Fall & Winter 2021

I’ve been remiss for the past three months. With the fact that we spent two years fixing up a house we were going to retire in, then got cold feet and sold it, fixing up the present house, rearranging the shop, and a multitude of other small impediments, it’s time to catch up.

Thinking back to September, it was still summer then. Flowers were still in full bloom.

I was busy with a variety of small items. The big project for the month was a 5-drawer chest, in cherry as usual.

October had quite a few things going on. Again we had the annual Maine Crafts Weekend, which was very well attended. Seems to get better each year. I met with many friends customers and interested woodworkers, sold some tools, a few showroom pieces, and signed lots of books.

Here is a better photo of the small Shaker chest (next to the 5-drawer chest in the previous picture), only 19″ long, with a single full length drawer. It may find its way in FWW in the coming year. A really fine looking piece in mostly quarter sawn white pine.

In November, the big project was a 6 drawer chest. This piece is about the size of a blanket box and is low enough to sit on, yet has ample storage.

Winter started in December, with our first snow. It wasn’t much but a precursor of things to come.

During the month, I built a few small pieces, mostly gifts, and with a smidgen of spare time, made a bedside case for myself, a prototype for future pieces, if it finds favor. Only 24″ high, it has two drawers, a magazine shelf and an op[en section for books. The carved flush pulls are one of my favorites.

I also made a few major changes in the shop. I got rid of my previous dust collector, attached only to the planer. Instead, I got an Oneida Super Cell, hooked up to the planer, jointer, disc sander, bandsaw, table saw, and router table. The lathe will have to fend for itself. The new system works extremely well, with dust gates at all machines, the shop has never been so clean. I’m severely pleased.

So ends another year. In 2021 I built 28 new pieces, bringing my total created in this shop since 1986 to 930.

The sun has been out and things are looking up. Here’s hoping for a happy, healthier 2022.

C.H. Becksvoort © 2021

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July 2021

July was relatively cool, with quite a bit of rain. That meant more lawn mowing, but also more wildflowers. The black-eyed-susans put on an especially good showing.

In the shop, it was a series of small projects. First, a tree lamp base. The customer had her own shade. The cord runs through one of the legs.

I also made two Shaker tea cabinets, with six different Shaker tins of tea. One was hard maple (available at the Sabbahday Lake Shaker website ) the other in cherry.

Also another Shaker round stand. This one with the almost straight post, and arched legs. A timeless design.

Lastly, I made a three part desk set: a dovetailed cherry inbox, a cherry pen & pencil holder, and a letter opener made of lilac.

The month wasn’t all work, however. I am trying to slow down and eventually retire. We spent a long weekend in Lubec, ME, on the very eastern edge of the country. Serene and relaxing, especially when visiting friends.

Back home we enjoyed the back yard on the last day of the month. Blueberry pie and wine.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2021

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June 2021

Summer arrived in Maine, with birds, flowers and warm weather. In the garden, the small, but fragrant lemon daylilies were in full bloom.

And, as usual, the peonies put on a magnificent show.

In mid June we had our annual (except for last year) Big Tree and Beer tour of the Portland area. On this particular trip, we saw a huge red oak, ginkgo, redwood, tulip poplar, a stand of old white pines and a massive beech.

I also had a Fine Woodworking photo shoot at the shop. This time it was patterns for various furniture parts, mostly Shaker trestle legs, round stand legs, lamp parts and few other items.

Otherwise, not much else happened in the shop. The bulk of my time was spent at the other house, working. The only shop time I got was milling pine for moldings, window stools, jamb extensions, brackets for an 18′ walk in closet, stairs, door jambs, and a boxed beam.

That’s it for June. I’ll keep you posted as to further progress in and around the shop.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2021

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May 2021

May in Maine is pure joy. The bulbs have bloomed and the wildflowers are taking over. We’ve had blood root, trillium, violets and also a few fringed polygala, and Solomon’s seal.

Our resident barred owl has been a frequent sighting on my morning walks. It seems to be a grand year for chipmunks, and the owl couldn’t be happier.

My chestnut seedlings are doing well. These are a gift from The American Chestnut Foundation. I believe they are second or third generation back crosses of Chinese and American chestnuts. My hope is to distribute them around the state to prevent any blight organisms from wiping out a whole bunch at once, should that happen.

I had a nice article in the spring magazine of The American Chestnut Foundation about the blanket box I made during the summer of 2020 ( see August 2020 blog). Part two of the article, how the native Maine chestnut lumber came to be will appear in the summer issue.

Things were slow in the shop, since I had so many other chores to attend to. Not only that, but I no longer spend 8 and 10 hour days in the shop anymore. It’s nice to slow down a bit. Still taking orders for small items.

I did mange two Shaker round stands, the epitome of good design. Both are classics and favorites to build. I never tire of making them. They found a home in Massachusetts.

Lastly, I made a small box of apple wood. I was given a few planks many years ago, and the donor specified that I could keep the rest if I built a box. It’s only been a few years…

Apple is a notoriously difficult wood to obtain, to dry, and to work with. The 8/4 planks were severely twisted, almost like airplane propellers. Not only that but there were checks, bark inclusions, and some rot. It took two 9″ x 78″ planks to produce one box. It did turn out well. I must admit that the wood smelled so good, that I decided no to finish the inside. the grain wraps around the box.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2021

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April 2021

April wasn’t too bad this year. Rain, mud and flowers, a decent trade-off. Somewhat cool, but that makes the daffodils last longer.

