Woodworking Projects.


There’s really nothing — nothing! — more satisfying that taking a piece of wood and making it into something beautiful and/or functional. I have a very complete wood shop on the hillside above my house, and I make everything from pieces of art to cabinets there. Here are a handful of the things I’ve made through the years, offered with the hope that they might be inspirational to other artisans and woodworkers. Many of these pieces are for sale.

"William Tell" -- 21"H x 11"D tiger maple with carved ebony feather.


While I’ve made everything from a church chancel to jewelry boxes, turning lidded round vessels (aka bowls with tops) has captured my fancy recently. It’s probably the only woodworking form that can be completed in a single day, from lump to the table. I thought I’d share a few.

Above is my signature piece, “William Tell,” which is a very large urn that happens to be on display in an Oregon  art gallery (top of page).  The maple body has a dramatic “tiger stripe” that is unusual. “Pocahontas” is typical of my effort to create dramatic urns and decorative pieces, and it is one of several to feature a feather-like finial made from a banksia seed pod. This urn is quite large, measure 14 inches across and 13 inches high.

"Pocahontas" -- quilted maple urn with banksia feather mounted on a mahogany finial; 14"D x 13"H.


"Cowboy" -- Fiddleback Maple with banksia feather; 12"D x 16"H

Another example of this series of urns is this one (above) called “Cowboy.” It’s similar to “Pocahontas” it’s a figured maple with the same type of finial, but each and every one of these turns out differently. Shown below is “Antler,” made from maple burl and featuring a deer antler knob. The base is mahogany. “Turtle,” (bottom) gets its name from the rounded lid made from lacewood.

"Antler" -- 10"H x 10"D curly maple with deer antler knob. base is vignum late.


"Turtle" -- 6"H x 8"D, Yew body with lacewood lid; Taqua Nut knob.

“Chief Colby” (below) is a very tall and striking urn, and is an experiment with higher gloss finishes. The base style is new, too.

"Chief Colby" -- 6" wide by 22" tall; figured alder, ebony base and knob, banksia finial

The project below, “Teapot” was a joint project with my friend, Jack Leininger, who wanted to make this as a Christmas gift for his wife. From a planning and engineering standpoint, this was one of the most difficult turning projects I have ever encountered. I coached and helped Jack when he ran into trouble, but he did the bulk of the actual work. It’s quite large. I suppose it could hold a liquid (the spout actually works) but it is used to store teabags.

"Teapot" -- total width 16" x 9"H figured cherry

"Bridelvail Falls" -- 13"D x 7"H. Maple Burl with copper banding.

“Bridelvail Falls” (above) is a wonderful example of the wood speaking for itself. I left a great deal of the distorted bark on the outside of the bowl, and the tree-crotch grain looks like a waterfall on the inside (thumbnail, below). This is on display in an art gallery.

"Bridelvail Falls"

"Plaid Shirt" -- green-turned madrone, mounted in a deer antler; 13"D x 4"H

For about a year I experimented with all sorts of green-wood turnings, and they were so fresh water sprayed off of them when I put them on the lathe. This one is called “Plaid Shirt” (above) simply because the distortions of curing in a microwave oven created a cross-hatching texture throughout.
Another bowl project, this one using one of my favorite local woods, madrone. In this case, the finished vessel is practical and useful, finished with only paste wax. When left alone like this, the madrone gets very hard and turns a reddish color.

Pourporri Bowl -- 12"W x 5"H madrone

Madronne can be turned “green” (wet) too, and when this process is done, the wood is prone to dramatic warping and distortions. I made this one for my good friend, Kane Whistler, and dried it one minute at a time in a microwave oven. That process plus the lacquer finish resulted in a very light-colored bow.

"Whistler" -- 5"H x 12"D madronne.

"Capt Neyman" -- figured maple urn, 10"W 11"D, USN Captain's device mounted on lid.

Much of my work are urns, both for humans and pets. The one above was for my father, Capt Robert L Neyman. My preference is to have these sealed so that the contents cannot be spilled, but in this case it can still be opened with a knife (cutting through thin wood pins in the lid crease) so that the urn can be saved after the ashes are spread at sea. More turned projects, below: A turned taqua nut (sometimes called an ivory nut) with a shark’s tooth lid, only two inches tall; “Rocket,” a missile-shaped container made from bloodwood; Urn-type lidded vessel with ebony and ivory-nut inlays.
taqua-nut-and-sharks-tooth-2.png   missle-bowl-2.png

"Lighthouse" -- 6"H x 9"D lignum vite with ebony and ivory nut inlays.


More and more, I have been commissioned to replica vintage create furniture, often to be used as a bathroom or kitchen cabinet. Typically, they’re Craftsman-style, and they look like they’re free-standing, but because they can be plumbed with faucets and sinks, they’re affixed to the wall.

This first series of photos is a bathroom vanity, linen closet, and privacy wall bookshelf, with a matching mirror. The construction is all quartersawn oak, with through-tenons and ebony bungs. The top is an imitation soapstone, and the glass in the linen cabinet base is reeded, typical of the 1920’s Arts & Crafts style.

Arts & Crafts Vanity and Matching Mirror -- quartersawn oak.

Linen Cabinet (click to enlarge)

Lower portion of Linen Cabinet -- click to enlarge

Detail -- click to enlarge


More than anything, I have gotten the most satisfaction out of building various cases and boxes, everything from a large blanket chest to small ornamental keepsake boxes.

Below, top to bottom: A small box with antique ivory carved broach mounted on its lid; A round case, custom made to hold an antique gymbaled compass; A complex folding desk (several views shown here), inspired by one owned by Thomas Jefferson; A bonde oak mantle box with hidden compartment; A 6″ by 8″ by 3″ curio box, with bookmatched redwood burl and splined corners.









More boxes, below: Another mantle chest, this one with a pinecone-like “monkey pod” ornament on the lid and dovetailed corners; A cedar blanket chest, constructed from reclaimed wood from a chest that was destroyed by Hurricane Adam in the 1990’s; Various marble-topped “bill boxes,” intended to sit on a coffee table or counter as a place to hide everyday paper clutter or to hold potpourri.







7 thoughts on “Woodworking Projects.

  1. Absolutely goregous. My grandfather has a woodworking shop in his garage. He created pieces as well as refinished them. I have always loved the smell of the woods as it turns on the lathe and the chisel works it – that lovely earthy smell.

  2. Exciting work! It brings out the love you express so well. I don’t know how you learned to do this fine art, but you probably teach it now, don’t you? Loud machines frighten me, but this work is so elegant, I’m wishing that I could learn to caress wood like you do. It probably would take a lifetime to learn and I already lived most of my lifetime already. Thank you for having a site so we can all share in your fine art too. Do you ever sell any of your boxes or trade art for art? Trisha

  3. Now if you had just stayed out of journalism think of all of the friends you would have….Hello, Russ. This is wonderful woodworking you have done. I have several friends who also design and build things, mostly boxes and some cabinets. Have you been to the Woodworkers’ Store in Pioneer Square in Seattle. An outlet for beautiful furniture and other things. Very little turning, however. I read some of your writing on your page and it is nicely done. Your scene setting and capture of dialogue is nice to read. Hope you keep it up. I think it is good reading ( as if I would know)! Anyway, nice to see your work. Good health and good work to you. Terry

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