A Day at the Range

A Day at the Range

Apr 19


Had a great safe day at the range yesterday. Took an “Intro to Competitive Pistol” class.


Tim Logan runs a great class and runs a really safe range.


I learned that actively engaging a target pushes you as a shooter, and also pushes your equipment to a point where any weaknesses in your setup become very evident.


I have a Glock branded 10 round magazine sitting in the trash today as a result from consistent critical failures yesterday that never showed up during stagnant shooting.


I shot well, but the consistent 10 round magazine failures hurt my times. On a positive note, I got a lot of practice clearing jams, swapping mags, and cycling the gun under pressure.


Here’s pictures of the basic course and the instructors showing us how it’s done.







—– Brandon


Homemade Gin – Day 3

Homemade Gin – Day 3

Apr 06


Ladies and gentlemen, we have Gin!


With this kit, it only takes about 36 hours to make Gin.


The kit is great! It came complete with everything to make Gin except 750 ml of cheap run-of-the-mill Vodka. It even includes the bottles to put it in!




I was skeptical that the strainer would actually work and keep out all the solids I had added to the Vodka (see Day 2 post).


As you can see, it worked great! No solids whatsoever!




So, how does it taste? Well, I’ve never had Gin, but I can definitely say it’s a sippin’ kind of drink. That’s a good thing, though.


┬áIt’s smooth with what I would call a hint of coconut an pine combined. I know, that sounds awful, but it’s not. Mixed with Sierra Mist, it tastes kind of like Ginger Ale, but smoother. It’s good.


Keep in mind, I’ve never had Gin so my description may be a bit unorthodox because I’m not at all familiar with Gin. Feel free to leave comments if I’ve completely botched describing it.


Honestly, this was drop dead easy to do and I think the results are great. The kit runs about $50 and they sell the seasonings separately so you can keep using the kit over and over.


I give this kit a solid thumbs up so if you like Gin, definitely give the Homemade Gin Kit a try – http://www.homemadegin.com/.


—– Brandon

Homemade Gin – Day 2

Homemade Gin – Day 2

Apr 05


Here’s a quick update to my Homemade Gin adventure.


Added the Botanical Blend from the kit tonight.








Now I wait.


According to the instructions after 12 hours, I’ll have Gin.


Stay tuned!


Homemade Gin – Day 1

Homemade Gin – Day 1

Apr 04


Broke out my Homemade Gin kit I got for Christmas.

Never had Gin and am looking forward to trying it.

This cool kit makes it crazy easy.





Added the Juniper Berries to the 750 ml bottle of Vodka tonight.





This will sit for 24 hours, then I’ll add the Botanical Blend to it.

Stay tuned!


—– Brandon

A rare piece…

A rare piece…

Mar 14


Here is a rare Swiss piece I was lucky to find on Ebay back in December of 2013.

gnome_1 gnome_2

As you can see it had some extensive damage. Most of the base was missing and it had a hole drilled in the top of the head. It also had some damage on the face, especially the nose.

I wanted to have the piece fully restored for my wife’s birthday at the end of February. Unfortunately the weather here in Ohio did not cooperate and I had to give it to her partially finished.

The weather has finally broke a little and I was able to get it done this week. Missy is very happy with it and it is going in our private collection.

Be sure to click on the pictures for a bigger view:


Thanks for looking,

—– Brandon

An Addendum

An Addendum

Feb 21


Addendum to The Art & Character of Nutcrackers


It’s official, the Addendum to The Art & Character of Nutcrackers is available for purchase from the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum:

Click here to buy the Addendum to The Art & Character of Nutcrackers

Be sure to look for my original pieces featured on pages 106 and 110.

There’s also mention of me on page 5 for the repair work I did on a 16th century French piece for the museum a few years ago. Unfortunately, the publisher misspelled my name as “Benard Etto”. So here’s a link to the repair work that proves it’s me:

Completed 1500’s Nutcracker

Also if you don’t yet already have Arlene’s first book (The Art & Character of Nutcrackers) it’s available in the store as well.

I actually own 2 copies of each of these books. One is kept pristine while the other is used as reference. That way I don’t get all worried about having to take it out to the shop if I need to.

Arlene Wagner’s first book was a key element in getting me started in creating and repairing nutcrackers. Having my work featured in her new book is a huge honor for me. So if you get the chance, be sure to pick up a copy (or two). It’s a great book and a must have for any collector.


—- Brandon


Wings, wings, and more wings

Wings, wings, and more wings

Feb 01

It’s been a really cold and snowy weekend over here in Ohio.

It’s perfect weather to hunker down, fire up the heaters in the shop, and carve carve carve!

My wife and I team up to make what we call “Batwing Clocks”. I carve and attach bat wings to a traditional mantle clock, then my wife paints them in Halloween and Disney Haunted Mansion themes.

Here are a couple pictures of what goes into making these:

Bat Wing Clock

Bat wing drawn on Basswood and ready to be carved.


Bat Wing Clock

My creative clamping technique. Lots of rubber bands.


Bat Wing Clock

The wings are doweled and glued permanently in place. Gorilla glue foams as it dries.


Bat Wing Clock

My busy carving bench with more wings in process and other projects lying around.


Here are links to some of the clocks Missy has sold previously and one available now for purchase:


Haunted Mansion Themed Batwing Clock

Halloween Themed Batwing Clock

Halloween Moon and Owl Batwing Clock (avalable)


As always, thanks for looking!


—– Brandon






Jan 25

Here’s another great figural nutcracker I picked up that I gave to my wife for Christmas.

These seem to get classified as a gnome and sometimes as Santa. Since this one was a Christmas gift, it’s a Santa in our house. :-)

As you can see in the photos, he had some condition issues. The most obvious was a chunk missing from the bottom of his beard. He also had some small chips here and there, but was generally in really good shape.

The restoration went very well and the new finish really shows off the carved details.


Santa Figural Nutcracker Restoration

Santa Figural Nutcracker Restoration




Santa Figural Nutcracker Restoration


Thanks for looking.

Stay tuned, more great pieces are on the way!

—– Brandon