Commissioned Church Side Altars Complete!

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Blog entry by Mark A. DeCou posted 05-09-2007 03:31 PM 4846 reads 0 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I am so excited this morning. Why you ask?

I’m complete with the St. Anthony Church Side Altar commission project. I have more work to do on other pieces for the church by the end of the month. So, there isn’t much time to take a breath yet, but the completion of the Side Altars is a huge milestone for me, and my woodworking career.

To be honest, there were some times that I wondered if I would ever get all of the details of these Altars complete. Total working time is about 625 manhours, all by me. With the “March from Hell” and the amount of detail work it took, it has been a long project.

My commission was to replicate the original Sacrifice Altar to complete the historic look of the church, taking it back to the way it looked when it was built in the late 1880’s in Strong City, KS.

I am almost complete with the Lecturn/Podium that I designed and built to match the other woodwork, so I will post photos of it soon. I’m really happy with it, and anxious to show you all.

Here is a shot of the Side Altars in my shop last night.

Another view of the Side Altars in my shop last night.

Here is a photo of the old Sacrifice Altar that I was using to replicate the matching Side Altars shown above.

My next phase of the project is to restore the old Sacrifice Altar, put a new top on it, add a back panel to it, and repaint all of the gold trim work. After that, I am to make a Processional Cross to match the other woodwork, which will be a really fun project.

Here is a photo of the church interior before the renovation work.

If you want to see this work complete in the finished church, go to this blog:

For the past 1.5 weeks, I have been working at the church on the restoration of the old Front Altar, and here is a photo of me painting the gold trim on the column tops.

Once I get all of the items in place after the new carpet has been laid, I will take some better photos of the finished look of the church.

This has been a challenging project, pushing my woodworking abilities at times to the point of breaking, but I have completed it, and now I am proud of the achievement. The church folks have my head so swelled up with compliments that it is hard to get my head out of the door, but I’m sure something will come along that will take me down some notches.

Let me know what questions you have,
Mark DeCou

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If are you reading this Thread, then you might also be interested in:

Here are the posted projects from this Commission:
  1. Hymn Number Board
  2. Speaker's Lectern
  3. Processional Cross
  4. Matching Side Altars
  5. Restored Sacrifice: Altar: not yet posted
  6. Restored High Altar: not yet posted
I have blogged about this commission if you want to read more:
  1. Developing Authentic Expectations While Working With Commission Customers
  2. Commissioned Church Side Altars Complete
  3. Hanging Homemade Crown Molding: Suffering Through Mistakes & Learning Life's Lessons
  4. Crown Molding: Crafting Your Own Trim
  5. Arrival of the Historic Church Altar; Restoration and Making two Matching Side Altars
  6. Commission Award for the Church Altar Restoration and Matching Side Altars
  7. Church Altar Restoration and Matching Side Altars Project Bid Submitted

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Here is a list of the previous project postings from my other Church Work:
  1. Roll Top Electronic Equipment Cabinet
  2. Communion Table

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

25 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4799 days

#1 posted 05-09-2007 04:03 PM

I look at this and once again my mind says, “someone actually BUILT this???” . I have no idea how I thought things were built—just miraculously appeared, I guess :)

Well done, Mark. Well done

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Mark's profile


316 posts in 4772 days

#2 posted 05-09-2007 04:10 PM

The hours you spent on this project have been rewarded by fine workmanship. Congratulations.

-- Mark

View coloradoclimber's profile


548 posts in 4706 days

#3 posted 05-09-2007 04:19 PM

wow, that is very cool. It is nice to see handcrafted ornate woodwork.

You actually made, I assume carved, the column tops?

How did you make the inset pieces, all the curves and tight corners? Did you use a template and route it?

The feet on the columns. It looks like they have multiple angle cuts. Are the feet built up after being cut? How did you make the angle cuts on the feet.

View LeeM's profile


5 posts in 4774 days

#4 posted 05-09-2007 04:20 PM

Very impressive Mark. Congratulations

View coloradoclimber's profile


548 posts in 4706 days

#5 posted 05-09-2007 04:26 PM

I just saw your other post asking the question 179 days ago about how to reproduce the column tops and panels. So what method did you eventually go with? How did you do it?

Enquiring minds want to know.

View schroeder's profile


702 posts in 4763 days

#6 posted 05-09-2007 04:41 PM

Congradulations Mark, another awe inspiring piece! You should be very proud!

-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4885 days

#7 posted 05-09-2007 04:52 PM

Long time no hear from or talk to. I can sure see why pal. You took on quite a job and it’s beautiful. Did you say it’s a Catholic Church? That type of gothic structure reminds me of our old church before it burnt down during lent, 1967. Myself and another alter boy forgot to put out the pascal (a big candle) but they said the fire started in the basement. We still always wondered though. We both tried to put the fire out with the garden hose, but the church being over 100 yo went up like a box of matches. Just beautiful old archetecture, you don’t see very often, much like you’re doing. And doing a great job I might add. But you don’t need me to tell you that. Gladd things worked out with the little one, our prayers were answered. mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View PanamaJack's profile


4483 posts in 4716 days

#8 posted 05-09-2007 04:58 PM

Wonderful work of art! Any words I say could not adequately describe this piece. Thanks for sharing Mark.

-- Carpe Lignum; Tornare Lignum (Seize the wood, to Turn the wood)

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 4799 days

#9 posted 05-09-2007 05:54 PM

Congratulations Mark. The work is wonderful, an inspiration to us all. I am looking forward to seeing the rest of your pictures.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View Paul's profile


660 posts in 4731 days

#10 posted 05-09-2007 06:18 PM


-- Paul, Kentucky

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 4815 days

#11 posted 05-09-2007 07:23 PM

I think Paul is in the same place as I; lost for words. What superlative does one use without sounding corny? As you know, Mark, I think your work is outstanding – inspirational in the sense that it underlines my belief that God gifts some of His children with skills that are beyond what the average person can attain. So, when I look at your work, I just say, “praise the Lord!”

I’m curious about your Rev. 22:16 T-shirt.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View amfmnsam's profile


14 posts in 4699 days

#12 posted 05-09-2007 08:26 PM

Beautiful wood and work.

How do you move those bad boys around your shop?

-- Keeping my fingers attached so I can stroke my wife's hair and hold my daughter's hand

View Karson's profile


35212 posts in 5039 days

#13 posted 05-09-2007 11:35 PM


Congratulation on this milestone in your career. The alters looks beautiful. I’m sure that the people who are complementing you are doing so because they see the love that went into those projects.

They started out as lumber, but have become a work of art and a presentation to the Lord, through your hands and heart.

Love you brother.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View RickInTexas's profile


45 posts in 4691 days

#14 posted 05-10-2007 12:22 AM

The pieces look fantastic. What kind of wood/finish is the majority of the piece? Love the way the grain “pop”s. Great work for a very worthy space.

-- Rick - Spring, TX

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4953 days

#15 posted 05-10-2007 01:01 AM


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