Frequently Asked Questions

Business related...

Do you accept commissions

Depends on what's involved:

A woman emailed me that she wanted to give her husband a small box as a gift on the occasion of their 13th anniversary. It had to be done in lacewood because lace is the material associated with 13th anniversaries. Design was up to me. I was delighted to take on the commission; the box is called "13th".

A couple whose beloved dog had just passed saw my boxes, liked one in particular - called "Twist" - and decided they wanted me to create a special urn for the dog's ashes. It had to be out of ebony (the dog was black) with red accents (they wanted redheart but I convinced them that pink ivory was a better choice.) I was honored that they chose me to do the project. It's called "An Ebony Box".

An architect (a famous one, I gather) emailed me that he loved my boxes and that he had a design for the "perfect jewelry box." He wanted me to execute his "perfect jewelry box" design. I turned him down.

That pretty much sums it up.

To be a bit more specific: If you have a favorite wood, I'm all ears. If you have storage requirements, I'll work with them, and, if you have a tight schedule, I'll consider it. But if you have a particular design, or a photo of a particular design, and you want someone to "create" that thing you have on paper, it won't be me. It may be a great design - "a perfect jewelry box" - but I only execute my own designs.

How long do commissions take

That's a good question.

There's an initial design process to determine price and a much more in depth design process if the project is to proceed. There's drawings that have to be done. If I don't have the needed materials they have to be procured. There's fabrication. And in-progress photography. Finishing. Packaging for delivery. And shipping itself. How much time each takes depends on the complexity (and size) of the design. And all of it depends on my schedule. So I'd say the range is 6 weeks to 9 months.

What is the payment schedule on commissions

This is where things may be a little different from what you are accustomed to. There's no payment schedule. I don't take any upfront money. When we agree on price and timeline the project begins. I design and build the box, supplying you with in progress photos. When it's done I send you photos of the finished product. If you like it, we determine what packaging and shipping costs will be, you pay for it and I send it to you. If not, I keep it. No questions asked.

The only variation from this policy is if I'm making something for you that I could never sell in any other way. This has yet to happen but I mention it because I suppose it's within the realm of possibility. If I did determine that your project to so personal as to make it impossible to sell to anyone other than you, I would require some sort of of deposit.

Is packaging and shipping included in the prices shown on the site

No. I don't know where you live

I usually use either UPS or FEDEX for delivery. There have been times where boxes have been damaged in shipping so I spend a fair amount time and money trying to make sure that doesn't happen again. That means I often double box, and that means the whole shipment is larger, heavier, etc.

When a piece is too large for standard cardboard boxes, i.e. French Polish, I build a plywood crate which has styrofoam padding inside for shipping. If necessary, I'll use an art delivery service if the piece has to travel a long way. If not, I deliver the piece myself. Or, the purchaser can pick it up. In either case, the cost of building the crate has to be considered part of shipping.

I can tell you that the cost of my shipping a small box within the lower 48 is approximately $40.

Do you ship outside the US

Yes, but, to be honest, I would rather the purchaser arrange for the shipping themselves. I don't know, or care to know, the particulars of different countries' customs and duties, tariffs, taxes, fees, etc. I will arrange for a standard UPS or FEDEX delivery, but if that's not feasible or satisfactory, the purchaser will have to determine how they want to proceed.

What is your refund policy

I have no desire create bad feelings in the world. There are already more than enough.

If you don't like what you've purchased from me you can return it for a full refund, provided it has not been damaged (unless that damage has been caused by shipping). Just package it appropriately and send it back. I'll pay for the return shipping. If it has been damaged in shipping PLEASE take a photo of the circumstances - the box, the packaging etc. - and send it to me. I'll deal with the shipper. You can then send the box back.

In my workshop...

What finishes do you use

That depends on the project.

If I want a low sheen finish or the wood grain is very coarse, I use Tried and True products: Original Wood Finish or Varnish Oil. If I want a higher sheen, I use Target Coatings products: EMTECH USH3000 UltraSeal-WB Shellac Sealer and EMTECH EM-6000 WB Acrylic Lacquer.

And sometimes, if the mood strikes and I have the time, I do french polish.

What stains do you use to color the wood


What woods do you use

All of them, pretty much. I have probably 60 or 70 species of wood in my shop - each in small quantities - and any one of them might be used in a box.

Where do you buy the wood

Generally, there are two different ways for me to buy wood: At a lumberyard that sells domestic hardwood and/or imported exotic woods, or, if I'm only buying a little and shipping costs are reasonable, on the web.

For the former, Monteath Lumber, Williard Brothers, Groff & Groff, and Hearne Hardwoods are within reasonable driving distance. Alderfer Lumber is a little further away, but the prices are great.

For the latter, I use from for domestic "exotics" and Rare woods USA (see more about them below...) or Gilmer Wood Company for imported "exotics".

Sometimes when Karen and I are traveling, if we're near a well-known lumberyard we might stop by. I've visited Penn Hardwoods when they were in Olean, NY (now in North Carolina), Exotic Lumber in Frederick, MD and Righteous Wood in Rowley, MA.

However, I must say, the very best lumberyard I've ever seen, with, easily, the greatest inventory, is Rare Woods USA in Mexico, Maine. Yes, you can definitely order online, which is great, but, if you're in that area and you love wood, by all means, visit Rare Woods. You'll be glad you did. Their stock - especially of exotic wood - is just incredible!

Do you have a favorite wood

I have lots of favorites, but English brown oak is my most favorite. It's a fantastic wood, both how it looks and how it works.