Hugh McKay – Tripot #5


Artist Name:  Hugh McKay
Title:  Tripot #5
Details:  Maple burl

Why It’s Notable:

When I first saw this photo, I thought, “Those are three nicely-proportioned vessels made of nicely-figured wood.” And then I looked again. What I failed to realize at first was that the three hollow vessels were actually made from a single piece of burl, and still connected!

This is a level of multi-axis lathe work that I have never encountered or imagined before, and it has reignited my interest in turning.

Come See My Work at Port Moody Arts Centre’s Winter Treasures Exhibition

I just signed a contract with the Port Moody Arts Centre to participate in their Winter Treasures exhibition, their holiday exhibition and sale!

The exhibit starts on Thursday, November 20th and runs until Thursday, December 18, 2014. It takes place at the Port Moody Arts Centre (2425 St. Johns Street) in the Canadian Pacific Gallery, 3D Gallery, and Suncor Gallery and offers a great opportunity to find a special gift for somebody on your Christmas shopping list.

I’ll be at the Opening Reception on November 20th from 6pm – 8pm and hope to see you there, too! My challenging 18-Piece 3D Jigsaw Puzzles, Dogwood Screwdrivers, spectacular Live-Edge Cribbage Boards, mysterious Anniversary Boxes, and sculpted shelf, Reign, will be on display.

18-Piece Puzzles

18-Piece Puzzles

Dogwood Screwdriver 1

Dogwood Screwdrivers

Cribbage Board 12b

Live Edge Cribbage Boards

Chris and Anniversary Box

Anniversary Boxes




The Unknown Craftsman: A Japanese Insight into Beauty

I recently finished reading The Unknown Craftsman: A Japanese Insight into Beauty by Sõetsu Yanagi and adapted by Bernard Leach. It explores the circumstances under which beautiful objects are created, and how industrialization has influenced handmade craft.

I began taking down quotations that were interesting and worthy of sharing, but soon found myself jotting down entire paragraphs. So, rather than rewrite the book, I will merely point you towards the chapters which I found most interesting.

  • The Beauty of Irregularity (page 117);
  • The Buddhist Idea of Beauty (page 127);
  • Hakeme (page 171);
  • The Way of Craftsmanship (page 197); and
  • The Responsibility of the Craftsman (page 216).

This book has been added to my list of Recommended Readings.

What Defines Form?

There’s no part in [a motorcycle], no shape in [a motorcycle], that is not out of someone’s mind… a person who does machining or foundry work or forge work or welding sees “steel” as having no shape at all. Steel can be any shape you want if you are skilled enough, and any shape but the one you want if you are not.

– Robert M. Pirsig (from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)

One of the questions I am frequently asked is how I come up with original designs. Although I do study existing designs, when I want to create a design that I can call my own I start at the very beginning – with the purpose.

Take, for example, a table. If the purpose of a table is to support items at a convenient height, the requirements are to provide an adequate amount of support for the items, elevated to an appropriate height.

One of the most common forms has four legs, aprons, and a top – as seen here in my Table with a Twist.

Table with a Twist (42"x12.5"x30")

Table with a Twist by Chris Wong

Why are tables built this way? Do tables need to have four legs, four aprons and a table top? Of course not. This combination of parts is simply one solution that meets the requirements of a table.

There are other solutions, and once you open your mind to the idea that you are not limited to the usual, or even existing forms you can start designing any sort of table.

Here are a couple interesting table designs.

Brian VanVreede’s Cantilevered Coffee Table features a daring, curvaceous base.

BCCM Cantilevered Coffee Table

Cantilevered Coffee Table by Brian VanVreede

Sculpted Ash Table, which I built, is comprised of a sculpted table top half-lapped into an upright, which is bolted to an over-sized foot.

Sculpted Ash Table Front

Sculpted Ash Table by Chris Wong

Paul-Marcel St. Onge’s Tim Burton Table… well…

Tim Burton Table by Paul-Marcel St. Onge

Tim Burton Table by Paul-Marcel St. Onge

Find more interesting designs on my Pinterest board.

Hands That Shape Our Community Exhibition at Gallery Bistro

Inlet Artists, a group of which I am a member, is having its second exhibition – at Gallery Bistro this time.

We have taken advantage of the extra space and ability to be flexible with our presentation and included not only the photos which make up the collection, but some of the paraphernalia and workpieces depicted in the photographs. This invites the viewer to step inside the photograph.

Included in the exhibition is the carving done by David Driscoll of M.C. Escher’s Drawing Hands.

Image from

M.C. Escher’s Drawing Hands – image from

One of my photographs, Detailing Anniversary Boxes, is on display, as are the boxes themselves and Maple Slab Table.

I hope that you find time to view the Hands that Shape Our Community exhibition at Gallery Bistro (located at 2411 Clarke Street, Port Moody, BC). It runs from May 6 to June 16, 2014 and the Artists’ Reception is May 22 from 6:30-8:30.

Hands That Shape Our Community Gallery Bistro


Experience Twisted Art

Join me from 6-8pm tonight (Wednesday, February 19th) at the Port Moody Art Centre for the Opening Reception of their newest exhibit, Twisted. The exhibition runs until March 13.


See twisted art from across Canada, including three of my pieces.

