On the last day of September, in the middle of one of the most colorful and durable fall seasons, an inquiry email came from Barbra Butler. It turns out that she had a friend who came to the MCC Relief Sale in Goshen a couple weeks earlier, and mentioned seeing some work I had donated to the sale. She took a look at the website my son-in-law Danny made for me, and used the submission form to email me.
We discussed some questions on the phone and arranged for her and her husband Jim to come to the shop and check it out in person. The following Saturday, they took a 2 1/2 hour road trip to my home. We took a house and shop tour, looking at design ideas and construction techniques. It was a pleasant and rewarding conversation heading the same direction toward a desk and work station.
In a beautiful tall living room overlooking Sweetwater Lake are stunning views galore, and eclectic design touches near at hand: the counter tops, the antique doors, the contemporary lamps and the real life boat functioning as a bed overhanging the balcony above. The room is generous in proportion as an invitation to a crowded party, and a large sofa sits facing the window side, leaving the back exposed to the entrance.
Why would you not put a long low cabinet to balance the back of the sofa, and give it room for the mandatory games, an oversized travel book maybe, and an elegant light or two? And why would you choose any style besides chevrons for the theme of the piece?
Wood is a friendly and warm surface to touch and look at in a home, and it finds special places in the kitchen. Over a lifetime of woodworking, I have done many projects for kitchens including coasters, trivets, cheese boards, cutting boards, and now Charcuterie boards.
After all the wood repair was complete, and the holes filled with new wood and epoxy to last another generation, I called Scott at Lake Effect Marina to see if we should just paint the back end because the corners were not in good shape. He said that the owner was really hopeful that the same Mahogany look could be retained.
I asked about the corners and the bottom, and finally Scott said, “Dave, I have seen your boat. Just do this the way you would do it for yourself and I am sure it will be good.” Well, that settled it and made it clear how to proceed. it was time to add the pretty Mahogany layer.
Last summer when I took my wood boat for spring fire to Lake Effect Marina in Union, Michigan, the service tech Todd, asked me if I would some transom repair on an old wooden boat they were rebuilding. I thought about it a bit, and then said something like, “Um, well, I don’t know.” Todd took that for a yes, and escorted me to the storage building where it sat in sad circumstances.
I looked at it and mentally compared it to the size of my walkout basement shop. It still did not register yes. I said that I work pretty slow, so if he has another option, he should probably take it. Todd said that he had no other options, and that in the next couple of weeks he would clear the transom for me to rework.
A few weeks went by, then a couple of months, and relief was starting to settle in. Then, in October, I took my wood boat back to the marina for winter maintenance. The topic came up again, and this time Scott, the service manager, also talked about the 1962 Thompson.
This time I said I was about ready to start a boat of my own, so that them in a hustle to get first in line. Around November 15, Jay from the big office, brought it out to my house, and expertly backed it toward the garage door. The windshield would not clear the header, until we figured out that the canopy support frame was in the way. We rotated it down and then we backed her in with an inch to spare.
It filled up my shop, so I figured the only solution was to get to work. I picked up a 4 x 8 sheet of Okume Marine plywood, and some epoxy supplies at Johnson’s Workbench in South Bend, Indiana. The Mahogany came from Nisley and Sons east of Goshen.
The first task was adding an inch of thickness to the transom, on the inside of the boat. The existing framework required that the pieces be cut so I staggered the joints for the best strength. Each piece was glued in place and held with screws until the epoxy set up. The the screws were removed so there is no metal in the way of the future installation,, and each hole injected with epoxy.
With furniture old and new, occasionally a screw breaks off under the surface and hides contentedly. The most common fix is to drill another hole beside it and put a new screw in there. The problem is that either the new screw will pull the hinge out of square, or more likely, the screw will go in at an angle. Then the screw head usually sticks up, which can interfere with the easy closing of the hinges.
This time, I decided to fix it right and remove the half screw. I first drilled a 1/2” hole with a Forstner bit close the the metal shaft. Then, several 1/16” holes were drilled around the screw.
A little picking around it with a needle nose plier gave a purchase point, and I reversed the screw out of the hole. Voila!
After drilling more deeply into the hole with the same 1/2” bit, I cut a 1/2” plug from a section of walnut that matched fairly well, and glued it into place.
A little clean up with a sharp chisel, and a touch of finish makes as good as new, and ready for a new screw hole to be drilled. It’s just another one of those things buried into the construction of a furniture piece, that should never to be seen again. Sometimes the toughest test of craftsmanship is recovering from the inevitable and unexpected detours.