Cast Iron Candle Modified


Sunday, I spent most of the day stripping paint from the detail trim areas on the door with some Citri-strip and it worked pretty well. During which, I had time to play on the lathe while the stripper was working. Earlier in the week, Anna had tweeted (I think that’s where it was?) about some very cool cast-iron candle holders from IKEA. I really like cast-iron pieces, and these were very intriguing. So, on my way to scope the IKEA ‘as-is’ section, I saw them nearby and bought a couple sets. Once I got them home, I found the base was really rough (as you would expect), but were also hollow – so you couldn’t felt them either. I had plans for them on my credenza, but this way, they seemed to be perfect FFFs (Fine-Furniture Fuckeruppers). So, as I was messing around in the shop, I just figured I’d make some bases for them.

I tried experimenting, but realized simple might be best – Western Walnut, turned to mimic the cast-iron shape. I’d love to have them sans base, but until I have that dent-proof, marble-topped Knoll credenza, these will make do.

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Progress Update


As I have a couple unfinished projects in the works, I thought I’d just give a quick update post before Christmas. I was hoping to have more done by now, but have had an unexpected amount of client end-of-year projects thrown in to the mix.

First of all, thanks so much for everyone’s participation in the belt experiment! So exciting that all spots sold so quickly! I’ve started prepping the hide and cut some strips that will eventually be someone’s new pants-holderup. I created a handy form to keep everyone’s order straight and to make sure I give you the exact sizing you need. In case you didn’t get the form, you can retrieve it from here as well – Belt Measurement Form. I’ve gotten most of them, but if you are enrolled and haven’t returned yours, please do so soon. I’ll be sizing all of them early January.

On the barn-door hardware project – I’ve trimmed out the door opening so it masquerades as a plumb door frame, and it’s prepped for paint! This was a big deal, since I was quite confused on how to handle the wonky frame – even nearly ripping the entire thing out! Alas, I figured one thing would lead to another and I’d have a HUGE MESS on my hands trying to get it back to square.

As it stands now, things aren’t perfect, but that’s the spirit of a 100 year-old house, right? At least things line up visually, and that’s good enough for me. Also, it’s taken an extra long amount of time stripping paint off the door and that nearly drove me bonkers! I’ve been updating some small progress pics on flickr too if anyone is interested.

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Barn Door, Part1


I’ve said it before, and I’m saying it again… I have a really small house. My bedroom is not even 10×13, everything is cramped and I have a problem with the door swinging into my dresser. Also, the door likes to creep shut and when I’m going in and out of that room enough, it gets annoying. I usually prop the door open with a book, but then when I need to get into the dresser, I’m shoving the door and the book. Yes, I KNOW IT’S A WHINY PROBLEM, but still. So, with my talent of being able to justify anything, this is the perfect excuse to remove the door and install a sliding barndoor-style track. I’m splitting the post into two entries, this one to show the plan, and then I’ll show some how-two and the final install later.

Step one: Order your door track. I chose a medium-duty setup from McMaster-Carr. It’s unfinished galvanized steel, and I’ll probably paint it. Maybe? I’ve seen some really fancy tracks, but I like the raw look, and it was only $65 with $19 shipping. If you’ve looked at fancier track systems before, you’ll know you can drop A LOT of money.

Step two: Find a door. This is where you can make it interesting. Lots of great options to build a door out of a ton of different materials, but I decided to look for a vintage door of some sort. Thankfully Portland has an AMAZING place called the Rebuilding Center that is chock full’o awesome. I bought a vintage, solid wood door with antique safety-glass for $55. Apparently it was removed from a local college. Looks like Fir under the three coats of (quite possibly lead based) paint.

Next post will cover how to mount the track to the wall, assembling brackets to the door, and then hanging for the finished shot!

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Belt Making


I really love the way certain items break-in and wear in accordance to an owner’s habits and traits. I was (and kinda still am) crazy interested in the process of breaking-in raw denim. I love how wooden items change due to use. I’m dying to see some of my carpenter bags change and break-in over time. Ever see Børge Mogensen’s own brown leather couch? Leather has to be one of the materials I most adore. The way it breaks-in and takes shape and colors and character from how you’ve used it, is really intriguing. I also like tinkering with leather, so I thought of a great way to show you all something, AND start a dialogue about the break-in process and see how ordinary items can become uniquely a person’s own belonging.

I’ve decided to create a small batch of belts with untreated vegetable-tanned leather –then send them out into the wild to my readers to wear and make entirely theirs. As an untreated belt is worn, it will take on shape from the owner’s waist, belt loop location, and buckle use. It will take colors from the type of pants you wear, the denim dye, the things you rub against. Then there will be the option of choosing your own break-in method… slap it against a log, wear it into the ocean, hand-dye it, wax it… whatever you could think of. In the picture below, you’ll see my worn-in BillyKirk wallet, of natural un-treated leather.

I’ve already bought a half-hide of 10oz. leather and am getting some simple tooling soon. I’ve chosen a buckle and will give you all a couple finish choices, and you can pick your own length. It will be modeled after my favorite belt (pictured below), but each one will start as pure, natural color leather (in a 1.5in width). Because I’m not a beltmaker, and I’m not going to make this into a business, AND because there will likely be small imperfections, I’m going to make this small batch of 20 for the cost of materials and tooling. There’s ONE REQUIREMENT if you decide to take part in this… As you wear it, I want pictures in six months and then even later as it changes, and I will share these with our readers. Also, let us know if you did your break-in, and if you treated it in anyway. Hopefully you all are interested in this experiment like I am.

I’m going to open an item in the store on Friday December 10th at 11am and will have them on advance-order basis. I won’t be able to start making these until after my Christmas trip to Kansas, so know that you’ll be getting your belts sometime in mid to late January. Should something go horribly wrong and I make no belts, you will all get a full refund. I’m also allowing international shipping on these, because I don’t want to leave anyone out. Accepting advance-orders on this will let people choose their buckle finish (so I can order them) and belt size, and I’ll be documenting the make process to share with you as well.

Few rules to participate:

  1. Only one belt per order/address/PayPal account.
  2. These are not for resale.
  3. You must want to participate fully with a rigorous break-in and report back with photos and documentation.
  4. Please make sure to submit your buckle choice and size in the comments when ordering. Best way to measure is to put on your current favorite belt and measure from the belt hole you use, completely around your waist and back to that hole.

By the way, a great site about that denim thing is Denim Debate. Also, check out the episode about denim on Put this On … one of my favorite blogs.

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