Tyler Morris Woodworking Blog

Custom compass boxes

Written by Tyler Morris
Sat Jun 3, 2017

We recently finished 55 boxes for a local promotional products agency, Brandblox.  They supplied these to my alma mater, Colorado State University. They were faculty gifts and a 3" diameter compass was placed in each box.

They are made out of Colorado blue stain (beetle-killed) pine.  We used a pair of Soss brand solid brass barrel hinges and a Highpoint brand small box catch.  I highly recommend both of these products for making wood boxes.  Also, we used Donjer brand emerald green flock.


Permalink

Custom Recipe Boxes

Written by Tyler Morris
Fri May 19, 2017
We just completed an interesting job.  We made cherry wood recipe card boxes for 25 passengers boarding a luxurious, twelve day/nine city, private jet vacation.  Some of the cities that they will visit are; Poughkeepsie, NY;  Greeley, CO; Rockford, IL and Stockton, CA.  Sorry, just kidding. Actually, they're going to Paris, Copenhagen, Seoul, Florence, Tokyo, Chiang Mai, Hong Kong, Mumbai and Lisbon.  The passengers dine and learn how to cook in these cities. Then they make notes on 4x6 recipe cards and stick them in the boxes we provide.

Here's the journey overview on the TCS World Travel webpage:
"On this groundbreaking journey developed in partnership with world-renowned Copenhagen restaurant Noma, track the evolution of food, culture and creativity across Asia and Europe. Curated by René Redzepi and Noma, you’ll enjoy an insider’s look into the people, places, and products that are changing the culinary landscape of our world."
Permalink

Our new Craftsman Corbel

Written by Tyler Morris
Wed Feb 15, 2017

Introducing our Craftsman Corbel.  Its style compliments many related architectural designs such as; American Craftsman, Mission revival, American Arts and Crafts movement, Prairie School and California revival. Also, due to their simple and unadorned design, our new countertop corbels and shelf brackets are suitable for contemporary interiors.  Currently, we offer them in two sizes; Model 8 and Model 10 and two wood types; red oak and paint grade.

While visiting the "Arts and crafts movement" wiki page, I found this quote from 1893.  It still is pertinent today.

“The movement … represents in some sense a revolt against the hard mechanical conventional life and its insensibility to beauty (quite another thing to ornament). It is a protest against that so-called industrial progress which produces shoddy wares, the cheapness of which is paid for by the lives of their producers and the degradation of their users. It is a protest against the turning of men into machines, against artificial distinctions in art, and against making the immediate market value, or possibility of profit, the chief test of artistic merit. It also advances the claim of all and each to the common possession of beauty in things common and familiar, and would awaken the sense of this beauty, deadened and depressed as it now too often is, either on the one hand by luxurious superfluities, or on the other by the absence of the commonest necessities and the gnawing anxiety for the means of livelihood; not to speak of the everyday uglinesses to which we have accustomed our eyes, confused by the flood of false taste, or darkened by the hurried life of modern towns in which huge aggregations of humanity exist, equally removed from both art and nature and their kindly and refining influences.”

Walter Crane, “Of The Revival of Design and Handicraft”, in Arts and Crafts Essays, by Members of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, 1893

Permalink

Our shelf brackets vs. IKEA's

Written by Tyler Morris
Fri Jan 20, 2017


Occasionally folks call and ask me to explain why our Paint Grade Straight 8 shelf bracket costs $13, but IKEA has a comparable shelf bracket for a mere $4.

To the casual observer, our Paint Grade Straight 8 bracket and IKEA's EKBY VALTER
bracket are similar. However, here are some differences.


Ours are more substantial.
Our three bracket parts are 3/4" thick, whereas IKEA's are 5/8", plus our vertical member is 2" thick, whereas IKEA's is 1 1/4".  Despite ours being more substantial in size, I think both brackets are more than sufficiently strong.  A few years ago I loaded one of our shelf brackets with 500 lbs. and it did not fail.  Since IKEA's horizontal member and diagonal brace are let into shallow grooves, I suspect theirs will handle a large load as well.

Our finish is superior.
The IKEA bracket is unsanded and only some edges have been crudely eased with a 45 degree champher.  I would expect that most buyers would sand them a bit coming from the box. On the contrary, our bracket's edges are expertly rounded over and are perfectly sanded.  Occasionally I read that our customers inspect ours with intent to sand them, but they cannot find a single flaw.
Lastly, we drill our two screw holes through the vertical member deep enough to accept (included) button head plugs, whereas IKEA does not and you must accept the appearance of screw heads.

