Friday, December 24, 2010

Sapele is the new Mahogany

I got a referal from a good friend to help out a friend of his that had an unusual request to replace his front door.  He and his wife had been on vacation in Bali and wanted to bring the Bali resort feel home with thier entry door replacement.  The shot below is what they had existing.
The shot below is what I replaced it with.  Sapele hardwood that I finished with my imported boat varnish system.  The tambour panel mimics the reeded glass sidelites and the tapered casings with the notched header really makes for an island feel in this entry way.  I like how this entry totally blends with the redwood ceiling to transform this entryway.

Dream Mantel Build

I'm fortunate to every now and again get the opportunity to flex the design muscles a little.  I had built a mantel for a contractor buddy of mine, Jason Willis, in the past, so when he got a client that really wanted to take it over the top with something elaborate and gawdy, I got the call.  I was stoked to be able to help Jason look like the rock star he is with this mantel.  I put a bunch of time into working the design sketch for him, we ended up scaling it back the origional design to 'value engineer' the project.  Regardless, he showed up on the job with a design presentation that made the interior designer on the job look like an ametuer.  He said it was very gratifing to stand back while the designer made all kinds of hand gestures and desciptions of what she had envisioned for the space while the client just kept saying she needed to see it, that she was visual.  Jason didn't say a word until asked then dropped the sketch on her that sealed the deal right then and there.  Here's a shot of it half installed.  I'll post up the completed photos in the next few days..

Mantel Season

Mantel Season is in full swing.  We do more than alot of mantels a year, and the end of the year is always the busiest.  Why? Everyone wants a mantel for the holidays.  It's understandable, where do you hang your stockings for Santa unless you have a mantel.  For the first time I had three projects in the spray booth at once, that's how busy we have been.  I feel very blessed to be this busy in this economy.  Here's a shot in side my booth of just a few weeks ago, two doors, two mantels, one spray booth.  Its a good problem to have.

I've had quite a few people emailing asking questions about finishing.  What equipment I use, what I thin the material with and all that.  I've decided to do a piece on finishing.  I'll post it up here when it's done so keep a look out for that.  It may also make it's way to the HGRadio website or my good friend Gary Katz's awesome webzine, ThisIsCarpentry, maybe all of the above.  Wherever it lands, I'll be sure to keep you guys informed of it.

Redwood Arbor

We're beta testing a new offering to our services menu with pre-fabricated arbors and pergolas.  One of our regular contractor clients asked us to design one for a high profile client of thiers, we thought it was a perfect opportunity to test out the prefab.  We did all the cutting in the shop and installed this bad boy in about 8 hours.  We'll have it to 4 hours once we bring it to the retail market.

Fiberglass Doors

It's no secret, I love wood.  But lets be honest, technology is cool too.  When technology from the space industry makes its way into the building industry markets we get better products for the home.  Case in point fiberglass doors.  ThermaTru, Masonite, and PlastPro are three manufactures that are excelling in this exciting new technology.  Why fiberglass?  Because the trees we are harvesting these days are new growth, which means alot of sapwood, which is softer than the heartwood.  To make a very long and complicated discussion short, the wood we get today is nowhere near as durable as the old growth of yesteryear.  So fiberglass is coming into the market as a nearly industructable substitute.  The technology is now to the point to where a good finisher can make fiberglass doors fool even pros like me.  Heres one we did for a family in Napa.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

New Bosch Compound Miter Saw

Had a great radio show this morning!  I want to thank those of you that got up early and tuned in.  For those of you that found the Tool segament compelling with our discussion on the new Bosch Compound Miter Saw I'm testing.  Check out this video.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Vegas Ideas..

Yep. I find inspiration everywhere. I'm always on the lookout for something, anything, that looks good in structure. When I'm in a city I'm always at the ready to shoot a pic of something architecturally worthy. There is a reason they call Las Vegas the 'Architects Playground'. I didn't have alot of time to look around, but almost everywhere we went, I saw something I could incorporate into the new showroom. Here's some of my favorites.

