Created Hardwood’s Showroom of Live-Edge Wood Slabs

Created Hardwood’s Showroom of Live-Edge Wood Slabs

I visited Created Hardwood’s Columbus Showroom and was blown away! Ever since Created Hardwood Ltd. – Butcher Block Co.’s supplier of Live-Edge Wood Slabs – opened a showroom in their hometown of Columbus I have been wanting to check it out. Recently I visited Ohio’s capital city and thoroughly enjoyed my tour of CH’s extraordinary exhibit.

Created Hardwood’s live-edge wood slabs are used to make stunning, natural countertops and one-of-a-kind tables for kitchens, dining rooms, lobbies and conference rooms.

I learned that the family-owned firm has discovered a myriad of other clever uses for the slabs they salvage from downed trees.

Upon entering the showroom you cannot help but be overwhelmed by the striking beauty and variety of options before you. The main hall of the exhibit showcases a selection of live or rustic-edge slabs mounted on a number of different metal bases. All told, CH offers 11 different table base styles and its design experts are eager to help customers find just the right base for the slab selected.

created hardwood slabs

Here are a couple of extra-large slabs that would undoubtedly transform a dining room or a conference room.

created hardwood tables

Narrower slabs can be transformed into gorgeous library tables, desks and countertops.

created hardwood sofa table

Smaller recycled slabs can make perfect accent or coffee tables. Notice how much impact the selection of table legs can have. The wood slab in the photo is mounted on “Points” legs, which provide a delicate look suitable for a coffee table. While a similarly sized slab is mounted on heftier “Taper Up” supports, which signal this is a sturdy bench.

created hardwood coffee table

These unusual and stunning floating shelves were further testimony to the creativity of CH’s creative and skilled craftsmen…

created hardwood shelves

…as was this island bar and bar stools set.

created hardwood seated bar

In the rear of the store a neon sign calls (more like “shouts”) one’s attention to CH’s wood slab cutting boards exhibit. Rectangular slabs of various species and sizes hang, much like paintings in a gallery. They’re mounted on an authentic red brick wall, providing keen contrast in color, material and texture.

created hardwood cutting boards

By this point in my tour I was so impressed by the variety of CH’s creative re-use of salvaged, living edge natural wood slabs that I couldn’t imagine what I’d find around the next corner, nor could I wait to see. And sure enough, I wasn’t disappointed. I discovered a mock bedroom showcasing a wood-slab headboard, and an adjoining bath with a mirror framed at its top and bottom with wood slabs with live edges.

created hardwood headboard

And as they say on infomercials, “Wait, there’s more.” That’s when I discovered that the seat and back of a cushion-covered loveseat in the main exhibit hall were also wood slabs. But to be honest, by then I should not have been the least bit surprised. Here’s one of CH’s more interesting designs. It marries a glass table top with table base consisting of interlocking wood slabs.

created hardwood sofa

If you live in or near Columbus or ever visit, be sure to check out Created Hardwood Ltd.’s unbelievable tribute to wood slab recycling. It’s located downtown, at 16 West Poplar Avenue. If you want to shop online, visit us at butcherblockco.com and see our selection of Created Hardwood live-edge slabs, table bases and cutting boards.
Warm thanks to my tour guide, Created Hardwood’s National Sales Manager, Max Charney.

Little Workshop of Horrors

Little Workshop of Horrors

My workshop. First off, I admit I am certainly not the neatest of handymen, nor among the best organized. This photo of my garage workshop reveals as much. It’s also evidence of the fact that I shun comprehensive, strategic planning that might otherwise result in solutions that prove smart over the long-term. Instead, I tend to jump into home projects willy-nilly, making series of one-off decisions that each seem perfect in the moment. That’s how I wound up cobbling together this nightmare of a home workshop – an amalgam of work tables of various sizes, shapes and styles.

My first acquisition. A versatile, Seville Classics mobile storage cabinet (pictured at left) was a sensible one. It provided then-adequate enclosed storage via a cabinet with an adjustable shelf plus four drawers that glide easily on ball bearings. The unit’s top is a ¾”-thick wood workbench with a smooth, hard finish (presumably polyurethane). At the time it seemed as though this workbench tool cart would satisfy all my needs for my lifetime. I was so young and naïve. Like most obsessed tinkerers, I was constantly discovering new tools and gadgets that I simply had to add to my workshop. One of these, a set of those; you get the picture. A pegboard with assorted hooks and holders made a good home for hand tools…for a while. It wasn’t long before my workbench on wheels was maxed out.

Additions. Over time the projects I undertook expanded in scope, as did my collection of hand and power tools and all their various attachments. Pegboard soon covered the adjacent wall as well. I shopped around for workbenches but ultimately decided to build one myself. A fairly simple creation, it provided added open storage on a lower slatted wood shelf, plus a larger and sturdier work surface compared to that original tool cart. The work bench top is 1-1/2”-thick maple edge-grain butcher block with a natural oil finish and it fits the bill to a T. Still I remained on the prowl for more benchtop work space as well as enclosed storage space to satisfy my insatiable appetite for more and more guy stuff (reminiscent of Audrey II – the carnivorous plant in “Little Shop of Horrors” crying out, “Feed me, Seymour!”). So next, I repurposed a discarded desk with colorful metal-faced drawers. I make good use of the desk’s drawers, as well as its ¾”-thick laminated worktop. But still, something was missing from my little workshop of horrors.

