Christmas Wood and the “Poor Man’s Ebony”

The title of this blog post may be a little confusing, but it is not meant to be. (Well, maybe it is — but we’ll clear things up in a minute.)

American holly (Illex opaca) is native only to the United States but, since it closely resembled English holly to the Pilgrims, it quickly became the Americans’ symbol of Christmas. It was, and still is, found along the coast of Massachusetts and all the way down through the southeast to East Texas. It grows in the same geographic areas as the Southern yellow pines, but since it can’t tolerate fire, it is rarely found in those pine forests that are regularly burned. So, most large trees are more commonly associated with old hardwood forests. American holly is a slow grower, taking 100 to 150 years to grow large enough for lumber, but it can grow to 70 feet tall and two feet or greater in diameter.

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Art Deco Humidor

While veneering is commonly used for humidors, the different veneers and other accent pieces used here provide some very unique colors and textures.

Here’s my latest humidor project, tribute to the Art Deco period.  Materials: Teal birdseye maple veneer, solid ebony accents, curly maple accents, macassar ebony veneer, 3/8″ Spanish cedar lining inside.  Weight: approx 23 lbs,  finished in lacquer.  Dimensions: 18-3/4″ x 13-1/4″ x 6-1/2″.  Capacity: approx 150 cigars (6 x 54)  Has one dovetailed tray and 1-1/2″ space underneath.

- Norberto J Macias

Do you have a project you’d like to share? Click here to send it in.

Matt Becker
Internet Production Coordinator

humidor corner

humidor top

humidor open

humidor tray

Five Good Reasons to Get Framed

Now that our daughters are old enough to travel well, my family has spent several vacations in our national parks. (Our parks are extraordinary, by the way…well worth the road trip.) As mementos to those visits, we’ve been collecting a series of “woodcut” prints that don’t fit standard sized picture frames. Lately I’ve been building six matching frames to get our collection up on the wall. As you know, there’s a lot of repetitive work that goes on when you’re building a half dozen of anything, so I’ve had some shop time to think about the virtues of picture frames as projects. Continue reading

Old Dresser Gets Facelift For New Look

This reader freshened up a pretty plain-looking dresser into a much more interesting piece.

These are ‘Before’ & ‘After’ shots of our dressers. Basically used only the carcass of the old dressers we bought many years ago from an unfinished store and made new tops, drawers and added trim pieces. All the new stuff is recycled fir and ebony. – Casey Carver

Matt Becker
Internet Production Coordinator

Do you have a project you’d like to share?  Click here to send it in!

Dresser - Before

Dresser - After

Up in Smoke: Kenya’s Charcoal Industry

You may have read my recent blog post about woodcarving traditions carried on by Kamba tribesmen in Kenya. I’ll call that the highlight of my “wood-related” African travelog.

There was a lowlight, too: charcoal production. Its carbonized and troubling evidence was stacked in bags along the highways wherever we went.

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Kamba Carving from the Heart of Kenya

Last month, my family and I had the unique opportunity to travel to Kenya, Africa, for two weeks. My wife had professional reasons for being there, but I’ll admit that I went with the typical intentions of a Westerner—to see a world of new wildlife and experience Kenyan culture. I was richly rewarded on both of those accounts. Exotic wildlife is plentiful in the country’s many national parks. And, the Kenyans we met, both in cities and small villages, were warm, welcoming and very willing to share their lives with us.

Still, the curiosities of a woodworker don’t take a back seat, just because a guy spends a couple weeks out of the shop.

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