In conclusion, if you are buying brackets purely for economy and strength, perhaps you should choose IKEA's model due to their very low price.  But if you're looking for strength, dependability and perfect fit and finish; you should choose our brackets.  Plus our customer service is excellent and they are made in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Permalink

Corbel Business- The Evolution of our Cove Brace

Written by Tyler Morris
Mon Jan 9, 2017

In 2015, we "on paper" designed a new cove-style brace for our line of corbels for countertops and shelves.  It is similar to our concave brace design, except it looks "beefier" when viewed from the front.

However, there was a problem; we weren't confident that we could effectively produce them.  After some consideration, we dismissed the option of using the method that we use for our concave and convex braces for our corbels. Flush trim routing, also called pattern routing, would be too problematic and potentially dangerous because the cove brace does not have much surface area (it's 3/4" wide) and is too tall (1 5/8".)

So, we decided to use a "cold" laminating technique and build bending forms to glue and clamp six, 1/8" strips. But, after about two weeks of trial and error, I decided to quit the process because there were too many expensive and time-consuming problems to solve.

Next, Steve and I decided it was finally time to spend the necessary time and effort to create a method for flush trimming the parts by sanding.  After extensively researching the market for the sanding machine that we had imagined, we concluded that there was nothing available for our task. Steve decided that he could design a custom idler drum for our existing edge sander.  He had a machinist build it to his specs and attached a large bearing to the bottom of the drum, allowing us to efficiently flush trim sand our corbel parts.  To my knowledge, we are the only manufacturer using this technique. We will gladly discuss the details of this machine if you give us a call.

Despite being our most expensive brace option, the cove brace is now our best selling corbel design and my personal favorite.

Permalink

Pressed Leaf Memory Game

Written by Tyler Morris
Mon Aug 29, 2016

This summer, the kids and I made a few "Pressed Leaf Memory Games."  It was a very fun and rewarding art project that incorporated skills that anyone- young or old- can master, including; leaf identifying and collecting, rubber stamp carving, precise paper cutting and hand lettering.

Design Considerations

Before we started we had to make some decisions regarding the game's appearance and function.  We figured that a roughly 3" x 4" playing card would be a nice size and that laminating it would be the best choice for durability. We wanted the card backs to have art on them, but they all had to be nearly identical for fairness of play.  We also thought that a set of 24 (twelve pairs) would be a nice amount per set and that the leaves would be most interesting if they were different, thus emphasizing the variability among the species.

Laminating Pouches

Honestly, I find it unfortunate that I had to marry the leaf's natural beauty with plastic, but all things considered, it was the best choice. We searched the internet and found laminating pouches that measure 3 1/8" X 4 1/2".  They are intended to be used with inexpensive, home laminating machines that are available at many stores for about $30.

Leaf Collecting

Since the cards are relatively small we decided to pick "baby leaves" in the Spring.  We collected all the leaves during the first half of May 2016. There are few native broad leaved trees in Fort Collins, Colorado, so we mainly collected them from ornamental trees along the city streets and in our parks.  We collected leaves from many varieties of trees including; ginkgo, hawthorns, maples, oaks, aspen, cottonwoods, lindens, sweetgum, redbud, hackberry, pears, tuliptree, beeches, birch, alder, and believe it or not- many more. Also, using immature leaves allowed us to press compound leaves such as honeylocust, white ash, walnut, hickory, boxelder, and mountain ash. The leaves were then pressed in one of our wooden Leaf Presses

Paper

We used an 80lb. linen paper and cut it 2 3/4" x 4 1/8".

Rubber Stamps

Over the past few years, the kids and I have developed an interest in rubber stamp making and we figured that it would be a perfect thing for the back side of our cards.  The kids carved an owl, a kitty and a truck.  Since I'm giving the set in the picture to my mother, I decided to immortalize her pet chihuahua. We use carving rubber from Blick Art Supply.  We only use Speedball's #1 cutter and this handle.

Assembly

First, we stamped 24 of our sized paper backs.  Next, we each chose 12 pairs of leaves, and in our best handwriting, wrote the leaf name on the front.  Then we carefully placed the leaf on the paper, slipped it into the pouch, then finally through the laminating machine.  Note that we did not adhere the leaf to the paper because the lamination process keeps the leaf in place.  In case you've forgotten how to play Memory, here are the rules.

That's it.  We like to keep our sets rubber banded and not "put away" because visitors like to play or simply admire them. Have fun and if you have any questions feel free to contact me.

SaveSaveSave
Permalink

From January to May 2016, we made five projects for New Belgium Brewing.  NBB is located two miles away from our shop in Fort Collins, Colorado.

We made 150 "apple crates" for four four-packs of 16oz. cans of New Belgium's new offering, Side Trip Cider.  The sides and bottom are made of 1/4" thick, rotary cut fir plywood and the inside corners are hickory.  The crates were stained gray to resemble old, weathered wood.  This package will be for promotional purposes and will not be available in stores.

