Tuesday, February 28, 2017

‘Water-white’ – What That Means in Finishing

You may have come across the term “water-white” for describing finishes. It’s a little confusing. It means a finish that is totally devoid of amber coloring in liquid form. The finish looks like water in the can. It doesn’t look white. In practice, the term is used to describe a type of lacquer, and sometimes a catalyzed (conversion) varnish. But you should be aware that water-white doesn’t necessarily mean non-yellowing. […]

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Monday, February 27, 2017

A Good Goodbye

Last summer, upon accepting the position of managing editor here at Popular Woodworking Magazine, I wrote a blog post publicly asking myself if I was a woodworker. Today, as I begin my final week in this role, I’m only slightly closer to a definitive answer. Sorry – burying the lede is an old writer’s habit of mine (same with posting misleading photos). Yes, I’m leaving my position at Popular Woodworking […]

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Wood Carvings For Beginners

Wood carving is creative, fun, and doesn't require expensive tools or a fancy workshop to get started. All that a beginner needs is a piece of wood and something that is sharp enough to carve it. But you need to understand that the type of wood and carving tools that you choose could have an effect on how easy or difficult the project is going to be. On the other hand, your safety as a beginner woodworker may depend on the type of tool you choose to carve the wood. This is why it is important that you have a basic idea of wood carvings for beginners. This article provides an overview of woodcarving tips for beginner woodworkers.

There are different types of woodworking techniques out there. In fact, you will find four basic types of woodcarving techniques out there. The best technique for you may depend on your skill level as well as the end product you intend designing. Whittling is the oldest form of woodworking. It features sharp, textured cuts that leave knife strokes on the wood. Whittling is performed with a carving knife and the products made using this method is quite angular. Relief carving is the other technique which carves certain figures into wood. The back of the wood is left flat while the figure is carved into the piece of wood.

Carving in the round is another popular technique of woodcarving. The objects made using this technique have a better finish. In fact, they are smooth and rounded. Chip carving is the fourth technique in this regard. The woodworker will use a chisel, knife, and hammer for this process. He or she may chip away at a piece of wood to create the desired outcome. This helps create intricate patterns in wood plates. Once you are clear on what type of technique you need to use, the next important thing is to decide on the type of wood that needs to be used for the project.

Basswood and Butternut are two of the most popular, softer types of woods that are ideal for beginner woodworkers. On the other hand, Butternut may offer a nice grain if you leave the sculpt unpainted. Make sure you purchase the right type of wood from a wood supplier when you are learning to carve wood. Don't just pick a piece of wood from your garage or lumber pile. It may end up in frustration since you are not familiar with the different kinds of wood out there. Other than Butternut and Basswood, you also can use Mahogany, White Pine, Black Walnut, Sugar Maple, White Oak, and Cherry which are easier to carve for a beginner woodworker.

In conclusion, wood carving is fun, creative, and doesn't need expensive tools to get started. All you require is a piece of wood and a sharp tool to carve the wood. There are different types of wood and woodworking tools for a beginner to get used to. The aforementioned read offers information on wood carvings for beginners.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

All About Wood Carvings - What To Do If You Want To Learn The Craft

If you want to learn how to carve wood and make great pieces of art, the first step in the right direction is to familiarize yourself with the different styles. Why? Because, just like any other craft, you don’t become an expert by being all over the place. Focus and the art will follow.

The first style in wood carvings is easily the oldest style in the world. It is called whittling. With whittling, you use a carving knife to chip away at a piece of wood until it is formed into the image of your choice. Whittling pieces, though, are not smooth, and you can easily see and feel the carving marks on the finished work. However, this is actually deliberate and pays homage to the oldest wood carving technique in the world.

The style that offers a smooth and three-dimensional finished product is called carving-in-the-round. To master this style, you will need more than a carving knife. We shall talk about the different instruments used in carving in the later part of this article. For now, let’s talk about the two other different styles.

While whittling and carving-in-the-round wood carvings are three-dimensional, the next two are two-dimensional.

Bas-relief carving is very much like making an elaborate piece of big stamp from a large piece of rectangular wood. The result is a painting that sticks out of a canvass, so to speak. Masters of bas-relief can make the most spectacular images that speak a thousand words.

Chip carving is mostly about chipping away at a piece of wood to make elaborate geometric shapes.

If you want to get ideas on each type of wood carving style, there are many picture boards on the subject on Pinterest. But of course, you do not want to stop at appreciating the masterpieces you can find in there. You will want to become a master yourself.

Once you’ve decided on the style you want to specialize in, take classes on the subject. You can take online classes or classes in a studio near you. Supplement your learning with books. Above all, practice, practice, practice.

How well you develop your skills really depends on how well you are able to handle the different tools in the trade, and there are several of them. Aside from carving knives, there are chisels, gouges, and V-tools.

