Molina Restaurant Commision

I recently was commissioned to build two custom pieces for a new restaurant called "Molina" opening in Mill Valley next month.  The Chef / Owner, Todd Shoberg, found my blocks online and got in touch with me to see if I could scale up the design and build a work table for his restaurant.  I hadn't done it before but had considered the possibility so we decided to give it a shot. 

First I built an 8-foot long by 25-inch deep work table for the back bar.  This was going to be the only piece at first but the restaurant designer walked in while I was oiling the top and liked it so much that he canceled the plan to build a zinc-top bar and asked if I could do a 13-foot section in a week.  In my head I was thinking "well..." but I heard myself saying "sure, no problem".  So I drove back to the East Bay and began milling lumber immediately for the new piece.  Weekend plans were canceled and I charged until 10pm every night that week to get it done.  

Four days later I had a 13-foot-long, book-matched, end-grain walnut slab with 4 logo embossed brass plugs sitting on saw horses in my wood shop.   I was tired but proud.  I had to build two new jigs and develop a new clamping and joinery technique to make the piece possible.   I have never seen an end-grain piece of this magnitude except for the beautiful, but thoroughly cracked, front door to the BDDW show room in Manhattan, which is subject to the severe weather fluctuations of NYC (polar vortex anyone?).  But the glue joints are all solid and I have attached the slab to a sub-top in a way that will allow up to one-inch of movement in any direction.  This seems very conservative considering the finish will lock in/out moisture and the humidity in Mill Valley is relatively stable throughout the year.  

I look forward to visiting the restaurant frequently to check-in on how the end-grain slab is faring and, while there, enjoy some delicious Shoberg cuisine.  

Three sizes:

The three sizes of end grain butcher block I offer.  here they are shown in American White Oak still waiting for there brass plugs and a coating of beeswax and mineral oil. 

The three sizes of end grain butcher block I offer.  here they are shown in American White Oak still waiting for there brass plugs and a coating of beeswax and mineral oil. 

Made it into my first design blog.

One of my favorite websites to explore for design inspiration is notcot.org.  It links to some amazing design related stories and projects around the internet.  It has several sister blogs that explore fashion, travel and food.  Last week my butcher blocks were posted on the food site, tasteologie.notcot.org  It's a start...

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Shaping up the shop

I feel like it is important to have a pleasant, well organized space to do my work.  So the last couple of weeks have been dedicating to getting my shop in order.  First, I built my "back bench."  Which is where I will store all my hand tools and keep my work organized. I kept it simple, making drawer boxes with table saw dados and using scrap leather as pulls.  The drawer slides I made with strips of scrap poplar laying around that I waxed for easy sliding.  Then I painted it green and filled it up with my tools.  

For the next shop improvement I divided off my section with a wall that was framed with 2x4's and backed with OSB.  For a woodworker it is essential to have wall space to hang clamps, cauls, patterns, and jigs.  Otherwise everything ends up laying on the bench and floor, taking up valuable workspace and cluttering the area.   

The last thing was to build a huge work table with storage.  it is 4' by 8', topped with melamine.  Someday I will make my own solid workbench with vises and holes for hold-downs but for now I will borrow the one in the shop when need be.  

Now that these first few things are done it is time to get another batch of the butcher blocks out to the stores.   Apparently they are selling pretty well.  Then onto the first few furniture pieces I have been designing.  

Stockist Profile: The Perish Trust

If you are walking down Divisadero near Hayes and happen to spot a cute yet mysterious little sign depicting a pomegranate (in either its full or half-eaten state depending on your direction of travel) then I suggest you take a break from your journey and enter the shop over which the pomegranate hangs.  Visiting the store is a nostalgia inducing experience that will have you admiring and appreciating the beauty of authentic Americana.

It is difficult to summarize the products for sale at this interesting little shop near Alamo Square in San Francisco.  The place has the look and feel of your cool, outdoorsy uncle’s cabin; frozen in a time when people felt pride in and cared for the things they owned.  You will have a hard time finding anything made of plastic in their collection of furnishings, accessories and apparel.  Vintage thermoses, dart boards, type-writers and kitchen wares made from wood, metal and ceramics decorate the place.  There is also a collection of magazines and books that celebrate the style this store embraces.  

The owners also take pride in carrying contemporary hand-made products from local artisans.  Various jewelers and ceramacists are represented as well as a budding, local woodworker…

 Check them out!

Stockist profile: Bernal Cutlery

Stepping into Bernal Cutlery for the first time transported me back to some of my early childhood days when I would step into the local toy store and see walls decorated with ninja turtle action figures and shelves stacked high with the latest models of nerf gun.  I wanted it all.  Then and now.  Bernal Cutlery near the corner of 18th St and Guerrero in the Mission District of San Francisco is a toy store for adults.  Especially those of us who dabble in the culinary arts or appreciate a beautiful, well-made object. 

Owner Josh Donald has created quite a dreamy environment in which to spend his days.  If you visit you might find him, coffee in hand, vinyl collection and record player at arm’s reach, standing before a wall of shimmering steel and above a glass case of the same.  Point out any of knife or other instrument on display and Josh will happily pull it out and explain the nuances of its design, material and manufacturer.  His knowledge of the field is encyclopedic and he shares this wisdom in a friendly spirit.  

Bernal Cutlery is not only for people in search of new cutlery.  They also offer a service for those who have neglected knives resting in their kitchen or blades with previously smooth edges that have been destroyed in action.  Bring your knives by and one of the trained sharpeners will go to work on the grinders and Japanese whetstones that sit opposite the knife counter.  Even do-it-yourself types can find what they need.  There is a large variety of sharpening implements for sale and there are courses offered in the shop that teach the skills necessary to sharpen tools on your own.

And if you need a nice new butcher block to go with those newly sharpened knives, Bernal Cutlery now carries Jacob May end-grain butcher blocks.