Nihoa (Hello) From Shanghai and Kona Hawaii

I have been away a long time.  I have been living and working in Shanghai for the last five years.  Lots of changes since my last post.  The wood shop is gone.  We sold our home and moved to Holualoa, Hawaii.  We are on the Big Island about 3 miles up the mountain from Kona.  We purchased a small coffee farm and my wife is working the farm while I finish my time in Shanghai.  Look for Kona Sunset Coffee this fall!


End Table – Finished!

I spent two hours installing the caning and finishing up the coffee table tonight.  The caning on the shelf was pretty straight forward and it seems to have turned out pretty nice.  I think my father would approve.  I hope my sister likes it.

Time to kick back, drink a scotch, and think about my father and grandfather.


The table is now back in my sister’s home.


End Table – Almost Ready for the Finish

Here is the coffee table almost ready for finish.  A little more sanding and cleaning and it will be ready for staining

Assembled and Ready For Finish
Assembled and Ready For Finish

I found out from my mother that my father built this table when they lived in their first apartment.  I was less than one year old at the time.  That makes this table close to 55 years old.  She went on to tell me that he built the table because they were poor and they could not afford new furniture.  There is also a bookcase than my father made at the same time.  My older brother may have the bookcase.

End Table

Stripped and Rough Sanded

My father built this coffee table when I lived in Racine, Wisconsin.  My mother told me that I was less than one years old.  This makes the table over 50 years old.  When my father passed away, my older sister inherited the table and it has been in her living room ever since.

Recently, she asked me to refinish the table.  It had 40 years of wear and tear on the finish, however, it is made from walnut and the wood is in pretty good shape.

Table Top Witness Marks

Table 1

I tried to completely disassemble the table, unfortunately the base is glued to the frame.  Why my father did this I don’t know.  Further, upon inspection of the construction, the center section of the  walnut top appears to be a wood laminated piece of plywood salvaged from some other piece of furniture.  There are stain marks on the underside that clearly show it had once belonged to another piece of furniture.

Shelf Caning
Shelf Caning

The picture shows lower shelf disassembled from the frame.  It has very interesting caning  and I am trying to decide what I am going to do with this.  Last night I tried to remove the caning.  It is too old and looks like my father used a lot glue.  The quality of the miter joints is not that good.  I will probably replace the wood frame rather than salvage it.  I have to decide if I am going to attempt to replace the caning or do something different.

I have stripped the finish and rough sanded most of the wood.  All surfaces are in good shape.  I expect to have the entire table fully finished sanded in a couple of weeks.  I am not sure what I am going to do with the cane shelf.

Cedar Chest Complete


I finished the cedar chest quit a while ago, however, I did not post the completed project because Amy is going to get surprised Christmas morning!

I decided on a satin urethane finish.  I just could not bring myself to put a glossy coat of shellac on the walnut veneer.  It just did not seem like the right thing to do.

If you click on the picture, it will expand to full size and you can see in more detail the “before” and “after.”

Merry Christmas!

Almost Ready for Finish

I am back sooner than I expected.

DSC02759I had the opportunity to glue up some white oak and spin the legs on my lathe.  Again the idea is to match the style of the details on the front of the cedar chest.  They look pretty good and the height of the cedar chest is now around 19″ off the floor.  This is a good height compared to other cedar chests that I have worked on in the past.

I need one more day of detail work, final sand and clean my workshop and it will be ready for the finish.


DSC02749No one, including myself, like the first leg (shown in the last post).  The square block on the top of the leg did not seem to look correct against the square bottom where the leg mounts.

This morning, I machined off the square block.  It only took about 5 minutes and it eliminated the most difficult part about turning the leg.

My sister like the new look of the leg.  I will refine the design one more time and start turning all four legs.

I will be off-line for the next couple of weeks.