An Even Trade

I asked my friend how much he’d want to stain our deck and he said he had a better idea….

He has a small apartment and needed a computer center that also had some shelving for books, etc.

He already had a glass table top he wanted to make use of and there was a little used corner he thought would be a perfect place for it. As luck would have it, this corner’s back wall had a protruding 10″ deep ledge. and was at an acceptable height for our ‘desk’

This meant, in order for us to support the glass top, I only had to build a single lower cab to support the left side and simply attach a cleat on the right hand return wall to support THAT side of the top.

As the glass was only 42″ wide along it’s front edge, I had to build this cabinet somewhat narrow to allow a comfortable width for the sitting area.

So we made it only 12″ wide and I included a small drawer at the top. For fun, I made a hidden pocket on the backside of that drawer.

Then we made the shelving section, to sit above the counter, against the back wall.

He took a bar stool he already had and painted all three pieces to match.

I’ll build him a small swing out arm on the right hand wall to mount his monitor on so it can be swiveled out of the way when not in use.

I don’t think these photos will adorn the pages of ‘Fine Home Building’ magazine but… he’s a happy guy… & my deck is protected from the elements for another couple of years. Like a lot of ‘trades’ (no cash involved), this was a win-win.


Pedestrian Bridge

They lived in Ardsley, NY… which is a fairly well-to-do town less than an hour north of Manhattan.

Although this property, as it faced the road, was only 75 feet wide, it ran back almost 250 feet deep giving the owners quite a bit of land behind the house. The problem was that a little over half way back, a creek cut the property in two. The little ravine was 15 ft wide but fully 8 feet deep so getting to the rear section (behind the creek) was near impossible.

They needed a bridge… a pedestrian bridge which would allow easy access to the back section for lawn mowing, parties, throwing the ball around, etc.

I’m a cabinetmaker and during those rare times when I’m asked to make something whose structural integrity must carry the weight of people (decks, stairs, etc), I always make it much stronger & more substantial than I think it requires because a) I like the look and b) it will pass any safety test that way…

The following two renderings represented my vision for the bridge. I wanted an arbor over the walkway to which they would introduce vines. As the costs began to escalate, the client established a ceiling to the budget and I had to simplified the bridge (no arbor).

The following photos portray how we netted out. (For reference, my youngest son, Brian is almost 6’4″ tall.)



Two years later, the client confided in me that the project turned out so well, he wishes he’d payed the extra cost & included the arbor above.
Damn…. I would have loved to have built that original design…..

Russell Hudson / Hudson Cabinetmaking, Inc.



& Glue in Canada">Toothbrushes & Glue in Canada

Toothbrushes & Glue in Canada

When in Canada, you do need to be careful about what you use your toothbrush for. At woodworking schools in the United States, a lot of them use a wet toothbrush to remove wet glue squeeze-out from the inside corners of a carcase. But when teaching a tool chest class at Rosewood Studio in Perth, … Read more »

The post Toothbrushes & Glue in Canada appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.


Photographing the Difference – Final Picture Group

This is my third and final post about before & after pictures. This could be considered ‘during and after’ pictures as a fewof them are half way towards completion but… you get the idea. IFor what it’s worth, this isn’t a blog about photography. I’m simply trying to show how our woodwork can improve the places we live & work in. (It’s hard enough to find the time to go back a month later to photograph some work after it’s painted, much less be able to spend three hours lighting & dressing ‘the set’.)  Hell, I’m even showing some that were shot & sent to us by the client.
These first two pics show a section of the front of my house before & after painting. The white on white had become grungy looking (not to mention boring) so we went with a beige and did all the trim in a dark green. An understanding of color and a ‘fresh coat’ can really renew a setting.

Here we made a custom vanity for a very skinny bathroom. It needed to hold their sink, enclose a cast iron radiator & provided some open shelving. The way we had to make these cabinets in order to 1) be small enough to come up a very small, turn of the century stairwell 2) fit around all the existing plumbing and 3) leave access to all the valves… was somewhat disconcerting… but the interior decorator (Cottages to Castles, Inc.) & client were very pleased when all was finished.

I really should go back & try for a better shot of this arbor. The final shot was taken at night with pool lights… hence the grainy look. I designed a rather different looking arbor here. Although difficult to explain, the placement off this arbor in the backyard’s corner required me to give up a basic rectangle with the opening on one of it’s sides (which would have made it’s construction simple). and create one that was open on one of it’s corners. The pair of rafters running up the center are fastened to a pair of rafters running parallel to the pool house’s face though attached from underneath. Not your typical arbor construction.We created the panels at the bottom of the posts to enrich what would have simply been posts otherwise. After the painting was accomplished, it all ‘came together’ nicely we thought.

The next two are of my own foyer where I removed a cast iron railing and found a salvaged, old Victorian banister made from solid walnut (well over 100 years old) that I got at one of those huge flea markets / I had to do some retro fitting & make two additional newels for the upper landings. All those spindles were dovetailed into the tread’s ends. This has improved the look of our foyer ten fold.

Lastly is a wainscot and coffer-ed ceiling adornment we did for a client’s rather formal dining room. This required that we perform furniture quality work ‘on-site’. We created all the walnut panel, coffers, installed the trim and had our finisher come in and stain it all to this very dark value. A louvered vent was fabricated (of walnut) in one of the corners to handle the home’s central air.
A large dinner party was thrown two weeks thereafter and the owners expressed their pride to me… which in turn, of course, made me proud.
My sons and I did fairly meticulous work in this good sized home (calling it a mansion wouldn’t be much of a stretch) and there isn’t a single seam to be seen where all these pieces of solid walnut join one another. We love being commissioned to do high-end work, … projects that allow us to show what we can do.

And I’m glad we have the pictures to prove it.

