The inspiration for the ironing board coffee table came from a piece my mother-in-law has in her living room. I admired how simple it was in form but served the basic use of a coffee table. This lead me to discuss the method of doing laundry with her. Years ago, it was a much more involved task than today. Discussions with many individuals from the previous generation showed me the ingenuity of the Appalachian people by the different methods of doing laundry. I began to think of how to incorporate this into The Appalachian Heritage Woodshop episode on laundry. I was shocked when I found out there still was a factory in the Appalachian region that makes wash boards using old machinery. My wife and I decided to drive there and check out the place. When I returned I began designing several pieces of furniture that incorporated the wash board.
I enjoy examining old furniture and determining how it was built. The age of the piece and the condition always intrigues me as I check out the wear on the furniture. Sometimes this causes me to question if other joinery methods would have held up better over time. This was the case for the Merchant’s Desk I designed and built. I found an original merchant’s desk at Heritage Farm Museum and Village that was in bad shape. I determined that the design of the piece lead to the premature separation of some of the joints. A few of the mortise and tenon joints were not executed properly and the bottom was not solidly installed. The lid or top hinges were not strong enough to hold up over time.
I knew I could do better. This began a personal challenge to design and build a better merchant’s desk. I also though of how it would have been used in that time period so I incorporated some other elements into the design. All the issues I uncovered in my initial exam were rectified and the design was improved.
Like all woodworkers I am constantly looking at different styles, uses and designs of boxes. I decided to design a unique Bible Box that could be built with simple hand tools or machinery and would reflect the Appalachian culture. My first thought was to the hardware – it would have to be something that could easily be made instead of purchased to reflect the time and self-reliance of the Appalachian people. Second, it would have to stand the test of time under an adverse climate. This lead me to use a metal pivot pin as the hinge and a frame and panel lid. Dovetailed corners on the box would obviously have been used generations ago so I stayed with that design type. A bottom applied with nails or wooden dowels finalized the design. After a couple of prototypes, the final size and design was a success.
I was thrilled when my brother contacted me concerning some family history he had researched recently and discovered our family had a very old Family Bible. So, I began building one to house our Family Bible. This was the ultimate exclamation point on the Appalachian Heritage Woodshop’s Bible Box.
I use mauls, mallets and wooden hammers in my shop frequently. And as they wear out I look for replacements. This lead me to think of the Appalachian people of several generations ago and how they would find are placements. Since burls are much harder than straight grained wood it was the preferred material for mauls and mallets. I was discussing this with a woodworking friend when he mentioned someone that had an old mallet they found while disassembling a log house. I contacted them and we began to discuss burls and mallets. The result was the basis for the episode of The Appalachian Heritage Woodshop burl mallet.
A candle box is a very simple but elegant piece that most woodworkers make in their shop. I began to think of the issues of the standard candle box. How to pick it up with was the first I noticed and that the matches were stored in a separate box was another. I designed a candle box that addressed both of these issues. The Appalachian Heritage Woodshop candle box is simple to make yet looks unique. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed makingit.
As a woodworker I am drawn to tools, especially hand tools. When I see a tool chest full of tools –organized with sliding trays and compartments – I am intrigued. This lead me to determine there are three types of tool chests. The differences and how they were each used to me were obvious. As I had customers approach me with requests to build chests I communicated these three styles to determine what the client wanted. This made it easy to design a chest to suit their personal needs.