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The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator

This "aggregator" collects all of the woodworking blogs I read every day - or try to anyway!  Enjoy!

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Matt's Basement Workshop

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A guy, a woodworking shop and a whole lot to share. Straight grains and sharp blades!
Updated: 2 hours 18 min ago

Furniture design and television

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 3:30am

I’m slightly addicted to reality TV, I completely blame my wife for it, but the fact is I keep coming back week after week to tune in. My favorite reality shows these days have more to do with competition than showing simply showing off for the cameras.

I can’t recall if it was the first reality competition show featuring artists or if there were others, but 13 years ago I became enthralled with Project Runway. I’m sure it had a lot to do with Heidi Klum being the host, but by the end of the first episode I was hooked and couldn’t wait for the next episode, then eventually for the next season.

It wasn’t long after that that other shows started appearing, and in no time there was talk amongst my woodworking friends about whether there would ever be a show featuring woodworkers or furniture designers. Fast forward several years and after a lot of speculation about whether it would ever happen we now find ourselves with two such shows.

Framework judges Nolen Niu And Brandon Gore, image property of Spike Television network

Framework judges Nolen Niu And Brandon Gore, image property of Spike Television network

First to hit the airwaves was Spike TV’s “Framework”. According to the network’s description:
“Hosted by hip-hop superstar Common, ‘FRAMEWORK’ is a new arc competition series exploring the compelling world of furniture design/construction. It’s not enough to design an eye-catching, unique AND functional piece of furniture, these 13 elite furniture craftsman have to build it too. The clock is ticking and the stakes are sky-high as the last competitor standing will receive an incredible prize package including the ability to launch their own line with a major furniture brand.”

The show already has a few episodes out and is well on it’s way. But the real question is what do the everyday woodworkers think about it? From the conversations on FB and elsewhere, I’d say it’s a mixed bag. I guess only time will tell if it’s a hit and worthy of coming back (for the record, I’ve only watched the premiere episode so I’m not ready to pass full judgement until I see more.)

Ellen's Design Challenge on HGTV, image property of HGTV

Ellen’s Design Challenge on HGTV, image property of HGTV

Then earlier this week we were introduced to “Ellen’s Design Challenge.” Another furniture design competition show featuring some equally talented craftspeople competing for a cash prize and the opportunity to also leave their mark on the furniture design world.

Ellen’s Design Challenge is featured on a channel who’s name is synonymous with design of all kinds, HGTV, and has a very different tone compared to Framework. But according to its description, it’s not all that different in what’s being presented:

“Ellen DeGeneres puts six furniture designers to the test when they come to Los Angeles to compete in various challenges designing and building amazing furniture creations in just 24 hours. With a workshop, a lead carpenter and all the tools they’ll need, the contestants will be tasked with a new build each episode. A panel of expert judges along with appearances by Ellen will eliminate them one by one until one designer is left standing to take home the cash prize and win Ellen’s Design Challenge.”

Only time will tell if the shows are a hit or a flop. I know I have an early favorite, but it might come as a surprise…or not…I’m sure if you’ve watched both you have a favorite too.

Coming up on Wood Talk my co-hosts and I will be sharing our thoughts about what we liked, didn’t like and maybe what we hope will happen as the TV season goes on.

What are your thoughts on the shows so far? Have you even seen them yet?

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Categories: Hand Tools

Quick and easy read for better sanding

Mon, 01/26/2015 - 4:00am

If it wasn’t for the fact that I hate applying a finish MORE than I hate sanding, sanding would be hands down the one step in the building process that I’d loathe the most. The more I think about it, maybe the reason I despise finishing more is BECAUSE there’s sanding involved between coats?

Image courtesy M&M Tool Parts blog

Image courtesy M&M Tool Parts blog

But regardless of my dislike for sanding it’s a necessary evil for amazing results. Especially after the finish dries and you step back to look at the masterpiece you’ve created.

Of course the fastest way to avoid sanding is to master hand planing, but even then, sometimes there’s a little touch up work to do with some fine grit sandpaper to blend everything together for that flawless surface.

Shop Talk Blog at mmtoolparts.com

Shop Talk Blog at mmtoolparts.com

If you’ve been wondering what you’re doing wrong with your random orbit sanding technique, or you just want to reassure yourself you’re on the right track, back in July Mallory Kramer wrote a 5 point article for the folks over at M&M Tool Parts’ blog titled “Wood Sanding: 5 Ways to Get Better Results with Your Random Orbit Sander”.