Chisels are characterized by their straight or slightly diagonal edge. They are best used on sculptures where you will be chipping away at a wood block. Never use a chisel for  a bas-relief or chip carving project because it will tear the wood. Use a gouge instead.

A gouge has a curved edge called a sweep. There are different grades of gouges which indicate on how curved the sweep is. A #2 gouge only has a slight curve while #11 is very curved, and is used mainly to carve out hair.

V-tools are used as finishing tools to give more dimension to a project. The edge of a v-tool comes in different degrees. There are v-shaped tips that have a 45-degree angle. Still, there are others that have a 60, 70, or 90-degree angle.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday Live! Bandsaw Blades & Jointers

Today we discuss bandsaw blade options as well as jointer cutterheads. Of course we have tons of Q&A as well. Here’s the rundown:

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Another Point of Mortise Gauges

From my journal Wednesday 22nd February 2017 A question came up about the mortise gauge pins not closing up enough in some makes of mortise gauge. If, for instance, you are cutting a 3/16” mortise or tenon and your pins prevent setting less than say 1/4”. What to do? The questioner did indeed close with an …

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Alternative Paint Strippers


by Bob Flexner Safer strippers are having a ‘green’ revival. Methods for removing old paint and finish from furniture have gone through at least four distinct periods. Before solvents became widely available, coatings were removed by scraping, often with glass used like we use scrapers, and sometimes by sanding, after sandpaper became available. (Heat and caustics such as lye have never been a good idea for furniture because they can […]

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Truth About Flush-cutting Saws

Flush-cutting saws offer an amazing promise: It can cut a dowel or tenon flush to its surrounding surface without causing any damage. The truth is, however, no matter how awesome your flush-cutting saw is or how skilled you are, things can go wrong. The most common problem is the saw can drift slightly. And with a flush-cutting saw, any drifting can be disastrous. The teeth can dive into the work […]

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2017 Shop Tour

Welcome to the official 2017 Shop Tour. If you’ve been with us since the beginning, you know that my shop has changed a few times due to various domestic reasons. Back in November 2016, we packed up the house and shop one last time to head to our new home in Denver, Colorado. Curious why we moved? Read this. It’s been about three months since we moved in and I’ve been working diligently to transform my new 950 square foot 4-car garage into a dedicated shop. While there’s still more to do, I’m done with what I’m calling “phase one” since I’m now at the point that I can comfortably start building projects. If you want to catch up on all of the details regarding the move and the shop setup up to this point (as well as previous shop tours), check out the Shop Archives.

This video contains a LOT of references to products, articles, and videos and you’ll find those links below.

Special thanks to:

Relevant Links:

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Use Epoxy for Filling Gaps & Bark Inclusions – Martin Goebel

Along with 64,000 or so (at least as of today) other people, I follow Goebel & Co. Furniture on Instagram. The furniture pieces coming out of this St. Louis-based shop are well-built and beefy, with imaginative designs that in many cases make use of live-edge tops that are stabilized with epoxy. (And take a look at some of the table bases – they’re pretty astounding!) So when we were looking […]

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Keepsake or Keepsafe Box

From my Journal Tuesday 21st February 2017 A good day thinking through the prototype, which will be a keepsake box that you can keep just about anything you want in from letters to chisels depending on what you hold dear. I finally developed the awkward corner joint and that went well enough without making it …

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

How to Select Woodturning Tools

lathe tools

When it comes to turned furniture components, you only have a few options. You can buy mass-produced factory-turned components that do not accurately recreate the fine details in period furniture; you can make friends with a turner; or you can invest in a lathe and turn your own. If you decide to go with the third option you’ll need some woodturning tools (in addition to your lathe). This can seem like […]

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Thin, Good Looking & Strong – Micro Plywood Splines, Part 2

It is very easy to install thin plywood splines in mitered corners of boxes and frames But, to do so successfully, you will have to design the placement pattern of the splines and spend some time carefully laying out your design on the corners. (Read part one of the micro splines story here)  Design Above (in the lead image) you can see a few optional designs that can be easily […]

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Results in on Silverline Spokeshaves

From my journal Monday 20th February 2017 Just before the weekend I picked up another spokeshave but this time it was first under £5. At first glance you would say, “This’ll work, surely.” After all, all the component parts seemed to be there. The reason I picked this one out is because someone messaged me and …

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Monday, February 20, 2017

My Lucky Scars

When I was about 11, my parents took a trip to Cancun and left us with Hazel, a Nurse Ratched type with a beehive hairdo, a messed-up back and a matching disposition. It was Halloween, and so we were carving pumpkins in the garage. I was using my Cub Scout knife – improperly. The knife slipped and slashed the web between the thumb and index finger on my left hand. […]

