Canoes, Counters, Cabinets — THIS D-I-Y COUPLE IS UNSTOPPABLE

Here's Chuck in his shop, planing lumber with his 18" Woodmaster Molder/Planer. When you're a serious D-I-Y'er, it doesn't get any better than this.

Here’s Chuck Phelps in his shop, planing lumber with his 18″ Woodmaster Molder/Planer. When you’re a serious D-I-Y’er, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Here are two cedar canoes Chuck and Dale built. They built the one in the foreground with commercial cedar strips. They made their own strips for the one in the back. Why'd they start making their own? When they realized how much they were spending on cedar strips they got a Woodmaster Molder Planer and made their own.

Here are two cedar canoes Chuck and Dale Phelps built. They built the one in the foreground with commercial cedar strips. They made their own strips for the one in the back. Why? When they realized how much they were spending on cedar strips they got a Woodmaster Molder Planer and made their own.

Most people will NEVER understand why building things from scratch is so tremendously rewarding. “Build a canoe? Plane my own counter tops?” Most people would say, “Forget about it!”

But Chuck and Dale Phelps do understand. Not just WHY doing-it-yourself is so deeply satisfying; they also know just HOW to do it all, with big help from their Woodmaster Molder/Planer. They have a Woodmaster Drum Sander, too.

The Phelps made their kitchen cabinets of Monterey Cypress, and made the counter tops of Mesquite. Beautiful!

The Phelps made their kitchen cabinets of Monterey Cypress, and made the counter tops of Mesquite. Beautiful!

Chuck and Dale take one of the canoes they made with their Woodmaster out on its first "sea trial." A proud moment!

Chuck and Dale take one of the canoes they made with their Woodmaster out on its first “sea trial.” A proud moment!

“My wife, Dale, and I do a lot of woodworking together. We bought an 18″ Woodmaster Molder/Planer, then a 38” Woodmaster Drum Sander. These two Woodmaster machines work fabulously well. They’re exquisitely made and we use them all the time.

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A canoe kit started it all…

Here’s how it all started. Years ago, Dale and I received a model canoe kit as a Christmas present. We built it, cedar strips and all, and thought, ‘Why not make a real, full sized canoe?’ She and I ended up building five full sized cedar strip canoes. As we built the first two, we saw we were spending a lot of money buying cedar strips. I decided I wanted to mill canoe strips from my own lumber and that’s when we got our 18” Woodmaster Molder/Planer.

I mill the wood for our canoes from scratch using white cedar deck planking. I plane it to 3/4″ thick, then cut it into 1/4″ thick strips on a bandsaw.

As of today, we’ve built five cedar strip canoes, the last three with our Woodmaster Molder/Planer. We made some for relatives and still own two of them. I made one for a fundraising auction at the University of Rochester — it brought in $5,000, the largest bid in the auction!

They built their new kitchen – counters, cabinets, more

Dale and I retired to northern California and bought a 900 square foot home. We’ve since tripled its size. As we were building the new kitchen, we decided to build the kitchen cabinets ourselves. We built them out of Monterey Cypress, a wood native to this area. I milled a lot of raw wood on my Molder/Planer and sanded it with my Drum Sander. Dale applied the finishes.

Serious do-it-yourselfers Chuck and Dale bought a 900 sq. ft. home in northern California. They tripled its size, built a beautiful new kitchen themselves, and turned it into a charming and relaxing retirement homeplace.

Serious do-it-yourselfers Chuck and Dale bought a 900 sq. ft. home in northern California. They tripled its size, built a beautiful new kitchen themselves, and turned it into a charming and relaxing retirement homeplace.

Cypress cabinets, mesquite counter tops

Then Dale and I started talking about counter tops. We didn’t want granite counters — if you drop a glass it breaks. We decided to make counters out of mesquite. It’s a pest tree in the south where huge areas are overgrown with mesquite. They just bulldoze it out. But it’s a great wood to work with and I found a woodworker who salvages, saws, and sells it. I bought some and ran it through my planer to get it all to uniform thickness.

We made about 60 lineal feet of counters a full 30″ wide. I glued up 15” wide slabs, put them through my Woodmster Molder/Planer, then did final smoothing on our Woodmaster Drum Sander. Then I joined the halves with biscuits. Dale finshed the tops with tung oil – the bottoms, too, so they wouldn’t cup.

“Inferior equipment will drive you crazy”

The Phelps' also makes items for sale. "This is for relaxation in retirement," says Chuck. "But if we make some money at it, that's OK, too."

The Phelps’ also makes items for sale. “This is for relaxation in retirement,” says Chuck. “But if we make some money at it, that’s OK, too.”

I do lots of research before I buy tools and try to buy the best. Woodmaster equipment is obviously the best on

the market. You can’t get Woodmaster’s throat width on equipment from Home Depot.

charles cardI advise others to not skimp on inferior equipment. If you get a machine that doesn’t work well, it’ll drive you crazy. It’s simply a mistake to start with imprecise tools.

— Charles Phelps, Woodmaster Owner, Gualala CA

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