Monday, January 18, 2010

Jim Whetstone: Talented and Organized Woodworker

Jim Whetstone (how's that for a cool last name?), of New Cumberland, PA, makes and sells woodworking projects which include beautiful gift boxes, complete with wood ribbons.

Jim developed a method of laminating contrasting pieces of wood, alternating their grain direction like plywood, and cutting them out on his scroll saw to look like pieces of ribbon. The alternating grain provides strength where short, weak grain occurs.

The strips of ribbon which wrap entirely around the box are glued into shallow dadoes, while the strips that make up the bow are glued on top of one another. Metal weights and washers are used to "clamp" the ribbons in place while the glue dries.

Jim takes great care to cut the ribbon pieces so they mimic the curls and fluid movement of fabric ribbon, which results in a very realistic product.

In addition to being talented, Jim is the most organized woodworker I've ever met. He knows the exact number of pieces he's made in his career (1,109) and has job folders and notes for each one. He keeps all his templates and photos of his work for future design reference, and has clever ways of storing tools and making maximum use of a relatively small shop space.

All his equipment and work stations are on wheels; wall and ceiling spaces are used for template and tool storage; and hinged partitions hold tools and reference material. When not in use, a box slips overtop of his planer, creating another work surface.

It's always a joy to visit another woodworker's shop, especially one who has so much to share.


When not in his workshop, Jim is busy with his other passion: photography. His newly-launched photography website can be found here. Some of the photos in this post were provided by Jim and are marked as such.