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Laminated Plywood Rocking Horse

The idea of a rocking horse first came when my older brother and his wife gave birth to their first child. As a woodworker, I fell I wanted to give them something representative of my passion for wood that could be transferred for multiple generations. I began searching the Internet to find an example of a rocking horse I would find interesting to build. I found it at The Rocking Horse Shop, UK. They specialized in carved traditional rocking horses. They can sell you anything from the plan only to the complete horse. Be aware, they are not cheap.
I decided to give it a try and ordered the medium sized Rocky plans. It is made of laminated birch plywood and a wood base. Basically, the plan is all the shapes overlaid in a 1 to 1 scale. I managed to find a place that was able to scan that size of plan, then imported it in AutoCad to retrace it, nested on a 4 x 8 stock, and outsourced for CNC machining. I knew I wanted to make two, so I didn’t want to spend all that time on the jig saw, plus the result was much cleaner and I could use one set as a template.
Once I received the pieces, I simply glued everything with regular PVA glue. The two halves were glued and then put together. The centre is hollow to reduce the weight. Once it is together, you can start carving. I tried a few different methods but finally my best combination was the Lancelot chainsaw attachment for the angle grinder, then sanding disks (flaps) again on the angle grinder and finally sanding drums on my drill. I also used smaller sanding drums on my dremel.
This is a great project to start with if you are not that confident with your carving skills as I was, since the shapes appear like magic just by reaching the junction of each plywood layer. The head is a little trickier but instructions are provided to help you create the details. The hardware, saddle, mane and tail came in a kit that I bought and mounted following instructions. The finish is clear polyurethane.
I made a second one a few years after for my kids which was basically the same but took less time. It also makes for a very unique showpiece in the living room!

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Lift Lock N’ Roll Lathe Mobility System

When I buy an extremely niche product, I don’t typically make a video about it. But this one did such a good job of solving a problem for me and someone recently requested that I talk about it, so I figured I would make a quick video.

My new Colorado shop is smaller than I’m used to, and that means more of my tools need to be mobile. One of the heaviest and most difficult to move tools is my Powermatic 3520B Lathe. I’ve hurt my back several times pushing that thing around. I did a few quick web searches and quickly found a solution: the Lift Lock N’ Roll Lathe Mobility System. Unfortunately, it seems they only make this add-on for a few Powermatic models and the Jet 1642.

The system is easy to install and doesn’t require you to life the lathe at all. As long as the feet are extended, the system slides right under the legs and bolts in place. While the sales video of the product gave me the impression that I could easily engage the wheels with my feet, the reality is it’s quite difficult. I eventually got it to work on the lighter tail stock side of the lathe. Under the head stock, forget about it. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to engage the system by hand.

So you might be wondering how in the world is it actually EASIER to do with your hands? Well, the problem lies with the position of the handle. It’s so close to the legs of the lathe that you have to wedge your foot in a tight space where the handle is happier resting against the side of your foot rather than the sole of your shoe. So even though it doesn’t take much pressure to move the handle, you have almost no leverage in this position. Perhaps if I were wearing something other than running shoes, the result would be different. But if you kneel down and pull the handle out with your hand, it’s a pretty simple matter to then push the handle down to engage the wheels.

Bottom line is it makes my lathe mobile, and that’s what I bought it for.

Please note that I have no connection with the makers or vendors of this product.

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From Lowly Can Opener to Mortise Clean-out Tool

Wednesday 15th February 2017 I know, I should have just made one or two of these years ago. I knew exactly what I wanted but was too lazy to just make one. Fast forward and I decided to do something about it so here it is. What to call it?? Waste extractor? Chip remover? You help …

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Make Your Own Linseed Oil & Wax Finish

A finish made from linseed oil and beeswax is an easy-to-apply, tactile finish that I like for turnings, vernacular chairs and other objects that don’t require the protection of a film finish, such as varnish or shellac. The finish, which I call linwax, is available from suppliers such as Swede Paint, or you can easily make your own in a couple hours. The nice thing about making your own is […]

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Use a ‘Nail Board’ to Speed Finishing Work

Here’s a finishing trick you may not be familiar with. You can brush or spray both sides of flat panels and cabinet doors without having to wait for one side to dry by using a nail board – except I used drywall screws instead of nails. These screws have very tiny pointed tips that make virtually invisible pricks in the finish. Begin by brushing or spraying the backside or underside, […]

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Small Shop CNC: A Class of Machines Designed to Fit

If you’re at the point to where you’re at least thinking about the idea of adding a CNC to your shop, then you’ve likely done some research. If that’s the case then you’ve certainly noticed there’s a huge range of sizes and prices of machines to consider.  With CNC routers from as small as 12” x 18” to as large as 5’ x 10’ in size, and prices from a few […]

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Mortise Gauges to Look For

Thursday 16th February 2017 I’ve worked on and off with marking gauges all my working life. New ones have come and gone with the generations and then, because an originator passed, a stepson or nephew took over, and the heart and the art was lost, we ended up with slop around the stem.   I have …

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday Live! – Trestle Table Preview

Today I’ll give you a little SketchUp preview of the upcoming Trestle Table build and we’ll also discover my increasingly-common problem of forgetting to zip my fly. Here’s the rundown!

