October 2020

It’s not secret that October is my favorite month. Cooler temperatures, no bugs, and brilliant colors. Heading into November, we go from Kodachrome©, to sepia, to black and white. The view from my shop window changes daily.

Despite the pandemic, we try to get out as often as possible. Usually we head through the woods or places of special interest. Twice this month we headed out to the Shaker bog. The trail along the water is varied, and the experience changes with the seasons.

I didn’t get much done in the shop, between taking in as much sunshine and color as possible, maintenance around the house, and raking leaves. For years I’ve had a 14 x 20 B & W photo of a white oak tree hanging around, frameless and forlorn It was taken in 1982 in Virginia, for my book In Harmony With Wood, later re-written, and re-published as With The Grain: A Craftman’s Guide To Understanding Wood (Lost art Press 2015). It finally got a nice mat and a quartersawn white oak frame.

I also made a few Shaker candle, or round stands. To me they are the epitome of good, timeless design. I really enjoy making them. After all these years I’ve got the proportions, dimensions and methods of turning down to an art and science.

Right now, I’m starting a two drawer table desk. The base and drawers still need some work, but the top is done. As with all my pieces, the prep work is of most importance. the top boards have to be carefully matched and glued, the top meticulously edged and sanded to at least 500 grit. It shines and the grain will glow , no matter what the finish.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2020

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September 2020

September was a month of odds, ends, vacation, busy work and a few “thank you”. Only now, in early October am I back in the shop with furniture to construct.

Since the last few months were relatively dry, the leaves started to turn early. Most reached their peak the last week of September. In the back yard, the sumac, oak, ash, and red maples made quite the showing.

Mid September I had a chance to do a podcast for the readers of Fine Woodworking magazine. an hour of one of my favorite topics, wood technology and and how wood movement relates to furniture construction.

I did get as few things done in the shop. The good folks at Taco The Town, our favorite food truck asked for a wooden tip jar to replace the plastic jar they had been using. I made a 12-sided cherry container with a bit of letter carving.

Lest you get the wrong impression, life is not just fine furniture. I had to build a folding stair way . It is hinged at the top and folds up under the ceiling. Not exactly cabinet work, but sturdy and functional.

Right now I’m in the process of building two more of my favorite Shaker round stands. It’s quite the trick to get them all to look exactly like the early 1800’s original. Years ago I made a template for the diameter at one inch intervals to set my caliper when turning. It has seen me through many of these candle stands.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2020

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August 2020

An August like none other. We live in strange times. However, here in Maine we are quite fortunate. Only one day a week do I don the mask and head into town to do chores.

Fall is definitely in the air. Blueberries have gone by and blackberries and apples are starting to ripen. Queen Anne’s lace, early asters and black-eyed Susans are in full bloom

The month started with a FWW photo shoot of the square rigged wall shelf, a five-shelf unit on a single vertical rib. A handsome and useful piece, sold and on its way to a new home.

The big project of course was the chestnut blanket box, started last month. The sides were recycled chestnut church pew backs, while the top was made of a recently cut, native Maine chestnut. Dereck Glaser made the hinges. The trim and dovetailed molding are black walnut. A one of a kind piece, never to be reproduced. It too, has already found a home. the owner and I agreed on a generous donation to The American Chestnut Foundation.

All the work this month was not in the shop. The painters were busy outside: feather gray clapboards and white trim. I had to do some replacements on the door boards and I added a new deck to the house entrance. Looks good.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2020

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July 2020

The masked man only goes out one day a week for chores, sanding, hardware, the bank, lumber yard, and shipping. The rest of the week is pretty normal. July doesn’t care whether there is a pandemic or not. We still walk through our woods, the birds still sing, and the late summer flowers are still in bloom.

We took a few days off to head up the coast, to Trenton and Acadia National Park. The usual crowds were missing this year, and we had several of our favorite places almost to ourselves. Very relaxing and enjoyable. I do enjoy enforced down time.

The weather was not very cooperative, but it really didn’t matter. Maine is spectacular in any weather.

