Jack Straw table

Jack Straw Table.

This table was designed by one of the lead carpenters at Method Construction with one of the managers of Jack Straw, an upscale clothing retailer in Seattle.

The carpenter had drafted a basic set of line drawings with dimensions using an existing slab and table base that I have since lost. I took those drawings and put them into Sketchup, a 3D design program, where I could easily adjust dimensions and get a better sense of the eventual look of the table.

jack straw 3d drawing

The curved section of the table is the difficult part of this table; I decided to build a form that I would use to vacuum form sheets of MDF.


I sent the drawing to Warmington & North, a cabinet shop located in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. Carter Warmington transferred the drawing to a CAD file that he used to cut parts for my form.

16372127274_227c746b2c_oWhile I could have created a template and cut allthe form parts myself, I was working on other projects and had a limited budget for this one. CNC is very accurate and was more economical than my time would have been.

Once the parts were cut I built a form for the curve.


Glue up can be intense, and I never got around to taking pictures of the vacuum in place. This one especially was exciting. Vacuum creates a lot of pressure. The basics of how it works is that by removing the air from a space, the full weight of the atmosphere exerts itself on the parts. We don’t feel it because the pressure is equalized and we are used to it, but the atmosphere is 14.7 pounds per square inch. This is like when you jump into a pool- you don’t feel the weight of the water just above you, it is fairly evenly distributed all around your body.

The process looks like is: we set up the form, cut the sheet goods to size- in this case the form is wider and longer than it needs to be so the sheet goods don’t extend past the sides. We spread glue on each sheet and stack them up to reach the thickness we need. I was using 1/8” MDF and had 6 sheets to get them to a total of ¾” thick. Once all the sheets are glued, they are placed on the form and one side of the layer of sheets is screwed to the form. Then we pull a thick plastic bag over the whole thing, seal it, and attach a hose that is connected to a vacuum pump.

We have to help push the stack of sheets down onto the form in order to keep them straight, make sure the bag doesn’t twist the form or get stuck between the sheets we are bending and the form as that would create a hump at the sides.

We got the form together, the sheets on, and the vacuum on, everything 16372210854_2e3b6328ab_oseemed good. I was heading to get my camera when I hear this loud explosion! I run to the shop and see that the form has blown in. We had to pull everything apart and rebuild the form with doubled up sheets of ¾” MDF on each side- and added a center support.

The curve is approximately a 3’ tall half circle. That comes out to around 56.5 square inches per side, or 831.27 pounds of force. The MDF just couldn’t take it and imploded with enough force to shatter 2 interior sheets of ¾” MDF. The second attempt worked great.

16993224192_0597119eec_oI made the drawer box and fit the internal ribs around it, epoxied into place. I used woven fiberglass to reinforce the ribs to give that big “foot” some extra strength. I was worried about what sort of stress that a commercial desk could be subjected to and didn’t want it collapsing after someone decided to climb on top of it for some reason.

As you can see, the inside cover was epoxied into place and sheets of fiberglass reinforcement added.

The drawer box was built and veneered prior to placement. Much care was required to keep epoxy off the veneer surfaces.

This picture shows the outer surface being glued into place. Lots of clamps and lots of epoxy! If you look at the ribs, there is one missing on the front. This is the side has a bank of drawers.

16993744951_79a5ae9c12_oHere is the piece with the outer layer of the curve installed. You can see we screwed the center to the ribs. I was worried about getting enough pressure to push the panel onto the ribs over that distance, and as the piece was getting painted I could fill those holes.

The top and bottom sheets were fitted,creating a torsion box of the table. I filled all the screw holes with thickened epoxy and coated the entire table with a thinned epoxy designed to penetrate the MDF. This soaks into the MDF giving it a uniform, hard surface that also reduces the chance of standing water causing any damage.16807177410_94025e17b8_o

16968914426_a2a4a311b5_oPaint was a long, tedious process. I used “Nuwave White Water Based Lacquer” from Rudd, a good local coatings manufacturer. This is a nice product, water based which means that it requires fewer chemicals and doesn’t off-gas toxic fumes. The Oak was finished with the same product in a clear satin.


The oak drawers miter into the corner, creating a seamless look.


The completed table with slab mounted on top. To install the slab I drilled holes in 4 spaces to fasten through the top of the table. This allows the fasteners to be hidden, but also allowed the holes to be over-sized so that the slab could move without cracking or destroying the table below it. The slab had a bit of a twist to it, but that is also part of the charm of the wood.

Jack Straw Table, finished, drawer side

Mutiny Hall

Mutiny hall was a short lived pub.

Another tap tower view
Another tap tower view

This was a classic job where at first I was just going to build the bar top and a few small boxes for the back. The job morphed into much more than that, with additional work including:

  1. Several days of demo.
  2. Framing new walls and re-framing old ones.
  3. Building up the pony wall under the bar top (which was later drilled to a shocking extent by the superintendent- an electrician who also did a lot of the plumbing on this project).

