Where do the Hunters Heal ?

Where do the Hunters Heal ?

Last week I received a wonderful letter from Sarah, a wood worker in British Columbia, Canada. Sarah built a fantastic version of the hunt board project from my first book, Made by Hand.

She used a nice combination of wood species and added some textured details on the drawer pulls and leg tops.

Great job Sarah, and thanks again for sharing your project!



I finally finished the sideboard and I love it, mistakes and all.  When I bought your book I was a beginner with an apron plane and a few chisels. So I jokingly tell folks the cabinet cost me a large fortune!  Seriously though your book and DVD were an inspiration and helped me prioritize my tool purchases and consider quality for life long use.   
When I bought your book my husband and I were living in a small cottage on a really small island ( no other people, or dwellings) totally off grid. After the first year we installed solar for basic electricity and a solar water pump to have running water.  I remember being in bed under the comforter and reading your book from front cover to back in one go. Sometimes,  even with the wood stove going in the winter,  under the comforter was the only really warm place to be in a cottage built for summer use.  You write so well and truly gave me inspiration.  At the time, I was wondering how I could get into furniture making on an off grid island. The cottage is 450 sq ft so my workshop ended up being  on the front porch with a tent awning protecting two sides so the rain wouldn’t come in. For a wedding anniversary my husband surprised me with a small work bench from Lee Valley that fit the small area.    I had access to a college shop with tools at one point and so did not do everything by hand.  I didn’t have any big planes at the time so was thankful to use their planer and jointer.  However, I did have to re-plane the top when I messed up the dovetails on the cabinet and that is when I fell in love with the low angle Lie-Nielson jack plane. Mistakes are learning opportunities and there have been many :- ) so many dovetails for such a small piece and like walking a dog in the forest, it does two or three times the distance of the actual trail. So to with my dovetails. If they had  all worked I would have an eight drawer cabinet!  
As I write this email the sideboard is visible and occupying a place of prominence in our home.  Actually,  we rearranged the whole house to accommodate it :- ). 
I changed a few things but not much, your design was the inspiration. I altered the grooves so the sliding doors can be removed, the legs are tapered a little more and the drawer pulls are modified grommets from Lee Valley with some texturing to go with the curly maple. I also textured the top of the legs. The wood is all local from Vancouver Island where I live. The cabinet and legs are arbutus and the door panels and drawers are figured big leaf maple.
I would not have attempted anything so beautiful without reading your book. Keep writing (and videoing) about your work it is obviously a real passion. 




  1. Kilian Nero

    amazing piece!

  2. Sandra

    It was with great pleasure that I furnished Sarah with a pile of arbutus, figured maple and my encouragement that she was ready to tackle such a project. While I provided a bit of advice along the way she approached this like she does everything: with enthusiasm, curiosity, and the ability to learn whatever she needs to!

    Mistakes are indeed an opportunity to learn (as Sarah said) but I also say they are simply evidence of the learning process- I don’t really see them as mistakes at all.

    I’ve seen this piece in person and it really shines- It invites you to touch it and look inside. There must be important things in such a special cabinet…

    Way to go Sarah!


    • tom

      Thanks for the comments, Sandra~; )

  3. Sarah

    Hi Steve,
    Arbutus is a Pacific Northwest tree that can grow quite big here on Vancouver Island. It is an interesting tree, a hardwood yet evergreen and a red paper like shedding bark. I am sure you have nice local hardwoods there in the central US. What appealed to me about Tom’s design was the contrasting woods he used. As for the gouge I used a #6 flexi palm gouge from Lee Valley but you could use a #5. You will want something that is not too rounded and use a scoop motion when carving. And hey I am a newbie too :-) good luck.

  4. tom

    I’m enjoying the dialogue on the textured details and couldn’t agree more. They add the ‘hand’ in hand crafted.

  5. David Gendron

    Faith, with it you can go a long way!! Keep up the great work!

  6. Steve Jensen

    Mistakes, what mistakes? I think that your sideboard is absolutely beautiful and i am inspired to build one as well. I live in the central US, so not sure if I can get arbutus but it is a beautiful wood. Can you tell me what sizes of gouges you would suggest for a beginner who wants to do some texturing as well?

  7. Sarah

    Thank you David, it was a wonderful learning experience and I must thank Sandra Carr my woodworking mentor/teacher/friend here in the Cowichan Valley who suggested I detail the tops of the legs … and had no doubt that I could do it. Always nice to have someone with more faith …

  8. David Gendron

    Wow, great work Sarah. Love the texture details!!

  9. Sarah

    Thanks Manni, I used a small palm gouge for the texture.

  10. Manni

    Sarah did some awesome work here. I feel texture is a very important element too often overlook. I love the treatment of the top of the legs.


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