Permalink

New Belgium Brewery Project 4- Flight Paddles

Written by Tyler Morris
Mon May 16, 2016

From January to May 2016, we made five projects for New Belgium Brewing.  NBB is located two miles away from our shop in Fort Collins, Colorado.

We made 50 Flight Paddles for NBB's "Liquid Center" in Fort Collins and their new brewery in Asheville, North Carolina.  We packaged an additional 100 in individual boxes with four mini globe glasses for retail sale at the two locations.  They are made of hard, white maple.  What makes them unique are the custom made red acrylic cups which allows for easy cleaning.

Permalink

From January to May 2016, we made five projects for New Belgium Brewing.  NBB is located two miles away from our shop in Fort Collins, Colorado.

We made 50 arrow-shaped cutting boards as a promotion for NBB's new hard apple cider, "Side Trip Cider."  They are made of hard, white maple.

Permalink

From January to May 2016, we made five projects for New Belgium Brewing.  NBB is located two miles away from our shop in Fort Collins, Colorado.

We made over 300 lantern/bottle holders out of 1/8" and 1/2" baltic birch plywood for NBB's "Lost In The Woods" parties. The four sides were laser cut.  No tools necessary, the front panel is removable and slides down onto the box.

Permalink

New Belgium Brewery Project 1- Jockey Box Covers

Written by Tyler Morris
Mon May 16, 2016

From January to May 2016, we made five projects for New Belgium Brewing.  NBB is located two miles away from our shop in Fort Collins, Colorado.

When they asked us to make them, I was like "what the heck is a jockey box?" It's basically a cooler with tap handles. It allows beer to be served at events wicked cold.  The open-front wood cover doubles as a serving table.  Plus, it allows for three laser cut images for signage.  They are made of ash and have steel corner details.


Permalink

Blackboard Cabinet

Written by Tyler Morris
Fri May 13, 2016

Get organized! This impeccably crafted cabinet is suitable for an office desktop, craft table, or the kitchen counter- to name a few ideas. It can also be easily hung on a wall with two 1/4" screws (provided) placed through the back and into your wall studs.

Materials
The case and drawer fronts are made of beautiful American black walnut. The drawer boxes are made of 1/2" baltic birch plywood and feature an inset blackboard. The metal, ball-bearing drawer slides are "push to open", so you simply press anywhere along the drawer front and the drawer springs out about 4"! The finish is high quality, low sheen, clear lacquer.

Construction Details
The case has been plate joined or "biscuited" and screwed. The screw holes are filled with 1/4" diameter Peruvian walnut face grain plugs. The "proud" vertical inside edges have been 30 degree beveled, then charred with a blowtorch. The drawers are constructed similarly to the case plus has grooves in the sides for twelve, 1/8" Baltic birch dividers that are included. The drawer fronts feature an inset blackboard measuring 1 1/4" x 4". You may notice that this is the same "cut-out" as the handle in our serving trays.

Measurements
It measures 15 5/8" tall, 12 1/4" wide, and 14 5/16" deep. The drawer interiors are 9" wide x 11 1/16" deep. The top drawer has an interior height of 2 1/8" and the bottom three are 3".

We can also custom make similar cabinets by request. Please feel free to call Tyler at 970-690-0503.

Permalink

First of all, I've come to realize that the "academic" method of collecting, pressing and mounting botanical "specimens" is quite technical, yet fascinating. To describe it briefly, the collecting and pressing aspects are based on rigid, botanical standards; however, mounting the specimens is a combination of technical guidelines and artistic "license." I have attached a link below that describes the proper technique for preserving botanical specimens for museum databases.

On the other hand, the techniques Olivia and I employ are very easy. When Olivia and I go out specifically to collect leaves, we bring the press and blotting paper. We carefully choose 2 or 3 perfect leaves from a given tree, place them between the blotting paper sheets then clamp them in the press. If we don't have the press with us, we will place leaves between the pages of a phone book (the only good use for a phone book these days) then transfer the leaves to the press as soon as possible.

We empty the press after about one week. But, we typically don't mount the leaves at this point. We store our leaves between the pages of large, hard-covered books. Don't worry because at this stage the dried, flattened leaves will not damage your books.

When we're ready, we mount the leaves. We simply place a few dabs of white (Elmer's) or yellow glue on the back of the leaf, then flip it over on your paper. Then, use your fingers to clamp and smooth out your leaf.

We then like to write a note or two on the front or the back of the paper. These notes may include the common name, scientific name, shape description, date, location, or something personal; like, "My First Shantung Maple Leaf Found in Fort Collins!"

We then place the mounted leaf in an acrylic frame and stick it on the fridge or any metal surface. Also, Olivia frequently opts to turn her mounted leaves into birthday or friendship cards.Feel free to contact me if you have any questions because I love talking leaves (and baseball.) You may also contact Olivia. She too loves talking leaves (and cats.)

