Woodworking at Draigsffau


Our custom headboard demonstrates to us every day that custom furniture designed for one's particular lifestyle can be tremendously more satisfying than ready-made furniture. Built of oak and oak plywood, it features two gooseneck-reading lamps operated by touch switches, bookshelves, CD racks, places for clock radio/CD, telephone, and hanky box, 23 bloodwood-fronted drawers, sliding-door cabinets, hidden storage for folding bed-tables, and two cup-warmers. One friend of ours asked where the internet connection was. Silly. We have a wireless network, so the computers can be anywhere in the yard (including the bed) and still connect to the internet. (We do have a couple of surge protection strips in the headboard, though.) My father asked "With all that, why get out of bed?" To work on other projects, of course.

A companion piece, Elsa's "hutch" (really more of a corner bookcase with built-in monitor shelf) sits on her dual-bay computer desk (a previous project). Also of oak and oak plywood, it features a computer bay and monitor shelf, bookshelves, file shelves, CD racks, and purpleheart-fronted drawers.

Our Back Deck is in a half oval shape, with an angled step in the middle. Krys made custom diagonal rip-cuts on each plank of wood so that all the lines of their edges emanate like rays from the center of the circular solar disc. If you think that this is a simple matter of geometry, perhaps you haven't considered how to assure efficient use of rectangular-cut lumber and the way that the angle of the cut depends on the distance from the center of the circle, or considered the geometrical contribution of the gaps between the planks, or thought about the fact that the gap changes over the first month or two as the lumber dries out in a way that is roughly proportional to its width (which, of course, varies along its length). Geometry, yes; simple, no.

The Kitchen Deck replaces a clumsy double set of stairs (an experiment which didn't work) with a smooth graceful sweep from the parking area to the kitchen door. Smaller areas have planks angled so that steps down are along their edges.

The Living Room Bookcase is a classic example of Krys's exquisite craftsmanship. Elsa had bought some lumber to slap together a bookcase because she was sick of tripping over books, but Krys got inspired. He added cross-braces and back panels to the design for greater strength, routed channels for shelf strips, and lovingly sanded and stained the frame. Elsa's cheap pine shelves are outclassed by their frame.

Library plans - well, imagine a dresser on its side, and when you pull out the drawers, they have book shelves inside. We haven't built this yet, but it's part of Elsa's never-ending attempts to get the books off the floor. Did we mention that we have a few?

Draigsffau's address sign had to have a dragon, so Elsa and Don collaborated on it. Elsa did the original sketches, then a full sized one which was transferred to the wood. Don did most of the carving, then Elsa painted it, and added claws and numbers. Krys actually mounted it, risking life and limb.

Adrian's room was a buttery yellow with a bunk bed dominating the room. During a reshuffling, Elsa scrubbed and painted Adrian's room sky blue with sponged-on clouds. A small area was masked so the original yellow paint shows through as a sun with a child's face painted in. A new bed frame was built so it's 1/2 the height of the old bunk, with shelves and a chalkboard underneath.

The new fence along the front of our house is a mixed media project. The posts and head and foot boards are redwood, but the lattice panels and edgings are recycled plastic. The posts are set on steel spikes since digging postholes and pouring cement into drainage gravel seemed like a bad idea. The finials at the top of the (future) stairway are glazed ceramic. The design took a while to refine as we learned the properties of the material, actual assembly took only a few days, even with Chris's exacting measurement and construction standards.

The Woodworking Shop

The workshop (also known as the East Lab) is enclosed in a 12' x 17' steel storage shed mounted on a wonderfully overbuilt floor. The printing press is on a cement pad occupying one corner, while the rest of the floor is 1" plywood over a frame of 6 x 6s. The shop has a roll-up door, 8 feet wide by 6 feet high, and there is a small 2-foot door on an adjacent side of the shop. Removable platforms allow an additional 8' x 8' floor extension to be placed outside the main door for additional workspace in fair weather.

Woodworking Power Equipment

The shop houses a small set of woodworking power tools, mounted on mobile bases so that they can be stored off to the side when not in use. These tools include:

Safety Equipment

For further details on the equipment in the shop, please see the shop equipment page.


Our local supplier of hardwoods is Jackel Enterprises in Watsonville, California. I have put together a pictorial sampler of the woods available from them.

The Lumber Lady of Yuma, AZ was helpful to us in getting the last bit of bloodwood for the headboard. Nice folks, good prices, quick service are rarely found all at once, so it was a pleasure to do business with them.

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© 1999-2004 by Elsa Die Löwin, Christopher M. Albrecht