Archive for the ‘about us’ Category

Don’t stain my wood!

I was watching TV recently and two different shows reminded me of my greatest woodworking pet peeve.   But before I go into that detail, let me offer some back ground as to what my issue is and where it originates.   My love of woodworking really exploded when I was introduced to the world of exotic woods through a show called “Woodworks”.  The host of the show, David Marks, was always using woods that I had never heard of.  Each wood was uniquely beautiful and boasted colors and grain that I had never seen before.  From that point on I was sold, and decided to only offer things done in natural wood with a clear finish to protect it.  “Stain” is a dirty wood in my house, because stain is just that…. Dirt.  I don’t want you to rub dirt on the finely crafted work that I created, so why would you want me to?

It is probably one of the most common questions I get asked: “what color are you going to stain it.”  The question is asked as though staining is how wood is always finished.  So I make it my goal to educate people to not cover up their beautiful wood, but rather appreciate the variety that exists in nature.

Now, this leads my pet peeve.  I was watching a recent show of “Son’s of Guns” on the Discovery Channel were they were building an old fashioned looking gun called a “blunderbuss”.  As part of the build they were restoring an old walnut stock and they used a walnut stain to “bring out the natural beauty of the wood”.  Really?  You are going to take a piece of beautiful walnut wood and then use a “walnut” stain on it?   You are already at your end goal of a walnut colored stock by virtue of nature and dirt in the stain will actual hinder some of that beauty, not highlight it.  I can’t be too mad at them, they are gun people not woodworking people.

The other show was “The Vanilla Ice Project” on DIY network (yes, the 90’s rapper).  They are rebuilding a million dollar house and bring in 3 huge and beautiful African Mahogany planks and promptly gave them a “nice dark stain.”  Mahogany is one of my favorites to work with and has a beautiful color and grain pattern.  Mahogany will naturally darken over time, but rubbing dark dirt on it is no way to do this.  If their end goal was to have some dark wood, they could have slopped some stain on some cheaper Oak wood.  I have worked with design and styling people before, and to be honest, they aren’t known for their practicality.  They are just trying to make real life match their vision.  I can respect that, but I bet they could have achieved their vision with another species of wood had they known, maybe they should consult me next timeJ.

Even professionals can fall victim to this as well.  I remember early on in my woodworking “training” watching an episode of “The Old Yankee Workshop” were Norm made a “Mahogany poker table” and the last step involved “mahogany” stain.  That pained me greatly!  Although, I also don’t pump finish nails into my project either, everyone has their own style – it is just not one that I agree with.  Maybe when PBS offers me a show we can revisit that table and do it the right way.

So the moral of the story is, don’t stain my wood.  If you are looking for a Mahogany/Walnut/Cherry finish, then I’ll start with those woods.  Also, stain can’t alter the look of the wood grain, so you end up with a similar color, but not the natural hues and features that come from nature.  The natural wood will look better and stay looking better longer then some colored dirt rubbed into the surface.  If you want something that stain can’t match, use some exotic woods like Cocobolo, Zebrawood, or Wenge (just to name a few).  No stain will ever match these woods and while pricey, they are truly spectacular!


A start to the new year

Well we are about half way through January and I have secured a custom order through Etsy.  Not anything really big, but a chance to make something out of the ordinary with my lathe and some left over oak wood.

I also have a few other conversations for custom work that I’m waiting to hear back on.  So wish me luck there!  If one of those come through maybe I’m show some step by step posts about one… or both.

I also took some time to finish up a project that I started a while ago… my wife’s birthday is right around the corner so it will make a great gift.  And no, contrary to popular belief, I did not start woodworking to avoid buy gifts for people ;).   I’ll post that after her birthday next month.  I have a few more finishing touches to do on it still, but have plenty of time – for a change.


I hate snow

I hate snow.

I’m trying to maintain a more regular shop schedule this year so I can make sure I have time to build up some inventory, and still keep a healthy work/life balance.  I would like to try and do some art shows, but don’t have nearly enough items on hand to display.  Don’t look for me out there this year, maybe in 2012 though.

Most of my work has been on a custom order basis, which is great to avoid buying things that I don’t need or that people don’t want.  But I also want to appeal those that need to see before they buy… novel concept, I know.  So between custom orders and new idea of things that I want to build, and trust me I have no shortage of ideas…., I’m trying to start the year off with a more regular schedule to build up items… and the snow is ruining it!  Tripling commute times and making me shovel and snow blow it away takes away from my shop time!

Hopefully I can get back on track next week and start to crank out a few more things.  Wish me luck!

If anyone knows of some good art shows in Michigan that I should try to get into, let me know.


Get to know us

Starting off this New Year I thought that I would try and give a little different feel to the website by adding a blog to let you all out there get to know us better and understand the passion that we have for fine woodworking.  Also, maybe you will get to know us a little more and actually like the people that you are planning to purchases from.

Derek and Cocobolo

Cocobolo is about as pretty as it comes and the guy in the Faygo shirt is ok too

In this picture is me, Derek.  My wife is a little camera shy, so in her place is my second love…. a piece of exotic Cocobolo.  This is the wood that I first fell in love with when I started woodworking.  This picture does not show the detail of the streaks of red, yellow, and orange… shocking that something like this is naturally produced!  Cocobolo is my favorite exotic wood, and my favorite domestic wood is Maple Burl… maybe I’ll have a picture of that next time.  So the moral of the story is that I want all of you to see who is behind HandmadeWoodGifts.  I like to refer to myself as the “creative mind” and my wife as the “voice of reason”.

I hope to update the blog on a regular basis so that all of you out there in cyberland can get to know us and see some of the projects that we are working on… maybe we will feature a piece that you have custom selected for yourself!  If you have any questions or comments that you would like answered in the blog, go ahead and email us at and maybe well will answer your question in our next blog.

We are already starting off the year with some special order pens and will be updating the website with some new items real soon too!  So here’s to a safe, healthy, and prosperous New Year.