This is a recycled lumber wall.  Not like this is super original or anything.  What made this stand out was the environment it was in.  This is in the new Aria Hotel.  Super Futuristic and modern, with this rustic wall right in the middle of it.  Love the contrast.
Then there is this magnificent structure in the middle of the shopping mall.  This is a restaurant.  Al made of wood engineered beams.  It is gigantic.  See that little spec of spec at the bottom left hand side?  That's a woman.  I stared at this thing in awe for an extended period of time.  Can you say Holy Boat building Batman?

Then of course, the over the top stuff you can only get away with in Vegas.  Like this ceiling, in the carport of all places in Cesaers Palace.  It hurt my head looking at this hungover after a long night, but there is one thing for certain, somebody spent an awful lot of time painting that ceiling.

Vegas Baby!

So last week we went out to Las Vegas as one of our friends was competing in the Ms.Olympia Figure Championship!  We are all so proud of Carin Hawkins amazing rise to stardom in the world of fitness.  She placed 12th!  That may not seem like an impressive finishing position until you consider that this is the biggest event in bodybuilding, it's basically the World Championship, and just getting on the stage at this uber prestigious event is an accomplishment conquered by only the elite of the industry.  So WAY TO GO CARIN!!!
So of course while we are there, I'm checking out every architectural detail in the Playground of Architects.  I saw so much neat stuff I got architecture overload.  I got a ton of great ideas for the new showroom and just can't wait to put them to use.  So much cool stuff.  I don't have time to upload all the images right now, but I'll get a few up soon.  Let's just let this post say Yeaaaaa!!! CARIN!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Double Pillar Mantel

I'm not back from Vegas for an hour and I get a message that Jason Willis came by the shop looking to get me to draw up and quote a mantel for a job he is hoping to get.  I had built a mantel for him sometime back and he remembered I could draw.  He needed it by tomarrow morning.  Everytime I go away, I always come back swamped.  Maybe I should go away more.. I came up with this.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Painting Corners VIdeo

Check it out, just finished up a new tips video.  This is for our HG Radio site.  Just a little quickie tip for painting nice tight corners when you're trying to do two different color walls.

Roman Doric Build Continues.

We have been having way more fun building this detail than the definition of 'work' should allow.  There is nothing I love more (besides my family) than building mind blowing architectural details like this one.  Jesse and I have discovered a few awesome techniques and solutions that only doing a build like this would create opportunities to discover.  Check the video Jesse put together there are a few really neat tips and techniques buried in this footage.  Keep in mind this is just a rough cut edit. When we are done, we are going to edit something better to document the build of this detail.

Below is a shot of me assembling the guttae drops.  This is a modollion block up under the cornice that represents the pins that secured the beams (which are represented by the trigliphs) in ancient architecture.  This was a tedious detail to build that took Jesse and I together more than a full day to get together. 

But all that tedious assembly work is worth it in the end.  It's interesting to note another tidbit of fact about the reason the ancient architects used these drops like this.  I read on wikipedia that the guttae drops were commonly used under the cornice not only to represent the pins for the beams but that they also were considered 'rain orginizers', meaning they helped to control where the rain dropped off the structure.  Interesting stuff that I never would have been researching had we not gone this direction with the build.  I've got to hand it to Jesse for that, and this pic below, rain drop organizers or not, these guttae drops look freaking stunning overhead.  Is that a cool detail or what?
The quality of Craftsmanship and attention to both authenticity and detail clearly evident here are representative of the incredible talents of the fine folks at Architectural Moldings and Craftsman Collective Inc.  ( I helped a little )

Friday, September 17, 2010

More mantels.

