A few months ago I wrote blog post about selling my Pennsylvania Secretary on Facebook Marketplace. Some of you commented that the $1800 I listed it for was way too low, but I knew that these types of furniture are not very popular anymore.
After a few weeks of it being listed and not getting any bites, I lowered it to $400. Even then, I only had one person contact me about it. The person was asking if it was a real antique or not. After I told him I made it, he never responded back. So it just sat out there with very little fews and no likes.
My wife was sick of the piece sitting in the garage so I decided to contact a local online auction company. After I sent them a few pictures, they responded that they would love to sell and I should bring it down to their warehouse.
When I met the owner of the company, he swooned over it. He thought the desk was the coolest piece of furniture he had seen in a long time. He even told me that he was going to feature it as his beauty shot for the auction.
I woke up this morning and checked my email. Sure enough, there was my secretary on the front of his email. I’ll get 60% for whatever it sells for which probably won’t even come close to the amount it cost me to make back in 2004.
Here’s the link to the auction. The desk is lot No 27. My guess is that it will sell for under $500. What’s yours?
I built this Pennsylvania Secretary back in 2004. It was an article in Fine Woodworking Magazine by Ronnie Bird. I fell in love with the idea of making a piece as complicated as this with it’s intrical cubbies and drawers.
The door panels and desk lid were all sliced from a single piece of 2″ thick walnut. I sliced the wood by hand with my hand saw because the 13″ width of the wood was too wide for my band saw that could only rip stock 12″ wide. I remember it being a major pain the ass.
I used a bread board edge on the lid so that it wouldn’t warp. The joint works well because seventeen years later, the lid is still perfectly flat.
I cut the curvature of the drawers on a band saw and smoothed them with my oscillating drum sander. The panel on the small door was a piece of crotch walnut.
There are a few hidden compartments inside the desk where I kept my silver dollar coins that my Mom gave me before she passed away. The columns slide open to keep important documents but I never stored anything in them.
The drawer fronts were sliced from a single piece of curly walnut that I laminated onto a walnut substrate for each drawer. I cut the cabriolet feet on the band saw and then glued each side together.
The lid opens up to act as a working desk but it actually sucks as a desk. The lid is too high off the ground for my liking.
I built the sides and case with 7/8″ thick walnut with red oak secondary wood. I used red oak because I had a boatload of it when I bought a bundle of it from the company I used to work for. They sold it as oak fence boards so the quality of the wood was not the best. I didn’t care because it was seconday wood but it made the piece extremely heavy. I should have used white pine or poplar instead.
I used plywood on the back and drawer bottoms because the expense of making it was getting out of hand. I paid over $600 for all of the brass hardware and the walnut cost me over $800.
As nice as this piece is, it’s been used as a junk drawer all these years as we just store a bunch of crap in it. I used to store my cd collection in the top cabinet but I sold a lot of them a few years ago on half.com when I was uploading my collection into a digital format.
The secretary has been sitting in our garage ever since we got hit with the tornado last year. After the tornado, we had to take all of our furniture out of the house and into pods in our driveway while our house was being put back together. When everything was done, we never brought it back into the house because it’s too big and heavy to move.
I currently have it for sale on Facebook Marketplace for $1800 but I’ll be surprised if anyone buys it. It’s not an antique so it doesn’t have any value in that way and no one buys big pieces of furniture like this anymore. I may have to donate it or just keep it in the garage.
The secretary was fun to make, but I wouldn’t make it again. All it’s good for is to take pictures and show people “look what I made.”
UPDATE 7-16-21. After zero bites on Marketplace for weeks, I lowered to $500. We’ll see if it sells.
If you follow my blog, then you know that my wife and I have a couple of booths in antique malls where we buy and sell antiques. Occasionally we’ll buy old furniture and fix it up. This is a buffet we found at a yard sale for dirt cheap. It had some issues, but the price was too good to pass up, plus I knew I could make it usable again.
