Bike is Near

ImageWell, here is my bike, almost ready for me.  It would be in our Bike  House except for a bad speedometer/tachometer unit.  Such stuff happens.  Chuck is pictured here ready to finish everything.  Not much – grips, connect the hydraulics and hoses, adjust the foot controls, and such.  I’m so excited and ready.  I look forward to VERY SOON finally enjoying going down the road with the wind.  Dawg House Customs in Albuquerque with Chuck Zettner is where to go for anything motorcycle.  I’ve made an exceptional wooden treasure for Chuck to thank him for his dedication and creativity to read the vision of this remarkable bike that I communicated to him.  His artistry and precision is astounding and I am blessed

ImageThis is a very old shopping cart that my Mom used to hang clothes at the home I grew up in at Artesia, New Mexico.  Countless kids have played with it there.  Now, we use it here in Magdalena – also to hang our clothes on the line!  It would bring great joy to Hallie if she only knew.  

I’m facing shoulder surgery in January, so my shop activity will soon be pausing for a number of weeks.  The past few months have found me there making tons of sawdust trying to catch up and get ahead.  I didn’t make it to the point I had wanted.  Still, I have thousands of pieces ready to sand and finish.  I’ll continue to focus on that part as long as I can.  I’ll also be spending a couple of days making new tools for Mary Berry of Fancy Fibers!   She’s a wonderful representative of my work.  Catch you later.  Jim 

Silver City, NM Fiber Arts Festival

ImageThis event was extremely well organized and a real joy to attend.  The local 4H group volunteered and helped run the show – an exceptional group of kids and leaders!  This photo illustrates my most popular items at the event.  The little looms and tools generated such interest.  Now, I’m already in the middle of a very large run of the looms due to this show and Kid ‘N Ewe the weekend before.  I really do have such fun with it all but am unable to keep up.

ImageThis little box went home with a gentleman as a gift for his wife.  The top is nice Bird’s Eye Maple and the case Tea Tree with some “character” on the front – I filled the inclusions with turquoise nuggets from New Mexico.  The nails are forged and so add a bit to the piece.  I’ll be doing a nice run of very special notion boxes this winter.  Yesterday Cat and I took a ride on our Harleys.  Today, the high was about 26 and very cold with the blustery wind and high humidity.  The weather forecasters are again overloading us with dire conditions to come, and it seems for today it’s another wolf cry of imagination.  Heck, if it’s gonna be cold, it should be snowing!

ImageHere is a photo of Cat’s most incredible hands working on her crocheted top at the show.  I’m so proud of her and her artistic abilities, especially this one.  I can hardly wait to see her wearing the finished project!  Everything she does is remarkable.  Today she was working in her enchanting studio dressing one loom and weaving on another during the day.  I love standing at the portal to her studio and just looking at such sources of wonderment.  We love our high mountain desert home and workplaces.


Kid ‘N Ewe 2013 DONE!

ImageHere is an extra special bench – a Crotch Walnut piece!  The buyer sat on it several times before buying.  It’s a wonderful example of what nature does for us to enjoy.  The show was a resounding success for me – so many happy and kind people.  I love visiting there as we have so many  friends and family in the area.  I was able to meet two nieces for the very first time – Christie and Bonnie.  Both are such wonderful ladies and I feel so fortunate to have that time with them.  They even volunteered to stay after and help break down and load out!  Of course, we had dinner afterwards – the “Hungry Horse” in Boerne, Texas.  Back home now I have a daunting backlog of orders to pull, pack, and mail.  Hurriedly as we leave Thursday for Silver City, New Mexico to attend the Fiber Arts Festival for the first time!  I have many wonderful customers in that part of the state – and it draws from far away too.  I’m honored to be accepted as a vendor there.  I’ll report next week.

And, Chuck has started assembly of my custom chopper – he’s referring to it as either “The Long Bike” or “The Buzzard”!  It won’t be long!

Thanks for looking, Jim.

Kid ‘Ewe 2013

ImageHere is a shot of part of my booth at the Kid ‘N Ewe event last year.  This show is held at the Kendall County Fairgrounds in Boerne, Texas – just North of San Antonio.  The show is a really wonderful one – so active and every person is always happy.  It’ll be the last show I drop if I ever quit doing shows.  There are a lot of benches in this photo.  I took many more than these – some had already sold – and I only took a few  home…  I love seeing how people check each and every one – look at the features – then “The One” speaks to them!  I tried a few feature on some of these benches – double stretchers between the legs.  It was a hit for sure, along with the special turquoise inlay I did in those woods with “Character”.  Such a joy to feature what nature does to woods.  I’m loading the truck and trailer today and tomorrow, leaving Monday at Dark Thirty.  We have a genuinely reliable house sitter keeping our place in good spirits.  Feedback to follow.  Well, the Silver City Fiber Arts Festival follows the weekend after Kid ‘N Ewe!