Resources:

"Plant Collecting & Mounting Guidelines" by Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Also, I recently purchased a museum quality, botanical specimen from Sarah Presogna in Philadelphia. I highly recommend her work and suggest you visit her site: https://www.etsy.com/shop/Ecobota

Permalink

Recipe Box Care Tips

Written by Tyler Morris
Sat Jun 6, 2015
Your recipe card box has been finished with an oil/varnish blend. We have chosen this "penetrating-type" finish as opposed to a "film" finish because it gives the box a more natural appearance and is easy to maintain. We suggest that you apply additional oil to your box about once a year. We recommend Watco Danish Oil, Minwax Antique Oil, or Deft Danish Oil. These brands are found in most hardware stores.

First, you may want to give your box a light sanding with 180-220 grit sandpaper to remove scratches or marks. Next, simply wipe on a light coat of oil, and about 5 minutes later, wipe off the excess. You may be wondering, "What if I never oil my recipe box?" Well, it will continue to perform just fine. However, it will look dry and lack the luster that results from additional coats of oil. Please consider the annual oil application a caring gesture. Enjoy.
Permalink

500 lbs!!!

Written by Tyler Morris
Sat Jun 6, 2015

In March 2008, we tested and photographed two of our corbels supporting 500 pounds each when uniformly loaded. The day began with Steve and Loren borrowing five, 100-pound discs from the gym around the corner from our shop in Fort Collins, Colorado. Then we realized that, despite having a 2500 square foot shop, we didn't have any suitable wall space to conduct our experiment. So we built a makeshift wall in the center of our assembly area.

We then attached a Maple Concave 10 corbel and a 3/4" X 16" X 16" plywood shelf to our wall with the same hardware we provide our customers. Loren and Steve very carefully loaded the shelf, one 100-pound disc at a time and... success. No broken corbels (or toes!). Next we tested and photographed our Maple Concave 14 and it too performed the task.

Permalink

Us vs. The Countertop Installers

Written by Tyler Morris
Sat Jun 6, 2015

I'm often asked, "Why don't you sell your corbels to the countertop installers, then they will re-sell them to their customers." Easier said than done. Why? From the information I have gathered over the past 10 years or so, countertop installers simply don't want to deal with corbels and have valid reasons not to want to include them with their service.

These reasons include:

  1. There are too many styles of corbels to choose from; there is a wide range of simple corbels and an even wider range of ornate styles.
  2. Many corbel designs are difficult to install easily.
  3. Wood corbels are typically unfinished.
  4. When mounting corbels to cabinetry, often the cabinet panels are too thin and require additional carpentry work to mount the corbels properly.
  5. How strong are the corbels? And if they fail and the countertop overhang subsequently fails, who's responsible?

Our simple approach is to have the countertop installers trust our product and service and ultimately refer their customers to us.

Permalink

How to Plan a Recipe Shower

Written by Tyler Morris
Sat Jun 6, 2015

First of all, let me be honest with you. Steve, Patrick, Tyler J., nor I have ever been to a recipe shower.

However, we have been making the finest wood recipe boxes available since 1998 and countless customers have told us that they have bought our recipe boxes for baby and bridal showers. Simply, they have all been a big hit!

So, allow me to tell you what we have learned from our wonderful customers. It's as easy as 1-2-3.

  1. The shower planner sends about 3-5 blank recipe cards with each invitation. She asks the guests to fill the cards with their favorite recipes.
  2. The shower planner orders a recipe box from us. She should also choose to have the recipe box laser engraved with the first name or (new?) initials of the bride-to-be or mom-to-be.
  3. The guests present her with the beautiful, stuffed, personalized recipe box. She and her family will cherish it forever.

We would love to hear about your recipe shower. If you email us a detailed account of your recipe shower, you will receive 15% off your next order. Please email us at tyler@tylermorriswoodworking.com.

"I just saw on  your web site that you want information about recipe showers.  Well here goes - My daughter was married 3 years ago and I purchased one of your recipe boxes for her shower.  The theme of the shower was palm trees - since they were going to Hawaii on their honeymoon.  I took the box to a trophy shop here and had a palm tree and Nicole's Recipes lasered on the top.  When I sent out the invitations I included a recipe card and asked guests to return their favorite recipe on the card along with the reply.
I organized the recipes and put them in their categories.  On the day of the shower the recipe box was displayed so that the guests, along with Nicole, could see the lovely box and the guests could see what we had done with them.
Several of my friends have ordered boxes from you to do the same thing - and I will be ordering one soon for my second daughter's wedding in July.
You do BEAUTIFUL work.  My daughter loves the box and especially all the recipes - that have proven to be delicious."
Permalink

