Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Red

When Entwood Crafts was first founded, we used only one type of wood; poplar. We now use almost 70 different species of wood. This broad range of wood choices opens up a whole new level of creativity. Colors range in almost every color one would need. I find this large selection of woods particularly useful in making intarsia.

American cherry is not the only choice for red wood. In fact there are several species of wood with colorful red hues. So which wood should you use for which project? I’ll briefly talk about some of the red woods that I have used and what I like or dislike about them.

Bloodwood: Bloodwood is one of the few woods that I generally avoid using for the main reason of poor workability. It’s too dense to cut well with a scroll saw. The wood burns and smokes more often than being cut and broken blades become a common occurrence. However, the color is beautiful ranging from a light, faded red in some cases to a dark, rich red in others. I use it mostly in intarsia and only in small quantities. If you’re using a table saw or a band saw the wood is much easier to work with.
Phoenix - Maple & Bloodwood

American Cherry: The most used wood of all 70 species we have. The color of cherry ranges quite a bit from an almost white to a dark brownish red. This color range makes it ideal for a variety of uses. The down fall is that one side of the board can be one color and the other side a completely different color. I also look for cherry with a bit of sapwood for certain projects.

Cairn Terrier - American Cherry
Brazilian Cherry: A great wood for sure. The wood is a very dark red  color and mostly straight grained. It’s a good choice for creating red shadows in intarsia.

Hydra - Brazilian Cherry
Red Heart (chakte kok): Red heart is a wood full of colorful red bursts. The colors differ greatly from a pinkish color to bright and dark red but once oiled, the colors blend some. I use this wood if I want some interesting texture with grain and/or color. Bad thing is the red color fades rather quickly when exposed to air. Keep it out of direct sunlight or your red board will turn grey.

Playful Dragon - Red Heart
African Mahogany: Another red wood with varying shades from very light to very dark. It’s a beautiful wood but in my experience brittle. If you’re cutting anything with narrow sections its best to avoid this wood.

Welsh Dragon - African Mahogany
Genuine Mahogany: This wood is rather hard to find and expensive! It has a rusty, red/brownish color. Another good choice for a weak red. Easy to use.

Bunny - Genuine Mahogany
Padauk: If you want RED you want padauk. The brightest red color I’ve ever seen in wood. The grain is straight for the most part but I’ve used some with gentle swirls and curves. It’s the top choice for red highlights or if a bold color is needed.
Fat Bellied Dragon - Padauk

There are other red woods that I have yet to use. Feel free to share your experiences with red colored wood in the comments below.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Picking for Wood

At trade shows, festivals, and events, I get asked quite a few questions throughout the day. One of the most asked questions is where I get my wood from. Having about 70 species of wood from all corners of the world grabs people’s attention and they wonder how on earth I came to get the wood.

A little less than half think that I travel to different countries to get the wood. I just smile and say “I wish”.  Perhaps in the future but for now, international travel is on the to do list. I’d really enjoy visiting all the regions where the different wood species grow.

Online stores are the most common guess. While I have thought about ordering some wood online and very well might in the future, I have not done this for a few reasons. First off, the prices are almost always sky high, especially so with exotic wood species. Wood is not the easiest and cheapest thing to ship either. Second, you have no clue what you will get. Not to discredit online wood sellers but wood is extremely variable in color and grain texture. I’m the sort of person that likes to pick up the wood in my hands and inspect it thoroughly before making a purchase. There is nothing more discouraging that buying a piece of cherry expecting a nice reddish color and getting something that is just as white as maple.

So where do I get my wood from? My answer to inquirers is everywhere. I am always on the search and never know when I might run into that perfect piece of wood. I’ve found some wood in surprising places. One time I was camping in western North Carolina and found a stunning piece of cherry half burned in a fire pit. A little touch up work with the sander and it was perfectly useable.  Instead of adding to the pile of ashes in the pit it found a new life as this koala puzzle.