Back in New Gloucester, I sold a few items from the showroom. In the shop I built three small pieces, two whiskey cabinets, 5 x 5 x 19, with restoration glass doors, and…

my current favorite Shaker candle stand, the simple, almost straight post version with the arched legs. A really stunning design from about 1820. The magazine Antiques called it “the finest stand (built in) America.”

A major project, which has not been completed, but only gets worked on in spare time, is a blanket box. This on is really special since it is made of recycled chestnut and will have a walnut base and trim around the lid. I had the hinges custom made, but the box will have to wait until late August, since I have other work scheduled, and this is a spec piece.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2020

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June 2020

Another month of lockdown. Living on a dirt road in Maine suddenly has its advantages. We go out walking through the woods daily. It’s always a treat, most pleasant and stress relieving. You never know what you might see or hear. Last week we had a barred owl sitting above us on the trail. June is the month for all sorts of birds, including my favorite, the hermit thrush.

In the garden the peonies are in bloom, one of the most luscious of the perennials.

Around the house and shop we’re doing a bit of maintenance and fix up. After over forty years we were tired of having the Durham road in our kitchen, and finally had the driveway paved. Not only is it cleaner in the house, and it looks great, but it will make snow removal so much easier.

In the shop, I refinished two pieces that I built back in 1986, a credenza and a desk. Structurally, they held up very well, but were a bit shopworn (abused, actually). I scraped, sanded down to 500 grit, until all scratches, stains and gouges were gone. Even before the finish, the surfaces had a nice reflection.

Between the re-finishing and outdoor projects, I built two small pieces, a tiny wall cabinet to hold a whiskey bottle, (it doesn’t show very well but the glass is old restoration glass),

and a good size keepsake box. Both are made of cherry, with dovetailed corners and an oil finish.

For those interested, I’m still sending out lots of books, With the Grain, (Lost Art Press 2015), The Shaker Legacy (Taunton Press, 1998), and Shaker Inspiration (Lost Art Press, 2018), all three available through my website, www.chbecksvoort.com, listed under Cool Stuff. Other goodies as well.

In addition, there are several half price pieces listed in the Specials section. I’m trying to lighten the showroom prior to retirement. Check it out, as well as my Instagram site


C. H.Becksvoort © 2020

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May 2020

There are advantages to working alone, and advantages to living on a seldom used dirt road (the dust and mud not withstanding). Twice a day, we’re off to walk through the woods. May is a month of transformation, from snow in April to full summer here in Maine. Peepers and frogs are out, tree swallows, bluebirds, herons, warblers and hawks are back. The trees are almost fully leafed out. In the woods lady slippers, birds-on-the-wing and star flowers are blooming.

In the garden, most of the late daffodils have gone by. Lilacs are blooming. Our dark purple lilacs are particularly beautiful this year.

We’re having some work done around the shop, replace clapboards, a new loading dock, and I put in a new threshold for the big shop door.

Inside the shop, I discovered a display case that had been stored in it’s shipping container. A friend wanted it, so it found a home, more suitable than my shop attic. It was in an exhibit “Cabinets of Curiosities” in Philadelphia in 2003

In the shop I finally finished completed my smaller toolbox. It is soft maple with dark hardware, and two storage boxes below. The one on the right has my carving tools, while the one on the left has assorted leftovers.

The old toolbox is on its way to Texas.

C.H. Becksvoort © 2020

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April 2020

It’s been an April like no other. The pandemic has brought minor and major changes to everyone’s life.

We, living on a dirt road in Maine, feel fortunate to be able to get out, walk through our woods, get exercise, and enjoy the outdoors. Spring is slowly arriving here, and we’re grateful. The month did start with a snowfall.

The snow didn’t last long and the early snowdrops came up on time. The heavy, wet snow did manage to break off one section of a large white pine behind the house. It took a whole day of chainsaw work to cut up the larger pieces and haul off the branches.

Despite the setbacks, I did manage to get some work done in and around the shop. I started working on a new, smaller toolbox, and decided to weed out my seldom used tools. They all sold as one batch: saws, planes, chisels, files, drills, layout tools and an assortment of odds and ends.

