A Short Intro and Three Chests

Before I get into the subject of this post, I want to express my hearfelt thanks to those who pledged their hard-earned funds to my workshop project on Kickstarter. The project ended today and my goal was not met. What this means is that I will be spending the next year building my own workshop as funds become available. Since there is no such thing as ready cash laying about waiting to become available, I’m figuring this particular project will take a bit more time than that. Be that as it may, I will be working on that building until it is finished and passes the county inspection. After that I will begin to shop around for the equipment. That spans the gamut from table saw, bandsaw, radial arm saw, drill press, planer, jointer, lathe, dust colletion system and so on all the way down to the electrical supply.

A little bit at a time, and eventually I will have my workshop.

In the meantime, I am already starting on the winter chores here on the ranch. Right now that means fence repair; replacing posts, repairing wire fencing, cutting and fastening the fence boards and getting my chain saw tree trimmer ready to start on the oak trees on the property. About fifty of them, I think. Really big, lush trees.

We just got one of the mowers back from repair, so I may get the chance to mow the property one more time before the first freeze.

OK. Enough of that. The first photo was supposed to be a portable “Aron Kodesh” or Holy Ark for a new synagogue in the north east Atlanta area back in the late 1970’s. The Rabbi wanted a portable cabinet he could carry to visits in hospitals and bed-ridden members of his congregation.  But it grew somewhat, as you can see. I chose a commercial brand of mahogany (probably Aformosia, but who really knows anymore). and finished in yacht varnish to provide a hard, durable finish that would stand up to a lot of moving around.

ClosetInMahogany 001

The cabinet is in two sections. The lower section has shelves for prayer books, skull caps and shawls and so on and the upper section has room for three Torah scrolls. The ladies of the congregation did a very nice job of dressing up the interior. Sadly, I do not have a photo of their work.

The entire piece is panel and frame construction, using mortise and tennon joinery to connect the rails and stiles of the sides and doors. All of the panels float in the frames.

The handles along the side are scooped out on the inside to allow members to lift the upper section off and carry it around with some measure of comfort.

The next cabinet is a glass-front display case for the mother of an architect, and was built some time in the 1990’s. This piece is in white oak and finished in polyurethane, brushed on and rubgbed down to a satinGlassFrontDisplayCaseInOak 001 finish.
The architect requested I build a false ceiling that would hold a light fixture, which he installed at the front to light up the interior. Between that and the full length mirror on the back, it is a stunning piece that shows his mother’s crystal and silver collection to its max.

 

 

 

 

 

The third piece is something of an anomoly, but still deserving of your attention. It is in fact, a tool chest. The box is a simple affair of cabinet grade plywood, glued and screwed together. At the time I had a slew of dividers, compasses, trammel points and assorted measuring tools and delicate setting up tools and a few very expensive Nova chucks for my lathe and their wrenchs and other such just getting bashed around in the top drawer of my large tool chest. Shop07 001I spent a lot more time fitting out the interior than I did glueing up the box. There are two large spaces on the bottom with one divider wall between and then two lift-out drawers above that, fitted to whatever tools needed their own space.

The box was finished in orange shellac with black analine dye as a coloring agent. I suppose there are eight or ten coats on that box, each rubbed down before the next was applied. I wanted a very deep finish.

The handles and corner protectors are brass, cut, fitted and soldered by me. Once I had them made I cleaned them up, filed and sanded them smooth and then found a coloring agent that would “age” them to where they looked as if they had been lost at sea for a century. Then I attached them to the box.

Wood work of the sort I do is a challenge; that is what keeps me entertained and satisfied. I don’t skimp on the hours it takes to do a job, and I never tolerate short-cuts if it means cutting down on the quality of the finished piece. I will never get rich working like this, but I don’t have a driving need for wealth. Lucky me.

About Gary Showalter

Gary Showalter was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. He lived in Aruba, Florida and the Panama Canal Zone before joining the U.S. Army during the 1960s. Following his discharge from the Army, Mr. Showalter picked cotton in East Texas, baled hay in Ardmore Oklahoma, sold light bulbs in Los Angeles, California, and built cattle pens in Fallon, Nevada (during a blizzard, of course). After settling in Atlanta, Georgia, Mr. Showalter worked as a professional gardener before turning his hand to furniture making. In 1981, he moved to Israel, married, and raised four children while working as a furniture maker, silversmith, goldsmith, and ornamental wood turner. He served in the Israel Defense Forces Reserves for sixteen years, and when not on active duty he worked in government and private security. He has also served in senior management positions in two software development companies in Israel. During his time in Israel, Mr. Showalter published articles dealing with international terror and the Israel-Arab conflict in the Jerusalem Post, Israel national News and several political science web sites. Mr. Showalter returned to the United States in the fall of 2003, to care for an elderly parent. He published his first novel, “The Big Bend”, in the fall of 2008. His second novel, “Hog Valley”, is now in print. Mr. Showalter's third novel, “Twisted Key”, was published in the fall of 2011, and his fourth novel, "Lonesome Cove" is now available in Kindle format and should be published in paper near the end of 2012. Those words were written a few years ago. Frankly speaking, the literary well has dried up. I now live in Dunnellon, Fl, where I amworking as the caretaker on a horse farm and looking to build a workshop here on the property where I can get back to building furniture. With any luck I will be sinking piers some time early in November and hope to have the floor joists ready for flooring by the end of the month. I'll get back to you on that.
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