In the course of starting a new business, building a new showroom, and developing a new radio show,  I still have to work.  My buddy Victor sent me a photo of the mantel I built for him now that it is installed.  I'm really happy that a mantel I built here in Nor-Cal fits so well installed over 500 miles away.  This is a modified sherwood mantel that we made fit into his highly contrained space.  The simple shelf below was a great opportunity to introduce Stephen to the art of mantel building.  He did great!  While this is far from his first mantel build, this is the first one that I measured and turned over to him to build.  When we went out to install, it couldn't have fit better.  It looks simpler than it really is since the top actually wraps around a pop out.  Regardless, Stephen nailed it... to the wall. As well as figuratively speaking.

Showroom Build Begins!

We've been working on converting our old warehouse into our new showroom concept for a few months now.  Most of the work has been painting racking and re-arranging stuff to get our layout optimized.  While that was exciting in it's own right, I'm glad we have it figured out and now behind us.  We are finally beginning the carpentry.  I love building showrooms, this is when you get the opportunity to build stuff you rarely sell, but everyone talks about.   I've been involved with the construction of numerous millwork showrooms, and toured many many more.  I'm taking all that I have learned from what I and everyone else has done in the past and applying that knowledge along with a few ideas I've picked up from successful merchandisers in other industries and folding it all into our 10,000 square foot buildout.  Here's a little sampler of one of the designs now under construction.  This is the concept sketch I whipped up just to show Jesse how my wireless design program works.
This build is an authentic reproduction of a collonade taken from the Roman Doric Order, so there really isn't any design credit here.  However, the success of both it's authenticity and scale is still a formidable challenge.  I'm fortunate to be working with one of the finest craftsmen of our area in Jesse Wright of Architectual Molding.  Jesse is even a bigger geek about this stuff than I am, and a highly (almost too highly) detail oriented builder.   We're both enjoying working together.  It's neat to work with someone that really understand the language of architecture and is passionate about it, like Jesse is.  We spend a little too much time talking it, when we should be more focused on building it but we are both so excited about building something like this that talking about it endlessly is almost a given.    Here's a shot of the entablature in progress,  stay tuned as this stunning detail develops into a reproduction of a bit of historical architecture.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

HG Radio Launches this weekend on 910am KNEW Sat. 6-9am

This weekend marks the launch of our new radio show on FoxNews Radio KNEW 910am.  My buddy from HGTV, Ian McCartt and I will be co-hosting along with well known home improvement radio personality David Yates.  This show will focus on all things Home and Garden.  We will discuss topics ranging from home finance to repairing roofs.  We are all real excited to bring this type of a show to the San Fransisco Bay Area market.  I am super honored to be part of it and look forward to bringing my 30 years of building industry knowledge to the program helping people make improvements to the spaces they raise their families in.  This is a fantastic opportunity for all of us that I couldn't be more excited about.  Please tune in, we look forward to providing answers and solutions to your home improvement projects.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Radius doorjamb for antique doors

We got ourselves a real neat build going in the door shop. One of our favorite customers dropped off a pair of antique doors asking us to build a jamb set for them.  These are special doors, over 100 years old and still in remarkable condition thanks to the timeless craftsmanship clearly evident in their construction.   We got right to work building the radius head jamb.
It took every clamp we had in the joint to get the assembly clamped to the buck.  This was super fun to build.  Stephen and I built the buck and the jamb head while our shop master craftsman, Ross, slept off a migraine.   As much as Ross cranks out in the shop for us, I was happy to step away from the pile of paperwork and fab this little gem up in his absence.  Any day I have to get out into the shop is another day that I don't have to push paper.  I'd much rather build stuff.  As I was finishing the glue up, Jesse showed up and we got on our Monster build.  We kicked around design for a while and played around with some ancient architectural details and collectively decided we were going to replicate history.  More on that later..  For now here's the jamb all finished up for this antique door set.  The whole shop had a part of building this jamb.  Good job fellas~

Panelled Post Collonade and wainscot

I just received some photos from a customer we did a little trim work for when they did a remodel on thier home.  This was a real simple build that gave the room quite an impact.  This is a great example of what a huge difference just a little bit of molding will make to the overall feel of a room.  I would have liked to have seen a crown on the colonnade, the customer didn't want anything to protrude out from the wall too far so we used a bolection molding for a crown.  My design would have been a little different, but the customer is always right, and they loved it so ultimately that's all that mattered.
And below is a shot of the interior with a real simple, inexpensive, but still great looking faux wainscoting detail.