I have several contacts with contractors, flooring companies, and other woodworkers where I buy wood that is generally too small for them to use. I keep an eye out in newspaper and local online classifieds for sellers. For custom requests or hard to find woods, I pay a visit to some local exotic wood dealers. Most wood dealers also have scrap bins where you can find small pieces of wood for a fraction of the market value.
This method of obtaining wood is an adventure in itself. It reminds me of the American Pickers tv show. I’ve literally crawled through half standing barns and dug through piles of construction debris to find some amazing pieces of wood. I once found a large 14 inch wide piece of Genuine mahogany that someone was using to prop open a barn door. It was so weathered and covered in mud you couldn’t even tell its real color. Once it was surface planned and sanded, I made 4 different puzzles out of it including this greenman puzzle. I have even dismantled broken furniture and made things from the usable parts. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

New Website!

Winter's Dream Intarsia
With a new year comes new ideas, projects, woods, and the one thing I’m most excited about, a new website. You can visit the site at . Just as a side note. We will be keeping our shop at open for the next few months during the transition to the new site.

Why the change you ask? We did this for a number of reasons. Without boring you in all the technical mumbo jumbo, we wanted to be able to customize the online experience for customers. This leads me to announce a new feature that comes with Entwood Craft’s new website. You can now directly select the wood you would like your items made from. This only applies to custom made to order items of course. It gives people a satisfying, interactive role to play in the creation of their unique item.

Dragon Hatcling Puzzle

Currently, the site is setup to allow “made to order” items to be purchased. We have 32 puzzle designs and 10 woods to select from. We are regularly updating the site with announcements, products, wood selection, and other information. Once we have the “made to order” section fully integrated, we will launch our in-stock section.

We would love to hear any comments, suggestions, or other feedback regarding the new site to make improvements.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

List of woods

Unfortunately due to weather and lack of free time, we haven’t been able to take photos of our newest work. I have my fingers crossed for tomorrow though. So I’ll keep this post short and sweet. The other day I was trying to figure out exactly how many different kinds of wood we have while driving in the car. We are adding more and more each month and its starting to get a little difficult to remember them all.

Some of the wood we only have very small pieces used just for intarsia. Some, we have large sized boards. We keep even the smallest pieces of wood because we know that it will be used for something. It’s our way of turning trash (cause who else would want a ¼” odd shaped cube) into treasure.

Here is a list of all 34 types of woods we have…hopefully I’m not missing any.

american holly                  angelique                           australian cypress
bamboo                           black walnut                      bloodwood
bocote                             bubinga                             chakte kok
chakte viga                       cherry                               cocobolo
garapa                              heart pine                          hickory
ipe                                    jatoba                               kumaru
leopard wood                   locust                                lovoa
mahogany                         maple                                marblewood
oak                                   paduak                             pecan
poplar                               purpleheart                        red cedar
sapele                               teak                                   wenge

To end, here is a picture of our largest intarsia piece we have made so far. A three mast sailing ship made from sapele, mahogany, American holly, and oak. You can find it now at the Port City Pottery and Fine Crafts Gallery.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Down Time is Up

All right! After a little bit of down time with our online store, we are back up and running. I reopened the store a few weeks back after some major “digital” spring cleaning. I revamped everything from policies, handling and care, and store info, to item descriptions, sections, and key words. Hopefully the work will show some results….it was much needed.

During our 3 week down time, a lot has happened with Entwood Crafts. We joined our first artist co-op and we now have our items for sale in Port City Pottery and Fine Crafts. It is an amazing gallery full of fantastic work. The co-op consists of 20 very gifted artists. My wife and I are both very glad that we were accepted into the gallery and I’m sure many great things will come of it. Check out their blog as well!

We have also expanded our wood inventory. We have a few bamboo boards, a few small pieces of bubinga, and some teak boards. All 3 woods are new to us and add to our ever increasing variety of wood. We now have over 30 different kinds of wood to make some sawdust with.

A few of the teak boards however are something extra special. We had the fortune of getting some of the original decking material from the USS North Carolina. For those of you not from NC, this is a very popular landmark and tourist attraction. The battleship is anchored in Wilmington, NC and is available for anyone to board it and get a tour of it and its history. A remolding of the decking was performed a few years ago. So the few pieces of battleship teak we have is very limited. The original decking is the same from its maiden voyage during world war II.

