ken’s workshop.

You all have met my handyman neighbor Ken.


Ken is the guy that does all of my furniture repairs.  He’s also built custom pieces for me, like the shelves in my pantry.


He actually even built the shelves in my living room for the people who owned my house before Mr. Q and I bought it 28 years ago.

living room 1

Ken likes projects.  He prefers them to be small because he likes that feeling of completion he gets when a project is finished, and he doesn’t like that feeling of something hanging over his head that isn’t done yet.  I can relate to that myself.  That’s partly why I love painting furniture.  You can finish a piece in a weekend, it doesn’t drag on for weeks and weeks.

I feel like it’s my duty as a good neighbor to continually provide Ken with lots of small projects to keep him feeling useful.  If he’s not working on projects for me, then he’s working on something for his wife Arlene or for nnK across the street.  Really, the poor man.  He has three women giving him to-do lists!

I have to laugh because Ken has really gotten the hang of my whole blogging thing.  He knows that I like to get a ‘before’ photo of every piece, and he’s starting to remind me to get ‘in progress’ photos too.  So a while back when he was working on the Little Speckled Frog dresser for me he phoned me and asked if I’d like to pop over and get some photos while he had the top off.  Heck yeah.

Here is the top of the dresser and its drawers set aside in Ken’s basement workshop.

kw 1The problem with this dresser was that it was what I like to call a bit wonky.  I judge wonky-ness by putting my hands on the top of the dresser and trying to wiggle it side to side.  It shouldn’t wiggle or have any give.  But this one did.  When a dresser is wonky, I send it over to Ken and he shores it up.

In this case, he took the top off and added some additional structural support along the sides just under the top and just inside the side of the dresser.

kw 2

Here that is from another angle.

kw 3

He did this on both sides of the dresser.

kw 4

Then he re-glued the top back on.

He also had to build some of the bottom sides of the drawers back up.  You’ll often see this in old dressers, the sides wear away over time from gliding on those runners.  Once they get worn down, the drawers no longer open and close smoothly because they sort of fall down in the back.

kw 5

So Ken cut away the portion that was worn down and fit a new piece of wood into that spot (you are looking at the side of an upside down drawer in the above photo).

One of the drawers also needed an entirely new bottom.

kw 6

Are you noticing anything while looking at these repair photos?  Like how neat and orderly Ken’s workshop is?  Every tool has a place it belongs.

Some of his storage ideas are quite creative.  Just check out this method of storing dowel rods.

kw 7Each can is labeled with the dowel size.

kw 8Gold Medal soda?  Does anyone remember that brand?  I believe it was local to Minnesota.

Additional cans have been cut down and mounted above to keep the dowels in place.

kw 9It’s ingenious, right?  Plus it’s environmentally sound because he just used old cans that would have been thrown away, not to mention it’s pretty thrifty.  Ken was recycling before it was cool.

Ken’s storage system for screws, nut, bolts and other hardware is similarly clever.

kw 10

He’s taken old cans that various products like paint thinner came in, cut the sides off and turned them into little drawers.

kw 11He custom built the wood cabinet with cubby holes of the precisely right size for them.

Here’s one last clever idea from Ken’s workshop.  He’s made some ‘cushions’ for his vice.  They look like this …

kw vice 1

There are two of them, and Ken cut the rectangle shaped notch so that they fit into his vice like this …

kw vice 2

The purpose of these is to protect whatever item he is holding with the vice.  For example, a drawer.

kw vice 3

In this way the drawer doesn’t get dented or dinged up from the metal vice that is holding it firmly in place.

Pretty clever, right?

Ken has all kinds of tricks up his sleeve.  I’m trying my best to learn some of them so that I can eventually repair my own pieces, but I’m not sure I’ll ever get there.

But in the meantime, Ken did an awesome job on the Little Speckled Frog dresser and it’s sturdy as can be now.  Hopefully it will find a new home soon.

frog dresser 2

I hope you enjoyed Little Speckled Frog week.  I’ve got tons of projects in the hopper for next week because I’ll be taking a little stay-cation.  I have the full week off from the day job and I plan to devote some time to getting some things crossed off my to-do list.  So be sure to stay tuned!

29 thoughts on “ken’s workshop.

  1. OK, I clearly need to find a “Ken” too! I love the Cola can idea. My father made the same type of drawers with olive oil cans. Brings me back memories.


    1. My dad passed away many years ago, but he was about the same age as Ken and he also had all kind of cobbled together sort of tricks for fixing things. Whenever I visit Ken’s workshop I am also reminded of my own dad 🙂


  2. Such a wonderful guy! How lucky you are to have such a neighbor. and one that works for wine !! 🙂 Love it !


    1. LOL, even my sister ‘pays’ him in wine now for little fixit projects. Ken is a big believer in the idea that a glass of red wine every evening is good for your health 😉


  3. I am president of the Ken fan club! He is so industrious. That’s how I want to raise my boys. ❤️❤️❤️


  4. Wow! I am so very impressed by Ken’s awesome work and his wonderful shop! He does remind me of my Dad. He was also a very organized handyman that could fix anything. Thanks so much for sharing!


  5. Q,
    Ok…I was already a fan of Ken’s, but after seeing his shop I am so jealous that he is your neighbor ! What a smart man! Making those cans into drawers, and your pantry, I have never seen your pantry before ! I would love one! So clever the way he made a space for your wine! Those bookcases are awesome! How does he have so much talent? Was his father a woodworker? Self taught? Amazing . I married a man like my Dad, pretty handy but a messy work space. You look forever for something in our garage! I think all of us would like to see a picture of his super lucky wife! Her home must have some lovely cabinets etc! I am just in awe over his talent, skills, organization, and he cute to boot! Give him a hug and kiss for me! He deserves lots of them! 😉


    1. I keep meaning to post about my pantry again, but haven’t gotten to that yet. I am pretty sure that Ken is self-taught, although I do think that his generation learned how to do things from their dads. I’ll have to ask him about that.


    1. I’m guessing that this comment was meant to be sent to someone else because I’m pretty sure you’re not my mom! But I’m glad you enjoyed seeing Ken’s workshop 😉


  6. I think maybe a person leans toward “tinkering” or they don’t. They need to be working with with their hands – it seems satisfying.I see you as a tinkerer. A prolific one however. Ken is a treasure love his tidiness. The drawers out of painter cans are not only clever but charming. And cheers Ken!


    1. I have never thought of myself as a tinkerer, I think because I’m not that fond of the ‘fixing’ part of any project. I always want to get straight to the painting part, much to Ken’s annoyance sometimes when I ask him to fix something that I’ve already painted!


  7. Just gotta love Ken! And yes he has done a few projects for me too. Like my adorable Adirondack chair on my deck, helping me with the barn wood jar holders, fixed my dresser drawer and a few other projects.


  8. Love Ken. You are very blessed to have such a wonderful neighbor. Also, I noticed the Brimful pop cans and then looked closer at the tiny little “owl” on the cans. This was “Red Owl” brand pop. Brought me back to my childhood neighborhood Red Owl grocery store on 54th and Lyndale.


  9. Ken is so awesome! He could post his storage ideas on Hometalk and he’d probably get a feature with over 100k views! I definitely recognized the Brimfull cans. Was that the Red Owl brand? Are there even Red Owl stores anymore?!! Thank you to you and Ken for sharing. I enjoyed seeing “where it all happens”!


    1. Ken doesn’t even have internet access! He’s totally old school 😉 And yes, someone else mentioned that was the Red Owl brand of pop. I don’t think there are any more Red Owls 😦


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