In the attic I got down another box of my book, “The Shaker Legacy,” which is selling briskly. I still have another box upstairs. The books are signed, and come with a laser engraved cherry bookmark.

Between all the unexpected chores and happenings, I did manage to make a Shaker cherry lap desk. It is such a clever object, with its dovetailed corners, hinged lid, dividers, and best of all the tiny full-extension ink drawer.

Hoping for better times in the coming months.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2020

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March 2020

March started out like a normal month, and deteriorated with the pandemic. I’m fortunate to be working at home, in my shop right behind the house. We do enjoy our isolation on this dirt road, especially walks through the woods.

We’ve had a few snows this month, nothing of note, but just enough to cover the gray, and muddy piles along the roads and our driveway.

However, spring is on the way here in Maine. The last few days have been a bit warmer and the snow is rapidly disappearing. Daffodils are sending up green shoots, and the early crocuses are out.

Thee was not too much going on in the shop. I made a lamp and a large wall mirror. the mirror was interesting, since all four edges were curved. Cutting two rabbets into the frame was a challenge. The first rabbet, to house the glass was no problem with a bearing bit. the second, much wider cut to accommodate the plywood back, required a special curved fence on the router table.

For the last few days I’ve been working on a new tool box, about 1/3 smaller than the present one. It takes a while to layout and plan the layout to maximize space and location of all the tools. Those tools not in use for the last few years will have to find a new home.

The box is made of soft maple, with asymmetrical doors. Interesting. Believe it or not, the various tool fixtures, hangers, shelves and drawers take much more time than the actual case and doors.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2020

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February 2020

I took it a bit easier this month. We had our fair share of snow storms as well as a few days of rain and mud. Living on a dirt road has its challenges, and benefits.

For the most part it was mostly pleasant. I still enjoy my daily walks in the woods.

In the shop I finished the two Haystack side chairs. These were a bit different in that the customer wanted birds eye maple rails to go with the cherry legs and back. That, along with black walnut pins, makes a most attractive combination, one I’ve never tried before.

After the chairs, there were a series of smaller pieces. First, a cherry swinging arm wall lamp. Ready for packing.

Next up, a dovetailed presentation box, native white pine, with a 12″ x 18″ replica of the original State of Maine flag. 2020 is Maine’s bicentennial. Happy Birthday Maine!

Lastly, I finally got around to making a small cabinet for my assorted collection of drill bits. They had been scattered in various locations, were not easy to find, and in some cases I had two or more of the same size. The cabinet was made of scrap wood; ash case, Baltic birch ply back and door panels, cherry shelves, sassafras door frames and apple knobs. All bits, indexes, and tenon cutters are now in one central location.

Life is so much easier when you’re organized.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2020

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January 2020

Cold and busy describes January 2020. We had two snowstorms, nothing overwhelming, but enough to eat up two mornings clearing the driveway.

As usual, I take daily walks through the woods to start (and sometimes end) the day. The path along the lower stone wall is one of my favorite areas to walk, explore and observe.

Last fall, New Gloucester got its very own brewery, NU. They had a mid month ice bar which was quite popular. There were several ice sculptures, as well as some really cold beer.

In the shop, I had a two day photo shoot for an upcoming article in Fine Woodworking magazine. This time it will be the wall shelf with the suspended drawers. Looking forward to seeing it in print. I haven’t decided what to use for knobs yet.

I’m also working on four Haystack chairs, to arm chairs and two side chairs. It takes a fair amount of concentration to keep the the parts straight.

In addition, the seats need to be glued up, over a form. I use six pieces of 1/8″ bending plywood, a few sheets of plastic, and many band clamps.

The hand sanding is the most boring and time consuming part of chair construction. Since these chairs are in my catalog, they are made in multiples and require several jigs to make the work more consistent. After the padded leather seats come back from the upholsterer, and the frames are oiled, the completed chairs are rather comfy, and invite you to sit and enjoy. The armchairs are done, while the side chairs should be finished the first week in February.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2020

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