Corbel and Shelf Bracket Finishing Tips

Written by Tyler Morris
Sat Jun 6, 2015

Your corbels/shelf brackets are completely sanded and are ready for you to finish.  Here are a few finishing tips:

  1. Our corbel/shelf bracket braces (the concave, straight or cove diagonal member) are attached with screws and no glue. If you'd like, you may unscrew these to facilitate the finishing process. Please place a mark (like, a number) on the end grain of the brace and the same mark on the "L" to designate matching parts and it will be easier for you to reassemble them later. Also, the corbel's/shelf bracket's "L" joint is screwed and glued, so don't attempt to disassemble this portion.
  2. If you opt to stain your corbels/shelf brackets to match your existing cabinetry, it may be obvious; but, we suggest that you start by ordering the same wood type. If we don't offer the wood type that you need, please give Tyler a call and he can discuss your options. Getting your stain to match perfectly can often be a difficult task, so we suggest you consider finding out what stain was used on your cabinets and hopefully purchasing some from the cabinet manufacturer. If this is not possible, you may want to bring a part of your cabinets (like, a drawer front) down to your local paint store and they may mix up a matching stain for you to purchase.
  3. We don't offer all of our corbels in a paint grade, sorry. If your corbel is not offered in paint grade, we suggest you purchase the maple model.  Our paint grade models may contain discolorations and/or non-structural, filled knot holes. The brace and mounting plate portion may be maple or poplar. The "L" portion is always maple. Both maple and poplar are "tight, closed grain" woods, ideal for painting.

Regarding countertop corbels:
Allow me to share a couple observations that I've made based on talking to customers and seeing pictures of their installed countertops. When customers mount their corbels to a half wall with a painted drywall finish, they tend to consider the corbels an architectural element (like the base molding) and therefore finish them to match their trim. On the contrary, when customers mount their corbels to a paneled island or peninsula, they tend to choose a finish that matches their cabinetry.

Permalink

Learn, Unlearn, Relearn

Written by Tyler Morris
Tue Apr 2, 2013

You gotta give credit where credit is due.

So, about 10 years ago I started using a wood finishing spray booth on the weekends while Sheldon used it M-F. Going into this arrangement, I was well aware that he was an uptight perfectionist plus super territorial, and I had to comply with his rules.

Sheldon is in his mid-forties and is best described as a good ol' boy; which ain't a redneck, you know. Billy Carter once proudly described the difference between a good ol' boy and a redneck: the redneck throws his empty beer bottles out the window of his pickup truck but the good ol' boy tosses them in the back. But, perhaps this isn't the best analogy for Sheldon because he doesn't drink. Anyway, Sheldon deserves credit due to his methods of work. I recognize that these three methods I'm going to describe are specific to the woodworking industry and are extremely mundane, but bear with me.

The Stir Stick

"What a stupid thing to do." That's what I originally thought about Sheldon's precious stir stick that he's used forever. The stir stick gets used only when a new five gallon bucket of clear lacquer is opened, which occurs about every four days. I half-listened to him saying something about wiping off the stir stick with one paper towel (half-used preferably). He then pointed to a screw on the side of his workbench, "and always hang it back here." At first, I was like, whatever. I have been stirring buckets of lacquer for about 10 years prior, and the beautiful thing about working in a woodshop is- there are stir sticks wherever one looks. Just grab a piece of scrap, stir then throw it away.

The Staining Board

Then I was introduced to his staining board. It's just a 2 foot by 8 foot piece of ¼" thick, white melamine. He places the smooth, non-absorbent board atop his worktable and uses it whenever he stains cabinet doors. I was critical because I had always thought that staining should be done on scrap cardboard. The cardboard soaks up the excess stain and then you just throw it away after each job. On the contrary, Sheldon preaches that if you apply the proper amount of stain, you don't have to be concerned about the excess. At the end of the job, he cleans the board with about an ounce of lacquer thinner then he leans the board against the outside wall of the spray booth.

"Disposable" Rubber Gloves

It recently came to my attention that Sheldon hardly ever throws away his ten cent, blue nitrile rubber gloves. "Only after I wear one out and it develops a hole, do I throw it away," he told me. On the other hand, when I would do messy staining jobs, frequent interruptions would cause me to take my rubber gloves off often and I would throw the soiled pair in the garbage and get a new pair when I started back up.

Once again, I'm fully aware that these woodworking methods are hugely ho-hum; however, Sheldon's methods deserve credit or more accurately his habits deserve credit. When I asked him if he's an environmentalist he replied, "I don't know. But, I do know that I hate wasting stuff. I suppose I'm just a cheap bas%@#!"

Hey wait a minute, I deserve a little credit also. Allow me to toot my own horn briefly in order to make a point. But first, allow me to share a quote by Alvin Toffler, "The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn." Well, I had tolearn how to use that stupid stir stick. I had to unlearn the thought that I had to stain on absorbent cardboard. And I had to relearn that I had to take an extra ten seconds to put on a used pair of "disposable" gloves. Thanks, Sheldon...