    Tap tower detail- Pomelle Bubinga surrounded by Sapele
    Tap tower detail- Pomelle Bubinga surrounded by Sapele
  4. Consulting on plumbing, etc.
  5. Building up partition walls.
  6. Platforms for raised booth areas.
  7. Wainscotting.
  8. Trim around windows.
Tap tower showing curve
Tap tower showing curve
Tap tower, installed with tpas
Tap tower, installed with tpas
Tap tower with taps
Tap tower with taps
Tap tower, ready for install
Tap tower, ready for install






















I can’t find the pictures for the paneled wall under the bar, but I still have a few of the bar top.

Bar top, outside corner
Bar top, outside corner
Bar top outside corner
Bar top outside corner
Bar top, inside corner before drink ledge added.
Bar top, inside corner before drink ledge added.
Bar top, from service edge
Bar top, from service edge


A recent project to take advantage of a house with a boat slip in the basement. A bare aluminum shell was supplied with a bare sketch of a cabinet layout, but the rest of the design and materials was left to Molior to design and install.


We ordered cabinets from Abodian to match the cabinets in the house, and then proceeded to fill in the details.


First step was to define the ceiling. We were aiming for “fishing boat chic”.


This is after the cabinets and counters were installed. The ceiling is Okubo panels with Sapele battens. The walls are upholstered panels.


The finished look from the windows at the bow.


May the bow Windows Molior created a sill with a chart of Bristol Bay made with Maple stringing, Pomelle Bubinga veneer, and a carved salmon of Walnut.


To create a standing desk Molior built a writing table box. Sapele with Pomelle Bubinga panels and drawer front and a leather top.



IMG_1119.JPGInstalling roofing- cedar shingle.  This is a plywood roof, then felt, then a layer of battens running up the slope, then skip sheathing over that.  The felt is installed with shake felt, with insect screening at the eaves and rake. IMG_1159.JPG

A shot of the roof before the rake trim detail has been added.  The black staining is a mixture of vinegar and iron oxide that causes the tannin in the wood to darken.  The same process was used on the Pine car decking floor, then a coat of polyurethane to protect it.IMG_1162.JPG

A second shot, showing the 6×6 top plate that extends out to carry the overhang.  Copper flashing was added to protect the beam.IMG_1188

Door installed and siding finished, paint still in process.IMG_1189

A closer shot, with the deck and railing nearby.  The siding and rake details of the studio match the house and the deck.IMG_1192

This is what the floor looks like after being treated with the iron & vinegar solution and a coat of polyurethane.IMG_1193

That’s how dark the shingles can get.  We added a little roof over the wood pile to keep it dry.  Hung it off the existing fence.  Matches with the studio, which is heated by a small woodstove.

Updates on woodwork…

Some boatwork

Here’s a yacht with some woodwork being created and installed.

First is the instrument eyebrow that is above the wheel.

And the completed eyebrow:

Next are a few shots of templates created to build parts. In this case, arches for the stairways from galley to bridge and bridge to flybridge. The existing door will eventually be removed and a wood jamb with 3″ radius corners installed. These arches will have 3″ radius corners through the full curve(s).

Here are some photos of the corners being milled for the arch from galley to bridge- it’s a double curve, sort of an S shape.

Landscapes in Sight

I’ve got a funny history with landscaping.

Growing up moving all over the place, I’ve wound up doing my share of yardwork, farming, and even legitimate landscaping. When I first moved to Portland I wound up working for a while with an organic lanscaper; at first we did everything without any machinery. Lots of hand-work. It was a good experience and I learned and re-learned quite a bit about plants and groundscaping.

This project in NE Portland was not within my target market. The clients are wonderful people I had worked with before, and the project promised a certain amount of fun woodworking and building. The existing lawn didn’t drain well and was filled with a couple different water and electrical systems. We removed that, dug down between 6 & 8 inches to allow for a good layer of new soil.

I had the excavator dig the dry wells and we lined them with ground cloth before bringing in lined perforated pipes to each well, then filled them with gravel and covered that with a double layer of ground cloth.
Next the foundation for the greenhouse and curbs for the bricks was poured.
New irrigation lines were laid, as well as new low-voltage wiring and conduit to bring power to the greenhouse.
Raised garden beds built and installed, with a groundcloth lining (photos of which were incorporated into an article on how to use routers that was published in Professional Deck Builder magazine).
Then the brick was installed and grouted.

Finally, we were ready for dirt. We removed about 60 yards of soil from the lawn. It took over 100 yards to fill the lawn and build some berms, another 20 yards to fill the garden beds, and 40 yards of gravel (10 yards for the dry-wells, 10 yards of compacted 3/4- inside the greenhouse, and another 20 yards of 1/4-10 for the paths and greenhouse floor.
A 3-way mix was used for most of the fill. The berms and other planting areas had a layer of mushroom compost tilled in before planting.

We brought in the greenhouse before planting.
Then the arbor was built and installed while the small bit of sod was installed, the berms were planted, and the garden beds filled with roses and various vegetables. Oh- there is a path next to the greenhouse that isn’t easily visible in the photos that is lined with 3/16 steel rather than brick.