Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It's Not Too Late

You can still register for Woodworking in America, which is this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in Valley Forge, PA.

This time, they're also offering single-session registration, so you can pay just $35 for each session that you'd like to attend.

Admission is free to the Marketplace, where you can talk with tool manufacturers (and in some cases, try out their tools) and make some friends.

They also have a $100 shopping spree at the Woodworker's BookShop for the next woodworkers who register to attend the full conference.

Due to some unforseen bummers, I wasn't able to attend the WIA Design Conference in August, had to forgo a one-on-one class this month with Peter Galbert, and gave up a trip at Christmastime to Colonial Williamsburg.

But I'm not missing the WIA in Valley Forge! Hope to see you there. :o)

Monday, September 28, 2009

WTO Tips

Thank you to Marc Spagnuolo, who asked if I would like to contribute to the tips segment of Wood Talk Online. If you're not familiar with WTO, it's a semi-weekly podcast featuring Marc and Matt Vanderlist—two amiable woodworkers chatting about their current projects, what's new around the web, links of interest, and techniques.

You can sign up to be part of the chat room—with comments as hilarious as the show itself—and chime in while Marc and Matt make their presentation.

During my segment, one guy in the chat room suggested I'd make a good phone sex operator. Funny—my partner thinks I sound like a church lady when I read aloud. Wonder what kind of church service the chat room guy attends? (grin)

My one-minute segment is towards the end of WTO No. 59, which aired last Thursday. Hope you like it, my brothers and sisters in wood.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wedge and Edge Giveaway

A sharp-eyed woodworker noticed that I have two copies of Roy Underhill's latest book Working Wood with Wedge and Edge.

Not surprising. Sometimes people give books to me that I already have and sometimes I give duplicates to myself. One book on Shakers I bought 3 times, forgetting each time that I already owned it.

Because it was so much fun giving away Chris Schwarz' book, I'm giving this one away, too.

But this time, I'm not going so easy on you. The first person to provide the correct answers to all five questions will win the book.

1. To which woodworking guild does Ethan belong?
2. What two things influenced Doug's design for a compact hammered dulcimer?
3. What did Rob have for breakfast in Lukerbad?
4. What kind of fish live in Philly's pond?
5. What province in Sweden did my family come from?


Separate Bonus question to win a 1" x 1" x 2.75" scratch stock housing, with threaded insert, thumb screw, and scratch stock blank:

What color shirt am I wearing? First correct answer wins. One guess per person.

Folks, we have a winner for both the book and the scratch stock. Congratulations to Richard Magbanua!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Welcome to my woodworking library. Feel free to peruse the shelves and inquire about any book that catches your fancy. Just pipe down. It is a library, after all.

I'd like to thank Bill Stankus for the idea of posting one's library on one's blog. THANKS, BILL!
I mean...thanks, Bill.

You may notice that these books are in no particular order; they are intentionally random. Whenever I have to hunt for a book, I love to stumble upon one that I had forgotten about, take it from the shelf and leaf through it. It's like finding a $20 bill on the sidewalk, without the inconvenience of having to push aside the little old lady who's standing on it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ironic Saw Bench

My new saw bench will be used with for sawing boards the traditional way—by hand. And yet I built it entirely with power tools: table saw, compound miter saw, and band saw.

In my defense, my new Lie-Nielsen 7 tpi rip saw has not arrived yet. And using a crosscut saw to rip boards....well, it's just not done. So I was forced to use power.

Either that, or I was being lazy.

Sometimes you just want to build an instant gratification project—one that doesn't have to be pretty, or sanded, or have close tolerance joinery. One that can be designed, sawn, and banged together with hammer and nails in 2 hours.

I searched the internet this morning for saw bench plans and settled on one built by Dan Klauder, who found inspiration in Alex Bealer's Old Ways of Working Wood.

Now I just have to wait for the arrival of my new saw to give it and myself a workout.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Decorative Carving in 17th c. New Mexican Furniture

Here is a link to an article I wrote for Lee Valley's online newsletter:
Decorative Carving in 17th c. New Mexican Furniture.
Below are my photos from the article, in case you would like to see them in a larger format.

Sawtooth pattern on the edge of a board:

Sawtooth pattern on the face of a board:

Bullet design:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Handplane Essentials

On this day, the two year anniversary of my blog, I am giving away a [gently perused] copy of Chris Schwarz' new book Handplane Essentials.

Why am I giving this away? Because I have another copy, autographed by Chris himself, which I plan to sell on ebay in 20 years for 3 million dollars. Oh yeah. Can you say "cushy retirement"?

Chris is a fabu writer. Anyone who can weave Crystal Gayle's hair and Foghorn Leghorn into woodworking prose gets an A+ in my book.

But let's talk about his book instead.

In 312 pages, Chris walks you through the basics—the differences between the types of planes, how to sharpen them, which plane to use for which job, techniques to use them effectively—to understanding grain direction, flattening a workbench top, tricks for perfect set up, and reviewing modern planemakers. He also includes plans to build a plane cabinet.

Much of the book's contents can be found on his blog, but having all of the details about handplanes bound together, provides an excellent resource at the ready.

Chris is passionate about handplanes, and in his book he clearly explains everything you need to know to make them work perfectly.

So, how do you win the prize? The first person to write in the comments section the full names, including middle names, of my two dogs, wins! Last name is a given: Hultman.

Hint: I have mentioned their full names in a previous blog post.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Boring Box Makeover

No wonder our ancestors used chip carving as a decorative feature. The sliding lid boxes, reminiscent of 18th c. candle boxes, that we made in the handcut dovetail class I taught last weekend are incredibly ho-hum if left unpainted, unstained, or unadorned.

So I decided to "flip this box" by adding a little chip carving.

One piece of advice from this newbie carver: your knife must be sharp, sharp, sharp, or you will not get good results.

Use a magnifier to check the edge all the way to the tip, and if you see any nicks or flat spots, keep sharpening. There must be no resistance from the knife, especially since you will be cutting with and against the grain. If you are getting ragged edges or tearout, and if you are not able to swing the blade to get a smooth curve, your edge is either not sharp or you are using crappy pine like I am.

I was getting rough edges on the carving and having trouble swinging the blade through a curve until I started stropping the knife. That helped quite a bit. Still, you will get a smoother cut with Basswood, Sugar Pine or Eastern White Pine.

Another bit of advice is to sand your pencil marks* rather than run a handplane over them. My plane blade lifted little chunks out of the carving on the lid.

The box is looking better, but I'm going to carve all over the sides and ends, so it's properly tricked out.

Chip carving is addictive and adds a little flair to otherwise dull projects. If you would like to learn how to do this, I recommend getting a copy of Wayne Barton's book The Complete Guide to Chip Carving.

*See comments section for other suggestions. Sandpaper can dull your knife if you sand your piece before you're finished carving.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Boring Movie

I wasn't able to attend the WIA in August, so I did not see the Handtool Olympics contests. Nor did I see the "Boring Cat Fight" between Megan Fitzpatrick and Heather Griffin, and I'm going to compete against them at the WIA in October.

From start to finish, I can bore a plumb hole in a stud in 13 seconds. Does anyone know how that time holds up against my two opponents? Do I need to do more push ups?

Because my preference is to sit on my butt and be lazy if it's good enough.