A Hobbit's Birthday Party at Zongkers Custom Furniture #1: Second trip to Dennis Zongker's Wood Lair

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Blog entry by Douglas Bordner posted 09-17-2008 07:26 AM 11019 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I have traded e-mails with LJ member Dennis Zongker, and he was kind enough to offer a shot at scrap lumber that was too small to use/store at the business he runs with brother Dan. Usually they give loads away to the local high schools, but being the shameless wood hoarder that I am, I had no punctiliousness about robbing the kids of a few sticks of lumber (Sorry, Teenagewoodworker, it’s every man for themselves when they are handing out free wood).

This last Sunday, Dennis was down at the shop working on the parquetry project he is currently involved in. Since the largest part of his day is spent running autoCAD and planning/project managing, it struck me as not one bit odd that this Sunday – his birthday – was spent in the quiet pursuit of his craft with only the his thoughts and the shop cats in attendance. He offered to let me come down and make off with a horde of wood, much of it 8/4. Those of you who are familiar with the fiction of J.R.R. Tolkein know that Hobbits, the diminutive race of Middle Earth have the practice of giving away gifts on their birthday – rather than receiving them. Striped mahogany, beautiful walnut, cherry, yellow poplar, flame birch, ash, maple and purpleheart cast-offs were on the bill of fare at this quiet party. Since time was tight before he was off to the movies with his children, I had just enough time to stop at the Old Market in Omaha for a slice of chocolaty goodness from Delicé a European bakery a few blocks from the shop. Quite a haul in exchange for chocolate.



I’m already carving some up for use on a plane till project I’m working on, from this idea from Thos. Angle

Click for details

Thanks again for the wood and the help out with it to the truck, Dennis. This is enough fodder for a year of small box work and shop fixtures. Happy Birthday to you!

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

12 comments so far

View Texasgaloot's profile


464 posts in 3695 days

#1 posted 09-17-2008 12:37 PM


-- There's no tool like an old tool...

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4016 days

#2 posted 09-17-2008 01:43 PM

“chocolaty goodness from Delicé a European bakery ”
you sure know how to shop Doug!
Nice haul too.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4155 days

#3 posted 09-17-2008 02:10 PM

Happy Birthday!!!! Nice Hobbit tradition

Douglas: I completely understand about stealing this wood away from the potential woodworkers of tomorrow. Let them find their own wood. (just humour, my friends, just humour). I’m sure that they will have enough wood to work with this year without these few pieces.

Looking forward to seeing what this turns into! :)

oh.. and “oooooooooooooooooh (drool) ... chocolate…”

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Dennis Zongker's profile

Dennis Zongker

2731 posts in 3587 days

#4 posted 09-17-2008 02:19 PM

Man, Douglas, that was some good chocolate!!! I ate it on my drive home. I also accidentally gave some to my shirt and pants. It mixed well with the dried up glue and saw dust. I think we have a pretty good barter system here in Nebraska. Thanks Douglas.

-- Dennis Zongker

View John's profile


341 posts in 3793 days

#5 posted 09-17-2008 02:35 PM

(I had to look up the word punctiliousness.)
Nice haul!

-- John - Central PA -

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6855 posts in 3974 days

#6 posted 09-17-2008 02:36 PM

Hi Douglas;

I’d say you did good!

I know little of Dennis, but that post speaks volumes about his work ethic and character.

Apparently he is as good a person, as he is a wood worker. Simply put: ”One of the very best”.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4024 posts in 4058 days

#7 posted 09-17-2008 03:36 PM

My editor/wife/soulmate wanted to make sure that I pointed out that the punky, moldy log section that has been riding in the bed of my truck since the big storms of this summer wasn’t part of the Zongker inventory.

Deb, my ulterior goal was to educate the woodworkers of tomorrow to a.) Toughen up kids! I’m afraid you are gonna need it… and b.) Start learning to forage for wood early. As soon as you get your learner’s permit, start driving the neighborhood on the night before trash pickup. Drive out to the tree dump and make withdrawals (I have some beauties waiting to be chainsawn into bowl blanks in the garden. some are beginning to spalt). Haunt the free section of Craig’s List… and get a metal detector.

Dennis, we dress alike. My clothes retain the memory of countless glue-ups and finishing schedules as well as the occasional meal. I even ate the piece I bought myself on the way home with similar results.

And Robert, if Dennis allows me to hit the jackpot (in future days, when there is a stitch of room in the wood storage area of the garage/hovel) again there will be a world famous Napoleonas Torte in it for the Brothers Zongker. The Lithuanian Bakery here in town makes a mean signature item that features 12 layers of thin Phyllo type dough, each spread with apricot jam with a rich custard center. Each one takes days to prepare.

On a side note, Omaha is second only to San Francisco for the number of restaurants per capita, with an incredible ethnic mix of Germans, Poles, Czechs, Lithuanians, Italians, Thais, Chinese, Somalis and Hispanics plying the food trade. The Orsi Bakery run by Frank Orsi is blocks from Zongkers and features rolls offered by many of the town’s restaurants, bread and sheet pizzas too big to fit through a car window. Sign me fat, happy and wood stocked in Omaha, Nebraska.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4155 days

#8 posted 09-17-2008 04:31 PM

you are sneaky Douglas… slipping a little bribe in there (the Torte for FUTURE scrounging!) Way to go

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Chardt's profile


169 posts in 3596 days

#9 posted 09-17-2008 05:29 PM

Good on ya, Douglas! I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Oh, and you get a triple word scrabble bonus for using

I also talk very more wordlier-ness…er, wordlierish? wordtastic? .....{sobs quietly into a thesaurus}

-- When my wife ask's what I have to show for my wood working hobby, I just show her the splinters.

View DocK16's profile


1184 posts in 4081 days

#10 posted 09-17-2008 06:28 PM

You are a shameless Wood Hussy…..except for the gender you’re just my type.

Famous indiane line from Dances with Wolves: Good trade.

-- Common sense is so rare anymore when you do see it, it looks like pure genius.

View Grumpy's profile


23916 posts in 3846 days

#11 posted 09-18-2008 12:06 AM

How sweet it is Douglas. That’s one envious trade.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4024 posts in 4058 days

#12 posted 09-18-2008 03:48 AM

Chardt, you’ve gotten the LOL award of my day.

DocK, your comment reminded me of a slightly off-color joke.

A guy sidles up to a gorgeous woman at the bar.
He asks her if she would sleep with Brad Pitt for a million dollars. After a brief moment of careful consideration, she answers in the affirmative.
Without losing a beat he says, ”So would you sleep with me for 20 bucks?”
The beauty is outraged. ”What kind of a girl do you take me for?”
To which he rejoins ”We’ve already established that. Now were just haggling over the price.”

Yup. When it comes to scrap acquisition, I’m every bit the cheap wood floozie.
Happy is he who knoweth what he is. Thus endeth the lesson for the day. Selah.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

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