Life, Window Seat Bookcase
Comments 16

A Little Woodworking and a lot of Asheville

It is official: my wife and I want to retire in Asheville, North Carolina. Our six-day visit there was exceptional; a wonderful mix of nature, food (and craft beer) and visiting sites like the Biltmore Estate. I also explored woodworking: I met with two nationally known woodworkers as well as visited craft fairs which featured extremely well designed and executed furniture as well as boxes, bowls, spoons, etc. And we did not get everything accomplished while we were there, so we’ll be back.

FIRST, LETS COVER SOME WOODWORKING – I reached a gigantic milestone with the window seat bookcase; it is completely glued-up. Getting to this point caused great gnashing of teeth. I was concerned mostly that the seat would not fit correctly. As designed, the seat fits flush to the sides and the front edge of the bookcase. There is also a portion of the seat which fits between the inside edge of the two outer rear legs (why did my design have to be so complicated?). It fit prior to glue-up, but what about afterwards…

Beginning final glue-up.

Beginning final glue-up.

You will remember from my last post that I had the left side glued-up and the right side glue-up was about to begin. As you can see above, the right side glue-up is complete and I am starting to position the middle aprons in an effort to bring the left and right sections into one bench style bookcase.

The glue-up bringing the left and right sections together.

The glue-up bringing the left and right sections together.

Currently - all glued up. :)

Currently – all glued up. 🙂

The bookcase seat, which fit fine prior to glue up, now does not fit. At least it is a little too long. It won’t fit between the outer legs like it should. A little trimming with a chisel will fix that.

SECOND, THE VACATION – anyone who is in a remotely reasonable driving distance to Asheville, North Carolina, and has never been there; just stop what you are doing and start making plans. Growing up, the big summer vacation was always at the beach; one of these three locations: Gulf Shores, Alabama, Destin, Florida, or Panama City Beach, Florida. We still love the beach, but the North Carolina mountains are such a polar opposite, we now call this area our favorite vacation spot.

We spent a lot of time driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway. One afternoon we drove south from Asheville and later, we drove north. The morning of our drive northward, a rain shower had just passed through. The drive towards Mt. Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi River became pretty tough. Winding mountain roads in heavy mist…

What is around the bend? Difficult driving!

What is around the bend? Difficult driving!

At Craggy Gardens welcome center.

At Craggy Gardens welcome center. Note the stiff wind blowing the trees.

We stopped at the Craggy Gardens welcome center to make sure we were not crazy to drive in this kind of weather. The elevation here is about 5,500 feet and this kind of weather is common. The park ranger inside assured us that better weather was only a few miles ahead. And it was…

Blue Ridge Parkway - North of Asheville, NC

Blue Ridge Parkway – North of Asheville, NC

Blue Ridge Parkway - North of Asheville, NC

Blue Ridge Parkway – North of Asheville, NC

Blue Ridge Parkway - North of Asheville, NC

Blue Ridge Parkway – North of Asheville, NC

We also spent most of a day at the Biltmore House…

My second trip to George Vanderbilt's home and still inspiring.

My second trip to George Vanderbilt’s home and still inspiring.

We took the roof top tour – a first for us. We have been on the standard house tour before and we did that this time too, but the roof toor was something I always wanted to take. The roof tour had us walking along a narrow path around the roof of the main entrance of the home.

Some repair work. Note the copper covered peak to the roof...

Some repair work. Note the copper covered peak to the roof…

The copper has George Vanderbilt's initials engraved in every other panel. These were once decorated with gold leaf; now worn away.

The copper has George Vanderbilt’s initials engraved in every other panel. These were once decorated with gold leaf; now worn away.

Even this high above the ground, the ornamentation is extensive. Like George Vanderbilt knew people would one day tour his home this way. For example…

Note the care taken to shape this gargoyle's rear end.

Note the care taken to shape this gargoyle’s rear end.

We then moved to the flat roof above the famous stair tower…

The stair tower.

Abundant decoration.

The view from the stair tower roof was great – mountains in the distance…

Such a beautiful day.

Such a beautiful day.

Lots of copper. Just imagine how much maintenance costs!

Lots of copper. Just imagine how much maintenience costs!

Our tour guide motioning us to the rear of the building.

Our tour guide motioning us to the rear of the building.

The last segment of the roof tour was the area above the rear loggia…

The rear of the home, walking above the loggia.

The rear of the home, walking above the loggia.

The bazillion dollar view.

The bazillion dollar view.

VISITING NATIONALLY KNOWN WOODWORKERS – While in Asheville, a goal of mine was to take in the local woodworking community which is extensive. I spent almost four hours with hand plane maker Scott Meek. I took a class from Scott getting one-on-one training on sharpening plane blades. We went to lunch at a local BBQ joint. We discussed how he got started in woodworking, his upcoming presentation at Woodworking in America and the status of his plane making business which is going well. He had so many orders that he was having a hard time staying organized. One plane order was from a woodworker in Europe. I took two photos; both of which were blurry. Dang it!

I also visited the workshop and showroom of Brian Boggs Chairmakers. Brian’s shop is a professional level workshop; I met two other woodworkers who were training under Brian. His work is exceptional…

In the Bogg's showroom: table and chairs with a modern flair.

In the Bogg’s showroom: table and chairs with a modern flair.

Brian Bogg's workshop. Gigantic.

Brian Bogg’s workshop. Gigantic.

Me and Brian.

Me and Brian.

When I first called his shop, I was told that Brian was out, but to come on over and someone would show me around. While walking through the workshop, I struck up a conversation with a guy there. We talked at some length about bandsaws – how mine isn’t adjusted correctly; what bandsaw would he recommend, etc (his recommendation: nothing new except possibly a Laguna; he liked old bandsaws). This man had a dust mask on the whole time we talked. Finally I introduced myself and he was none other than Brian Boggs. With the dust mask on and my limited knowledge of what he looked like meant that I did not even recognize him.

Lots of fun while in Brian’s shop and with Scott Meek. It made our trip to Asheville even more special.

16 Comments

  1. Your wife says

    You just made me very happy! Now we just have to figure out if we can ever retire!

  2. I love that area and me and the wife talk about moving there all the time! it is either there out Santa fe.

    • John, a relative of ours bragged today about the weather where she lives – Banner Elk, NC, near Asheville. In Birmingham, Alabama it was 101 degrees today. In Banner Elk, about 75 degrees. Beautiful weather and so much nature and woodworking. A sweet place to live!

  3. Sheridan Johnson says

    That woodwork is SO great! Also, those pictures and views look amazing, good pictures!

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