Heros & Renaissance Men

I’d like to introduce two of my favourite and incredibly energetic and ingenious renaissance men – very unique business owners:

What??? No suits??? No ties??? For them, they’re merely distractions.

These two, much like an old married couple have been married to their passions for making things with an intensity and a symbiosis so rare – one that I was incredibly fortunate to be a part of and lives with me daily.

Ken on the left (with the coffee cup always close) and Louis on the right.

Ken & Louis in front of the shop

Together, they formed Breakfast Woodworks with Ken running the shop whilst Louis oversaw and marketed the business, yet still operating his own Architecture firm (Louis Mackall Architect) designing exceptional projects. This continued for about 45 years until instead of retirement, they reformed as Leetes Island Woodworks.

Ken’s ingenuity and skills always extended far beyond construction and custom woodworking.

I had the privilege to work with him on so many prestious projects that it just seemed to become the norm. Often whilst I worked on projects, Ken would be in the next room building machines literally from components – timers, relays, solenoids, pneumatic valves, etc. and preparing for the next shop evolution with an uncanny and unflappable vision. Also, as a boss, he also had that sort of vision with his employees, so when he saw potential in others, he worked to help them develop.

When CNC machines started to become available, he said to me “Ruf, here’s our budget, I want you to find us a machine, learn how to use it and and then train me” (I think he had too many projects of his own). That fuse was lit and as soon as the machine was installed, I started showing him the basics, but since he literally lived in the shop and made the most of every moment, his skills had eclipsed mine within months. No one could ever keep up with Ken.

His passion and a laser focus left no room for superficiality (certainly not for appearance) and despite his intensity, he was also one of the kindest, genuinely warmest people I’ve ever known and incredibly generous with his time. He rarely took time off, but when he did, his holidays were often spent in Haiti helping hands-on with infrastructure projects.

I never told these guys how much I love them (but that would be truly embarrassing for us all).

We tragically lost Ken last week and know that he will be deeply missed. My deepest heartfelt condolences go to all his family, to Louis and to Louis’ family as well.

Years ago when we were working on the Backstreet project, Louis was happily working in the shop to the buzz an old chain mortiser, while laughing in response to some shop banter, he replied with a twinkle in his eye “bop until you drop”. I think that this is a good reflection of the philosophy when you love what you do. You “go for the gusto” and then it’s time to stop.

I will miss Ken terribly. We had some incredibly dynamic woodworking experiences (even all-nighters) together and I don’t know where I’d be without a Ken & Louis (aka Breakfast Woodworks) in my early woodworking development from babbit bearing machines, to CNC & CAD. I just know that they have inspired both myself and many others in unimaginable ways.

An old Breakfast Woodworking relic

May you all have a Ken and Louis in your life.

A big shout-out

Sadly, underneath the mud, written on the backs of our tee shirts are the names of dozens of loved ones who have struggled with cancer. Many of us have been lucky (so far), but the best news is that with the small support of every one of us, that cancer prevention, early detection and survival rates are increasing!

And for those of us who aren’t doctors, or nurses, or researchers, etc., there are other ways we can help, because the costs of cancer are beyond staggering – both to the health care systems as well as to the families.

So for those who have donated, a big “shout-out” to you all. And for those who’d still like to give, please do so because it’s never too late (https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/rufuss-race-for-life-32) and as the saying goes, “many hands make light work”.

Thank you

A Carpenters tools…..

These days, we tend to rely more than ever on specialized tools to solve our specific problems. But the reality is that problem solving can be a very creative process if we pause to:

  1. identify the problem.
  2. consider current the tools at hand.
  3. apply thoughtful (and safe) adaptation.

In doing so, we are not only making better use of our current resources, but we are also excercising our creative abilities for when solving other issues.

The video below is a simple (and safe) example of that adaptation of a simple tool/machine (in this instance, by cutting in an axis different to what’s intended):

Machining Curved Door Trim

Over 20 years ago, a similar (problem solving) mindset was applied when adapting SolidWorks® for our curved stair building projects.

