Wall mounted Bracelet Display

The cats love to smack the bracelets off the dresser and onto the floor.

Endless fun for the cat, and constant picking up for the owner.

This simple bracelet holder, attached to the wall with a simple French cleat (only 2 screws) – is a clear winner for nicely showing off your bangles without tempting the felines to have an all out smackfest!

Bracelet holder

The Bracelet holder is made of solid 3/4″ Maple with 1/2″ wooden dowels drilled into the sides in an alternating pattern to allow easy insertion of the Bracelets and Bangles.  It is approximately 11″ wide, 36″ in height, and 3- 1/4″ deep.  It has a 3″ wood cleat at the bottom, and a 3″ French Cleat at the top.

The piece is finished with 3 coats of Varathane semi-gloss finish, brushed on.  sanded with 320 paper in between coats. (links open to amazon product pages).

Bracelet holder by Alan Chenkin, handcrafted at the Chenkin Workshop
Two views of the Bracelet and Bangle holder, showing the staggered dowels.


Dowel detail, showing rounded end.

This project is a lot of fun, and required some accurate cutting on the table saw, rounding over the edges with a router, and a lot of fine sanding.  The cleats were blind fastened with a Biscuit joiner, Glued with Gorilla Woodworking Glue, and clamped overnight.  I used a DE Walt 1/4 sheet pad sander with 100 and 220 grits.  I finished sanding by hand with 220 and 320 paper.  Before applying finish, I wiped the dust residue off with a damp rag or a tack cloth.  It helps if you vacuum the shop and let the dust settle before applying the final coats, so no dust gets on the finish coats.

Hanging the finished Bracelet and Bangle rack was easy, as it was light and easy to position on the wall.  I predrilled the French Cleat with two holes for #6 x 2″  wood screws and finish washers, and leveled it with a small level.  The rack sits on the French cleat and is flush to wall.

Simple, elegant, and Cat resistant.

Leo the Cat at Computer
Leo the cat, at the computer, shopping for cat toys on Amazon.




Basic woodworking is fun and generates a sense of accomplishment and achievement!

Having owned a cabinet shop for ten years, I enjoy both building furniture and gifts, making useful items for friends and around the house.

In addition to great resources on the internet, acquire a “reading library” of woodworking books.  My favorite read is the John L. Feirer “Cabinetmaking and Millwork”  (Here is the Link at Amazon: Cabinetmaking and Millwork: John L Feirer: 9780684132778: Amazon.com: Books ).
While the Feirer book may seem dated to some, the basic principles are the same, and you will get a piece of usable information every time you skim through it.
Beyond educating yourself, you will need a basic toolbox, patience, a good tape measure, pencils, and a working plan of what you want to build.  You can buy this in a kit. 

25 piece beginner tool set, from Amazon

Most items can be built out of basic 3/4″ pine and plywood for cases, 1/2″ plywood for drawers, and 1/4″ plywood (or paneling if you are on a budget) for backs of cabinets and boxes. I like Pine as it is affordable, readily available, easy to cut and sand, and takes a painted finish well.   Stick to these materials to start, while you learn the basics.  Hardwoods and exotic species are expensive, and good for high-end projects.
In addition to basic hand tools, I suggest getting a cordless screw-gun/drill, skilsaw, palm sander, power miter saw (10″), sawhorses, and a small table saw.  (This list is just basic, buy things as you need them – and don’t forget glue, clamps, screws, etc. etc.).

1000 piece fastener set, from Amazon
1000 piece fastener set, from Amazon

While there are many joining systems for wood, basic furniture can be glued, nailed, and screwed together.  I have biscuit fasteners, Krieg drills, air powered nail-guns, and more in my work shop. this depends on whether you will be “blind fastening” (no exposed fasteners) or using exposed fasteners (nails, screws) and filling or covering the holes.
Woodworking is a challenge, as you are the mechanic, building functional pieces using your methods and tools.  Don’t worry if you have some pieces that are “less than perfect” – as your skills improve, you will be able to build some really good pieces.

The attached pictures are an oak desk for my 8 year old grandson, and a great Tiki Bar on wheels!

Oak and Pine desk built for Authors grandson
Oak and Pine student desk built for Authors grandson
Tiki Bar on wheels
Tiki Bar on wheels, made with shop scrap, left over paint, and some old casters.
rear view of Tiki Bar
rear view of Tiki Bar, showing shelves for buckets, and plastic barware!

It’s always fun to build for fun.

This is a footlocker/toybox:

Footlocker Toybox
Footlocker Toybox

Be creative, be safe, and enjoy woodworking – where you get a real sense of accomplishment building, fixing, or even working on a new project!

