Zart! Gallery custom doors

This week's focus is on an installation of twin doors based on the above staircase by Stephen Bondi. The rough opening is 96" wide by 89 1/2" tall - shown below in the frame I fabricated today out of 1 1/2" 14 ga. sq. tubing. Each door will have a tree cut from 14 ga. hot-rolled steel and then forged to give the tree some texture and dimensional relief. Additionally, 5/16" and 1/2" diameter vineyard bar will be forged and wrapped around the tree branches with handmade, forged leaves. The door frame, trees and all adornments will be finished with a forced oxidation and sealed with a satin, oil-based polyurethane.


Simple things...

Some days, it's just looking at a board that has so much inner beauty you can't see until it's been planed that puts a smile on your face. Here's a piece of reclaimed pine that did just that today after one pass under the knives.

"...it's the small things in life"


Palanjian finished desk

Ms. Palanjian's finished desk. Photo by my brother, "Snyder."

Reclaimed barn wood. Pinned mortise and tenon joinery throughout.


Palanjian desk mock-up

A lot of headway was made on Amy Palanjian's barn wood desk today. All the mortises were drilled and tenons cut this afternoon. A new "old" acquaintance, Toby Larsen, graciously lent a hand in the evening with his wide belt sander making quick work of evening out the table top. (Toby and I both went to United Community years ago...small world)

The contrast in texture on the legs is intentional. The outside surfaces of each leg will remain the weathered, brown "patina" that mother nature so kindly sculpted over many, many decades. It conveys the fact that the lumber used in construction is actually barn wood. Fabrication will be finished up tomorrow with delivery on Wednesday.

I might have to build another one of these pretty soon...Thanks, Amy.



Someday, if any of my children want this bed, I'll happily build it for them. Maybe you have a twisted, macabre mind too and think this might suit your kids. Hit me up...we can make it happen.


If somebody is REALLY interested in this bed, I'll build it for them at cost just so I can see it come alive...Seriously...It has to be a child's bed or single mattress...I doubt it would be more than $200...


Palanjian desk glue-up - "step by step"

Sometimes, I feel like I don't explain what I do enough...at least visually. So, as Amy wanted to see the wood "before and after," I thought I'd take the time to be really meticulous with this project's posting.

The board on the left has been run through the planer, now showing its true inner self. The stack on the right is the "patina" they've acquired over God knows how many decades of hay, manure (maybe) and general weathering. Kinda fuzzy on the outside, but definitely solid throughout the board.

After all of the boards have been planed, this is when I'll scan each side with a critical eye looking for odd characteristics, blemishes and differences in color compared to the others. Sometimes, mineral stains, knots and unique figuring make the piece and I'll intentionally include a "blemish." The third board from the left didn't make the cut due to it being just a little darker than the others. I don't mind some difference, but after a coat of poly, you'll really be able to tell what matches and what doesn't.

Here are the four boards that made the cut. The pieces of maple that are laying perpendicular to the board mark the overall length the desktop will be once it's assembled.

I don't know whether or not to be surprised that there's very little cupping, warping or movement in these pieces. Each piece was a breeze to rip for glue-ups on the saw, as shown here.

To help strengthen a simple butt joint glue-up, each interior edge that mates up with another is further secured with biscuit joinery. The biscuits also help to keep all the boards on the same plane, thus, making sanding simplified as the surface is not hampered with varying heights relative to each other....trust me.

Here's all of the edges after they've been jointed with the plate jointer. Joint is 3/4" on center since the overall thickness is 1 1/2".

After the joints have been glued and biscuited, this is (roughly) what the desktop will look like upon completion.

With any luck, tomorrow we'll be cutting mortise and tenon joints for the legs...and start sanding that top.

Thanks again, Amy! Cheers...



We finally have a place that this bed will fit in...barely. Thanks to Dan Dahle for lending me a hand in getting the headboard up to the master bedroom. Queen size shown here. Interested in one for yourself? I'll fabricate any size at varying price points. Contact me: info at factoriifab dot com for more info.

That's one of our cats, Pablo, on the duvet.

Rural Recycling - Barn Salvage & Reclamation

On a small farm in the middle of B.F.E., Winterset, you'll find (if you're lucky) one of the state's highest concentrations of old barns. Yeah, but these get the line *some assembly required*. Scott Henderson and his wife, Beth, travel around the state disassembling old barns that will either be sold as traditional whole structures, pieced out or built as new structures. Scott's Rural Recycling is about as cool as reusable resourcing can get. There's always something new in stock including the pieces below, some of which are going to become a desk for ReadyMade's deputy editor, Amy Palanjian.

Scott also does landscaping and stone masonry under the name Set In Stone. This is a recently completed structure on their property.

Pine, douglas fir, oak, walnut...

All of these mortise and tenon joints were cut by hand, folks. Hand drills, chisels and a mallet...yeah, think about that for a while. This practicum of carpentry may seem a bit antiquated, but it definitely had soul and personality. Both of which are becoming lost with each passing day...

This is just a small glimpse of all the old timbers at the Henderson compound. Does anybody realize when this stuff is gone, it's gonna be GONE forever. Not this lumber in particular, but all of the old barns. That's the cool thing about building with this stuff - giving new life to material that would have otherwise been burnt to ash. You can't rewrite the stories within these beams, but you can pen another chapter for future generations to enjoy...

Stainless steel island

This stainless steel island top was just installed last week for some friends in Ames. Actually, Sonya was in my brother's class in elementary school - small world, eh? Dr. Sonya M. Stoltze Newstrom and her husband, Ryan, are the brains and brawn behind the championship barbecue team Big T'z Q Cru based out of Ames, IA. Lots of state championships for somebody this young. Quite a promising future if you ask me! Congrats on the Memorial Day win here in Des Moines at Smokin' In The Junction, too.

Hopefully this new addition to their kitchen will help with their prep for competitions to come. Speaking of additions, you'll see Sonya's baby bump - congrats and good luck!!

Island substructure is two laminated pieces of 3/4" particle board. Stainless is 16 ga., 314 alloy. Measures 64" x 37" x 1 1/2". Thanks to Howe's Welding and Metal Fabrication for the bends/breaks on the stainless.