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Feature Articles

Historic Cabinets

I’m more of a carpenter than a cabinet maker. I do mostly trim and cabinet installations now, and use my cabinet making knowledge on rare occasions—mostly to alter existing cabinets, as opposed to making new ones from scratch. For the few new cabinets that I do make, I use the latest technology. For example, I use pocket screws to assemble face frames, and SenClamps (Senco corrugated fasteners) to fasten cabinet sides to the frames—eliminating the clamping and drying time saves so much time when you’re making cabinets. Read the full article…

Copper Rooflet

A copper rooflet isn’t made of wood, so what’s it doing in THISisCarpentry? Well, working with copper requires a lot of the skills that we use every day working with wood. In this project, the rooflet is meant to “look” like wood, and it serves a purpose that is generally filled by wood. Sure, I use some skills that are not technically considered “carpentry,” but if you’ve ever sweated a pipe-fitting, or made a pan-flashing for a window or door, or flashed a cricket, valley, or chimney, you’ve got the skills. So, brush off that dusty skill set, use your imagination, and apply it to a project that just might be screaming COPPER! Read the full article…

Staircase in a Bottle

A Blast from the Past

Have you ever thought about building a model ship in a bottle? What about a staircase? Of course, if you think about it, it’s not the bottle that’s the problem, it’s the bottleneck. Quite a few years ago, I was facing just such a challenge. At first, it seemed simple enough, but the more I thought about it, the tighter the squeeze seemed to be. Read the full article…

Wooden Storm Door

Like many carpenters, I’m always looking for an interesting challenge. I like tackling something I’ve never done before—and succeeding. Not only is it satisfying to push yourself, but a satisfied customer means good word-of-mouth, which (hopefully) leads to more work. Win-win. This is exactly what happened when one of my best clients approached me with an interesting project. Read the full article…

Ramps for the Handicapped

Volunteer work: good for the community and good for the soul

One of my first memories, in the early 1930s, when I was 4 or 5 years old, was of our mother taking care of a neighbor woman, Eula Hughbanks, who had tuberculosis. TB was more common in those days, with little hope for a cure, especially for poor people. The nearest medical care of any kind was 30 miles away. Such care might as well have been on the other side of the world for most of us, as few had an automobile. So people did what people have always done, especially in hard times—they took care of one another. Read the full article…

Grinding Custom Shaper Knives

Learning to make your own tools is a step up for the serious woodworking carpenter

Most of my work is at the high-end of the New England custom home market. For the jobs I do, in Boston brownstones that even today sell for several million dollars, there are no off-the-shelf parts—everything is completely custom, or an exact reproduction of work done in the 18th or 19th centuries. Read the full article…

Working with Melamine

Melamine can be a viable option for many projects — with good conscience and no apology.

I remember reading an article about melamine years ago. The author was very apologetic about the topic because he knew he was addressing woodworkers who had a disdain for the material. Melamine has a rap sheet alright; it is looked down upon by both fabricators and consumers for its imitation wood grain and particleboard core. However, like it or not, it does have a place in the world of cabinetry. And that place is not always located at the bottom of the food chain. Read the full article…

A Coffered Ceiling & Media Room

Concept to completion: Having vision is half the battle

Like a lot of high-end jobs I work on, I’m sworn to secrecy about the clients. All I can say is, this job was on a pristine 7-acre waterfront property on Long Island’s Gold Coast, overlooking Connecticut and the Long Island Sound. The main house is about 7500 sq. ft. of new construction. It’s a to-die-for spot—the view was breathtaking. Even working on this job was incredible. The funny part is how I landed the work. Read the full article…

Made in . . . ???

The problem with poor-quality foreign parts

Remember the term “Made in the U.S.A.”? It wasn’t that long ago that the phrase was often used by manufactures to instill confidence in the product they were promoting. By-and-large, American manufacturers have produced good-quality parts and materials. In my 25+ years in the trades, I can only recall a couple of incidents where we received a part or component made in the U.S. of such poor quality that it failed immediately after being installed. Read the full article…

Photographing Your Work

Taking process pictures on the job or in the shop

There’s something about photography that’s related to carpentry, I just can’t quite put my shutter finger on it. But I know a lot of photographers who are carpenters. I think it has something to do with using tools. After all, a camera is just another tool: in order to use one, you have to know how it works. Read the full article…

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