0:28 – Check out Wood Talk!
1:36 – Slab coffee table video released today 
2:18 – New clamp racks
5:35 – Marc & Nicole’s Valentine’s Day activities
5:52 – Trestle Table Preview
10:22 – Will you be using the thread taps on the top?
16:08 – Marc will be hanging out with Alex Snodgrass this summer.
18:00 – YouTube Superchat
18:44 – Can a shoulder plane be replaced by a rabbeting block plane? Check out Hybrid Woodworking 
21:00 – Marc can’t figure out why his zipper is always down.
25:47 – Should the blade on my new band saw cut fast?
26:45 – How do you stay focused on projects?
29:22 – Does the speed of the jointer cutter head make a difference in cut?
30:22 – What is the best way to keep tight joints on a wide miter?
32:23 – Do you know if hobbyists are allowed to attend the AWFS show (or other trade shows)?
33:33 – How do I explain to my wife that I don’t have enough clamps?
35:10 – Do you have experience with carbide tipped forstner bits?
36:10 – Is a bandsaw an important tool to have in the shop, and do you sharpen or replace band saw blades?
38:25 – Have you ever had a dislodged band saw tire?
39:00 – How can I prevent my wife from misusing my tools?
41:17 – When are you losing the beard?
42:30 – When wet sanding with a sander, does the liquid get sucked into the sander?
44:15 – What sharpening system do you use? My Sharpening System
44:34 – Why didn’t you go with the infrared heater in your shop? Shop Heating Options
44:48 – Tormek, workshop, or whe(a)tstones for sharpening chisels?
46:20 – Is there a Guild only forum to look through? Here’s the Facebook Group
48:20 – Any chance for a barn door build in the future?
50:10 – Patreon Update Thanks
51:00 – Do you suffer from hand numbness when working in the shop?

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Live Edge Slab Coffee Table

One of the most exciting things about moving to Denver is that I now have access to more live edge slab material. We needed a new coffee table and I also wanted to build something that would showcase the new Wood Whisperer Thread Taps, so a simple Live Edge Slab Coffee Table with metal legs fit the bill nicely.

Shop Local

CS Woods in DenverThe one place Denver locals kept recommending I check out what Collector’s Specialty Woods (CS Woods). After looking at their website, I hopped in the truck and decided to see what they had to offer. To say my mind was blown is a bit of an understatement. This place has more slabs than I’ve ever seen in one location including numerous species and sizes ranging from small to simply ludicrous.  I selected a nice little slab of Claro Walnut that I thought would fit my space nicely and while I was checking out, I noticed a cool set of metal legs sitting over to the side. As it turns out, the legs were made by a local fabricator and they were also for sale. SOLD! I lovingly placed my new slab in the cab of my truck (it was just too beautiful to put in the bed) and headed by to my shop to get to know my new friend a little better.

Fix It Up

Epoxy RepairsIn many ways, a slab project seems like woodworking on easy mode. And believe me, this was easy! But don’t underestimate the time and attention to detail it takes to prepare a slab properly. My slab was in incredibly good shape yet I still spent several hours over the course of a few days filling knots, bug holes and checks. I like to use West System Epoxy for filling: 105 Resin, 205 Hardener, and Pump Set as well as CA Glue with Activator.

I Had a Blast

Sand Blasting WoodTo clean up the live edges, I used a combination of carving gouges and sandblasting. I don’t have a serious sandblasting setup so I decided to dip my toes in by purchasing a fairly simple sandblasting gun. I loaded it with Black Beauty Abrasive Media, connected the compressed air, and I was off to the races. Given the cost of this setup, I was really pleased with the results as it had no trouble cleaning up and smoothing the irregular surface of the live edge.

The Finish

Applying FinishSince this coffee table needs to withstand hurricane Ava and tropical storm Mateo, I decided to go with a polyurethane finish. Poly finishes generally have a bad reputation as they tend to make the wood look like plastic if applied too thick. But if you use a wiping poly (which is pre-diluted for you) and you apply it with care, you can end up with a show-stopping finish that looks natural and provides a good deal of protection. The video shows the details but here’s the quick recap.