More butcher block.Then it hit me like a brick. The idea was to use the converted desk and narrow bookshelf situated to its right – on which I store still more tools and such – to support a massive butcher block that would become the literal cornerstone of my Frankenstein-like creation. It would span the corner gap between the storage cart on the left and the butcher block work table on the right.

In this picture you can see the answer to my tool shop dreams (or little workshop nightmares?). It’s resting on the floor in front of the tool cart. It’s a 2-1/4-inch-thick commercial-grade blended maple butcher block made by industry leader John Boos & Co. in Central Illinois. The block is finished with Varnique – Boos’ own varnish-like blend that provides a protective shield and makes cleanup easy. Boos workbenches provide all the functionality and durability handypersons could want or need for their home workshops. This particular block started out 48 inches long and 34 inches wide. Custom cuts – one straight and one mitered – made it just the right shape to fit the corner and to maximize the amount of available benchtop workspace.

I’m very pleased with the end result. Deceptively, it almost looks as though I followed some grand design vision. But you, Dear Reader, now know better. Oh well, as they say, “All’s well that ends well.”

Yes, Real Men Cook!

Yes, Real Men Cook!

real-men-cook

Do Real Men Cook?

My dad is skilled at a great many things, but cooking is not among them. Sure, he’s fairly expert on the outdoor grill, but that’s not the same, nor is it unusual. Truth be told, this acorn didn’t fall far from the tree. With so many of my male friends seriously into cooking, it feels as though Dad and I are exceptions to the rule. With Father’s Day upon us, I figured this was the perfect time to finally answer the question: Do real men cook? Here’s what I learned. According to the Pew Research Center,

Men are nearly as likely as women to say they enjoy cooking a great deal: 32% of men compared to 35% of women.

Compared to 20 years ago, more men enjoy cooking today (up from 25%), and fewer women (down from 40%). The theory is that cooking has become more acceptable and appealing to men with the advent of such cooking shows as Iron Chef and Top Chef, and thanks to the growing popularity of such chefs as Emeril Lagasse and Bobby Flay.

Ok, color me surprised. About one-third of both sexes say they really like cooking, but are there differences in their respective approaches? The faucet manufacturer, Moen, conducted research that identified four distinct types of cooks: Family Cooks (42%), Adventurous Cooks (31%), Carryout Cooks (18%) and Cautious Cooks (9%). No big surprise here:

Women are more likely to be Family Cooks, and more men Adventurous Cooks.

You go, Guys!

Next, I wondered what each sex likes to cook. Definitely no surprises here. The website AllRecipes.com reports that women like pasta and men prefer steak. In addition:

  • Men describe their perfect dish as “spicy” and “meaty,” whereas,
  • Women use the adjectives “healthy” and “savory” to describe theirs.

Further reinforcing some tired stereotypes:

  • Men prefer the grill over the oven (46% vs. 17%), whereas,
  • Women’s preferences are the reverse (16% vs. 42%).

Hence the well-deserved moniker: “the opposite sex.”

And finally, a surprise. Men report (and that might be the operative word here) being willing to spend more time preparing meals.

So where do guys go for cooking tips and ideas? Well, AllRecipes says that men account for 36% of unique visits to food-oriented, social sites. That’s what spurred the launch of ManTestedRecipes.com – a social site for male cooks (as if you couldn’t figure that out). Finally, a website where real men can share recipes with one another. But guys, before you get your hopes up, I must point out that it’s too late to submit your fav recipe and win big bucks. The deadline for submissions for their “Dude Food” contest was April 30. But there’s always next year.

Until then, remember, real men cook!

And Happy Father’s Day, dads!real-men-cook-too

Nourish Your Soul in the Heart of Your Home

Nourish Your Soul in the Heart of Your Home

Important things happen in the kitchen, the heart of your home. Sure, it’s where families gather to seek physical nourishment, and that’s not unimportant. But it’s also a good place to nourish our souls by simply sharing the human experience. And the way we humans do this best is by sharing the stories of our days and the dreams of our nights; our failures as well as our successes; and our fears as well as our aspirations.

But it’s not enough merely to listen, or merely to be heard. That’s simply communicating. What’s important is that we understand, and that we be understood.

Once my mother sent me to the grocery store with instructions that were simple, or so I thought: “Please bring home one gallon of milk, and if they have any lemons, get 3.” It turns out they indeed had lemons, so I returned home with 3 gallons of milk, just as instructed. I’m a stickler for details, you see, but too often I get the details right, but I miss the big picture. It was easier for me to execute her literal request than to think through what Mom was really saying, or better, what she meant to say.

