It’s been a while….

So, I’m back. it’been a wild ride. I had a stroke two years or so ago. Nearly died, went to stay in hospitals instead of going on tour in Scotland and Wales. My little brother died while I was sick. Been a rough time. Now, this damnable virus. But, I have my workshop! My time with Jack Smoot at John C. Campbell Folk School  was invaluable. I learned things that make it possible to make my dulcimers post stroke. Now my brother Gary has provided me a computer that I can use to update this space!


Walnut Staked Table

This style of furniture has been around for thousands of years.

Staked furniture, as a style, has endured so long due to it’s clean lines, versatility, and simplicity.This method can be used to make chairs, tables, desks, and benches.

This picture of a table in process is for a client who needed very specific dimensions. It goes in-between a wall and a home hospital bed. More in process pictures in future posts.

The stubs sticking up through the top are the ends of the legs that go all the way through the thick plank top. Slots cut into the tops of the legs get glued wedges. The legs can be through wedged or blind wedged.

My family’s mountain culture used staked furniture in many forms in day to day life. I’ll be saying more about building this table in future posts.

A pair of my dulcimers in Black Walnut and cherry.

What’s a dulcimer anyway?

An Appalachian or mountain dulcimer is a small, 3 or 4 stringed instrument usually played on a lap. It is related to the German Scheitholt in the Zither family. No records exist of the dulcimer before about 1880 and is an Appalachian invention. The frets of the dulcimer are arranged in the diatonic scale which, combined with only 3 or 4 strings, makes it among the easiest of all stringed instruments of play.

Where is Roaring Creek?

Roaring Creek is the name of both a road and a creek located in Avery County, North Carolina. The creek runs through a little valley, or hollar, which ends in the towering Yellow Mountain on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina.

Near the headwaters of Roaring Creek was a small farm of some 13 acres owned by my great-great grandfather Benjamin and my great grandfather Jerry. My grandfather, Granville, was born in one of the two cabins on the farm. My Dad also lived on Roaring Creek as a boy.

We have found the location of what we believe is great grandpa Jerry’s cabin. There are two piles of chimney stones at about 30 feet apart. There are four flat stones at each of the corners making the cabin about 22 by 30 feet.

There is also an ancient apple tree just a few feet from the cabin site. It has been blown over for many years but continues to send up shoots every spring. We have grafted some of these shoots into other apple trees, but they have yet to bear apples.

This little valley bordered by rugged hills and mountains, watered by the creek, is as close to being my ancestral home as any place could be.


Thanks to Randy Foster

Thanks to my friend Randy Foster for these outstanding tools. The barn auger to the left is a Millers Falls Co. Mass USA. Haven’t found the model number or year of manufacture yet. Cursory web search doesn’t turn up a type study. The brace, top, is also a Millers Falls. It also has a model number 1400. The wooden plane, right, is unmarked but with an Ohio iron. The block plane, bottom has no maker’s mark but with casting numbers I’m sure I can find more information