These panels are created by simply applying chair rail and deco molding to the sheet rock and painting the wall below the chair rail a different color.  This is an effective and inexpensive technique to get the look of a real panelled wainscot for a lot less money than the real deal.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Greek Doric Order Build

I've got a dream build going in the shop that is just insane.  This is the type of thing you get to build once every couple of years if you're lucky.  I knew my buddy Jesse would literally salivate at the chance to build this and I needed the help so I brought him in on it.  We spent the first day basically just kicking around design ideas and trying to get the scale and proportion correct.  Jesse is an absolute student to the history of the craft and a super talented builder.  There plain and simply isn't a better finish carpenter out there to help me with this type of build.  We're thinking about shooting the whole build for an article we could collaborate on.  I'm doing and intervelometer shoot of the build regardless. We're really having a good time with this one, yesterday was awesome, we got all the subassemblies built.  Here is the concept sketch that got the ball rolling...

I'm supposed to work on the backyard today for the lovely wife, but all I can think about is getting back into the shop and getting those subassemblies standing on the wall.  This feeling is what I truely love about carpentry.  The 'Wanna see it up" feeling you get when you're on to an exciting build and the "Yep, I built that" satisfaction you get when it's done.  I'll post pics of the thing going up, it's going to be amazing.  Jesse is pressing to take it more formally period correct in the Greek Doric order.  While I just wanted to origionally do a relatively quick build, now that we're into it.  I'm into it.  I think Jesse is going to get his way. If you're going to do it, might as well do it Wright.

Barn Doors

Got a chance to get back to a great project we're involved with.  Just had to install a little hardware.  While there I snapped a few pics of the barn door we built for this house.  These doors are 2-1/4" Thick, are made from Poplar frames with a routed MDO panel.  They weigh a ton, but they slide like butter.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tim D's Masterpiece

One of my very best friends has decided to sell his house.  I'm bummed to see him leave, cause he was just across the street, and this house was his Mona Lisa.  But with the economy still lagging he decided to downsize.  Since this was his own home, it wasn't quite finished... the cobblers children have no shoes effect applied to builders.  As such, mine isn't finished either.  To get ready for his sale we had to button up a few details.  First off I had to build the mantel we never got too...

Then we finished up the deck off the master bedroom sliding glass door. Gianna got involved supervising this one.

We also supplied all the interior doors..
And all the trim materials.  Below is a shot of the Kitchen Island with beadboard and hand cut corbels. 

This detail is representative of the quality of craftsmanship produced by Tim Dennis Construction. Robust and polished.  I'm proud to say I was involved in the build of this house, no matter who lives in it.

Poolhouse Bifolding Doors

We're just about wrapped up with the bifold installs for this poolhouse addition.  I'm really happy to have been invited to be part of this build.  This estate is simply magnificent, and although the poolhouse addition is very simple, the workmanship by all parties involved is just fantastic.  We put two bifolds in this structure that allows the building to be completely open when in use.  The photo below shows the place all closed up.
On the left side of the poolhouse you can see a three panel slider that folds completely off to the left. 
The big door which frames the pool is 18'6" wide and when it's open the whole house feels like it's open.  When both are open it's akin to an exotic cabana in the tropics.  The only difference is that this little poolhouse sports a full kitchen, laundry, and an antique bar from an old cowboy bar in the desert.  Soooo Cool!
Poolhouse Cabana by The Bohon Group.  Super duper cool doors by The Craftsman Collective Inc.