The first issue I had to take care of was the stretcher on the bottom looked like a dog gnawed on it.
The easiest thing to do was simply cut it off. Since Anita was going to paint the piece, I wasn’t too concerned about the dowel cut offs showing. Removing the stretcher didn’t cause the buffet to lose any stability.
The biggest issue the buffet had was the runner on the large drawer on top was completely broken off. There was no way to properly repair it so I decide to make a new one out of some scrap wood.
I milled a new piece to size and then used my Stanley No 45 plane to plow a 1/4″ groove down the middle on both edges.
I then cut a wide groove down the face of the piece with my table saw and cleaned it up with my router plane.
With a tenon cut on the end of the piece and a rabbet cut on the other end, the new piece worked perfectly in the old drawer. I tacked down the runner to the back of the drawer with a couple of small nails.
After the drawer was fixed, I shaved down the edges of the doors with a block plane so that they would close better. Once the buffet was functional again, Anita painted the piece with milk paint.
You can see how the milk paint gives the buffet old world character. This piece should sell quick in the booth.
A few weeks ago, my wife and I, were visiting thrift shops in Cincinnati when we ran across a round walnut table for $20.00 at Goodwill. There was nothing special about it. It had a dull flat finish and was missing the extension wings that go in the middle. It even had two feet that were broken. Anita asked me if I could remake them and I told her I could, so we took it home.
In order to fix the feet, I grabbed some scrap walnut and glued pieces to them to re-sculpt the feet.
Once the glue dried, I cut the arch of the foot with my band saw, then I sawed off the sides with a hand saw.
Next, I stuck the leg on the lathe and turned the pad of the foot.
I then brought the foot over to my workbench and carved the rest of the foot by hand using chisels and rasps.
After shaping the foot was complete, I started to sand the leg with 80 grit sand paper working down to 220 grit.
With the foot finished, I was happy with the way it turned out as it matched the other two. I then repeated the same steps for the other broken foot.
Noticing the top was solid walnut, I decided to sand off the dull stained finish. You can see how bland the table was when we bought it.
A few minutes of sanding, the table was really starting to shine again.
After applying three coats of hemp oil, you can see how the table has been brought back to life having much more character between the sap and heart wood of the walnut. Looks much nicer than the boring spray toner stain that was on it before. This piece will be a nice addition in my wife’s booth as a display table.
Earlier this year my territory changed for my job and I acquired the Lowe’s in Morehead, KY as one of my accounts. Whenever I would drive down to that Lowe’s, I would always drive by the Harold White Lumber Co. I was always impressed by the amount of logs the mill had on its lot, but I saw no showroom or retail office, so I always kept driving. That was until a few weeks ago, when I decided to pull in and see what the place was all about. I figured the worse thing that could happen is they would tell me they only sell to wholesale accounts and kick me out.
I stopped at the mill work office and asked if they sold to retail customers. They said they did, but I would have to drive over to the lumber office so, I got back into my car and headed down the driveway to another office. There I met the office manager who asked what type of wood I was looking for. I said “nothing at the moment, just wondered if you sell to retail customers”. She gave me their price list and asked the plant manager to show me around the mill. He took me where they keep the short stacks of lumber with loads of cherry, oak, wormy maple and poplar. He told me that the 4/4 poplar was only $.80 board foot. I usually pay $2.20 for 4/4 poplar at my current lumber yard in Cincinnati. I would have bought some that day, but I didn’t bring any cash with me plus, I was just looking for info at the time and had no intention of buying anything anyway.
The mill is huge with thousands of logs on their land. I looked at their price list and they carry all the major domestic species, but they also have basswood, sycamore, sassafras, hemlock, and coffee tree. I was told by the office manager that they don’t always have the rare species in stock, but if you call ahead, they may be able to mill some up. You can even buy a whole log if you want to mill the wood yourself.