Take your time, “Measure twice – cut once“, and enjoy building your own cabinets and furniture!

Don’t let this happen to you!!



How to get the best lumber from Lowe’s or Home Depot!

Lowes and Home Depot both carry graded lumber (usually #2 and better), although you may see a lot of lumber with low moisture content for framing lumber – prone to splitting- and lumber from Fast growing trees that don’t have the same qualities as the older, slow-growing trees of my youth.  I will try to shed some light on lumber buying.

Lumber grading is usually visual, and based on the timber.  Graders can have variation within lots of timber, and a board that is a pristine  #2 on one end can be dunnage or scrap on the opposite end!

Lumber is graded and stamped, with mill numbers, Grade, and features like Kiln drying.

Rules and Specifications for the Grading of Lumber: Adopted by the Various Lumber Manufacturing Associations of the United States
Rules and Specifications for the Grading of Lumber: Adopted by the Various Lumber Manufacturing Associations of the United States

The more you know more about lumber, you can see why many DIY’ers and tradesmen have a concern about mass-marketed lumber at big box stores. There can be tremendous variation in grades, and QUALITY, depending on the mill and experience of the graders.

My advice is not to label the wood product of either store good or bad, but look at the stamp and inspect the wood when you purchase it. I frequently pick through lumber ALL THE TIME when I buy it, and it will vary from one side of the pallet to the other.  I even sight down the long end of the boards, to ensure they are straight – as opposed to cupped, bowed, twisted, or warped.

More Books on Lumber grading from Amazon

So understand lumber grading (don’t buy #2 common when you need a #1 select), buy the best lumber for your project, and inspect it when you pick it. No one wants to run from store to store picking boards, so make the best compromise you can.

I would also recommend that you speak to the Lumber Manager at the store, they usually are familiar with the product they have in stock, and can suggest material that is “out in the yard”

The Essential Wood Book: The Woodworker’s Guide to Choosing and Using Lumber
The Essential Wood Book: The Woodworker’s Guide to Choosing and Using Lumber

In this time of pandemic, I needed some Pressure treated lumber, which is in short supply – I ordered 30% more than called for, and crossed my fingers that the product delivered was “good enough” for the project. Fortunately, I got lucky!

How can you get into woodworking with limited finances?

Toy chest in Ambulance colors

There are lots of resources for learning woodworking.

You don’t have to apprentice at a shop, you can do it as a hobby. The public libraries have books that you can read on the topic, and free access to computers (for YouTube videos).

You can get free wood from used pallets and boxes, many people are happy to give them away.

Custom Shelf unit

This custom Shelf unit was made from plywood I had “left over”, and some “oops” paint from Home depot’s discount bin. (link oopens to wood project plans on eBay.  You can also get Wood project plans from Amazon.

You can find inexpensive tools (and wood) at yard sales and on-line sites like The Freecycle Network or Craigslist; you can even put out a wanted ad for specific tools.  eBay is a good source for tools as well.

Wooden Chess Table
Wooden chess table with inlaid blocks of walnut and Maple, custom made by Morton Chenkin.
completed Chess table at the Chenkin Man cave

chess table plans on Amazon

You just need to be creative, and find projects that are within the scope of your ability; Just google “how to make a (insert wood project here) from scrap wood”.  This works whether you are planning a birdhouse or a coat-rack.

I hope this inspires you to make the journey into the craft! Please post your progress and (shameless self promotion) keep reading The Chenkin Workshop

Best of Luck!

What is the average profit margin for a cabinet shop?

Being a former owner of a cabinet shop, I must tell you that margin is only one measure of profitability, as there are capital investments in materials and machinery that span years, not to mention specialized tooling and skilled labor.

The cabinet/woodworking business is tough, as you compete with mass produced items that sell for much less than anything you could produce.

The key is having a niche market, or a “rent payer” product that you manufacture for a client on a continual basis. I had a florist supply that I made little mirrored boxes for; many times it paid the rent.

Alan Chenkin Fabricating Teak Countertop for Custom Kitchen.
Alan Chenkin Fabricating Teak Countertop for Custom Kitchen. Note the alternating Teak and Willow woods to resemble the deck of a ship.

You also have to know your business; computerized cutting programs save money and increase yield. Batching orders can reduce or optimize milling costs, and buying equipment at wholesale auctions can reduce your cost of capital equipment. Shops are always selling their surplus equipment, and a good deal equals money in your pocket. Saving 10% on materials by buying in bulk (i.e.; buying a skid of 40 sheets of plywood vs. the 20 you need), you know you will use the inventory – this can put 10% back in your pocket. My shop had a standing “inventory” of Plywood and lumber, usually bought at discount.