Craftsman Style Entry

I stopped by a friends house recently. I provided construction consulting, materials, and services for him while he remodeled this great spot. While there I snapped a few pics.  This shot of the front elevation and entry I designed for him kind of got sun washed.  I like the photo regardless, sort of artsy.
And below is a shot of the entry door we built for him.  I really like the simple elegance of the Craftsman Style.  This door is a great fit for this home with it's oversize 3'6" wide door, flat panels, and exaggerated trim tails.  This door also looks great with the addition of a dentil shelf.

I had designed this door with tapered casings as well but by the time I caught that the carpenters hadn't caught that, the siding was installed and it was too late. Oh well, still looks great. Nice and clean.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bifold Doors are Awesome!

Today was a sweet day.  We buttoned up an installation of a bifolding french door for a great client.  This guy has great taste and is doing a remodel on a townhouse in full loft style.  You all know how I love lofts and modern architecture so I really got into this project.  I can't wait till this reno is complete so I get some photos.  This door is a five panel that folds off to one side. We replaced a crappy old aluminum slider with this unit, what a difference it made to the room.  Here it is all opened up.
So freakin' sweet.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Pottery Barn-ish Mantel

I went out to a regular customers ongoing job to deliver doors and measure up stair parts.  While there, I got a chance to snap a shot of the mantel I built for them.  The homeowner likes really clean lines and nothing too fancy.  She said she wanted a 'Pottery Barn Look'.  What do you think?  Did she get it?

Cabinet Pull-Outs..

I went out to investigate a foggy window complaint and ended up getting sweet talked into building pullouts for a sweet little old lady.  Another one I should have said no too, but how do you turn down a little old lady?  It turned out taking four trips to get it done.  She didn't like the fact that the color of the new maple pullout didn't quite match the old yellowing ones.   I turned it over to my old timer Ross who nailed the color match perfect.  It's nice to have a master painter around the shop for stuff like this, Ross saved the day and when I took the now tinted pull-out back to her, she was pleased.  Alls well that ends well...

Salon is Finished

Heres a shot of the salon all done and ready for styling.  Quite a few people chipped in on this project and we got it done in just a few weeks.  Turned out amazing..

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Track Saws are killer

I love the tracksaw.  I don't know how I ever got along without one.  One thing they absolutely kick butt at is making wainscot panels.  There is simply no more efficient way to do it.  Here are some shots of the reception counter Stephen and I built at his wifes new salon.

And here it is in all it's painted glory. Looks pretty sweet for a late night quickie project. 

I love Wood Boats!

We haven't had a real vacation for years, and as hard as we've been working lately we needed a couple days rest so the girls and I went up to Tahoe for the weekend.  I always wanted to stop by Sierra Boat Works and check out all the classic boats they have there.  Just an amazing place, full of beautifully handcrafted floating works of art.  They had not one but two Riva Aquaramas there..  for a mere $300K you ould take one home with you...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Another Classy Door

This door turned out to be a very nice surprize.  This is actually a very affordable door.  Great bang for the buck for a cherry door.  It looks absolutely stunning with a clear finish.  The downside is that it is an import door, so sometimes they get backordered like this one did for three months.  The veneer is super thin so you have to be really careful with it, no sanding, and you have to be careful where you use them.  No harsh exposure for these babies.  But if you have the right protected porch like these folks had, and are careful when you handle it.  They come out looking like this one does.  AWESOME!

Massive Door, massive headache

Every once in a while you take a job that you wish you would have just said no too.  This door is one of them.  This was the mother of all bailouts.  The contractor had done work for these folks before and didn't want to let them down with the repair of this massive entry unit that was absolutely demolished by sun exposure.  Cherry wood door stained dark.  Then painted.  Then patched and painted again, and again, and again.  Until finally it refused to work and threatened to let water ruin the hardwood floor.