Russell Hudson / Hudson Cabinetmaking, Inc. – 1/10/13



& Crafts">The Other Arts & Crafts

It’s difficult to have a serious conversation about the American Arts & Crafts movement without using the “S” word – Stickley, of course. The iconic, rectilinear and medieval forms of Gustav(e) Stickley, his brothers and the other designers he employed are the nouns and verbs of the Arts & Crafts language – oak, leather, quartersawn, mortise-and-tenon. Continue reading»

The post The Other Arts & Crafts appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.


Photographing the Difference (built-ins / wall units)

Having shown before & after pictures of kitchens, I thought this next group could be of other built-in wall units we’ve done / hope you enjoy…

Some of our other before & after shots are of exterior work, architectural details, etc / I think I’ll try to post some of those next week / hope you enjoyed

Russell Hudson / Hudson Cabinetmaking, Inc. / -12/1/12





& Why I’m Weird">How I Buy Wood & Why I’m Weird

How I Buy Wood & Why I'm Weird

Compared to many of my woodworking friends, I buy wood and treat it a little differently than most. Many of my friends have a significant stock of lumber on hand, from a garage-full to a few barn-fulls. When they find good lumber, they buy it. In many ways, this is an excellent strategy because every Continue reading»

& Saw Sharpening">Another Great Place for Saws & Saw Sharpening

Another Great Place for Saws & Saw Sharpening

There are still millions of excellent vintage saws in the world, and the only thing standing between them rusting or chewing through wood is a good sharpening. Many beginning woodworkers are intimidated by sharpening their saws. That’s OK. When you are ready, buy these two DVDs from Ron Herman (“Sharpen Your Handsaws” and “Handsaws: Tune-up, Continue reading»

& Tapered Mortises">Chair Joinery: Tapered Tenons & Tapered Mortises

Chair Joinery: Tapered Tenons & Tapered Mortises

Because chairs take abuse like a rented mule, the simple mortise-and-tenon joint is sometimes not enough. In traditional Windsor chair construction, the legs and spindles are attached to the plank seat using tenons that are cone-shaped along their lengths. So the mortises have to be the same shape. These tapered joints are clever. The more Continue reading»

A Bar inside the Closet

We had worked with this client before on numerous projects. They had an apartment in Manhattan as well as their country home, a nearly 200 year old farm house they had been renovating slowly but surely since they bought the place ten years ago.
When they called asking about our building a bar for them, I figured it was that basic, finished basement bar we’d made for clients a dozen times before.

However, when I arrived, they showed me a small closet with a standard door (30X80) and suggested that, perhaps, the bar could fit inside the closet w/o any modification to the size of the opening. I was still scratching my head when they went on to show me a series of pictures of an antique, Deco-style bar. A small unit, (on wheels) they had found for their apartment in the city.

He loved this bar because, upon first inspection, it was all enclosed, but as you opened the front panel, which hinged outward and down, three things happened. First, the panel opened only 90 degrees so it’s back face acted became the surface to prepare cocktails on. Secondly, a clever arrangement of brass arms automatically lifted away the unit’s ceiling AND thirdly, also caused a tray of a dozen glasses to rise up and outward towards, what I’d imagined was, the tuxedoed host, serving his guests in some old, 1930’s movie. It was a very cool, old bar.

Right after their explanation and photos, they looked over at me and simply smiled. Following an uncomfortable silence, I said “aah… sure! We can do that”.
Driving back to the shop, I thought of what might reasonably be done w/o subcontracting a machinist, mechanical engineer… and perhaps, a therapist.

It had to store SO many things… 40 bottles of liquor & wine, shot glasses, scotch tumblers, wine glasses AND… a wine cooler (and the stereo distribution amplifiers for the whole house that sat inside this closet already)
I positioned the serving section half way up the opening (at standard working height) and let the above and below areas handle the storage for all the bottles and the cooler.

I envisioned a means of having the tray of glasses come out towards you as you opened the bar’s door panel.

They liked the design and trusted us to figure out the mechanism. So we began.
What was so great about their antique bar was how tightly everything fit inside when it was closed, but how easy to get to it all when open. The movement was relatively simple, but there were a number of requirements for this contraption. How far would the tray move when the door was opened? Would it miss the wine glasses hanging from it’s ceiling?  The swing-down door was to have a mirror on it’s back side to act as a counter top to mix drinks on… which made it heavy. I found some adjustable tension, brass flap stays to ‘cushion’ the door from slamming into it’s open position (held at 90 degrees). I knew we had to build an operating model (wooden prototype) before committing to the actual construction.. Here is my cellphone’s video of the mock-up.

unfolding mechanical bar

We adjusted arm lengths, pivot points and the amount of tension until we liked how the mechanism moved. I ordered 1/8″ x 3/4″ brass bar stock to make our arms. It was soft enough to be a pleasure to work with.

Next we designed a handsome, functional tray for all the glasses… in mahogany with thick, ebony inlays. My son (always eager to do finer, more intricate work) volunteered.

We created three tiers for glasses. Each glass sat within it’s own recessed circle, lined with felt. We made decorative side walls left, right and across back.

A brass lamp was mounted above. It illuminated when the door was opened. Here’s how the tray looked following it’s lacquer finish.

Because the closet’s interior had more room to the right of the doorway, we needed to create an extension that had to be removable during installation. The lower shelf configuration was also removable to allow access to the audio distribution system..

The wine cooler required ventilation… and with no other way to circulate air other than through the front, I suggested these  little ‘jail house’ doors. This picture is from another project done a few year back.

We’ve done a number of projects for them (four of which are in a single room). Here is a short video of that room after all was completed.

Room with Hidden Bar in Closet

Russell Hudson / Hudson Cabinetmaking, Inc.


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