David P. Best Craftsmanship Woodworking Remodeling Homebuilding

David P. Best


Woodworking and remodeling houses have been a part of my life since I was a boy. My father was the ultimate tradesman - a journeyman printer in the hot type era. He taught me the basics of carpentry and the orientation to have a skill and be the best at it you can be. Even though my day-job career ended up in the information technology and venture capital businesses, I have had my hand in making furniture, building harpsichords, designing and building custom kitchen & bath cabinetry since my teens.

I built my first post & beam home when I was in my twenties, and I have designed and overseen the remodeling of the six homes I have lived in for the past four decades, often doing most of the carpentry and cabinet building myself. In addition, I owned and operated a home remodeling service company for 12 years and helped numerous clients bring their remodeling dreams to fruition.

For the past decade, I have been learning and perfecting new skills in metalworking and machining and added that capability to my workshop.

Shown below are a random collection of just a few of my projects. An example of a full-scale farmhouse remodel project is on this page.

Chef's Kitchen

This kitchen was just one part of what would become a back-to-the studs total remodel of the top-floor two-unit condominium in the Sea Cliff District of San Francisco. The goal was to stay true to the overall esthetic of the building, but at the same time bring a contemporary flair to the space and provision it with features for a modern lifestyle. Existing load-bearing walls could not be moved and thus defined the space. Within that space, a newly conceived kitchen layout combined chef-worthy amenities with a functional workflow and new appliances. The build log is here.

Cherry China Cabinet

This china cabinet is a companion piece to the dining room cherry island project shown below. Both pieces are crafted from Pennsylvania cherry, hand-selected for uniform quilted-grain pattern. This hutch features traditional antique bronze butt hinges with matching knobs and pulls, glass shelves with integrated LED lighting in the upper section, and adjustable-height pull-out shelves in the lower cabinet. The finish is hand-rubbed polymerized Tung oil and wax. The build log is here.

Cherry Kitchen Island

This cherry island piece was designed to complement the china hutch shown above and acts as a serving buffet while adding spacial separation between the dining and kitchen, which is otherwise a single large open space. Executed in the same quilted Pennsylvania cherry as the hutch above, it features glass-inset doors on the dining side and a full bank of drawer storage on the kitchen side as seen above. The massive drawers operate on full-extension under-mount adjustable slides that facilitate easy removal. Like the hutch above, the finish is hand-rubbed polymerized Tung oil and wax. The build log is here.

Marble Top Bookcase

A client asked if I could design and build a small bookcase for their library. After some discussion, they expressed a fondness for the Modern Style (British Art Nouveau style) that evolved out of and in reaction to the ornate style of the late 1800s Edwardian period. That style was pioneered by the likes of Josef Hoffmann and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The result is what you see above - with design elements drawn directly from the Mackintosh Willow Trone-Armchair among others. The bookcase is executed in European beech and finished with a charcoal two-part polyurethane. An interesting adventure ensued to find just the right marble slab to complement the piece. The section you see on the finished bookcase was extracted from the center of a very large marble slab, chosen specifically for the interesting abstract veining pattern. The build log is here.

Alcove Bookcase and Credenza

The same client that commissioned the grey marble-topped bookcase resides in a spectacular view condominium overlooking the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon. The living room in this condo had an awkward empty alcove at the end of one wall adjacent to the panoramic view window. They asked if I could devise a built-in bookcase to fill the alcove void and make it look original to the contemporary building. There was just one hitch – no demolition or structural alterations were allowed, and the work was to be accomplished without disruption to their ongoing use of the unit. These restrictions meant the bookcase and the credenza below it had to be fabricated and painted before installation, with minimum work to the adjacent walls and trim. The bookcase was fabricated in my shop for a "glove fit" into the alcove space – to a fraction of a millimeter. With this level of dimensional accuracy, the finished unit just slipped into the alcove space and hung onto a French cleat with all the work completed in 5 hours. The result is shown above. The build log is here.

Playroom Bookcase and Sectional Seating

I was handed a page out of an interior design magazine and asked "Can you make something like this for my kids playroom? I want it all white with charcoal grey cushions for the seating and drawer storage below. Not too fancy – functional and clean to offset all the exposed wood paneling in the room." I presented a few computer renderings, the most simple and unadorned version was selected. The five separate units are built of birch plywood with hardwood edge trim and finished with two-part polyurethane in off-white. A local upholstery shop made the cushions using a wool gaberdine cloth that I had sourced and had coated to repel spills and made it easy to clean. The build log is here.