One of my newest pieces was created just for this show. It’s called Chair with a Twist and it’s so new, it doesn’t even have a spot in my website’s gallery yet (coming soon!).

Chair with a Twist

Chair with a Twist

Also in the show are two pieces that I built last year – Wireframe Cabinet and Pacific Yew Sculpture.

Wireframe Cabinet

Wireframe Cabinet

Pacific Yew Sculpture

Pacific Yew Sculpture


New Exhibition: Twisted

Today is the final day of Discovery: Air at the Seymour Art Gallery and I am excited to announce a new exhibit at the Port Moody Arts Centre featuring some of my most recent work.

The exhibition runs from Wednesday, February 19th until Thursday, March 13th.

I will be in attendance during the opening reception on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 from 6-8pm and I hope that you’ll join me!

Evite JanFeb 2014


This is For Love

I spent the holidays with my family and friends, completely away from the shop. It was a really nice break and quite refreshing from the busy pace that two businesses and too-many-side-projects-to-count guarantees. Being around others reminded me that there are lots of ways to make a living, many of which require much less effort and pay better. Even so, I am happy with what I am doing and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Here’s some of the notable things that are keeping me busy.

Chair with a Twist

This design is inspired by the twisted rear leg that I threw in when I built Reaper. This build, which is currently underway, is driven by a call for submissions by the Port Moody Art Gallery with a deadline of Monday, January 6. I have three days of work into the chair so far.

You can follow along with my live builds via Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook.

Chair with a Twist DryFit

Discovery: Air at Seymour Art Gallery

Sunday, I am off to the Seymour Art Gallery in North Vancouver to deliver Wireframe Cabinet for their Discovery: Air exhibit, which runs from January 8 to February 1. The opening reception is Sunday, January 12 at 2pm.

Shop Stool Build-Off

While the build-off isn’t until January 25 and I already have my design worked out in my head, I still have my hands full promoting and organizing the event. Currently, I am working on securing prize sponsors for participants. Don’t forget to register!

Complicated Stool

If you need some help with or inspiration for your stool design, check out Jeremy’s Stool Design Guide listed in the links section at the bottom of this article.

Lee Valley Tools Seminars, Special Events, and More

In addition to Fridays on which I usually work at the front counter at Lee Valley Tools Coquitlam, I am also teaching three seminars this month and am scheduled to do an in-store demonstration mid-month. The three seminars are:

  1. Fundamentals of Hand Planes;
  2. Fundamentals of Hand Tool Joinery; and
  3. Fundamentals of Stringing and Inlay.

Port Moody Artist Groups

I am part of two projects featuring Port Moody artists.

One project, Hands That Shape Our Community by Inlet Artists is rolling along nicely and preparing for its first exhibit.

Hands That Shape Our Community

Kaboom! The Port Moody Art Explosion is still in the planning stage and we meet on a weekly basis.

#Woodchat on Air

Wednesdays, between 7 and 8pm, Matt Gradwohl, Scott Meek and I, can be found in front of a web cam and microphone hosting a live woodworking show about design and whatever else we (or you) want to discuss.

Scott and Jimmy

And There’s More!

While the items above are enough to keep me busy, there are many more day-to-day things that compete for my time. There are many other projects pending in my shop and designs to be developed, moulding planes to be built for Time Warp Tool Works, woodworkers who want private lessons, machines that need maintenance, and magazine and blog articles to write.

Oh, and I can’t forget spending time with my family and my amazing girlfriend, Jessica. After all, they are the ones who have to put up with me and my busy schedule. They also provide me with much-needed breaks from my work.

The title of this post was borrowed from this song by Nicole Atkins. 


Discovery: Air at Seymour Art Gallery

I am proud to announce that Wireframe Cabinet has been juried into a new exhibit at Seymour Art Gallery. Discovery: Air features work from 28 artists based on the theme, “air” and runs from Wednesday, January 8 until Saturday, February 1, 2014.

The gallery is located at 4360 Gallant Ave, North Vancouver and is open 10am-5pm every day of the week.

I will be attending the Reception and Awards Presentation on Sunday, January 12 from 2-4pm.

Discovery -Air E-vite

Click image to enlarge


Get Personal with Insanity

I will be making and selling my wooden 3D jigsaw puzzles at Gallery Bistro (2411 Clarke Street, Port Moody) Saturday, December 14 and Sunday, December 15 from 10am-3pm.

Sometimes I describe my work as that which is so insane nobody in their right mind would attempt it. My wooden 3D jigsaw puzzles are examples of that.

My latest offering is a small puzzle comprised of 18 pieces. They are simple enough to not be too intimidating, yet complex enough to keep someone engaged. The neat thing about these puzzles is that the difficulty can be increased by combining the unassembled pieces of multiple puzzles in the same jumble.


Gallery Bistro is a great place for breakfast (how about the classic eggs benny?), lunch (my latest favourite is the shrimp and avocado sandwich!), or a drink to warm your belly (chai tea, anyone?). It is also a vital part of the community. They display the work of local artists and allow groups such as Inlet Artists and the organizing team of Kaboom! The Port Moody Art Explosion (all of which I am a member), to hold meetings there.

18-Piece Puzzles

Five 18-Piece Puzzles