Easing Into Summer

If you were following this blog last summer, you might remember that I tried taking a bit of a break. The plan was that I would only share photos on Mondays. Of course, this is me, so words were involved. Still, Mondays from late June to early September are among my shortest posts. Ironically, they were quite popular. That either says something about my photography or my writing – let’s not explore that.

Beginning next Monday, I am going to attempt this semi-break again. This year, I am going to try to include some “artistic” photos in the mix. Of course, as long as the isolation/semi-isolation continues, those pictures may be from the park while walking with Maddie.

The State of Connecticut entered Phase-II on Wednesday of last week. Restaurants are now open at 50% capacity and a host of other restrictions. Museums are allowed to open, but none of the ones I want to tour have announced their schedules. Gyms are open, but I’m not taking any chances. I’ve successfully avoided gyms since college, and I’m not going to risk changing that behavior. Libraries are allowed to open, but I haven’t been to ours in a while. Maybe I will go update my status, so I can take advantage of the online activities, in case the opening is short-lived.

I did eat in two restaurants last week. I went to Skooter’s Diner on Friday for Fish & Chips, and I went to the bar I visit on occasion (hey, every Saturday is an occasion) on Saturday. Originally, I thought that I wasn’t going be among the first to go; I was going to wait and see how opening went along. It turns out, going first may have been the better option. Both venues were empty when I was there. The bartender told me they are getting more people each day, so next Saturday, I might be back to calling in a takeout order. I’m still not willing to get sick for a beer. It’s easy to judge the capacity of both places by looking at the parking lot. I tend to go early, even for a senior citizen, so maybe this will work out.

I know some of you are waiting (or perhaps you already jumped to the gallery) for pictures of the mission bookcase I’ve been working on. As of yesterday afternoon, it is ready for final sanding of some exposed surfaces, stain and finish. Those steps have to wait until the humidity drops below 90% – probably sometime in September, the way we’re going – but you should be able to get a feel for the final product.

Completed Bookcase – Staining this is going to be a pain, but I think it’s going to look good.

You may recall that the bookcase is designed to match the writing desk I featured last November. Both are made from pine (not normally associated with Mission furniture) and are/will be stained with a Mission Oak dye stain. The surface of the desk is made from a piece of ungauged slate that was left in my garage by the previous owner. I did not have much of that slate left, but I had enough to incorporate it into the drawer front of a small drawer under the center fixed shelf.

I made a couple mistakes during construction. Most are/will only be visible to me. One that I was hoping would only be visible to me, caught my wife’s eye immediately. Yes, she edits my woodworking, too. On one side of the upper section, the long tall slats were bowed. I either cut them too long, or I cut one of the mortises too shallow. In any case, I sawed the slats out, chiseled out some of the mortise and reinserted the slats. It does look better – thanks Hon.

The rest of the explanation is in the gallery. Click on any photo to enter a slideshow that will reveal the entire (long) caption or skip that if you like. Note: The Editor doesn’t edit the captions. All typos are my doing.


  1. Speechless, well almost. It is a beautiful bookcase, and it certainly showcases your woodworking skills. Wow! I love the drawer. It’s a great addition both in function and looks to allow it match the desk. Thanks for the photos and explanations. Here’s hoping the humidity drops so you can finish it up and get it inside and on display where it belongs. Good job, Dan. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad you like it, Judy. Having the flexible standard that is the mission/craftsman style makes it easy to incorporate some interesting details. I am happy with it. The 10-day forecast would suggest I won’t be staining it very soon, but I can wait.

      Stay cool 🙂


  2. The level of detail in the bookcase is astounding, Dan, from the care you showed in finishing the back of it to the amazing slate-fronted drawer. Wow. It certainly is beautiful. I can’t even imagine how many hours it took for you to build it. Is that a Kreg jig that you used for the pocket screws? My son used one of those in building some smaller furniture pieces and became a real convert for pocket screws. So do you have a next furniture project in mind now that this one is almost done?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Mike. That is a Kreg jig. It makes these joints go fast, and they are very strong. I will plug the upper ones (the only ones that are visible). I prefer dovetails on drawers, but I would have had to cut around the slate insert, so…

      Finishing the back is so easy to do. I’ve been surprised to see the number of very good woodworkers (displaying at shows) who don’t bother. One stapled Masonite on the back of a dresser. I know you can’t see it (unless you take the drawers out) but it was a $3,500 piece of furniture – it didn’t seem right.