Stair design courtesy of Eric Chase Architecture

Okay okay, so perhaps Solidworks® was never initially intended for stairs, but after carefully evaluating its qualities, it quickly demonstrated what a truly outstanding 3-dimensional layout tool it was and is. And whilst back then it was used primarily for 3D geometry, it’s now routinely used for flattening complex geometries, for 5-axis CNC, part lists, material analysis, costing and many other forms of exported data. It was a good choice then and it is now.

Our toolbox is much more comprehensive because we take the time to work smarter.

Shoreline Parametrics using Solidworks®

We’ve come a long way.

Back in the saddle

l’ll always love woodworking and frankly, it’s a fundamental part of my being. So when CAD projects slowed, it was time to re-hone my shop skills.

About 9 months ago, I was hired by a company making yurts and my task(s) were those of a joiner, primarily to build its doors, jambs and any specialty components, but it quickly became apparent that the shop’s needs required much more as its existing component designs were defined by previously available skillsets.

It was time for an upgrade.

Initial door leaves were simply tongue & groove plank “shed style” with zee bracing on the backs set into crude curved door frames/jambs requiring LOTS of countersunk plugged screws, excessive handwork and fitting time. The following issues were quickly identified:

  • Tongue and groove paneling was outsourced and poorly manufactured resulting in warped boards, excessive machine marks resulting in excessive sanding and wood filling of chipped faces.
  • Poorly maintained machines due to lack of training.
  • Poor in-house machining practises.
  • Excessive applied parts requiring additional processing & assembly time.
  • An inability to easily add glass lights (window).
  • An inability to hold machining tolerances to avoid hand fitting during final assembly

The Tablesaw

In any shop, the tablesaw is the primary tool and sadly, this one was in a terrible state. What had started life as a very accurate SCM panel saw devolved into something crude with many of its critical components discarded due to a lack of understanding of their application. Slowly, many of them were recovered and restored to enable this accurate and versatile tool.


An older Wadkin 4-sided planer had been used only for bulk processing of wet timber yurt frames. And much like the saw, a great deal of its potential had lain fallow due to a lack of machine familiarity. It was time to strip it down and take a closer look at its potential.

What we discovered was the remarkable quality of cut from this machine enabled us to consistently batch machine components better than ever before and with a huge reduction in final sanding.


Next, it was time to address the door design. The challenge being to:

  • Make better use of the machinery potential
  • Halve the number of parts by using accurate skilled machining techniques
  • Improve machining techniques to reduce hand fitting
  • Improve assembly & lamination techniques to reduce handwork
  • Improve design versatility to enable changes
  • Provide drawings and parts lists to better coordinate the shop floor

The drawings below are examples of some of the pages:

Additional Investment

To do this however required some additional tooling:

  • A spindle moulder with stock feeder and misc. cutterheads
  • Some misc. hand tools

This relatively small investment resulted in the following:

  • Improved tongue & groove paneling could be easily made in-house.
  • Components were easily & accurately machined instead of the previous cruder technique of applying lots of extra pieces ($$) with glue and screws.
Machining the groove in a door frame head for an integral stop with weatherstripping.

Component Consistency

The other benefit is that we could maintain consistency nearly on par with a CNC, but without the cost as shown below:

Machining a pair of door top rails (note how the use of a feeder keeps hands clear!)

Finally, even before jambs were assembled, all curved pieces were cut to size with parts mortised for hinges requiring only the plugging of some screw holes and final sanding. Then the door stiles and rails are glued together, trimmed to size, routed for hinges, followed by final sanding before oiling. All this with NO hand fitting.

When the oiling is done, the finished tongue & groove planking (or glass) is installed in the openings, with the door leaves installed in the frames (for the 1st time with no hand fitting).

Ready for packing and delivery


It’s been an inspirational 9 months working with some shop mates whom I will miss very much sharing skills, fabrication strategies and some good all around banter. Thank you guys for all your support. Lastly, please be careful working with these older machines and keep up the good work. 🙂

Best always, R

We are Shoreline Parametrics

Because our drawings are truly an extension of the maker’s hand.