  • Step 1 – Sand thoroughly to 220 grit and vacuum the dust.
  • Step 2 – Apply Coat 1 of wiping poly with sponge brush.
  • Step 3 – Once dry, sand surface with 500 grit wet/dry paper and vacuum the dust.
  • Step 4 – Apply Coat 2 by repeating steps 2 & 3.
  • Step 5 – Apply Coat 3 by repeating steps 2 & 3.
  • Step 6 – Thin the Wiping Poly even further with some mineral spirits. Coat the surface and wet sand using an abrasive 2000 grit pad. Wipe off excess (leave very little on the surface) and let dry overnight.

Attaching the Legs

Wood Whisperer Thread TapsThe legs are attached to the table using 1/4″-20 x 1″ L bolts. Instead of using threaded inserts, I’m using Wood Whisperer Thread Taps to get the job done. The taps are super easy to use. Just drill the appropriate sized hole to the depth you want it, and use the tape to cut the threads. The bolts can then be driven home. For more information about these taps, check out WWThreadTaps.com.

The Moral

Finished Slab Coffee TableWhen it comes to live edge slabs, less is more. The slab itself is the true showpiece and Mother Nature did nearly all of the work for us. Our job as woodworks is to include a base that both compliments the slab and stays out of its way, visually speaking. Too many times I see an over-designed base that competes with the top. Don’t do that. Let the top be the hero and design a base that supports it in the simplest and most complimentary way. Or you can get around the design challenge by simply using a visually “light” metal base or legs. Normally, I would have made the base from wood but as I said initially, I wanted to show the Wood Whisperer Thread Taps in action and this seemed a cool way to do it. All in all, I’m very happy with the results.

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Popular Woodworking Magazine, April 2017

The April issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine (#231) just mailed to print subscribers and emailed to digital subscribers. It’s live in our online store too. There’s a lot to dig into in this issue, including a chisel primer from Christopher Schwarz – he addresses what chisels you really need, how to set one up right and correct chisel usage techniques. And if you’re interested in period woodworking, you should really […]

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Forensics in Woodworking – Links to Becoming a Woodworker

One of my most favourite woodworking series we filmed for woodworkingmasterclasses was three years ago now, I think, where I replicated a very unique and inspiring occasional table. Made from mahogany, at first glance the table might have seemed nothing of much out of the ordinary. A simple looking piece with no particular embellishments to …

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Frank Klausz’s ‘Secret’ Water-tight Joint

water-tight joint

Frank Klausz reveals the family secret – how to make the watertight wood-on-wood joint for the bottom of his sharpening pond – a boatbuilder’s joint taught to him by his grandfather. It takes a special shop-made tool…from a material that you likely already have on hand. (I think I’ve enough of this particular thing to make at least 40 of them…I need to clean out the basement.) The pond also […]

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AJ’s Train Bed

When it came time for our 3 year old son to get a “big boy bed,” well of course I had to build one. He loves trains so I started looking at pictures of real steam locomotives to get some ideas and inspiration. I also looked at posts from both The Wood Whisperer and Fine Wood Working sites. I sketched some ideas on  paper in the shop and started playing with dimensions to make sure a twin mattress would fit. I settled on a  few drawings and what I had in my head and started building.

All the parts are poplar except for the light of course. I used a single piece of 1/2 inch birch ply for the bulk of the front. The most difficult part was the curved veneer for the front. Yeah, my bending form needs some work but overall, I’m very pleased with how it turned out. Seeing the smile on our son’s face brings great joy to my heart.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Clamping a Chair is Like Hugging an Eel

One of the challenges when building a chair is clamping the dang thing down so you can work on it. I’ve seen lots of solutions that use band clamps. But I dislike band clamps (perhaps I had a bad experience at band camp). So here’s what I do. Most workholding problems can be solved with handscrew clamps and holdfasts, including this one. First you squeeze the legs with the handscrew […]

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Rag-in-a-can Oiler

From Journal Tuesday 14th February 2017 I’ve used my rag-in-a-can oiler for over 52 years to date. It’s for adding a super fine film of oil to my planes and saws and so far as I know it knows no equal. The trouble is it’s prompted questions that come up all too often so hopefully …

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Ingenious Chinese Planing Stop

There isn’t enough written in English on the woodworking of the Chinese, who have a long and amazing woodworking and technological history. But today I’ve been gobbling up “China at Work” by Rudolf P. Hommel (MIT Press, 1937), which focuses on tools used for making other tools (blacksmithing), food, clothing, shelter and transportation. Unlike other contemporary writers, Hommel lived in China for several years, had enormous respect for the culture […]

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Acclimating Wood

acclimating wood

Whether you buy your furniture wood from a specialty hardwood lumberyard or from a local sawyer, the chance that the wood is ready to go into a piece of furniture with a minimum risk of shrinking (or, rarely, expanding) unduly is just about nil. Instead, it’s more likely (at least in most areas of the United States) that the wood has been sitting in an unheated space and is, at […]

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Fixing a Noga

One of the many benefits of having tools, is being able to fix something you broke. I’m usually pretty careful with my tools but the other night i knocked one of my Noga bases of the bench and broke the head. Since replacement heads are fairly expensive, I fixed the old one last night.

