China Hutch in Ash

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Project by Paul posted 07-10-2007 04:57 PM 2674 views 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Since all the present projects seem to be “in process,” I thought I would post this hutch that I buiilt some time ago for our dining room. It wasn’t long after I moved to Texas 11.5 years ago, that I attended an estate auction sale about an hour away. The tools were okay but at the sale were three large piles of assorted hardwoods (200-300bf each) – oak, ash, & poplar – maybe other species, too. I don’t remember now. The story was that the deceased was a woodworker that traveled about in his retirement. As he traveled, he visited sawmills and brought back wood laid in the length of his RV. There were some tremendous pieces of wood in these stacks. (I still have two or three 12 foot by 15” oak boards that I can’t bear to cut for small projects and I don’t need a harvest table.)

Attending auctions is recreational for me, and if I have time (not too often anymore), I go whether I have money to spend or not. This time I had maybe a bit of cash for a coke and sandwich, and the family check book.

The piles came up for sale, nobody was bidding and in moments, the opening fair price was steadily being reduced by the auctioneer! Thoughts raced – my wife has a harder time in seeing the potential before the fact – what would she say if I spent money for wood we couldn’t really afford to spend? How would I get it home? I was an hour away driving a Toyota Corolla compact car. Would they let me leave it there until Sunday, but Sunday is a “work” day for me. Could I race home, borrow a truck and get back before they wanted to be gone for the day? I had no answers but I couldn’t stand it! I opened the bidding at $30 for choice of piles and won the bid at $50. Now, do I take one or all three? In moments, I compromised with all the unanswered questions and took just one stack. I proceeded to move the stack over beside my car in some kind of absurd notion that I could somehow stick 12’ boards out the windows or strap it on top. Long story short, the deceased’s son saw my plight, probably smiled to himself and had pity on me. I came over and said, “Need help?” and hauled it home for me in cattle trailer. The wife was only mildly displeased that I spent $50 on wood after much assurance about what could be produced from it. And after the act of kindness by the son and later the hutch materializing from the stack, my wife and I both agreed in hindsight that I should have took it all. I could have had nearly 1,000 bf of hardwoods for $150.00! Oh well, my heart is racing retelling the story. Let it go. Let it go.

The hutch is made from ash from the pile. I tried to create the crown molding with some of my antique tools but gave up and ordered it after ruining several lengths of wood. The bead detail around the door frames is made with a wooden side bead molding plane (not an added strip but a part of the frame). The design is an adaptation of a hutch found in American Woodworking Mag several years ago. The magazine plan has open shelves. My wife wanted glass doors.

-- Paul, Texas

5 comments so far

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 4159 days

#1 posted 07-10-2007 05:00 PM

Nice job Paul. At least you did get a bargain on what you did buy.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 4034 days

#2 posted 07-10-2007 05:42 PM

Nice project. I’m really glad people are taking the time to do the detailed writeups! Thanks for sharing!

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4216 days

#3 posted 07-10-2007 07:20 PM

Great story. I’d sure love to stumble across a find like that. The hutch is gorgeous.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View rentman's profile


230 posts in 4092 days

#4 posted 07-10-2007 08:50 PM

nice work and story.

-- Phil, Chattanooga,TN

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4244 days

#5 posted 07-10-2007 09:02 PM

Beautiful hutch, really nice work, good story too. jockmike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

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