The contractor wanted nothing to do with it.  His regular door supplier wanted nothing to do with it.  The next guy he called wanted nothing to do with it.  He got referred to me and being the economy what it is, I took it it on.  I knew better but I did it anyway and it has been one problem after another.

First off, this door is a monster.  8'-0" in height, 20 years old, and it has one off artisian leaded glass sidelites that matched the transome above as well as in doors inside the home.  This means I had to remove the uber fragile un-insulated artisian glass from the sidelights and temporarily fill with plywood while we took the glass back to the shop to build the new door.  Then we had to prefinish the door to match the aged cherry interior transome and molding.  I called in the wolf, my friend Andrew, and he matched it exact.   Then we dinged the door during delivery somehow.  Then during install we discover a mess of unexpected complications.  First the jambs were continuous through to the transome.  Which meant we had to temporarily support the transome while we cut out the jamb away, then figured out a way to permently support the transome in the opening.  Then we discover the exterior of the transome is rotten at the corners... and I just can't leave a problem like that.  Then the subfloor was rotten to no end. Why is the floor rotten? Because someone ruined the sill pan. Had to fix that too. To make a long story short I've got 45 hours into a job I bid at 10.  Ugh. Every day I learn a lesson and this one is to always listen to my first instincts.  Regardless I'm super proud of the end result of this door.  We performed carpentry wizardry here and when I look at this thing I can't help but beam with pride knowing there are very few people that could have successfully done what we did here.

Custom Counter Build

I went out to the Piedmont Lumber yard in Pittsburg before the big auction to clear up a little confusion about one of the items they had for sale that actually belonged to me and while I was there looked around at all my history there.  In my tenure there I built out so many neat features of that store it breaks my heart.  Here's a shot of the counter I build about seven years ago.  heartbreaking to see this once might establishment reduced to the scavenging of scrounges.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"Measure a Door" Video

We install doors, lotsa doors.  We also talk about installing doors with customers on the phone.  In an effort to weed out the tire kickers and only go out on real solid leads, we charge a measure fee.  It's only $50 bucks and we give it back if we actually do the job, but some people still would rather 'get a number' before investing in our service.  In an effort to help them understand the info we need, we produced a little video to explain the info we need to accurately bid a door for them.  Here it is.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

We do Displays

Just delivered a trade show exhibit we were lucky enough to get the opportunity to build for the manufacture of Bodyguard brand siding.  We were super stoked to be asked to provide our skills to the build of a display for such a prestigious manufacture.  This little building is currently standing proud in the Northern California Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, where Bodyguard presented their product line to the leading Architects in the San Fransisco Area.  Talk about performance pressure.   Can you imagine my stress, building a display for a manufacture to present their wares to a bunch of Architects? 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Catching Up !

Wow, I've really been neglecting my blog here.  I just noticed I haven't posted since April and here it is June!  It goes without saying we've been really busy here at the new old shop.   We've been fortunate to be attraciting back our old customers, and getting some business from other lumberyards.  We did another home show in Napa and built an awesome new booth for that one.  Heres a photo of it.

The Napa Home Show Display

Stephen and I did the Napa show and we had a great time.  The booth went together so easy I couldn't believe it, we actually got everything right with this one.  We met alot of great people, got tons of interest in our company and overall had a great time.  We set the booth up in the warehouse so anyone that comes in can see it.  It's been a great conversation piece.  After that show we got back to work with all the other details that go along with starting a new store.

A new store?

Yep,  I got this this crazy idea of opening an Architecural Millwork Supercenter, wrote a business plan and was able to secure funding for the venture, aptly named Architectural WOODS.  It took a couple months to get everything done.  Its hard to really forecast everything that goes into launching a new brand but I'm plowing through it, even if it is all a little overwhelming.  All while trying to keep the shop busy.  It's been exhausting but we're all so excited about the potential, it fuels us to work crazy long hours.  I'm really proud of our team and the potential for this thing to really take off.