So today, I went back and I told the same office manager I was interested in the four-foot shorts. She had an employee follow me back to the area they keep them so they could load it in my car. The last time I was here, this whole area was stacked with bundles of lumber. The guy told me that the shorts don’t last long. They even have a big dumpster where people can dumpster dive for one to two foot long boards.
I came home with 20 board feet of 4/4 FAS White Oak for $30.00 for a whiskey barrel coffee table my cousin wants me to make for her. The wood should be enough to make the base and top of the table as I already bought a halved whiskey barrel last weekend. The next time I go back, I’m going to stock up on poplar, maple, cherry, and walnut. It’s nice to have place where I can buy hardwood lumber dirt cheap.
I built this cabinet nearly fifteen years ago and every few years I end up updating the tools that go inside it. It’s been about three years since I updated it, so I decided it was time for a change.
As you can see in the photo below, at one time I loved MicroPlane rasps. I stuck everyone I owned onto the left door. While they are nice rasps to use, I decided to delegate them to a nearby drawer instead. The Stanley short box handsaw had to go as well. I never used it, so it was pointless to have it take up so much valuable space.
This is how the cabinet looks today. Over the years I’ve been learning a lot more about hand saws, so my collection of usable hand saws that I have restored has grown. I knew I wanted to incorporate them into the cabinet somehow which is one of the main reasons I decided to redesign the tool cabinet.
Hanging on the top of the left door, I have a E C Atkins rip saw that I made a new handle for it out of cherry, and a short Superior panel crosscut saw. In the middle is my original Lie-Nielsen dovetail saw I bought twenty years ago. Below it is another dovetail saw and two Disston back saws, one filed to saw rip and the other filed for crosscut.
I stuck my hammer on the right side by my Stanley No 8 jointer plane. By the hammer, I hung a couple of bevels and a Nobex square. Underneath the screwdrivers on the right door is where I hung more measuring tools. Since I’ve updated this cabinet numerous times over the years, if you look closely, you can see where the oak veneer has been torn off the plywood substrate. To conceal the damage, I stained the entire inside of the cabinet with Nutmeg Gel Stain. Thank God I didn’t make this thing out of African Mahogany as I have no qualms about damaging oak plywood.
The left side of the cabinet is where I stock a lot of my spokeshaves and Stanley No 66 Beader. I’d like to build a little rack for all my blades for my beader, but that will be another project for another day.
The middle of the cabinet was left untouched as there’s really no room to do any changes. Maybe the next time I update my tool cabinet, I’ll make room for all my Festool accessories. haha
I’m a little too embarrassed to post this but I figured I should. I always thought I would be one of those SawStop owners who would own a SawStop for thirty years and never had to use the safety trigger. Today put an end to that dream.
I was ripping a piece of 3/4″ walnut 1″ wide when the next thing I knew I heard a large bang. I looked and saw the blade was gone. I backed away from the table saw and looked at my left thumb. Somehow my thumb caught the blade. I wish I knew how I did it, but it happened so fast I’m not entirely sure how. I wasn’t rushing and I was paying attention to what I was doing, even using a push stick.
I was using my left hand to gently hold the wood away from the blade and using my push stick with my right hand pushing the wood through. I think what happened is right before I got cut, I felt some vibration in the wood and it caused my left hand to slide into the blade. I mean, it had to have happened that way. It’s only logical explanation of how I got cut. I just can’t believe how fast it actually happened.
The damage to my thumb is not that bad. The blade took a chunk of skin off and ripped my fingernail but no stitches are required. I can’t even imagine the damage that would have been caused had I not owned the SawStop. More likely I’d be in the emergency room tonight trying to have the top of my thumb reattached.
After I got my thumb taken care of, I took the cartridge and blade out of the saw. I’ll have to go buy a new cartridge tomorrow at Rockler and use another blade but it’s still far cheaper than an emergency room bill. I think my table saw has just paid for itself!