A Mini Squirrel!

ImageHere’s a photo of my newest creation – another tool that’s high on the “cute” factor!  This is a mini version of my Squirrel Cage Skein Winder – so handy for those little skeins you get to deal with.  It’s also easy to break down if  you’d like, or just store assembled on a shelf rather than taking up more floor room.  This tool is easy to use on a tabletop as it stands just 32″ tall.  The cages are 6″ wide and spin on brass shafts and brass  hardware.  I made the first very nice run and most have been sold sight unseen.  This old woodworker will be making a very large run soon after my two shows in November.

I show at the Kid ‘N Ewe event  in Boerne, TX November 8-10 followed the next weekend at the Fiber Arts Festival in Silver City, NM.  Visit me at these shows if you can – and all of the other fine vendors attending.   Both of these events are really neat and special.  I’ll be hustling in the shop till we leave.

ImageHere is a photo of Cat’s trike!  She took delivery last week and we’ve been riding when we can.  I’m still on the “Foster Harley” till my chopper is ready.  Chuck starts assembly of my chopper (The Buzzard) Thursday!  The air brush artist did such a magnificent job on the Turkey Vulture images on each side of the gas tank.  It’ll go well with the seat!  The color I picked is an extremely deep red that looks almost black in the shade yet brilliant red in the direct sunlight.  There are reds, blacks, violet, and other colors as well as Pearl and Metalflake.  I’m incredibly excited!  We’re so happy to be back on motorcycles.  Yes, we’re safe and will take it easy till we renew our skills.  Cat’s done so well learning the special features of riding a trike.    Fun in our High Desert Mountains!

Jim “The old Buzzard”


ImageHere is a bit of progress.  I have in these boxes full of  pieces that are  ready-to-sand for many items.  They include 450 blanks for small handles that I use for threading hooks, Bob Wire Tools, fetch hooks, and Tiny Turned Beaters.  Lots of lathe time coming!  I also have 350 blanks for tiny stick shuttles, 200 little beaters, 30 Navajo Forks, 50 Sam’s Seam Tools, and 90 1 x 12 shed sticks.  These “runs” of tools are planned for soon after my two November shows!  I’ll be doing the Kid ‘N Ewe event  in Boerne, TX November 8-10.  This is by far the show with the most fun!  Grady does such a grand job of organizing the show and I appreciate his efforts.  The following weekend I’ll be going to Silver City, NM for the Fiber Arts Festival – for the first time.  I appreciate it that it’s finally not on the same weekend as KNE.


ImageHere’s some major progress too!  This is the majority of the 175 mini reels I recently completed and boxed up for storage/shipment.  I’m now doing the bases, risers on the bases, and the axle finial in a square form!  It’s really interesting how it looks and those customers who’ve purchased them love the new look.  The rack is one I built just for  this purpose – and placed it in our 20 x 40 storage building.  This building is the very first construction project Cat and I did when we moved here 10-1/2 years ago.  I mean BUILT – with our own hands, including 22′ trusses.  I can store full lengths of steel in a rack I built in one end.  There is a garden storage section/room, large equipment storage, and so very many other things.


ImageHere are some of the pieces I use to construct the cages for my Squirrel Cage Skein Winders.  I’m doing 9 winders in this run – orders abound and I still have two shows next month!  It’s a great joy to make this piece of equipment, and they always look so nice!

More progress on my chopper.  All the pieces to be painted are fully body worked and primed.  Within a few days they will be painted with the rich deep red color I picked.  This evening I talk to the air brush expert who’ll be doing his radical magic for me!  Right now I believe that a Turkey Vulture neck & head will adorn each side of the gas tank!  Then, good clearcoat and the pieces go to Chuck Zettner at Dawg House Customs for assembly and producing the most beautiful chopper on Earth!  Chuck is an artist true with the most profound sense of integrity in craftsmanship I’ve ever known.  I remain so proud that he’s doing our custom work!

ImageCat’s trike is built!  Now we’ll arrange for Chuck to do  the custom things she wants.  The first increment will be the street legal and reliability things.  Later will be the other custom stuff.  We do have a trailer for this trike – so we’ll be able to carry quite a bit of stuff.  We could even deliver product if not too far or too large!  Just another opportunity to have great fun!