My thought on the matter is that cabinet shops have 3% to 10% profitability, depending on their market and flexibility in lean times. And lean times can be seasonal, especially if you build cabinets for the housing markets or remodeling.

I often miss my shop, but not having the rent/equipment lease/payroll/saw sharpener/dumpster costs helps me sleep at night.

What Sizes do Table Saws Come In?

Table saws come in many different sizes and configurations.

Light duty portable saws come in 10″ models, and are meant to be placed on sawhorses or a folding stand.

10 Benchtop ang Portable Contractor Table Saw Rip Fence Mitre Gauge Push Sticks

Typical Benchtop Table saw, available on eBay. 

Note: there are “mini” table saws, you can see them on eBay too.  They are usually for craft and hobby work.

Jobsite saws are heavier, with 10″ blades, folding stands and sometimes wheels. Usually 1.5 to 2.5 horsepower.

Hitachi C10RJ 10" 15-Amp Jobsite Table Saw with 35" Rip Capacity and Fold and Roll Stand
My Hitachi Jobsite Saw, available on Amazon.

Stationary saws have 10″ or larger blades, larger power draw, and multiple configurations. Fence systems, sliding tables, dust collection, power feeders, stackers, and more are available as options. Cabinet saws may have scoring blades, and additional features for making clean and accurate cuts.

Powermatic PM23150K 3HP 1PH 230V, 50" RIP
Powermatic PM23150K 3HP 1PH 230V, 50″ RIP – available on Amazon or your favorite machinery dealer.

Another way to approach this is based on the work your saw needs to do for you. Is portability important? Do you make a lot of varied cuts? Do you make dadoes or angle cuts? You can configure a stock table saw with aftermarket fencing systems, shop wheels, dado inserts, and more.  Here is a link to popular table saw accessories on eBay, and Amazon.

Some of the newer saws have “slow start”, safety stop braking systems, and good connections for dust collection, blade guards, and anti-kickback features.

Buy the right size saw for the job, and you will be getting the best bang for your buck.  The table saw is the woodworkers primary wood cutting tool!

Thanks for the A2A! Fyi – I own a Hitachi 10″ jobsite saw, with a shop-made two stage dust collection system.

Can you put a TV over a wood burning fireplace?

The short answer is yes, as long as you have solid support for the mounting bracket.

But (you guessed it) I have some caveats:

  1. Mounting the TV above the fireplace may position it too high for comfortable viewing; Neck strain is not fun, so that is a concern. If the TV is a good distance from the seating, or above a low fireplace, then you might be OK. The TV should be at eyeball level or slightly above, for best viewing angle.
  2. If the fireplace throws off a lot of heat, and there is no mantle to deflect some of it away from the TV, The heat can have an adverse effect on the electronics over time.
  3. Wiring. Despite the fact that TV’s are becoming wireless, you may have to deal with a power cable, HDMI cable, optical (sound) cable, and additional cables for DVD players, Cable boxes, and TV receivers like the Amazon firestick. Plan for having wires, and running them inside the wall or in a wire management system. I also suggest having a good surge/power strip or a serious UPS (power supply) – our power grid is aging and you don’t want it to “take down” your expensive OLED 4K TV due to power fluctuations.
  4. SOUND. Flat screen TV’s are notorious for flat sound; I almost always recommend a sound bar with a subwoofer – you want to hear the sound emanating from the direction of the TV, with a subwoofer on the floor or mounted near the seating area. Rear speakers are good to get surround sound into your “sound field”. I have clients who mounted speakers in the ceiling; this is really bad as you are disoriented with a visual image in front of you with the sound coming from above. I appeal to your common sense – NEVER DO THIS.

From the Web:

Want to Mount a TV Above a Fireplace? Read This First | Bob Vila

Installing a TV Above the Fireplace

Where to Put the TV When You Have a Fireplace

So there you have it – you can mount a TV over the fireplace, but it may not be ideal – explore all your options before proceeding!

FYI – This is the Big Screen” at my “Man cave”:

60" TV at the man cave

60″ Sharp Aquos 3D TV with Samsung 3D Surround sound sitting on media console (big UPS is behind screen). Wireless subwoofer and rear speakers next to recliners. Center of TV is at eyeball height when seated on recliners across from TV. Image is of me describing a prototype k cup recycling device.

Is carpentry and woodworking a good hobby to start?

Woodworking is a craft that is non-exclusive, and inclusive; almost everyone can do it!