Midcentury Modern Home Entertainment Center Upgrade

This project was as much an interior design challenge as it was a craftsmanship effort. This client's home is a midcentury masterpiece overlooking the Portland and out to Mt. Hood. When purchased, the entire home was painted the same color beige – the walls, trim, doors, and most of the cabinetry. It was a monochrome palace. The first of many upgrades involved the entertainment center in the living room. Figured American walnut was chosen for the drawers and doors, and the built-in recessed area was toned down to a near-black flat to provide contrast. Other projects in this home included upgrading the kitchen cabinets with matching walnut doors and drawer fronts and adding period-appropriate dining furniture and floor coverings.

Master Bedroom Suite Remodel

What started as a nest of five jumbled rooms was to be transformed into a large master suite with an adjacent bath. The homeowners wanted a contemporary esthetic that was fresh, clean, and functional – including lots of storage. I acted as architect, general contractor, and cabinet maker on this project, coordinating the subs for electrical, plumbing, tile and stone, and flooring. The cabinetry and doors were fabricated in my shop from the highest quality Baltic birch plywood and hardwood edging. In all, there were ten cabinets, a pocket door, and three bi-pass-type closet doors. The design, planning, and cabinet building aspects required about seven months, with the on-site elements of the project taking nine weeks from demolition to completion. The build log is here.

Fenced Garden with Pergola

This project was part of an extensive landscape revision and installation of a new garden space in the backyard of my Arts & Crafts period home. The goal was to re-interpret Japanese garden design esthetics while adding a contemporary flair and industrially-influenced details. The design also needed to tie into the Arts & Crafts architecture of the house. The garden includes an area for outdoor dining and entertaining under a pergola and an extensive and elaborate wrap-around fence system to provide privacy that is "neighbor friendly" and does not present as a fortress from outside the garden. In addition to being deeply involved in all aspects of the design and construction work, the pergola and cedar fencing were fabricated in my shop from rough western red cedar and then stained. The fence includes extensive welded-frame "windows" that are epoxy-coated and then powder-coated in the industrial grey you can see in the photos. This garden was featured in the Portland architectural landscape tour and the Outdoor Spaces issue of Better Homes & Gardens magazine. The pergola and fence build logs are here and here. The entire garden landscaping project log is here.

Swinging Garden Bench

Sometimes the simplest things can add uniqueness and interest to an outdoor space. In this instance, I drew on childhood memories of the swinging bench in my grandmother's garden to inspire the design of this swinging garden bench. It's a simple structure that includes to T-bar pylons set in a concrete base with stainless steel hangers that support and allow for a glider-type of seating platform. The seat is fabricated from quarter-sawn white Oak and stained clear.

Bathroom Vanity in Quilted Cherry

This vanity was part of an extensive farmhouse remodel project. Made of Pennsylvanian quilted cherry, it includes traditional butt hinges and cup pull in polished nickle to match the Waterworks faucets. The countertop is Vermont soapstone and the cabinet is finished with polyurethane varnish mixed with linseed oil and then waxed.

Arts & Crafts Inspired Porch Swing

Relaxing in a swing on the front porch at the end of a hot summer day is one of my favorite pastimes. Cocktail in hand, greeting the neighbors walking their dog, what could be more peaceful? I designed this swing for my own use with ties back to the designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh who was in his prime when my home was built. The swing is made from white oak, with stainless steel hardware and Kevlar rope, and is finished in polyurethane varnish. The build log is here.

Matched Set of Rolling Pins in Cocobolo & Spalted Pecan Box

This was a gift for my daughter who shares my passion for cooking. The box sides are continuous grain with mitered corners and blind maple splines. The top and bottom panels are spalted Pecan, and the lid handle is ebony. The hardware is solid brass from Brusso. The finish is polyurethane varnish mixed with polymerized Tung oil.

It didn't take long for me to tire of standing in the rain, fumbling for my keys when returning from shopping. So I decided to design and build a proper awning for the rear entrance to my home. The brackets are made of European beech, and the roof section is covered with a standing-seam copper roof panel with a drip edge along the bottom that diverts the run-off to the side. The build log is here.

Standing Seam Copper Awning