Asbury Park

So there was this cafe in town...

...and the couple who owned it wanted to sell it. It happens that my girlfriend Rachel has always wanted to have her own cafe. So last Spring we became the third owners of the 10-year-old Twisted Tree Cafe in Asbury Park NJ. 

And that's why I haven't updated the blog for the last 6 months or so. 

Now that the Summer vacation crowds have dissipated, I'm back in the shop at least a few days a week. And what does a guy who's used to building everything in his life do when he has a shop and a cafe? Right: cafe makeover.


The first phase of the project is being built from these babies:

Yes, those are 2x4s. No, I'm not framing walls. We just happen to need a lot of banquette on a little budget. Here's one section set up in the shop:

How we figure people will react.

How we figure people will react.

How we hope people won't react.

How we hope people won't react.

How we hope people do react.

How we hope people do react.

Check back- we've got a lot planned for our little cafe! And stop in for lunch or a snack if you are ever in the area and say hi!  :)

Coming attractions

I've got a bunch of interesting furniture in the pipeline and I'm starting to gather materials.  A couple of pieces are spec'd out in weathered barn siding.  That can be tough to source, but I know a guy in upstate NY who squirrels away lumber every chance he gets.  He had some interesting boards that had been vertical board and batten siding on an old local barn that dated back somewhere in the 1800's.  I went and brought home a truckload.  I can't wait to get into this project...

Old Barn Siding

Checking the moisture content to make sure they're good to go.

This should last a little while...I hope!

A quick bookcase...

So there's this guy, let's call him Dave.  Because that's his name.  Recently he asked me to build him a bookcase for his studio.  Nothing special, inexpensive, but something cool.  Here's what happened:

Since budget was a big factor, I used sanded B/C construction grade plywood.  It's basically a little nicer grade of house sheathing.  Although it's great to work with beautiful, pristine materials, I also love the challenge of making something beautiful with utilitarian materials.  

The corners are mitered, glued and cross nailed with masonry nails, which have a thick, irregular head.  The heads are set just on the surface, not driven home.  Sorta like a row of rivets on a steel bridge.  It's not traditional joinery, but it's strong and interesting and quick.  Fits in with the whole industrial vibe.  The feet are blocks cut from an LVL beam, so they match the plywood edge perfectly.  

Dining set part 2

The original concept for this dining set was from NYC architect Gary Deam of Deam Design.  He designed the apartment this project is for, incorporating a long built in banquette to anchor the dining area.  I was asked to design and build the individual pieces.  Trestle tables work best with banquettes, so that was my starting point.  The chair design is a refinement of a chair that I have built a couple of times in the past.  And the banquette was designed to have clean lines and comfortable geometry.  Since the space was going to feel refined and comfortable, I wanted to introduce something bold and a little rugged as counterpoint.  So I used reclaimed Heart Pine, with all its cracks, holes, and character.  On certain surfaces I planned to keep the antique patina of the old beams.  

Here are boards for the tabletop being laid out:

Tabletop boards

The trestle assemblies (legs) for the table, with the top in the background:

Table components

A chair, beginning to take shape:

Chair, under construction

And finally, the banquette takes form.  (Notice the cutout in the seat:  I made the seat with two lids that hinge up so the bench can be used for storage as well.)

Banquette in shop

Next time:  Final pictures!

Dining Set

I'm going to do this next post as a little series to give a glimpse of the process (or lack thereof) behind what I do.  Bear with me:  I'll include pictures and try not to talk too much.

First, an Idea:  Long built-in banquette, table, chairs


Next, lumber:  Reclaimed beams from M. Fine Lumber in Brooklyn

At the lumber yard

Lumber for the project

Check back soon for the next installment...

Something random for the weekend

A blog called The Online Photographer that I read regularly sometimes does something called Open Mike, where the post is something of interest and worth, but has nothing to do with the usual subject matter.  I like the idea, and I wish it were mine.  Alas.

A few years ago, I was out for a night run and saw the building in the photo below.  It was called the Charms Building.  It was built as an Elks Lodge in 1914 and later occupied by the Charms Candy Company in the 40's.  

It's in Asbury Park, NJ (where I live) and had  been slated for demolition.  Apparently that had begun earlier in the day, but night had come too soon for the job to be completed.  I cut my run short to go home and get my camera, and spent some time that night in 18° temps and 20+ mph winds to try and make a good photo.  It's the second best photo I've made.