The Stillgar Workshop
at Cokesbury

This page contains pictures taken in the Cokesbury Workshop. With each picture is a description and sometimes a little story that goes with the item pictured. The thing we make most in the shop is excuses--to explain why projects aren't completed. This is not a commercial shop; we make things for our own satisfaction only. Below are some of the whimsical, and sometimes serious, projects that have come out of the HPS Cokesbury shop.
Beer Pong Table Water Wheel
Chippendale Style Headboard Windmill Birdhouse
Boat Birdhouse Dave's Birdhouse
Bird Feeder Casket
Country Secretary-1  House Interior

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Beer Pong Table

A young man in his mid twenties in 2007, who is one of my wife's former students and who became a family friend after graduating from college, came to us and said he had need of a beer pong table. Since we had never heard of such a thing, we asked him to provide the specifications and the materials, and we agreed to proceed with his request. He gave us the dimensions and strength requirements (evidently it had to be strong enough to support one or more drunk people either sitting or stretched out). After we completed what you see above and finished the top, the young man painted the sides and legs hunter green and carted it off to beer pong country.
     The table is about 8 feet long and 40 inches wide and can be disassembled for transport. We have never heard any complaints about the table's not serving its assigned function.

Chippendale Style Headboard

The headboard, designed by my wife's mother, is for a queen size bed owned by my wife's parents. It was designed to match the other bedroom furniture and is meant to be bolted to a steel bed frame. We completed the headboard in June 2008, and my wife and I transported it in our pickup to Sedona, Arizona in July 2008. The posts and cross support assembly was completed in Sedona.
    The headboard is now secured to the bedframe in Arizona and in use (See inset). The in-laws were thrilled, and, we must say, we were pleased with the outcome ourselves. The headboard is 64 inches high and 60 inches wide, finished in dark mahogany--and it did perfectly match the rest of the in-law's bedroom furniture.

Boat Birdhouse

I love to build birdhouses because they are quick and simple. I can see my finsihed product in one or two days. This boat birdhouse, built in 2007, was made for my first boss in teaching, a man I grealty respected but had lost contact with for twenty years after he retired. Out of the blue, he contacted me by email four years after I had retired and invited us to his shore home on Cedar Bonnet Island near Long Beach Island, New Jersey.
     For a guest present I took him this birdhouse shaped like a boat because he liked the shore and boats. We had a great reunion and talked about old times; in fact, he took my wife and me out for a ride in his boat. After that we visited back and forth a couple of times, but four months after our reunion, he suddenly died at the age of 81. Giving him this birdhouse was a great pleasure. Incidentally, the opening for the bird can't be seen, but it is in the back of the cabin.

Bird Feeder

Bird feeders are as much fun to make as birdhouses and just as easy. This simple hanging feeder, pictured after an ice storm in 2007, is outside our double diningroom windows and gives us endless pleasure. Feeders are more fun to have than birhouses because they attract birds of many varieties every day. This particular type of feeder is easy to make, and is easy to fill and maintain; repairs are minimal.
      Besides the usual sparrows, doves, titmice, nuthatches and chicadees, we've also seen grossbeaks, scarlet tanagers and a few other rarer varities of birds. We've even attracted a small hawk who lingers nearby to prey upon the sparrows and squirrels. It's interesting to see that birds have the same pursuits as humans--always vying for power and position and sometimes strutting their stuff to attract the opposite sex.

Windmill Birdhouse

The windmill is another whimsical production. Secured to our back porch, the windmill gives us some sense of wind speed and it is fun to watch in the same way the water wheel is fun to watch--it accomplishes nothing and generates nothing, but it goes round and round. It's on a swivel so it indicates wind direction, but it suffers damage over time and needs frequent repairs when it faces winds over 35 miles per hour. I'm working on making improvements to the wheel itself, replacing the thin wood paddles with aluminum paddles.
      The birdhouse in the bottom of the mill has had many lookers but no permanent takers. One bird did build a nest in there but abandoned it before laying any eggs. The wind causes great vibrations to the birdhouse and scares the birds away from permanent occupancy.

Water Wheel

The water wheel is a product of pure whimsy. There is a pump in the bottom of the trough in what might be call a "powerhouse." A small plastic hose runs up the long wooden shaft. When the water is pumped up the shaft and into the spout, it drops on to the wheel and makes the wheel turn. The object is to sit and relax as you watch the wheel turn. There is a set of wheels from an old baby stroller on one end and a handle on the other, making the whole apparatus easy to move about and store in the winter.
      The wheel is made of cedar with aluminum cross hatches through which the axle passes. The axle runs to bearings embedded in oak uprights on either side. The base, or spillway, is made of oak. Making the spillway of oak was a mistake as it does not stand up well to the wetness. I should have used cedar there also. I have to say it is fun to watch, though perhaps moreso for me than for others.
       Interesting note about the pump: When I went to buy a pump for a fish tank or small pond, the pump was very expensive. I went to a masonry supply store and found a similar pump for about one-fifth the price. It's the same pump that is used to supply water to a tile cutter.