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Hide Glue – Preparing the Grains or Pearls

Most hide glue is sold as a solid in granular or pearl form. To prepare hide glue for use, estimate how much solid glue you can use up in a few days to a week or more (it’s myth that you need to throw out the glue at the end of each day), and soak it in water for 20 minutes to a few hours depending on the particle size. […]

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An Affordable Spokeshave For You

I bought a spokeshave you can afford and one I haven’t tested out before either. I liked the look of it and Draper UK has been a long established distributor of all kinds of tools, machines and equipment here in the UK for decades and whereas their quality is generally accepted as reasonable to well made, …

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Monday, February 13, 2017

When to Send a Tool Back

If you get to know some toolmakers as friends, you’re likely to hear all kinds of wild stories about people who return tools for odd or non-existent defects. Think sidewalls of a handplane that are different in thickness by a few thousandths of an inch. Or cutting bevels of a tool that are ground 1° out of square. But sometimes tools do need to go back to the manufacturer. Students […]

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Thin, Good Looking & Strong – Micro Plywood Splines, Part 1

While designing a 9th-grade box project, one thing kept bugging me: How should we reinforce the miter joints at the corners of the boxes? After cutting the miters and gluing the box parts together, I knew that we would have to add some strength to the corners – otherwise they would fail at some point, because simple miters are not reliable. So the question was, what kind of reinforcement? First […]

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Digital Woodworking & Contemporary Art

While working on a couple of blog posts about a group of CNC machines that are great for small shops, I got distracted by something rather impractical. But I thought because the distraction was about wood, it might be of interest to some of my fellow woodworkers. This is the final week of a solo contemporary art show of my work at Zinc Gallery near Seattle.  All the sculpture created […]

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Tightening Tool for Veritas Router Plane

From my Journal Tuesday 7th February 2017 I made yet another tool for my Veritas router plane this week. The design of this router is pretty much flawless, let me say that up front, but at my speaking engagement last week I forgot my thumb turn-screw to cinch up the depth limit; it’s one I made …

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Finishing the Dresser Chest

From  my Journal Tuesday 7th February 2017 Finishing the Dresser Chest of Drawers Applying the finish for many woodworkers is often a daunting task ahead but with the right brush and technique it need not be. With the video series concluded and posted we made a finishing video for everyone to follow to conclude the …

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Friday, February 10, 2017

Friday Live! – Thread Tap Demo & Jet vs Bessey Parallel Clamps

We appreciate your help and support on Patreon.

2:06 – Special Guest Millie
3:00 – Patreon Update
3:30/5:00 – Wood Whisperer Taps
4:27 – Denver Maker Meetup Group Info 
5:30 – Thread Tap Demo
6:40 – Does the speed of tapping have to be slow?
7:52 – Are you going to make dies to match the taps?
11:33 – Do the taps come in metric?
15:00 – How durable are the threads? Will they wear over time?
16:51 – Do you get access to the guild if you pre-order with the bed project?
17:07 – Marc is a sway-er.
18:40 – Differences between end grain and long grain tapping?
20:32 – What’s your opinion on parallel clamps these days?
24:04 – How far off the floor are you shop windows? Do you like the location and the light they bring in?
27:13 – Which furniture styles go best in modern homes?
29:29 – Can you show some details about your clamp rack?
31:21 – When making cabinet shelves do you only put edge banding on the front?
31:58 – Which style of spray gun is better for spraying: Bleeder gun or Non Bleeder gun
33:58 – Should I run filtration through the slab floor of my shop?
36:11 – Who is your favorite Avenger?
36:25 – How can I best build the Roubo on limited working time when it comes to wood movement after milling?
38:30 – What woodworking shows would be best to see if you had two weeks to travel?
41:10 – Best way to care for tools when it comes to long term storage?
42:13 – Do you recommend good stopping points in your projects?
42:52 – How do I find offcuts videos on Facebook?
43:33 – Next shop upgrade? Dust collection plumbing or 8” jointer?
44:35 – Where do you get Marc’s shirts?
44:54 – How long do you normally have to wait for epoxy to dry?
46:12 – Do the guild projects have recommended tool lists to look at before you buy?
47:12 – Do you ever do scroll saw projects?
48:06 – I can’t seem to get my table saw blade to 90 degrees, any idea why?
48:52 – Tips on cutting plywood without a tablesaw.
50:15 – Where are you going to do your spraying in the winter?
50:50 – Are you changing band saw blade preferences with your new saw?
51:50 – Would you still remove the safety guards from your tools if you weren’t recording video?
54:43 – Is there a better way to insulate garage doors that you still have to use?
55:38 – Shepherd’s Pie or Cottage Pie?
56:22 – Patreon Sponsors

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Wood Whisperer Thread Taps Pre-Sale

Now for something entirely unexpected. In collaboration with Andy Klein, we’re bringing a brand new tool to the market called Wood Whisperer Thread Taps. The tools are designed specifically for wood and can cut common sized coarse threads in seconds.