Back to work.  Work.  It seems inappropriate for me to say that – for there’s nothing I do that’s “work”…..  I spent an hour or so this afternoon chopping and bagging goat heads.  I don’t love the task, just the effect.  These thorns will not be penetrating our motorcycle tires!  Tomorrow I assemble the squirrel cage winder cages, make the axles, box that mass into pairs, then start the sawdust production to cut out the feet and frames of the winders.  I just love my “job”!  The jury is out on my shoulder as to the advantages of physical therapy or just go ahead and cut.  Torn tendons, arthritis, bursitis, and spurs……



Big Dog & Reels

ImageHere’s a photo of the pieces from my Big Dog that will be painted!  I’ll visit with Chuck Saturday at Dawg House Customs with the paint guy to pick the color and scheme.  It’s to be painted very soon, then Chuck busts butt to reassemble and make it ready for me to RIDE!  It’s been almost a YEAR.  I’m so happy I retrieved it from the shop from Hell…..  Next photo I’ll post of the bike is of the completed ride!  I’m SO anxious.  The only recognizable pieces of the original bike that can be ID’ed as Big Dog are the wheels and frame.  Chuck continues to amaze me with his phenomenal ideas and such professionalism.  He’s a Very Proud American Artist.

Progress on the big mini warping reel run continues.  Now, I’m working on machining the pieces for the cross assembly.  Once that’s done it’ll be Danish Oil time.  All of the other pieces to the reels are complete, though the frames aren’t assembled yet.  And, I’ve gotta make a kazillion UHMW washers for no friction when turning.   I’ll also be doing a few cross assemblies with pegs a big longer, just as a test.  Sally is the neatest person to help me with much of my finishing!

The new Redwood Burl slab has had some attention.  I’ve filled the cavities with epoxy and crushed turquoise, but no time right now to design and produce the skirts, legs, and stretchers.  I have a Very interesting idea about the rest of the table!  Gotta finish all of the mini reels first, though.  I’ve received another 50 kits to make more seam rippers too.  Perhaps highly figured Cocobolo will end up in many of them….  Several critical tools to make nice runs of before the November shows.  I’m ready!

I’m just having too much fun!  So many plans coming together at this incredible point of my life.


Little Reels

I’ve been rather busy since yesterday working on a big run of the little one-yard warping reels I started making in March.  Sales have been remarkable and I want to keep up.  The 150 now in-progress will hold my “attention” for 2-3 weeks.  Handwoven Magazine is going to do a product feature for their November/December issue.  Their review of my little looms last year was terrific – and I still get inquiries about them as a result.

I am using a new lumber supplier in Albuquerque – Albuquerque Hardwood Lumber Company at 4100 2nd St NW – they are a real quality company.  They provide quality service – unlike my former supplier whose lumber manager was crude, rude, insulting, and juvenile to everyone.  When I’d complain to others in the store, they would just chuckle and say that _ _ _ _  is pretty difficult.  I am NOT the only one who’s left.  Guess that my $35,000 in the past several years wasn’t enough for them to have any sense about customer service.  None of us have to tolerate such behavior, do we?

I was tired late yesterday afternoon after a day of making huge amounts of sawdust.  My most wonderful wife, Cat, helped me handling all of the 16′ boards of 4/4 and 8/4 Sugar Pine planks.  Without her assistance, I’d be at that cut-to-length of 400 board feet of lumber about a week longer than what we did in two hours!    In the afternoon as I was cutting the bases square on the table saw, a moment of carelessness on the LAST ONE!  First was ripping to width then turning it to make it square when I did not clear the blade on the turn.  The 2″ thick 8-3/4″ block caught the running blade – and was kicked back into my stomach and left wrist.  After a few minutes I was able to stand and assess my condition.  My stomach had a tough abrasion as did my wrist.  The wrist was severely swollen and the muscles, tendons, and tissue were significantly painful.  There was some tissue and skin loss in both injury areas and lots of red stuff.  Today both areas are rather tender and I have limited use of the left hand as a result.  I am so very thankful that this injury was not more severe!

I caution any person using power equipment to think thoroughly every time BEFORE they turn the power on and engage the work.  Embarrassment is a part of this experience – as is a great lesson learned:  many injuries occur on the last piece of a long run when inattention sets in.  The best way is not to omit the last step………….  Please note that even very careful woodworkers with more than 50 years of experience sometimes have omissions of safety.  If someone claims to be a very long term woodworker and has never been injured, they do very little work.  Think it through.  Your next mistake could cost you an eye, a limb, or your life!  I will NOT have a similar incident ever again….