Dave's Birdhouse

Dave is a friend of ours who owns an excavating business, so when we were invited to his fortieth birthday party, we decided to build a birdhouse reminiscent of his huge shop and garage where he stores and works on his equipment. What you see is the result. I built the birdhouse, and my wife rounded up the appropriate-sized equipment.
       It was quite an undertaking because we had to surround the birdhouse with the approximate landscaping around his shop, then secure the equipment so it wouldn't be affected by the weather. Dave was thrilled and said the birdhouse was too nice to put outside. As you can see in the inset, the bird entrance is on the end of the building. There is a similar hole on the other end, and the birdhouse has a divider inside.

Country Secretary- view 1

Unbelievable as it sounds, I started this solid cherry secretary/cupboard in 1992 and finished it in April of 2009. My wife, then my fiance, and I lived in a small apartment and decided we needed some storage in the kitchen. I started this secretary to be a cupboard in that apartment kitchen. After we had built the top and bottom sections, we decided to buy a small jelly cupboard we had found and use that in the kitchen instead because the cupboard appeared too large for that kitchen.

So the cupboard, built in two sections, remained under plastic covers in a corner of the shop for sixteen years. The doors had never been built and the middle section was originally meant to be open. But in 2008 we decided we needed a place in our present kitchen to organize our bill paying and other sundries, so my wife suggested we could use the unfinished cupboard.

We decided to turn the cupboard into a secretary by making the middle section with pigeon holes and a fold down writing surface. We finsihed it and moved it into the house on May 2, 2009. The secretary, as we now call it, is solid cherry, but the doors and fold-down are a brownish cherry which contrasts nicely with the very aged red cherry of the secretary's main structure. (Cherry turns darker over time as it is exposed to light, so the old part of the secretary had darkened very nicely as it sat for 16 years in the corner.) The secondary wood is pine for the shelves and back.

Country Secretary-view 2

This is the secretary with the fold-down writing surface open. The hinge is crude and very unusual: each side has a hand wrought bolt driven from the cabinet's side into the fold-down door itself. It works pretty well. The result is a slightly angled writing surface when the door is open. It actually turned out to work better than I had anticipated.

The pigeon holes are many and deep, and they serve well to contain all manner of organizational needs. They too are cherry, cut thin and coarsely finished.

The final finish on the rest of the secretary consists of three hand rubbed layers of varnish, followed by an application of Butcher's Wax. The knobs on the doors are hand turned and also of cherry.

The secretary is about 78 inches high and 40 inches wide. Each door has a raised panel and is joined in each corner by a short mortise and tenon, secured by two blind dowels.









Casket (right side)

      While this is a little macabre to discuss, above is what my wife and I plan to make our final resting place--at least until our ashes are scattered to the wind. While we call it our casket, it is, in fact, merely a box for our ashes after we have been cremated. In this picture, the box is finished with brass hinges and hasps on each lid The hasps are on the back side so they do not show.          

Casket (left side)

       The casket is cherry, including the turnings on the top--one turning, actually, split in two--and the sides have been glued, then pinned with maple dowels. It has several coats of rubbed down varnish and a coat of wax. I'm still wondering if it needs handles, as it is quite heavy.

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email:                             Interior of 151 Petticoat Lane

      This section shows some home projects that my wife and I completed to dress up our tiny ranch house.
      First we decided that since a ranch house in the Northeast has no particular character of its own (as a colonial might have), we would treat each room as an entity unto itself. So while the dining area is our rendition (others might disagree) of a cafe (which my wife suggested), the living room looks more like a room Abe Lincoln might have been comfotable in.
      The sitting or TV room is light and airy, as is the bedroom. The office isn't much of anything because it is a much used utility room. The kitchen, which is conncected to the dining area, we tried to make somewhat reminiscent of a 1930s kitchen, except with modern appliances.
      As we go through the house, you might notice that each room is made essentially for two people. When we have visitors, extra chairs, except for the kitchen, have to be imported into a room.

Cafe Dining area

Fake Beamed Ceiling

Workbench turned into an Island
Fake Tin Ceiling
Chair Railing and Wainscote
Thomas Moser Chairs
Abe Lincoln's Livingroom
New Half Wall Sets Off Sitting Room
Kitchen through Livingroom to Sitting Room
Gargoyles guard the Livingroom from each corner.

Grandma's Linen Press in the back of Livingroom
Entering the Sitting Room
Through the Picture Window to Backyard
Plants on the Half Wall
Chaises beneath the Picture Window for snowy days and starry nights.
Coffered Ceiling in Sitting Room
Table between Chairs from Our Own Walnut Tree
Bathroom Sink
Looking into the Bathroom
Nothing Fancy in the Office
Computer in the Office
Airy Bedroom

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