Permalink

A Recent Facebook Post about our Customer Service

Written by Tyler Morris
Sun Mar 17, 2013

Tyler posted this on Facebook:

"A couple weeks ago we sent a customer the wrong order. He called us up to inform us of our error. He was very reasonable and we promptly sent him the correct order and arranged to have the incorrect package picked up the next day by UPS. So, I just received a note from him. He mentioned that he received the correct (corbels) this time and he loves them, blah, blah, blah. But strangely, he concluded his note, "Thanks for the great service." Great service? We got his order wrong! Maybe great service is merely being a seller who is responsive and competent (50% of the time.)"

We received many positive and informative responses including this one:

"In my days as a corporate VP, I often heard myself saying, 'We don't have 100% control over everything that happens in our business. We DO, however, have 100% control over our response.' It's amazing how forgiving a customer will be, if only you take responsibility for mistakes, and go out of your way to make things right. Long story short: I actually had a report run, showing that customers who DID have a problem, and who DID interact with our Customer Service Department, actually placed MORE orders, over the following year, and spent MORE $$ than customers who didn't have a problem that lead them to Customer Service. We'd given them faith that -- if something went wrong -- we'd do what it took to make it right. Seems like a lost philosophy. Good for you for finding it, again."
Permalink

Amazon.com Best Selling Corbel

Written by Tyler Morris
Sun Mar 17, 2013

Cutting Boards as Corporate Christmas Gifts

Written by Tyler Morris
Sun Jan 13, 2013

Cutting Boards as Corporate Christmas GiftsIn November 2012 we were commissioned by Justin Larson of Vaught Frye Larson Architects (VFLA.co)  to make 22 custom cutting boards.  They are made of maple and walnut and measure 13" x 19" x 1".  Justin designed them and VFLA gave them as Christmas gifts to their clients.  We were very enthusiastic to work on this job because we think that engraved cutting boards are one of the most functional corporate gifts. 

Permalink

The Mystery Tree

Written by Tyler Morris
Wed Dec 19, 2012

While riding my bicycle, no-handed, at 7 am on a Saturday in July, I first noticed this tree while looking around at everything but the totally familiar road in front of me.  "Cool.  A sweetgum.  I'll look at it more closely tomorrow," I thought while speeding by.  Honestly, I have never seen a sweetgum tree, however I distinctly recall their starfish-shaped leaves from my Dendrology class in college back in 1992.  I was positive that it was a sweetgum, and I was happy to know that my first sighting happened right across the street from Library Park, historically my favorite place to spend time with my daughter, Olivia.  

The next morning at 7 am, I leaned on my bars and braked in front of the tree to take a closer look.  "Huh... two-winged samaras?"  I thought that two-winged samaras, or helicopters, were exclusively a feature of maples.  "Surely, sweetgums must be related to the maples," I convinced myself.

So, that night I did some research on sweetgum.  I went to Wikipedia's entry about Liquidambar Syraciflua and it states,"The leaves are rich, dark green; smooth, shiny, and star-shaped."  The leaves pictured looked almost exactly like the leaves of "my" tree.  But... "the fruit is a woody multiple capsule...popularly called a gumball"  No two-winged samaras in the sweetgum description...anywhere.  Meanwhile, I was keeping a very interested Olivia abreast with my developments.  "It's a Mystery Tree," we concurred.

For the next couple weeks I spent a few minutes each night doing research on maple leaves and potentially mutant varieties of sweetgum -mainly looking through Google images- with no success.  I enlisted the help of my friends who also loved trees- or just loved a good caper. Then, my landscape architect friend, Arthur Fairburn, came by my shop and confidently told me that the Mystery Tree is no longer a mystery.  He was sure it was a Trident Maple.

Five years ago, Arthur had taken a tour with Fort Collins' city forester and he distinctly recalls the group stopping in Laporte Avenue's median in front of Washington's Bar.   The city forester said, "These are three examples of my favorite type of tree in Fort Collins, these are Trident Maples,"  And he went on and on about it's shade tolerance, it's lack of surface roots, it's beautiful shiny green leaves and other virtues.  So, seemingly the mystery had been solved.  But, since we had an internet connection close at hand, we did a quick "Fact Check," and right away, we knew that this wasn't the correct ID.  One after another, the Google images were showing three-lobed leaves, not five.  And then our Latin 101 finally kicked in.  "Of course the Trident has three lobes!"

Arthur was deflated and felt betrayed by the city's "expert."  But strangely, I was relieved.  I was enjoying this mystery and I wasn't ready for it to end.  In the following days I got calls, texts and emails from my dutiful friends.  "It's gotta be a Korean maple," said Andy.  Greg said, "definitely a Chinese maple."  I would proceed to do a 10 minute Google image check... then I had to return their messages with "nice try."