‘Nuther Table Blank

ImageHere is another fine Redwood Burl slab that I acquired from Albuquerque Exotic Woods just yesterday.  Jake is the most kind and helpful person I’ve ever met in the wood business and I’ve grown to depend on him for fine specimens!  He’s about to open a radically larger store – and I look forward to shopping a much larger stock.

This slab is about 1-3/4″ thick and 22″ x 39″.  I’ll square the ends just a bit, but this one will look similar to the other Redwood Burl Table I made and posted below.  I chose this side to be exposed as it has more of  the bark inclusions – so appropriate for a bit of turquoise inlay.  I’m not sure what I’ll use for the skirt, legs, and stretchers, but am considering a treasured plank of Blue Mahoe that I’ve cherished for about 8 years.  Some woods I have are in suspended animation waiting to tell me what they’d like to be!  I also  have some remarkable bark included 2″ Bird’s Eye Maple, and some very densely figured 4/4 Bird’s Eye Maple that might like to be a skirt.  I have quite a number of very very special planks and boards waiting for special purposes.  This example of Redwood deserves accompanying very special woods.  I’ll post the results when I get around to designing and creating my next special table.  The best source of extremely high quality Maple on earth is Bell Forest Products in Ispeming, Michigan.  I was forturnate to visit their store a few years ago and managed to select about $3k of their finest.  The wood for the top of the wide bench posted earlier came from them.  Boone is so knowledgeable, too.

Photo: custom made bars with a boatload of pullback in them for a guy with a bad shoulder. pride in craftsmanship!

On another note, my very special custom chopper motorcycle is very well in-progress!  Yesterday I visited it at Chuck’s “Dawg House” and there it sits waiting for the rest of the parts.  I did pick out a nice tachometer/speedometer combination instrument – about 1-1/2″ x 6″ with rounded ends.  Chuck and Jeff did an astounding job on them!  They will be painted rather than chrome.  The bars fit very well with the overall smooth lines of the bike.  These custom handlebars are absolutely awe inspiring – so smooth and flowing back.  See the photo above.  Chuck referred to them as having “a boatload of drawback for a guy with a bad shoulder”.  He’s right – and I’m headed for an orthopedic specialist to see what can be done about my shoulder with bursitis, arthritis, and many spurs & floaters limiting movement.  That’s an important one for managing the clutch, you know!  While there several of the parts arrived.  The remainder will arrive early next week.  We’ll visit again next Friday to see it all assembled and ready for the final fitment.  The very next step is disassembly and going to PAINT!  I’m not totally settled on the color but it will likely be a radically deep dark red.  I’m SO anxious!  Cat’s trike kit is being manufactured by Lehman in South Dakota – very near Sturgis.  They’ll be doing the conversion to a trike – and when it returns our Majestic Motorcycle Magician, Chuck Zettner, will make it Very Special!  We are so fortunate to have this world class motorcycle expert!  I’m so proud!  More to follow perhaps next weekend – a photo or two of my ride just before paint!



Redwood Burl Table

Image ImageHere are a couple of photos of the table I wrote about recently.  The top is a slab of Redwood Burl that I acquired from Albuquerque Exotic Woods – Jake is a really neat guy who loves woods almost as much as I do…  The top is 2″ thick, about  18″ x 28″,  and sits 35″ tall.  A loose bark inclusion was present that went thru the top.  I soaked it with thin cyanoacrylic super glue then filled both sides with clear epoxy and crushed turquoise.  The legs and skirts are of very nice Bubinga and the stretchers ebonized dowels.  I finished it with Watco Danish Oil – and plan on putting several coats of Polyurethane on the top only.  While I’d love to have kept it, it sold while just a slab to a friend when she saw it as I explained the plan to do a nice table.  I’ll retain this really nice piece in my heart – and relive the joy of the process with photos.  I hope that everyone has this sort of connection with things they love to do. By the way, my custom motorcycle was fitted with very unique handlebars – fabricated by the builder – Chuck Zettner yesterday.  Tuesday I visit his shop for a fitment for exact placement of the handlebars and foot controls.  Soon I’ll be ordering the Vance & Hines pipes, rear tire, mechanical and electronic parts with the grips, and other parts for the next steps.  Chuck will be fabricating a small “Buzzard Catcher” for use as the air cleaner cover.  A “Buzzard Catcher” is the housing to gather air for extreme performance engines on drag racing engines.  How fitting for my developing ride!  I can hardly wait for the time to pick the color/scheme at paint time……  Chuck is the most remarkable artist with these builds.  I’m blessed to  have him to do mine. Jim