Pre-sale period is open until March 24th and if you buy the full set of 6, you get a pre-order bonus!

Pre-order your taps today! 

Because we know you’re probably wondering just how strong wooden threads can be, Andy devised a simple test and you can check that out here. 

The Pre-Sale period ends on March 24th, 2017 and we hope to have the taps in your hands by the end of June. By the way, these taps are being manufactured right here in the US!

Andy and I thank you for your support and participation in the Wood Whisperer Thread Taps Pre-Sale.

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Create a Fumed Finish

fumed finish taboret

Ever tried to create a fumed finish? Fuming with ammonia is a traditional Arts & Crafts finishing technique. When exposed to concentrated ammonia, the tannins in white oak cause the wood to darken, yielding a rich, warm color that penetrates the surface of the wood. Depending on the intended use of the piece, different topcoats can be applied to provide different effects. Boiled linseed oil is easy to apply. Shellac offers additional protection […]

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My Favourite Sketchbook Journals

From Entry Monday 6th February 2017 My journal preferences I am often asked about my journals, where I get them from and so on. When I lived in the USA I began using these for two main reasons. One, the smoothness of the paper – I didn’t want texture in the paper to influence my …

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Brandon’s Modular Wall Storage

This project came about due to my precious lil bundle of joy that was going to be coming into this world. We have a rustic modern style throughout the home and being in a small two bedroom condo with nice vaulted ceilings, I had to utilize every inch that I could. We don’t plan on living here forever so I designed a modular/removable “built-in” bookcase.
I designed and laid it out in Sketch-up for the cut list and had to build it in sections since we only have a one car garage to work in. For the sub-assemblies I used 3/4 Baltic Birch fastened together with rabbit joinery, glue, and brads. I milled down all my face frames from solid 4/4 Poplar. I wanted to keep the modern square style constant but soften the edges so there is a stepping down of chamfers along the outer and inner trim pieces. I used two different off-the-shelf varathane oil base finishes, Kona for the body and American Walnut for the trim. Sanded and wiped down multiple times before thinning down some poly to spray. With a few more wet sanding sessions and one last coat, I was left with a nice smooth finish.

Once all the sub-assemblies were finished, I created a jig to locate the fasteners when doing the final assembly in the room. I used pocket hole screws but not in pocket holes, if that makes sense. They were the only ones I could find that had a nice looking brown finish on the head and once counter sunk almost disappeared. After the main body was put together I glued and pin nailed the trim to cover the seams. I Attached it to both walls, climbed it like King Kong to prove to the wife it wasn’t going to fall, and pounded my chest in excitement! This project is the second favorite thing I’ve made, the first favorite you can see in last picture :D

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The Half-pencil: Your Layout Friend

Carpenter’s pencils have limited uses in a furniture shop, but when I encountered the “half-pencil” years ago I started hoarding carpenter’s pencils to transform them into half-pencils for my friends. The half-pencil, as its name implies, is a carpenter’s pencil that has been planed down to half its thickness. (Using a carpenter’s pencil makes it easier to plane it down and it gives you more bearing surface in use than […]

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How Darrell Peart Makes Greene & Greene Ebony Pegs

ebony pegs

In this video, Greene & Greene expert Darrell Peart discusses the square, pillowed ebony pegs often seen on the Greene brothers’ furniture designs (most of them were merely decorative, he tells us, though sometimes they were used to cover up screw heads). Then, he shows us how he makes the pegs, start to finish – including the simple jig he uses at the disc sander to rough-pillow the ends quickly. […]

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Q&A Why Two Routers? Why Two Bench Planes?