Tennessee six pack carrier with bottle opener, Great gift idea, made in the chenkin workshop. painting by Kathy.

Carpentry has a great breadth – from Birdhouses and signs to elaborate carvings, models, Home repairs and functional cabinets. Carpentry also is a means to acquire tools, videos, books, and friends who share their love of the craft and knowledge of how to make objects out of wood.

  • Carpentry also brings together metal working (signs, hooks, table legs, hinges)
  • Painting – finishes, stains, decals, more
  • Repair work and upgrades
  • Reading and how to books

And much more!

Fireplace mantle with marble trim, Custom built for a client, courtesy of The Chenkin workshop.

The best way to get started is to Build, fix, or plan a project. Pinterest has tons of ideas, if you need inspiration.

Based on what you want to build, you will need to get some tools.

Pallet wood jewelry holder. product of the chenkin Workshop, finishing by Kathy.

Before you know it, you are on your way!

Of course, I admit I am biased. Carpentry is a Great Hobby to start!

Shameless self promotion (from my website):

Best of Luck and I hope to see you posting your projects on-line on Pinterest or Instagram!!

Do you believe Ikea makes quality furniture?

Ikea carries several lines of furniture. some are inexpensive and designed for people on a budget, and some are very high quality that wear well and have better wood components, hinges, levelling feet, etc.

Almost all IKEA furniture is based on 32mm “RTA” (Ready To Assemble) construction methods, and requires some attention to detail when assembling.

True32 Flow Manufacturing Kindle Edition

The 32mm system, using materials and hardware (designed for RTA cabinetry) enable IKEA to ship cabinets flat in boxes, so that more product can be carried in trucks and containers. it also provides a standard assembly method for almost all IKEA casegoods.

The Truth about IKEA: The Secret Success of the World’s most Popular Furniture Brand — Amazon

Many of the better pieces have panels made of MDF instead of particle board and laminated instead of printed finishes.

How to spot quality furniture at Ikea — Curbed

While you may not consider all IKEA furniture quality, their products are functional and serviceable.

My opinion is that you get a good value for the money, just don’t expect something to hand down to your great grandchildren.

Disclaimer: I shop at IKEA, and am an Elite Tasker for Taskrabbit — which is owned by IKEA. I repair and assemble IKEA furniture for Taskrabbit. You can read my blog on woodworking here.

I will say that IKEA is known for it’s food. I love the meatballs.

IKEA’s Real Swedish Food Book

For laughs and giggles you can take to the bank:

Ikea furniture could be worth a fortune in years to come

What tools do I need to turn a small log (10in/ 25cm diameter) into 1/4″/6.5mm thick boards?

If your log is green wood (freshly cut, or “wet”), you will need a bandsaw with a throat larger than 10″ (and capable of dealing with the irregularity in a long 10″ diameter log).

I would recommend (on the modest side) a 14″ – 18″ bandsaw like this one by Laguna Tools:

Laguna 18″ bandsaw

Then you would need a sled, or carriage to transport the log through the bandsaw.

This is a homemade log cutting jig for short logs: Super Simple Band Saw Log Sled, from Instructables.

If your log is long, you will need to make a support or rails so it will slide evenly through the saw without binging or cutting at an angle or curve.

https://amzn.to/2ECgytEIf your logs are larger then 10″ and heavy, your best solution is to purchase a small sawmill.  This book is available on Amazon, and worth reading, so that you understand the principles and capabilities of a portable saw mill.

If the log is green, you have to allow for drying and shrinkage, so you may cut the pieces 1/2′ thick and then use a thickness planer to get it to the final 1/4″ thickness, after allowing the wood to dry to dry. (8–10% moisture content before planing). This is some good information on how to dry wood; Cutting And Drying Logs Into Boards – Woodworkers guild of America.

after the wood is dried to 6-10% moisture content, you will need a thickness planer.  Thickness Planers are available from big box stores, Amazon, and eBay.

After the wood is sized to thickness, you will need a jointer and a table saw to clean up a long edge and square the board.

At this point your 1/4″ S4S (surfaced 4 sides) boards are ready for fabrication.

Some caveats: These are powerful machines, and caution must be exercised with each machining operation. Use protective gear like safety glasses, ear protection, dust protection, and gloves. Make sure you have all the machines setup and working correctly, and make test passes before machining all the wood, so the slabs will be uniform and true. (parallel sides).

Depending on your specific application, you may need a larger bandsaw, a tablesaw, a jointer, and more – especially if you make the jigs and supporting tables yourself.

Thank you for reading, and Have fun making your own boards from logs!

Disclaimer: I am a trained woodworker and have my own blog, The Chenkin Workshop