Elegance in its simplicity

Sometimes, simpler is better. The key to this project’s success is maintaining its lines transitioning from the stair through to the wood paneling. The stair’s beautiful french limestone treads bedded on a concealed steel substructure give it an invisible solidity.

Experience and tools make the difference between success and failure.

Our tools begin with 40 years construction experience coupled with 20 years of SolidWorks® solid modeling.


Shoreline Parametrics

We make it look easy, because we know the materials and the process.

Spot the difference…

Is it the tidied desk? Well perhaps that too. But the reality is that for families of different nationalities, their lives are always faced with the underlying consequence due to being “from away”. We shouldn’t underestimate how much this underlying sense impacts people’s lives.

We naturally take our nationality and all that comes with it for granted. But only when we have to truly dedicate our energies (and resources) to secure it does its preciousness become apparent. With heartfelt thanks to:

  • the business members who supported us in this massive move
  • to the community
  • and of course to our family

It’s been a long road.

We are Shoreline Parametrics

Proudly assisting bespoke manufacturers both in the US & UK

Not enough X Chromosomes..

Being in the construction trade, for good and/or bad our designs are influenced by our gender.

The neo-classical stair in the video below was one we did a few years back complete with iron balustrade. All work was performed to closely follow the detailed orthogonal elevations as provided by a truly outstanding architectural firm. As always, we generate the model as per their details, then flatten any regions as required and finally, generate the necessary drawings for submission/fabrication.

It was in the balustrade flattening phase, that Pauline said to me:

“you can’t be serious! Don’t you see the problem?”

Sometimes the most obvious things are right in front of our eyes

Okay, silliness aside, obviously the design was revised, but the point is that it took a woman’s perspective to see what had crossed many (assuming) male eyes prior and yet went unnoticed.

My business partner also happens to be my beloved wife and we are Shoreline Parametrics Ltd. Proudly assisting architects, builders and manufacturers in both the US and the UK for 20 years.

Close to home

Sometimes when I describe our work and the modern tools we use, I see puzzled looks followed by something like “we didn’t need those things when I was a kid….”

Well perhaps you didn’t, but maybe others did. Because in this instance, SolidWorks®, 3D technologies and a very special team made a huge difference to our Shoreline Parametrics family.

Here’s why:

From the CAT scan of a damaged shoulder joint, a SolidWorks® 3D model was generated enabling a bespoke bracket to be designed to fit the contours as well as setting the optimum angle for usability. This also enabled design of a surgical jig for cutting, drilling and finally, a physical 3D printed part enabling the physical checking of the machined parts for final fitting and all before even entering the theatre.

Why? Because this reduced the surgical time by nearly 70%, requiring the patient to only be anaesthetized for less than an hour instead of over three.

The actual 3D printed part complete with tiny screw holes
The 3D printed part (note even the tiny screw holes)

Naturally, the credit truly goes to the surgical team for their skill, compassion and ingenuity, for which our staff are eternally grateful as this staff member tirelessly contributes a great deal to our company.

But please don’t overlook the tools and the technologies which enabled this.

Murphy – always by the phone.

Lighthouse Stair

This is the original cast iron stair in a decommissioned lighthouse on an island off the rocky northern coast of Maine. The stair is virtually free standing and sadly due to excessive movement, the 100 year old metal castings and/or fasteners are most likely fatigued and brittle.

Working on rocky islands is always challenging as the limited access affects the logistics. In this instance, we’ve generated a study adopting the original design coupled with modern fabrication techniques using CNC plasma/water jet and robotic welding of standard components to produce sub-assemblies which are easy to transport and install:

To download our study, click here:

Our prototypes enable us to:

analyse nearly all aspects of a project before commencing fabrication including

● costs

● weights

● accurate listing all parts and components for clear and efficient communication

We’re Shoreline Parametrics. We are very experienced fabricators, using SolidWorks.

Let us help you to plan and build your next unusual project.