For the next few weeks, I took a look at the Mystery Tree every morning. I think it reinforced my desire to ride my bicycle daily; surely, I wouldn't drive to it and then pull over and then park the car and then get out and then walk up to it.  Then, one late August morning, Andy told me that he was having lunch with theTom Throgmorton.  Tom has had a plant advice radio show on KUNC for 20 years.  Andy excitedly told me that Tom agreed to take a look at the tree and identify it after their lunch.  I said, "Cool.  Thanks."  But, my instincts told me that if today was the last Mystery Tree day, I was going to be the one to ID it.  So, I dropped what I was doing and did some more internet based research in earnest. 

The funny thing is; this time, under pressure, I solved the mystery in 10 minutes!  Turns out it's a Shantung maple (Acer truncatum) and it's native to Northern China.  I told Olivia and asked her if she could help me remember the name Shantung.  She agreed and asked,  "are there more in Fort Collins?"

The calendar flipped to September and I was feeling anxious to investigate other Shantung maples and get a look at other unusual deciduous trees before the leaves started to turn.  I recalled hearing years ago that our City Park had a "Self Guided Tree Tour."  I called their office and they told me that they have a complementary, 5-page handout consisting of a map and list of 220 trees. It was a gorgeous fall day and I cut out of work a bit early and went to the park to get my pamphlet.  I skimmed through the list of trees and to my surprise, saw "Shantung maple C119" on the list!  I quickly found it and at a glance it confirmed my identification of the other.  When I returned home, I told Olivia that I found Shampoo maple #2.  "Awesome.  But it's called Shantung, Daddy."

The next day, out of curiosity, I went to check out the three Trident Maples in Old Town that Arthur told me about.  Instead, I was shocked to see a trio of Shantung maples!  So, Arthur's memory was correct!  But, the city forester's ID was wrong, but I can forgive him. So, just 6 blocks from my house...#3, #4, and #5.

At some point during the summer, I made a parallel between my Shantungs and Steve's asparagus.  So Steve, whom I've worked with for 14 years, would spend some time each day after work to find wild asparagus.  All casual observers, including myself, would ask him the same question, "Why do you waste your time looking for asparagus when you could just go to the store and buy a bunch?"  Steve would reply, "It's the search that I enjoy."  I can relate.  Furthermore, I think Steve's simple philosophy should be practiced more often these days by children.  Obviously, our lives are crowded with stuff that will help us achieve instant gratification.  For example, there's a possibility that the City of Fort Collins has published a  map depicting all the trees in our city, potentially showing us where each Shantung maple is located.  However, Olivia and I are opting to locate them ourselves and create our own map.  And who knows?  We could possibly develop other passions, like bird watching or identifying insects. I think it would be cool if we could find Shantung #6 and then Olivia notices a Praying Mantis on one of it's branches and then a Western Tanager flies by and lands on another branch.

The autumn was sunny and warm and clung on- as did the leaves on the deciduous trees- so, with every opportunity, I would frantically seek Shantung #6.  And while bicycle commuting, I would crane my neck searching.  This dangerous practice almost caused me to smash into a pretty college girl; seemingly, the same pretty college girl that caused me to rubberneck and crash my bike into a parked car twenty years earlier.  On a side note, I no longer gawk at the pretty college girls since I have taken Jerry Seinfeld's advice, "It's like looking at the sun. You don't stare at it!  You get a sense of it.  Then look away!"  

Unfortunately, Olivia and I never did find another Shantung in 2012. It's now winter and the list remains at five. Perhaps another Mystery Tree will burst buds in the spring?  We hope so.
Permalink

Installing Corbels with a Backer Board

Written by Tyler Morris
Sun Oct 21, 2012

If you are not content with the locations of your wood or steel studs in an existing wall, you may install a "backer board."  

This customer-submitted photo depicts a 3/4" x 11" backer board under his countertop. The backer board gave him the flexibility to attach his corbels wherever he desires.  He gave the board's edges the same profile (1/8" radius) as the edges of his Maple Concave 10 Corbels


Permalink

Building Boxes with "Continuous Grain"

Written by Tyler Morris
Sun Oct 14, 2012
Walnut Recipe Box Splines

Making a wood box with continuous grain shows that the maker selected the box parts with care and pride.  In this case, "continuous grain" means that the box sides consist of one board and the parts are assembled in order -allowing the grain pattern to wrap around the corners.  At Tyler Morris Woodworking, we have created a very simple jig for organizing this task and we feel that it’s worthy of note.

Read More

"Whew. I'm so glad I found your corbels."

