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Rob Bennett, cabinetmaker or scam artist...?

Artcabinet5 Rob Bennett, a cabinetmaker living in Terre Haute, specializes in faithful recreations of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and other classic Craftsman designs - and also does a fair amount of repair and restoration of antique furniture. His firm, House of Yesteryear, has a modest site that he markets his new items through (including a few items that integrate Motawi and Van Briggle art tile); pay special attention to such details as his Victorian fretwork - it may be the kind of decoration that the A & C movement rebelled against, but it is indicative the level of detail that shines through in all of Bennett's work. Pictured is Bennett's newest project, a beautiful 10-foot long Art Nouveau dining room cabinet.

Above posted 2005; addendum as of 06.30.08:

Apparently, Mr. Bennett is either a scam artist or a very, very poor businessman; as the comments on this thread - and a half-dozen emails I've received from unhappy clients - attest, he's taken the money & run, and his website, linked above, is now down. If anyone can help get in touch with this fellow, and any guild or trade association he may be involved with, I'm sure his would-be clients would be very appreciative.

Craig Yamamoto, woodworker

Craig33333 Woodworker week (which might turn into a month) continues with Whidbey Island's Craig Yamamoto, whose fusion of traditional Japanese cabinetry and the simple, subtle lines of Shaker furniture is as attractive as it is useful. He works with sustainably grown and harvested exotics as well as some domestic hardwoods, and as can be seen in the grain and texture of his work, puts an enormous amount of effort nto hand-selecting the woods he uses.

Take a look at various galleries of Craig's work:

Michael J. Kronau Fine Custom Woodwork

Michael Kronau is  a cabinetmaker and finish carpenter in Poestenkill NY, a small town just east of Albany. His experience is primarily in cabinetry and architectural woodwork, but he also builds commercial and residential furniture on a custom basis. His website is unfortunately light on photos of his architectural work, but some of the furniture featured there - including a beautiful and massive sideboard / storage unit, an organic-looking rocking chair that fuses the Shaker and Art Nouveau styles (see the What's New section) and the maple armoire in the gallery are just spectacular.

Apparently craftsmanship runs in the family, as Michael's son, Michael Jr., is a stonecutter.

Four Sisters Woodworking

Hvo_14 The three principals at Four Sisters Woodworking - Harry Van Ornum, Scotty Lyons and Les Cizek - share a beautiful, state of the art woodworking and textiles studio in the mountains above Fort Bragg, California. Four sisters, you ask? Well, sisters in spirit; the fourth being long-gone Dixie Whipple. All three accept students for short-term intensive courses of individual instruction.

Van Ornum's, a master cabinetmaker, is influenced by Shaker simplicity, Craftsman detail and Japanese style; his most succesful work (like this amazing desk / storage tansu (pictured), this Craftsman / Japanese cabinet, and the various small tables and boxes he's built over the years) combine elements of all these aesthetics. Cizek's work complements Van Ornum, in its deceptive simplicity; some of his less orthodox designs are particularly striking and much more modern.

Lyons is both business manager and head textile designer & weaver at Four Sisters. She produces custom textiles for upholstery, as well as rugs and many other types of textile products, and is particularly interested in experimenting with pleated cloth.

new windows not all they're cracked up to be

The Sacramento Bee, full of ads for new homes, window replacements and other signifiers of the area's sprawling suburbs, recently ran this article urging homeowners to keep old windows and work with existing ventilation. Visit the Bee itself to read the whole story.

Matthew Piner's handsomely restored Victorian blends old-world charm and state-of-the-art energy efficiency. The 1903 home, which sits on Capitol Avenue among the so-called M Street mansions, has its original double-hung windows with subtle imperfections such as wavy glass, spirals and bull's-eyes. Instead of ripping out and replacing the windows, Piner weatherstripped them with bronze springs so they would seal tightly, boosting efficiency.

"There's an epidemic of replacing windows going on in Sacramento," said Kathleen Green, a preservationist and member of the Sacramento Old City Association. The group will host a round table Saturday to highlight fruitful energy-saving fixes that preserve a home's distinct and historic features.

Green said replacing old windows with vinyl ones may not reap energy savings and could decrease the value of an older dwelling.

Piner, an architect and owner of Piner Works Design Build Group, said many Sacramento Victorians and bungalows were built with ventilation to take advantage of the Delta breeze.