Metal Cabinetry

I once worked in a cabinet shop which completely avoided working with metal. To my amazement, even the sharpening of hand tools was outsourced. I found this very difficult to accept because as an apprentice, sharpening my chisels, planes and scrapers was one of my FIRST lessons. When in any discussion involving metal, the classic response was to back away, palms up saying “oh no…we don’t DO metal here”.

*heh heh* Okay then guys…so this is your worst nightmare…..

I believe that to have a well-rounded knowledge of woodworking, one has to understand the basics of metalwork. Our modern designs require it, as does our tooling and hardware and this level of understanding doesn’t even scratch the surface for there are so many other materials, agents and finishes required to complete most contemporary projects.

For this particular project the client had chosen blackened steel. Needless to say however that the weight of a cabinet door alone wasn’t practical or safe, so we opted for blackening aluminium thereby reducing weight by 40%. The cabinet components are 1/8″ thick, skived and folded to give sharp edge details. And to keep all lines looking as crisp and straight as possible, we avoided welding (as heat causes distortion), opting instead for all components to be machine fastened.

If all this sounds like alot of work, it was. Being a woodworker, naturally I’d have preferred it was made in wood and sprayed with a Liquid Metal finish, but that wasn’t the criterea which the project called for and the end result was quite stunning.

The part drawings give an indication of the sheer number of bespoke parts required. Every part fitting and machine screwed together.

Photos courtesy of BLUBLK LLC

The fitting of these parts, represents the merging of experience, knowledge and CAD/CAM technology. There were no remakes, no costly delays to disrupt workflow.


Because our 20 year experience is dovetailed with thought, dedication and of course….SolidWorks®.

This story is for Dad.

He was a Paediatric Surgeon (Actually spelled “Pediatric” in America). And unlike the doctors we hear about charging exorbitant amounts for their services, his patients were usually children from young parents often struggling and many receiving financial assistance. One day I told him how much I was charged for routine knee surgery, outraged he replied “do you know how much I charge for an esophageal fistula??? Eight hundred dollars!!” Needless to say that Dad was never in it for the money. He was on call all hours and with very few days off. He loved people, loved helping them and loved his work. In 1972, He was left paralyzed by a botched routine disc surgery requiring a year of recovery. This left him permanently disabled, with extreme nerve paraesthesia, but his driving love for helping others never stopped him from returning to practise surgery for 11 more years and retiring as an inspirational figure to the next generation of physicians.

He was an incredibly brave, strong and resilient man.

Dad developed heart problems years later. Congestive heart failure causes the afflicted to be starved of oxygen and as it advances, even pure oxygen doesn’t help as the patient struggles to breathe. Yes, the above part of the story is very sad, but the hospice care Dad received was incredibly uplifting. Every morning, the hospice nurse arrived and much like Dad had done years before – they worked tirelessly for another – only this time Dad was the recipient. My father’s bravery never wavered and when it was time, he was ready and he was at peace. It was the hospice that made the all difference and their gift to Dad was his final inspiration. Our family is so grateful for the peace and comfort that they gave to him. Dad did so much for so many and he is my inspiration, so this is for him:

Ronald W. Cooke MD

Please support the hospice.

This Saturday, 7 March 2020 come rain or shine, we’ll be participating in The Male Trail running, walking, marching, singing and shouting for Rowcroft Hospice, by raising whatever we can for those who need our love. Please support this event. Donation is easy by going to the link below:

Yes I wish to support this remarkable place

Nobody wants to think about it, but young or old, we all face the music and like it or not, most times the final act is the one which is the most profound. Rowcroft Hospice in Devon is a truly inspirational organisation giving hope to struggling individuals and their families at the most difficult times in their lives and without a single charge to them. Yes that’s right, zero cost to these families, so that carers, patients and families can focus on what’s most important – that of love, dignity and respect without the distraction of financial burdens to come. To achieve this is a monumental task requiring our collective compassion:

Click here to know more about Rowcroft:

Or better yet, come out and participate too. It’s healthy, it’s fun and you meet some fantastic people! Our task is so much lighter when we roll up our sleeves and do it together.

Thanks and see you there!