So Long 2017, Welcome 2018

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2017 was by far the most incredible year in my woodworking career.  At this time last year (end of 2016), I had just recently finished one of Jory Brigham’s workshops and I was pumped up!  The course was great and I was able to take what I learned and incorporate it into some of my new projects.  I did a whole blog entry titled “My Experience at The Jory Brigham Design Workshop in Paso Robles” and you should read that if you’re considering taking one of his courses.  I’m already signed up to take another course this coming April 2017 where Jory Brigham has teamed up with his fellow Framework contestant Jason Radcliffe of 44 Steel, to build a piece of furniture that incorporates welding, another skill I’ve been wanting to learn.  That will be an interesting course and I’m really looking forward to it!  Here’s a photo of the piece we built in the “side table” course last December:

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Shortly after New Year’s last year (January 2017) I decided to open my Etsy shop and list a couple small items I’d made and wouldn’t you know it, my first sale came along a couple weeks later on my birthday!  While it certainly wasn’t a big sale, it was a great feeling and a cool little birthday present, haha!  My first sale was one of my “L’il Scrappy” wooden vases.  I’ve made a few L’il Scrappy items since, and have sold a couple of them and it’s a cool feeling when the person buying it appreciates the tedious work and effort that went into making a L’il Scrappy item.

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Also in January 2017 I was contacted by Ashley Donohue, an interior designer in Los Angeles who needed 32 barstools and 3 matching coffee tables for a project she was working on for Golden Road Brewing‘s new location inside the Staples Center.  I dropped everything and whipped up a prototype stool and delivered it personally a couple days later.  After waiting a few weeks for the thumbs up, I finally got the green light and it was time to get building!  It was great project to be a part of, and I learned a few things along the way.  Of course, part of the fun is figuring out what new tool you can justify buying in order to be as productive as possible.  My tool of choice?  Probably one of the most popular tools on the market, the Festool Domino DF500.  Such a great tool.  In my opinion, it’s better than dowels, and better than biscuits.  I also dumped my old small Porter Cable portable contractor table saw and invested in the Laguna Fusion table saw.  Another exceptional upgrade worth every penny without totally breaking the bank.  If you’ve been on the fence about either of these items, wait no longer!  Use my Amazon affiliate links and buy them now!  🙂

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In additional to the Festool Domino and Laguna Fusion table saw I already mentioned, I also added some other new tools to my shop in 2017 and it’s such a blessing to not only have and use these tools, but to have a shop big enough to hold them (although my 2-car garage shop is now pretty much maxed out, haha!).  Ridgid Power tools has been cranking out awesome tools and you see a lot of #TeamRidgid orange if you look around my shop.  The newest members of the family are the Oscillating Belt/Spindle Sander and 18v Angle Grinder.  Check out the cool stand I built for the spindle sander!  I lost some more floor space when the Jet JCDC 1.5hp Cyclone Dust Collector came into my life, but that floor space was a sacrifice that was easy to justify.  The dust collector footprint isn’t even that big (approx. 21″x31″) and it’s mobile so I can easily move it around.  I love that thing and it’s been getting a lot of use since I got it a few months ago.  I did a blog entry on my unboxing and assembly of the Jet JCDC 1.5hp Dust Collector and you should check that out (it has video too!) and by all means….do not wast your time modifying a Harbor Freight cheapo.  Just use this link to get the Jet.  Way way better.  Again, check out my blog entry for more info.

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Holiday schedules at my house can get a little wacky because as some of you know, my wife and I are full time wedding photographers and have been shooting weddings for almost two decades.  We’re always busy to begin with but nearing the end of year holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, we can get bogged down more than usual because everybody wants everything before Christmas…files, prints, albums, etc…so this means, visiting family up in Central California doesn’t always happen at the traditional holiday time.  So I got a late start on Christmas gifts for the 2016 Christmas holiday and didn’t get to deliver all those until April-ish of 2017. I had the opportunity to try making a few new things as gifts and try some new techniques and everything came out looking pretty good!  I ended up with some lazy susans, a really nice picture frame, and some trivets and our families loved all their gifts (well at least they said they did, haha!)

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Fast forward a little bit and through some clever use of both my Instagram accounts (zelo photography & stuff seth makes) I connected with a cool new ramen restaurant in Carmel Valley called Wokou Ramen.  I connected with them just as they were nearing their grand opening and as it turned out, they needed a few small projects and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.  I ended up refinishing a few of their table tops and also building a cool slatted seating area for their patio.  After they had their grand opening and things started flowing, they decided to change a little bit of their interior layout so things flowed better.  They called on me to modify some slabs they already had and convert them from a long counter that looked into the kitchen to a few bar height tables that seat 4.  They also had me make a bunch of check presenters (clipboards) for their servers and a tap handle for their water station.

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The Wokou gig also opened another door for me, as one of the Wokou investors contacted me about a very large project for Barona Casino.  When I found out it was a project of 66 table tops, my head just about exploded!  After a bit of brainstorming with the potential client and several hours in the shop I had a prototype ready to deliver and it looked awesome!  It incorporates a cool rustic wood pattern with strips of color, as well as the Barona “B” logo, branded into various pieces of the rustic wood, finished off with a bar top epoxy.  After delivering the prototype and getting some feedback, the project jumped up to 84 tables as well as a dozen large picture frames to compliment the table tops.  Sooooooo, that’s what I’ve got cooking as I type this blog entry!  It’s certainly the largest project I’ve ever tackled and it’s moving along smoothly.  You can follow my Instagram account as I’ve been posting progress shots along the way, but here are a couple shots of the protoypes:

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While waiting for the green light on the Barona project I jumped into making this year’s Christmas gifts, and since I also added a small lathe to the shop a few months back, Christmas gifts this year were going to be turned items.  Turning is a lot of fun, very addicting, and very rewarding when you finish a piece.  It can however, also be very frustrating and discouraging if you catch your tool on the wood and you put a huge gouge in your workpiece or even worse, destroy it completely….it happened to me more than once.  But what do we do when we fall off the horse?  We get back on, and that’s exactly what I did. I used a variety of different woods in these projects such as walnut, maple, padouk, buckeye burl, yellowheart, spalted tamarind and I even incorporated discarded/recycled skateboards into some of the gifts. Here are a few photos of some of the gifts I turned this year and I’ll have a full blog entry on all the gifts at a later date.

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As I look back on 2017 it was not too shabby!  I landed some paid work which was great financially, but also great because I’ve learned new things along the way and figured out how to tackle challenges that came along with each project.  I added some new tools and storage/organization to the shop and also picked up a lot of new followers on my Instagram account.  I’m very thankful for the year I’ve had and I praise the Lord for the opportunities He’s presented to me and the doors He’s opened.  I’m excited to finish this Barona project and see what else happens in 2018.  I’ve got a few ideas in my sketchbook I’d like to take a stab at and as I mentioned earlier I’ll get to finally try my hand at welding in a couple months at the Jory/Jason workshop.  So stay tuned and I hope you’ll continue to enjoy the content I’m putting out there.

If you need something for your home, small restaurant, boutique retail space, or are looking for a unique gift for someone in your life, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.  I’d love to hear about your project and how I can work with you to bring it to life.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Happy New Year!!

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