      I’m moving outside, to reside our garden shed next, then I hope to renovate my workshop. I need to get those two projects done before it’s time to put car back in the garage.


      • As I suspected, Dan, you have plans to be keep yourself occupied–no idle hands during retirement. I chuckled a little when I misread one of your comments. I thought I read that you were going to reside in your garden shed, but then realized that there was no “in” after “reside,” which changes the meaning a lot. I have always loved to play with words than can have multiple meanings, depending on context. One of my favorites is “trimming a tree,” which can mean decorating it or cutting it, depending on the season.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I appreciate the compliment, GP, but no one would pay for this when you literally can buy one for not a lot of money. That was the struggle I had when I had my cabinet shop. I built higher quality furniture, but they were comparing my prices to Sears. You needed to have an odd niche. Reproduction furniture was doable, but I don’t like it as much. I was stunned by how much mission furniture is on the market these days.

      I’ll make things for family and maybe a few friends. I doubt I’ll ever try selling furniture again.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful detailed woodworking, Dan, even without the final stain. Love that you added a crafted back to be able to set it someplace other than against a wall. Cool orange handle on your Dad’s screwdriver. I still have the toolbox my Dad set up for me when I moved out after college. My favorite is a blue-handled screwdriver that can flip between a slot and a cross.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. I also have (had) a blue handled screwdriver that was my dad’s. My wife had it with her tools. He loved her, too, so I guess it’s appropriate. I don’t use his tool often, but it feels good when I do.

      I don’t understand why so many manufactures and even craftsmen shops don’t finish the back of cases. It’s not that hard, and it looks so much better.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. What a beautiful piece of work, Dan. It will be stunning when the finishes are complete. I rather enjoy your words — long or short — and your photos, so I look forward to your posts whenever they show up.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is beautiful, Dan. And that little slate draw is the showstopper, for me. I had to laugh at your comment about the cats visiting the top of the bookcase (only 78″?). Ha! Sometimes mine scare me when I happen to walk through a room and see them lurking on top of the wardrobe. I read your comment to GP. Amazing what people will pay to go out to eat but won’t pay for a beautiful piece of furniture that will outlast them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you like this piece, Lois. I know one of our cats will get up there at some point. They are crafty climbers. When I had my shop, I would design something and, inevitably someone would say, “but I can buy something similar for…” We’d go back and forth, but it was rare to find someone willing to pay what I wanted/needed to charge. I’m so glad I was able to make the drawer work with the slate.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. These are my favourite posts, Dan, I love to see so much craftsmanship and detail go into creating a piece. I will be thinking about this bookcase all day as I am in need of more bookshelf space myself at the moment! While the back rail at the top is a design feature, I really like that it’s also a practical element — I would definitely be someone who displayed items on top, and your design will keep anything from falling down behind the back of the bookcase!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you like it, Wendy. We have cats, do preventing things from falling behind is important. I will put dinting your there. And MiMi will climb up and knock it off.


  7. Nice job, Dan! I’ll be looking for a bookcase next year…too bad I can’t commission your artistry and talent and the Editor’s sharp eye.

    Good luck with the Monday photos. I usually have the issue of too many photos on my phone, but there hasn’t been much since COVID, other than cats and repetitive bike trail photos. I may need to get in the car and drive to find new material.

    Hope you’re having a good Monday.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wish I could take that commission, Mary.

      I have the same issue with the photos. I’ve been running the same routine for 13 weeks, and I’m running out of changing environments now that summer is setting in. I’m hoping to be able to get out a little beyond my normal range.

      Monday has been good – hot – humid – but good.


  8. As always, Dan, your furniture looks great and it will look even better when you have it stained. On the virus front, our daughter and s-i-l were here over the long weekend and they and I went up to Sedona, where we ate in an actual restaurant–in the outside seating. The servers all had masks and there was hand sanitizer on each table. The food was delicious and it was a treat to be eating out. I’d love to go to the gym and start lifting again, but no way is that going to happen any time in the near future. I’m still reading from e-books, although the libraries have pick-up service. Arizonans are now supposed to be wearing masks in all government buildings and in businesses as well as anywhere else they can’t social distance. We have to get our drivers licenses and car registrations, so that will be fun. NOT! Tomorrow I’ll start with getting the e-checks. Gotta start somewhere and that’s needed for the plates and registration. There’s no end to the fun we can have!!