From Entry Monday 6th February 2017 Question: First, THANK YOU! A careful inspection of the pictures reveal the following list of tools. Notebook pencil tape measure brush oil can square hammer a couple of clamps a set of chisels 2 bench planes 2 router planes 2 saws set of sharping stones I am sure you …

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

High-style, Low-style or No-style

At some point in my early 20s I stopped improving as a guitar player. No matter how much I practiced or played out in bands, I couldn’t crawl to the next level of skill. I needed lessons, guidance, a push or something else. Or perhaps, I thought at the time, that was simply the best I was physically capable of: good, but certainly not great. I never found out which […]

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Power Tool-Friendly Bench, by Richard Tendick

power tool bench american woodworker

At least a couple of times each month, I get a query about Richard Tendick’s “Power Tool-Friendly Bench,” which was featured on the March/April 2014 cover of American Woodworker. So to cut down on those emails (and because I’m generally a nice person, evidence to the contrary notwithstanding), here’s that article, free. The intro is below; download the PDF at the end of it for the article in it’s entirety. […]

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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Shop Update: End of Phase 1

I’m officially done with Phase 1 of the garage to shop conversion and I’m ready to start building. I wanted to bring you up to speed by showing the various changes I’ve made up to this point for those who’ve been following along with my progress. None of these things warranted a standalone video so I figured I’d lump them all into one recap. I’ll publish an official shop tour soon that will likely contain some redundant information with regard to this video.

Moving Stuff Around

One of the most challenging tasks was putting stuff away and maneuvering tools where they need to go. It reminded me of one of those cheap little slider puzzles I played with as a kid where you can’t move one tile without moving a tile next to it. Eventually I was able to get the tools into a relatively decent configuration that allowed me to begin laying out the electrical plan.

Clamp Racks

I installed all of the clamp racks from the previous shop in a corner configuration. It’s quite breathtaking. This includes the Parallel Clamp Rack, the Utilitarian Clamp Rack, and a couple of Rockler Clamp Racks. Getting the clamps off the floor made a huge difference in feeling like I could move around the space.

Electrical Outlet Installation

I have a total of five circuits in the shop: 2 for the heaters, 1 for the cyclone, and 3 multi-wire branch circuits for the power tools (one along each wall and one down the center of the ceiling). As stated in the video, I will only address questions about the electricity privately for those who need more information. Feel free to discuss, debate, or yell at each other in the comments but I won’t be participating.

Because some of my primary outlets were run in the ceiling, I had to employ extension cords in my setup. Most extension cords are made with 14 gauge wire and are really intended for a 15 amp circuit. So I made my own extension cords using 12 gauge wire and 20 amp plugs and receptacles. Running tools off extension cords isn’t ideal, but having properly-sized wiring can help keep things safe.

Ductwork Installation

Because I already covered Nordfab Ductwork Installation in detail in the last shop, I didn’t feel inclined to do it again. But I did want to show you my current configuration and how I adapted the system to this shop’s unique needs

Air Cleaner Installation

My air cleaner worked quite well in an 1800 sq ft space and I can only imagine how much more effective it will be in a 950 sq ft space. What can I say, I get excited about clean air. I installed the unit on the ceiling a few feet from the wall with the air blowing in the same direction as my heaters. I often use the air cleaner to help mix the air for even temperature distribution.

Lumber Rack

Not much new with the lumber rack. I used the same heavy duty Closet Maid stuff I had in the old shop. Only difference is I used the material from the previous owner’s garage cabinets as shelving material for each level of the rack. It’s nice to be able to repurpose that stock since I felt really bad about dismantling those cabinet. A sheetgoods rack and a rolling scrap storage cart are definitely in my future.

Garage Door Track Removal

Two of the three garage doors are now completely non-functional. I had the tracks and the openers removed which really opened up the space and gave me much more headroom. I have all of the materials in storage should I ever need to reinstall them. I didn’t mention it in the video but we had to use simple L-brackets to hold the top door panels in place. Those normally rest in the curved section of the rail and when that was removed, the door had no support. The L-brackets worked like a charm.

Paint Color

Paint color for a shop is just as much a personal decision as it is inside your home. So if you’re a big fan of chartreuse, go for it. But if you boil it down to practicality, it’s hard to beat white and off-white. Lighter-color walls help reflect ambient light back into the space creating a brighter environment. And while vivid colors can certainly help set a mood in a room, they can also reflect the light back in such a way that skews the perceived color in the space. So if you’re trying to judge wood colors and stains, you might find your judgement is slightly off. But again, unless you film in your space like I do, the wall color probably isn’t nearly as important and you should go with the color you actually want to see on the wall.


Remember the rubber floor tiles I installed in my old shop? Well, they made the trip to Colorado. And because the shop is smaller, I was able to essentially go wall to wall. The heavy tools are still sitting directly on concrete but all of the walking paths in the shop are covered, which is really nice on the feet.

Wall Art

Finally, I have much of my wall art back up. My walls may be off-white and boring but the stuff I hang on those walls doesn’t have to be! So my superhero posters and other decorations are proudly displayed on the wall. My shop is not just my place of business but also my creative space, my sanctuary, and the room in the house I probably spend the most time in. So it should reflect my personality and inspire me.

Thanks for following along on this new adventure. It’s been fun but it’s now time to make some sawdust!

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