the tip, Peter! Was thinking I might keep an eye out for some old cast iron ones, just to add a bit more character.


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