    Happy new week,


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Janet. I’m so glad you were able to get out, with PEOPLE and do some normal things. Right now, even little bits of normalcy makes us feel very good. I feel bad for you having to deal with DMV. I have to get my license renewed. They’re apologizing about the fact that we’ll have to make appointments with DMV instead of standing in line – to me, that’s a huge improvement!

      I hope you have a good week.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! Thanks Paul. I think I have enough social media obligations.

      I can report that your blog has finally had a positive influence on me. I signed up with NBC.com, added it to my Roku device and I have begun streaming Night Gallery. I am going to watch (over time) from the beginning. I did, however, begin with “They’re Tearing Down Tim Reilly’s Bar” and “The Class of 1999” and then I started over.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. You do amazing work! I love how you incorporated the slate in the design to match your desk. There have been a couple of projects I’ve worked on that had some little area that didn’t come out quite right. Often, my initial thought (because I’m tired of working on it) is to leave it as is because “no one will notice.” Then, after some more thought, I decide that I’ll know it’s not right even if no one else does. I can’t think of a time that I looked backed and wished I had just left it alone… I’m always happy that I took the time (even though I probably grumbled as I fixed it).

    I’m looking forward to your Monday Photo series!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s pretty much how things always go here, Janis. My wife jokes that, on several occasions, the “repair” actually made the project better. I fixed one of the other mistakes this afternoon ;-)

      I hope you have a great week.


    • Thanks Teagan. I was surprised by how well the drawer worked. I didn’t think about doing it until late in the process, but I happened to have a mission drawer pull (one we had bought to compare when I built the dressers) and I noticed that if I made the groove at the bottom a certain size, the pull would cover the seam in the slate. Serendipity to find two leftover bits that work so well together.

      Hot and sticky here this week. I will be taking it slow. I hope you’re having a good week.


        • The humidity is just gross this week. Almost DC levels. I loved visiting DC, but when I was there in the summer, it was so hard to walk around. I remember taking the Metro for one stop, just to catch my breath and cool down a bit.

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Although I didn’t understand a single thing in this process, I can appreciate the design and craftsmanship. I’m not surprised you would include the details that elevate your projects from simply functional to works of art. The small drawer, the backing, and all the top are all evidence of that.

    But the thing I found most interesting was the little ratchet screwdriver. Even I could appreciate what a wonderful little tool that would be. I suspect it’s one of those handy tools that isn’t needed often, but when it is, it’s a godsend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you liked that, Joanne. When my dad was getting close to retirement, he started repairing golf clubs. First as a hobby, and then as a side-business. He used this little screwdriver to deal with some hidden screws when he was taking clubs apart. It’s the perfect tool for close quarters work with small screws.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I went to Skooter’s Diner on Friday for Fish & Chips

    Scooter: Let’s Go! Let’s Go!

    Me: Uh, that’s Skooter with a ‘k’, not a ‘c’.

    Scooter: Whatever, it’s got to be better than bottom shelf dog-food from The Big Box Store.

    Me: This from a dog who rolls around in remains of dead skunks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do think of Scooter when I see their sign. They don’t have dead skunk on the menu, but I was able to get Maddie a plain burger patty to go.

      Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned that.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Don. I should give her more credit that I do. During the course of a project, I’m often asking her to come out to the shop and give me her opinion on a design issue.

      I hope I can deliver on those photos.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. The bookcase is beautiful, but I don’t envy you the task of staining it. Still, with time on your hands, there are worse things to do. I have yet to go out to a restaurant or bar. It’s wonderful that you did. [And how strange is it that I just wrote a sentence like that one?]

    Liked by 1 person

  13. The bookcase really looks wonderful, Dan! We haven’t been out to a restaurant yet. Did you have to wear a mask to go in and out, then remove it for eating? Today our new guidelines for school go into place as we open next week for summer childcare (only 10 children allowed in a group). It’s pretty awful… and the building has no AC.


  14. Hi Dan – I think the colour is perfect … not too dark, and I like the ‘reddish’ effect of the stain.

    Our gyms aren’t open … not sure about libraries and am really staying away for now … no need til friends feel the jump to freedom is a requirement … but I can seeing being first makes sense for your visit to the pubs in town, even if only for a take-away and to vet what’s going on.

    Enjoy the easing up … and your summer of freedom – which some home-based workshop work … Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do feel better having been inside and understanding the lay of the land. I’ll okay it by ear from here on out. If it’s at all crowded, I’ll revert to calling in a takeout order. I go like “take away” better.

      Liked by 1 person

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