Written by Tyler Morris
Sat Oct 6, 2012

Seemingly every day I get a call from a customer who more or less rambles, “I’m so glad I found your store because I did a Google search for “corbels for granite countertops” and at first all I found were these corbels that have lion heads and the kinds with angels and acanthus leaves and Greek gods, but honestly, they’re really neat because they’re, like, hand-carved- but, I don’t live in a museum- actually I live in a modern home and I certainly don’t need those ones with grape leaves or those corbels with fire-breathing dragons under MY countertop.”

 

 

Permalink

Carved Walnut Tray #1

Written by Tyler Morris
Sun Sep 9, 2012

This is a great way to utilize "shorts," meaning, the board ends that don't go into a primary project. The tray measures 1 3/8" x 6 3/4" x 10 3/4". The bottoms and sides of the "reservoirs" have been intentionally randomly carved for texture. This is the first carved out tray and I intend to make more. This is a gift for my daughter, Olivia. She had fun collecting a variety of oak acorns, as well as the nuts from a buckeye tree.
Permalink

Two Custom Brackets

Written by Tyler Morris
Fri Aug 24, 2012

 

Completed two custom oak brackets today.  The customer wants to place an 1 1/2" dowel atop the mounted brackets, then drape a flag over the dowel.  I suppose this design will work well for quilts too.  The flag/ quilt brackets measure 2" wide x 10" tall x 8" deep.

Permalink

Branding Iron

Written by Tyler Morris
Sun Jul 15, 2012

Customers often ask us how our logo is engraved on the bottom of our wood recipe boxes and serving trays.  The answer is, we use an electric branding iron.  We had the custom branding iron made in 1998 by a company called Brand New. We keep it mounted in an old drill press.  The drill press has a broken motor, however, that's just fine.  We don't want the drill press to drill - just press.  We burn our logo into the bottom parts of our trays and boxes before final assembly.  This process allows the logo to look crisp and align nicely.

 

 


Permalink

Walnut headboard and side tables

Written by Tyler Morris
Sat Jun 16, 2012

 

A local, custom job.  The headboard and side tables are made of solid walnut.  

For more info and pictures, please see this Facebook post.




Permalink

The High Park Fire

Written by Tyler Morris
Tue Jun 12, 2012

 

4pm Sunday, June 10, 2012. Hardly a cloud in the sky. The light shining through the shop's skylights is an eerie, glowing orange color. 

 

This is Day 2 of the largest fire in our county's history.  View to the West from the shop. Feeling sorry for all the folks and animals affected. 

Permalink

"New and Improved!" Henckels cabinets

Written by Tyler Morris
Sat May 19, 2012

We recently completed 20 Cutlery Display Cabinets for Zwilling J.A. Henckels.  J.A Henckels is a knife manufacturer based in Solingen, Germany.  They are one of the largest and oldest (since 1731!) manufacturers of kitchen knives, scissors, cookware and flatware.

You may be wondering, "Why is a small, 4-person shop in Colorado making display cabinets for a famous brand from Germany?"   Well, here's the story.  In 1999, The Cupboard, our local kitchen specialty store, asked us to make a display cabinet larger than the ones Henckels were providing.  They desired the cabinet to display knives on magnetic knife bars and knife block sets, plus provide storage for back stock.  After a few meetings and sketches, we designed the current  cabinet.  Then, shortly after we installed three of these cabinets in The Cupboard, the regional Henckels sales representative noticed a spike in sales and notified their headquarters in New York.  They then took a chance with us and we have maintained a great relationship since.  The original version was made from Baltic Birch plywood and had a clear, lacquer finish. The second version featured "Studio Teak," a laminate with a walnut appearance.  Lastly, the third and current version is made from "Leave Likatre" laminate.

Interestingly, in 1731 Peter Henckels registered the "Zwilling" (German for "Twin") logo with the Cutlers’ Guild of Solingen. This makes Zwilling one of the oldest trademarks in the world.

Permalink

A Sam Maloof Rocker

Written by Tyler Morris
Tue May 8, 2012

A customer recently sent us a photo of his installed shelf brackets. The exciting part is, there's also a Sam Maloof rocker in the picture! For more information about Sam Maloof, check out his wiki page. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Maloof



Permalink

Loft Bed

Written by Tyler Morris
Sun May 6, 2012

Loft bed for Olivia, Tyler's daughter. It's made of sixty 8' dry, hem-fir 2x4's finished to 1¼" thick. The posts are 3" wide , the rails are 6" wide, and the stair members are all 9" wide. The rails are joined to the posts with 18 custom made angle brackets. The loft bed has been finished with milk paint plus 3 coats satin lacquer. The stairs were Olivia's idea from the start. Who wants to climb down a ladder in the middle of the night?

For more info and pictures about Olivia's loft bed, please see this Facebook post.

 




Permalink