In the shop I had two big projects going. Two wall cabinets, one Shaker inspired, the other a Shaker reproduction. The first, one was cherry, had two drawers, and two shelves. The four panel door had quarter round moldings around the flat panels.

The two drawers had small Shaker mushroom knobs, recessed into a drilled and carved circle. By customer request, the shelves were adjustable by means of saw-tooth shelf supports.

The maple cabinet was a copy of a ca. 1830 wall cabinet from the Harvard, MA Shaker community. This one had a clear finish and two adjustable shelves, also with saw-tooth supports. Both had the spinners integrated into the door stiles.

Two projects were all I could manage. I’ve slowed down a bit, and find it nice to take a break now and again.

BTW, I still have a glass top coffee table waiting to find a home, $2,250., plus shipping.

That’s it from a small shop on a dirt road in Maine.

C.H.Becksvoort © 2021

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March 2021

March is always a blah month, not really winter and not yet spring. Mostly mud.

And leftover snow, behind the shop.

On the other hand, spring is on the way. The red-winged black birds have returned, and the crocuses are up.

I was busy in the shop. Not as busy as usual, but enough to keep out of trouble. Three pieces went to a customer in New York. The re-configured 15 drawer chest, re-born as an 8-drawer chest, was completed last month. In addition, I made one of the new stools and a music stand.

I still have a few copies of The Shaker Legacy left.

The music stand was one of my first designs, and it’s been years since I made one. It’s always a pleasure to build something new or something I haven’t had a chance to build for a long time. The hollow shaft adjusts by about 15″ for standing or sitting. The most challenging part is the intertwined parabolas.

That’s it for another month. Looking forward to a good April. And check my Instagram page if interested.


C.H. Becksvoort © 2021

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February 2021

This February was about normal, temperature wise, with not that much snow, and a bit of ice.

We had quite a spell of below freezing weather, but it never went below zero° F. Several small storms, but nothing noteworthy.

The sun is definitely up earlier, and the days are getting longer. At the market we got our first batch of daffodils, although outside here there is no indication of anything poking through the snow yet.

I had a few small projects in the shop. However, most of the month was devoted to a 9-drawer chest, the same size as my 15-drawer chest. It had fewer, but bigger drawers as requested by the customer.

It has the usual construction, of dovetailed top, telescoping web frames, frame and panel back, and grain that wraps around the entire piece. Nice to build a piece that’s slightly different from the usual.

Looking forward to March, the schedule is full well into next summer and fall. At this time I am no longer taking any orders.

C.H. Becksvoort © 2021

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January 2021

It’s been seasonably cold this month, with some snow, but nothing to get excited about. January in Maine. Last night it was -6° F (-21°C). More and bigger snow expected in early February.

In one of my numerous walks through the woods, I discovered two really nice large white pines. One was about 24″ in diameter, the other just over 30″. Looks like at least one 16″ clear log in each.

Two projects in the shop this month: the first was a wall shelf, as featured in Fine Woodworking magazine issue #284, the one with two drawers. The pulls are small river stones, drilled, with threaded shafts.

The shelf turned out well. I only wish that I hadn’t shown the prototype with the stone pulls. They are a pain to bore with a diamond bit, and besides, there are so many more and better options for pulls. Oh well, it is the last one.

The next project was the small wall cabinet with the carved door.

The drawer pull inside this cabinet is flush, and carved directly into the front. One of several options for carved pulls that I’ve used.

The new, smaller shop is coming along nicely. The floor is in, one new window, and one replacement, and everything is insulated. Waiting for drywall, which may take a while.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2021

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December 2020

It’s a bit late for the December news. However, I didn’t want to miss the last month of a less than stellar year. It’s over, and here is hoping for the best in 2021.

In the shop I finished up the seven drawer chest, built a breakfast table, a side table and a storage box. All four items are straight out of the catalog. The storage box, is always customized, usually with a carving of initials or dates. This one was easy, I love carving straight letters. The ampersand was a bit more challenging.

The end of the year is always a time to look back at the output of the past year. In 2020, the total pieces created in the shop came to 31, (congratulations) thank you. That brings my total pieces made in the shop since I started on my own in 1986 to a grand total of 901. With retirement for next summer, it won’t go much higher. However I’m pretty pleased for the output of a one-man shop on a dirt road in New Gloucester, ME.

In the house, our rosemary plant, sitting in the front window started to bloom. A real treat during dark times. Not only are the small flowers a treat, but the leaves, added to pizza, made for a tasty treat.

Weather-wise, it was a pretty tame month. Snow, rain, wind, and more snow.

The best part, as I may have mentioned before, was my daily walk through the woods. It’s always a restful, stress relieving, and healthy part of the day. In what little spare time I have, I pruned a few white pines, hoping to do a few more in he next few months.

Best wishes for the coming year. Wear your mask and stay healthy

C. H. Becksvoort © 2021

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November 2020

November was another busy month, filled with mostly frivolous details and small projects. I finally finished the writing desk, a fairly simple table with two drawers and a pencil tray inside.

Another small project was cleaning up, re-building, and painting a small wall cupboard found in the barn. It was in pretty sad shape with parts missing, the door joints loose, and no panel. Also very dirty and full of sticky glop.

I carefully disassembled it, cleaned the hardware, made a new top, bottom and back, painted it and added glass to the door. It turned out pretty well.

Back to real work in the shop, I started a seven drawer chest, to be done next month.

Weather-wise, it was cold, with first ice on the pond up the road, but no snow yet. My once or twice daily walks through the woods, get me into the fresh air, and relieve stress. We are lucky to live out here surrounded by woods, fields, wildlife, and stone walls.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2020

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