In his home, transom windows above doors, a feature of many old homes that predate air conditioning, offer an escape hatch for warm air and help air movement.

stuff I like: Stiletto titanium clawbar, $70


I'm not so good at building things (at least not if you want them to work or look decent), but I'm your guy for demolition. This might be why my 40-lb tool bag consists of sledges, wedges, hammers and prybars.

Here's a new tool I'm going to need: Stiletto's titanium clawbar is five times stronger than steel, and it's the young handsome King Arthur to your unpullable nail (not like the jealous old Sean Connery version). There ain't nothing it can't pull, pry, or generally smash. It's also light enough to keep my toolbag liftable - maybe I can replace a few heavier items with it.

bungalow remodels - in pictures

As regular readers know, I'm a Flickr junkie - and I proselytize regularly about what a good idea resource it is. The past month brings many dozens of new remodel projects (note that I can only search by tags, and only 1/20th of the photos on Flickr are tagged, so a little browsing may find you plenty more) to the photo-sharing site:

selected homes for sale

June brings several new listings to the few dozen I've been tracking for the last month or two; now is certainly a good time to buy. Of course, the biggest savings are to be found in the $1 million plus homes, many of whom are priced at half or two-thirds of what they would have been five years ago.

for the too-rich

  • pristine, well-maintained and absolutely beautiful 4/2 bungalow in Portland OR: $699,950
  • gorgeously landscaped 2/1.5 historic bungalow in San Diego CA: 689,000
  • pretty Craftsman on a 10,000 sq ft lot, especially attractive conservation-landscaped grounds; original built-ins; 3/2 in Pasadena CA: $780,000
  • interesting 1908 fieldstone cottage, 4/2 in 1765 sq ft, in Pasadena CA: $834,450
  • 4 / 3 in a 1915, 3145 sq ft bungalow with some interesting features in Seattle WA: $850,000
  • amazing cabin/superbungalow, new construction, 3/2.5, great light in Seattle WA: $1,049,000
  • some markets refuse to drop, though: witness this 2/1, 1237 sq ft pretty but modest Mission Revival bungalow in Berkeley CA: $725,000
  • and the award for riduclousness goes to Palo Alto, California, where this pretty and relatively simple 3/2, 2130 sqt ft Mission Revival home is going for $2,195,000

for the comfortable

  • a representative highwater stucco bungalow in Sacramento CA, 3/2, in a terrific neighborhood: $449,000
  • an attractive wide 4/2.5 bungalow with many updates in Hendersonville NC: $429,900
  • gorgeous but small 1200 sq ft, 2/1 1911 brown-shingle bungalow in Portland OR: $374,900
  • 1949 brick Tudor/Edwardian/Craftsman attractive mishmash, 4/2 in 2200 sq ft in Rochester MI: $324,900

for the rest of us working people

  • beautiful 3/2 1932 Craftsman with some well-maintained original interior features in Ansonia CT: $259,900
  • accurately-restored 1926 bunaglow, 3/2 in Phoenix AZ: $249,000
  • a very attractive and huge 3/2, 6750 sq ft 1920 bungalow in Tampa FL: $239,000
  • modest but well-maintained 1925, 1800 sq ft bungalow in Memphis TN: $190,000
  • pretty 1930 3/1.5 bungalow with attractive yards & new kitchen in Caribou ME: $139900

Stickley on Craigslist: June 2, 2008

As usual, I've tried to edit out everything that is not authentic - shame on all the folks who try to hoodwink (or simply get more traffic) by disengenously labeling anything vaguely Mission as "Stickley style" or "Stickley era."

  • single Stickley spindle-backed armchair, $250: Minneapolis MN
  • cherry Stickley etagere / open bookcase, $750: San Diego CA
  • 2002 Stickley slat-sided, shelf-armed cherry & red leather settle, $2500: San Diego CA
  • 2006 Stickley spindle-backed dark wood settee, $700: Manhattan NY
  • "Quaint Furniture" slat-back settle / bench, $9000: Chicago IL
  • Stickley A&C / Deco daybed, $700: Manhattan NY
  • two beautiful Stickley tables - the Commemorative Library Table (#89-0407) and Cocktail Table (#89-0411), $2650 for both (an excellent deal; these retail for a combined $6300): Philadelphia PA
  • Stickley single-door bookcase (#89-633R-32), $1200: Boston MA