Aside from that we have been busy preparing for a large spring craft event in Southport, NC. Its being held on April 22 and 23rd. Stop by if your local….or even if your not!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Wooden Bookmarks: Start to Finish

As I mentioned in my previous post titled, More than Just Puzzles we make….well….more than puzzles. We started branching off slowly making small intarsia ornaments, simple fretwork art, and a few other projects. Now we are starting to spearhead different items straight on. We have several different wooden bookmarks up in our etsy store. This is the first new item type that we are offering online.


A hodgepodge of bookmarks

They are all getting roughly the same amount of attention in our store. Not enough! That’s why this post is going to be all about bookmarks!! Our favorites and how we make them. My wife's favorite so far is the Dragonfly Bookmark. Not sure why but I like the Question Mark Bookmark a lot.

Question Mark

Dragonfly Bookmark


The wood that we use is very thin scrap pieces of mahogany. It has a beautiful rust-brown color to the wood. The scraps come in all different thicknesses, sizes, and condition. Some pieces require very little preparation work while others is a nightmare.  We select a few pieces, sand them smooth, and cut them into blanks.

Top 3 boards are sanded scraps, bottom two are rough sawn.

Thickness of boomark material compared to a nickle

Blanks are basically a bookmark with no detail work done to it. For most of our cutting, we stack 2-4 blanks together, attach a pattern, and get to work! Holes are drilled with a drill press to cut out each fret. If you take a look at the Fretwork Heart Bookmark which we recently listed, it has 4 frets (4 separated cut sections) to create the heart image.  I’ve had several people ask me how on earth I managed to cut such fine lines on the interior of the wood. Surprisingly most of the people who ask me have done some woodworking themselves just never on such small detail as my work.

Bookmark blanks

Heart Fretwork Bookmark


I use a #3 reverse tooth blade (I’ll be writing a future post about blades) to do all the cutting for bookmarks. This is a very thin blade and allows me to cut out sharp angles and intricate shapes like our Cross Bookmark.

Showing size of saw blade

Cross Bookmark


Once they are cut, they are finish sanded using a sanding mop. This rounds over all the edges, removes any burs, and smooth’s the wood to an almost silky feel. Currently, our method of applying a finish is to coat both sides with a gloss laquer spray. I’m one for experimenting with different finishing methods. We are testing a few other products now and depending on the results, we may change how we apply a finish to the wood. And that’s it. A premium, handmade wooden bookmark is ready for action!


Sanding mop

Any questions about the process? Leave a comment and I’ll be glad to answer.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Work Dreams?

A few nights ago I had a work dream. What’s a work dream you ask? It’s the name I’ve given to dreams that is directly related to your line of work or expertise. For example, I still remember my first work dream. I was working for a large landscaping company on Mount Desert Island in Maine. I walked into the greenhouse and someone forgot to water the plants. Everything was wilted and dead. I woke up in a panic sweating and breathing fast. I guess that’s a work nightmare but close enough to get my point across.

On to the work dream! My line of work has changed from plants to puzzles so my work dreams have changed too. This dream gave me an incredible idea. A completely different kind of puzzle than what we currently make. I was making an apple puzzle very similar to the one we currently make and have in our store. But it was different because it had two layers. The puzzle was cut into random pieces and glued together to form a two layered puzzle. Not every piece was two layers thick. Just a couple. This would increase the difficultly drastically and be perfect for avid puzzlers.

Once I woke up I ran a thousand different ideas through my head. What about more than 2 layers? Add a 3rd and a 4th…..heck….make 3D-wooden layered puzzles that take on the shapes of objects! I know these are manufactured by some companies but I’ve never seen one hand made from wood the way I’m imagining it. The idea is very exciting to me. The design work would be very intense but it’s something that could be seen in our store in a month or so.

Item of the day! Check out this Great Winged Dragon Puzzle made from Jatoba.