Monday, April 30, 2007

Lobster Crown Moulding

I was commissioned to create one-of-a-kind crown moulding for an architect's personal home in Maine. I was given a lobster tin that was purchased at a roadside shop in Rhode Island. The architect had the idea to duplicate the lobster to make a decorative pattern around the ceiling of his new home. I was given the tin to make millable and paintable pieces to adorn the crown moulding. Click on the lobster for a step by step presentation detailing the project thus far.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Great Woodworking Resource

I was really excited to stumble across a great website run by an Atlanta based tool supplier and education center called Highland Woodworking. They have a nice collection of hard to find tools and a blog that is a good how-to resource for woodworkers. I am also impressed by their focus on education and training. It's nice to come across a community of like minded individuals that care about craft and craftsmanship.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Circular Saw: Tabitha Babbitt

I was just in the power tool section of a home improvement store, what some might call a citadel of manhood, at least "mannishness", surrounded by sharp edges & high torque motors, the creative powers of the gods held in one's hand. I could almost hear the ghost of Tim Allen barking with delight at the power of a 10 inch blade chewing its way through a helpless piece of birch that screams, as some muscular man imposes his masculine demands on it. Nothing could be more manly than a screeching, dust spewing, completely undaunted circular saw...
Don't bark too loudly he-man, the circular saw was actually invented by a sweet little Shaker lady named Tabitha Babbitt in the early nineteenth century!

Friday, April 6, 2007

Also A Carpenter: Jesus

Best Known For:
Jewish Spiritual Leader
Founder of Christianity
World Peace
All Human Kind
His Mother
Construction Experience:
Architect of Western Civilization
Favorite Tool:
Sensitive Carpenter Level:
Off the Charts

Monday, April 2, 2007


I was commissioned to make 150 corbels for a restoration project of a turn of the century "landmark" mansion that is being converted into an upscale bed and breakfast. The original corbels have almost completely degraded over their 100 year life due to the instability of their terra-cotta & horse hair make up. My job was to make exact (or close to exact) replicas of the original corbels in a more durable material & make them look like the new versions of the handmade antique architectural details.
Every child has fantasies of being a lab technician that concocts potions that steam, bubble & foam out of control. The tools of making corbels- an apron, giant gloves, measuring cups, beakers, trays, buckets and strangely enough, cake mixing spatulas-are closer to the world of a mad scientist than a carpenter.
After several pseudo-scientific experiments with various foams and resins, I decided to use an exterior grade UV rated polyurethane that was recommended to me by one of the well informed & helpful salespeople at Polytek. Polytek is a supplier of different casting materials and they also supplied me the silicone I used for the negative molds.

After sculpting a crisp new plaster prototype of the 100 year old corbel, I made 3 silicone molds and began a long gooey plastic making journey. I became fully consumed in mix ratios, room temperatures, release agents, solvents and de-molding times.
The first 10 corbels were fun & interesting. The following 140 were a bit more work. But when I saw my little army of architectural soldiers in formation I was a proud general. I then packed them all off to battle the elements of extreme heat, cold wind & rain and hoped they would make it past the infantry line of construction workers.
It was a pleasure to be presented with the challenge of learning about space age materials and using them in an historical pre-industrial age application. I hope those corbels hang on that landmark building for hundreds of years to come.


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