June 2022

It’s pleasure to spend the month of June in Maine. Everything is fresh, green, and in bloom. I may show some of the same flowers every year, but they never cease to amaze and astound. The garden bed with the Siberian irises and the lemon day lilies is one of my favorite views.

This year we bought a small mountain laurel to plant at the edge of the woods. It seems to like it there.

The end of June is also strawberry time. This year was especially good, since we practiced “no-mow” May, in which I successfully avoided cutting the lawn for over a month. We had a nice crop of the small, wild strawberries. And as usual, we went to a local farm to pick our own. In the past we’ve frozen some, but they get mushy and don’t taste as good, so this year we ate only fresh: strawberries on biscuits, ice cream and even breakfast cereal.

I treated myself to a new chainsaw. Battery powered, rechargeable, with a 5Ah battery it works great. It’s quiet, too. Cut up two trees and a 22 stemmed bush, all on one charge.

There were a few other projects going on in the shop. I built a case for another Shaker 10-drawer wall cabinet, for a Fine Woodworking article. I’ll make the drawers during the next photo shoot.

I also started a floor lamp. Turned the base out of a plank of 12/4 cherry just over 12″ wide. The post, with a cord tunnel down the inside, is being turned by a friend, since it is 48″ tall and my lathe can only handle 38″.

The biggest project was rebuilding a queen size pencil post bed. Since planning to retire, I got rid of many of my jigs and fixtures, figuring I’d never do another pencil post bed. It turned out to be quite the involved project.

You can read all about the fun I had with this bed (as well as some of the other highlights of the month) on my Instagram page. I’m not sure what the next month will bring. However, were taking a week off and heading north east, maybe even to Canada.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2022

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April, May 2022

April slid by almost unnoticed, and May is about gone, too. Time to keep you up to date.

April started with a wonderful trip to Portsmouth NH, to hear the Cowboy Junkies. Met a few old friends there, had a good dinner, and got to chat with three of the band members.

Most of the month was taken up with a home project. Lest you think that all I do is build new cherry furniture, in reality there are also a few not so fun projects. One of the worst was to turn a wasted, old, dirty, and useless space under out stairs into a storage closet. Our 1850 house was probably built without a square of a level. Working on it is always a challenge.

Old brick, old lath, and old wood, none of which was straight or level, made for some interesting work. I shimmed and re-studded the area as best I could, then installed plywood walls, and shelves. It turned out pretty well, but took way too long, with countless trips forth and back to the shop.

In

In May I got back into the shop. What a pleasure. I made a six foot arch table, and a small thank you project. The biggest challenge in the shop was a lamp shade. With nine, 5 “x 10″ spruce panels, each .03” thick, making a flaring cherry frame took some thinking, and a lot of math, and careful layout. The first version did not turn out well, but the second one came out just fine.

Mean while in the garden, late April brought wild flowers and blooming bulbs. Bloodroot, trout lilies and daffodills.

Just before the end of the month, the dark purple lilac flowered out. Wonderful smell.

I’ll try not to skip the June post.

C. H. Becksvoort©2022

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February 2022

February was a slow month. Not as cold as January, but we had our share of wind, rain, snow, and ice. We had a big snows storm early on, the a few smaller ones, mixed with rain. It’s always so nice right after a storm, on my daily walk thorough the woods. On the other hand, it means cleaning the driveway.

Also, all that snow on the shop roof has to come down eventually.

Things were slow in the shop as well. I’m no longer the workaholic I used to be, and have been taking things a bit slower. I had a “need it this week” order for a small table. A maple base, and an antique pine, single board top.

Finally, I took the time to build a small piece I’ve wanted to do for several years. The original is on the cover of Shaker Design, Out Of This World edited by Jean Burks (Yale University Press, © 2008). It’s a small pine hanging cupboard,white pine, with a single door and 10 small drawers. I tracked down the owner who graciously gave me the overall dimensions.

I scaled all other dimensions from the photo as best I could and made one design change. Instead of the small metal hanger plate, I substituted the more traditions hanging back to accommodate the Shaker pegs.

I’m not sure what it was used for originally, but I can see several uses for this small, interesting pieces. Now all it need is 200 years of patina.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2022

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January 2022

As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m trying to cut back on hours and large projects. During the past year I made 28 pieces, bringing my total up to 920, since I opened the shop in 1986. That averages out to just over 26 pieces a year. I gone from a low of 12 per year to a high of 47. My FWW article count is now approaching 85. So much for statistics.

I only made a few smaller pieces this month. The first was a 2-drawer bedside cabinet, cherry, with book shelves.

I also made two reproductions of a small Shaker chest with a drawer . Both were made of clear white pine, like the original. In the second one I added dividers in the drawer and a lift out tray, also with dividers. Both had quarter sawn pine lids and bottoms.

Delivering to the Shaker village at Sabbathday Lake is one of my pleasures. It appears so serene and peaceful, which it is, but there is always something going on. Sometimes I just stop and admire. This is the original Shaker school house, now outfitted as the library.

The weather this month was a bit cooler than normal. Our coldest night was -17° (-27° C). Although we had one rainy day, for the most part it stayed below freezing. Just before the end of the month we got a good snowstorm, 20″ (almost 51cm). My walk through our woodlot was such a treat, even with the wind and cold.

The next day was clear and cold. It took a while to clear the driveway.

We’ll see what February brings.

C.H. Becksvoort © 2022

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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.

https://www.instagram.com/chbecksvoort49/

C.H. Becksvoort © 2021

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