Fortunately, it was no big deal. We consumed all 3 gallons of milk before any went bad. But that’s not always the case when we humans prove our fallibility. Consider the case of our neighbors across the street – Mr. and Mrs. McDonald. Growing up, I was a close friend of three of their boys, and I will never forget this story. Mr. McDonald, backing out of the driveway, asked Mrs. McDonald, riding shotgun, for assistance, “Is it ok, or is someone coming?” After a quick look around, she answered both questions, “No, one’s coming,” with an ever-so-slight pause after the comma. You guessed it. Hearing that on one was coming, Mr. M proceeded to back into oncoming traffic and was none too pleased to remember that Mrs. M, like me, is a literal thinker. Who’s to blame? You decide; I know better than to get involved in disputes between neighbors, especially when they happen to be married to each other.

In this example there was a lot more to lose than a few bucks at risk should milk spoil. Fortunately, neither Mr. or Mrs. M suffered injury beyond a bruised ego. Nonetheless, this story is a good reminder that we must take the time and exert the effort necessary to ensure that our intended message is heard and understood, and if on the receiving end, that our interpretation is accurate. When in doubt, remember these simple words of clarification, “So let me get this straight.”

Here’s one more equally humorous, inconsequential story of miscommunication that could have easily turned out otherwise. J. Edgar Hoover, the long-time head of the FBI, was a stickler for well constructed inter-office memos. Among other things, he appreciated wide margins that could easily accommodate his responses to authors and notes to follow-on readers. One day, in receipt of a memo concerning national security that crammed so many words onto each page that he barely had room to pencil his comments, Hoover expressed his disdain by noting on the memo, “Watch the borders,” and returning it to its sender. Upon reading this warning from the famed and feared Director of the FBI, the memo’s author proceeded to clamp down security at all U.S. borders.

We’re all confident communicators, certain that our messages are clear and well understood. But all too often they are not. The next time you find yourself in the heart of your home telling and listening to stories of the day, make extra effort to ensure that you have conveyed or received the intended message. A small measure of clarifying or paraphrasing can help avoid simple misunderstandings that could lead to milk going rotten, dented fenders and bruised egos, and maybe even unnecessary border actions. Happy story telling.

A Remarkable Story Heard at the Kitchen Table

maple_butcher_block_countertop_2296

Here at the Butcher Block Company we love all things kitchen. So much happens in the kitchen – the Heart of the Home – where families and friends, sometimes joined by strangers, come together not just to share food and drink, but more broadly, to share the human experience.

The range of our interactions with one another in the kitchen run the gamut. We gather together there to pray collectively before partaking of food and drink; to celebrate momentous occasions and achievements and to comfort one another in times of distress. Over the dinner table parents upbraid as well as praise their children; and in some families, vice versa. Lovers and friends alike share with each other their most intimate thoughts, including feedback ranging from adulation to criticism. We update one another on the details of our days – whether significant or mundane, meaningful or inane. And we pass along stories from person to person, from family to family and from generation to generation.

The kitchen is where humans bond; where we laugh and dream together, and unfortunately on occasion, where we fret and mourn together. In short, the kitchen is where we come together and share the full spectrum of human emotions.

So here is the first of what we hope will be endless, memorable and moving Stories from the Kitchen.

A few years back, my wife, our two daughters and I were visiting my mother’s cousin, who happens also to be my Godfather, and his wife. Seated at their kitchen table, nibbling crackers and cheese, my Godfather recounted, for the benefit of my teenage daughters, a story that I had heard many times before, but that moves me more with every retelling.

Serving in the Greek Merchant Marines in World War II, “Uncle” George’s ship was torpedoed, but he had the good fortune to be rescued by another ship nearby. But as fate would have it, only 36 hours later that ship too was torpedoed by the Germans. Clinging to a life raft, he and four shipmates managed to hang on for dear life.

There, in those frigid waters, Uncle George prayed with all his heart and soul. He made a promise to God that changed his life forever. All he wanted was to live to see his mother and father once more. In exchange, he committed to devote what time and effort he could to serving God.

As it happened, a Canadian ship was not far away, but its current course would not bring it near the stranded Greek seamen. At least that was the case until the captain of the Canadian liner awoke from his sleep and on a hunch, changed his ship’s course by a mere 15 degrees. Lo and behold, the Greek sailors were discovered and rescued a second time, all within the span of 48 hours.

George K. Chimples emigrated to the U.S. after the war, where he became a successful businessman and philanthropist. Throughout his life, he more than fulfilled the bargain he struck that fateful night. Among his many acts of devotion and charity, Uncle George served as Chairman of United Greek Charities, founded an international Greek Orthodox fund-raising organization and served his faith at the highest level of lay leadership.

Now do you believe in miracles? Uncle George sure did. So do I. And now, my daughters do too.

The next time you gather with family or friends in the Heart of Your Home, don’t pass up the opportunity to share a story. They’re an important part of the human experience that we all share.