It’s well worth a read to pick up some great pointers. For example: Tip No. 2 “Turn-on the Sander While On the Material, Turn-off the Sander While Off the Material”

Thanks Mallory and M&M for providing a little reminder that the best results are worth spending a little extra time working on, and if the only thing between you and them is a step you hate, all the more reason to get right in the first place.

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Categories: Hand Tools

Bob’s Big Ash Bench

Fri, 01/23/2015 - 3:30am

I couldn’t resist! I really couldn’t help but write a title like “Bob’s Big Ash Bench” for a long list of reasons. Starting with the most obvious being because it make’s me laugh like a little boy thinking he pulled a fast one on his parents.

Bob D's Big Ash Bench Project!

Bob D’s Big Ash Bench Project!

But regardless of whether you just rolled your eyes like my wife would (OR any person with a sensible sense of humor) you have to admit this Ash wood bench Bob D built last year is a nice piece of outdoor furniture we’d love to have on display in our own yards.

According to Bob, the Ash came from a local hardwood supplier and the plan was from an old Shopsmith print that he altered “just a bit.”

When I asked him if he could share some more details about the bench he explained:

“The finish was my first attempt at water based exterior poly applied with a HVLP sprayer. I applied it over a wash coat of 2 pound cut amber shellac. Loved the HVLP but haven’t been able to use it again.”

Nice hiding of a mistake!

Nice hiding of a mistake!

“One of the things I learned during the project was how to fix a screw up. You can’t see it in the picture but about 10″ up on the inside of both back legs is a plug. About 3″ x1″ sticking out 3/4″ chamfered on all 4 sides. I made a mortice that latter I had no idea what it was for. I made this plug and you may just think it is an accent piece, albeit in a weird place!”

Thanks for sharing the project Bob, I know for myself it’s one that is actually a piece I hope to build for my own backyard.

If you have a project you’d like to share please submit it along with up to four pictures, and of course as many details as you can spare.

We want to hear about the materials, the finish and maybe a little insight into something you learned or experienced while making the project.

Submit your projects and or shop tours by visiting our Contact page by clicking on this link.

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Categories: Hand Tools

More Tim Yoder Woodturning Videos for me!

Wed, 01/21/2015 - 8:44am

Large Tim Yoder
Maybe the number one reason I’m so slow getting back into the shop and starting the first project of the year is because I’m too busy watching these great Tim Yoder Woodturning videos, specifically “Woodturning with Tim Yoder – Season 2, Episodes 7-12″ I bought over at Shop Woodworking recently.

This is the second set of Tim Yoder videos (downloadable versus DVD, so I can take them with me on my iPad) I purchased so don’t be surprised if some of the projects somehow make their way into the show in the near future.

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Categories: Hand Tools

Don’t be shy…show us the good stuff!

Mon, 01/19/2015 - 3:48am

I’m not trying to encourage an increase in narcissism in the world, but let’s be serious, when something looks amazing everyone wants to see it. So who are we to stand in the way?

I'm not looking...okay maybe just a little...

I’m not looking…okay maybe just a little…

Before we go any further, and I strain myself trying to come up with double entendres and attempt to allude to suggestive topics, let me explain what I’m really talking about.

Recently I added a few new fields to the contact page that will allow visitors to upload pictures of their projects, or shops and then email them to me so I can share them with everyone in a weekly post highlighting some of my favorites.

MBW Contact page

I know there are other woodworking websites that are doing something very similar, but that’s no reason not for me to do it also.

The truth-of-the-matter is that we love to show off our projects, and we also love to see others’, because frequently they inspire us to try new and more amazing projects and techniques in our own shops.

Currently you can send up to (4) pictures at a time. When you upload them, be sure to send along details about the project/shop, because when others see them, they’re going to want to know how to replicate the amazing results you achieved.

So break out those digital cameras, snap some pictures and send them my way so we can get started sharing as soon as possible! Just click here to visit the contact page and start sharing.

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Categories: Hand Tools

George Walker’s “Unlocking the secrets of traditional design”

Wed, 01/14/2015 - 8:00am

After my post on Monday about “re-dimensioning” versus “designing” I’ve been trying to think of additional resources for anyone interested in learning more about different ways to achieve something similar. At this point I’m open to new ideas, but I’ve been having such good luck with what I’m doing (right or wrong) that I don’t see myself changing.

Still, that’s no reason we can’t learn from others and try it out to see if it’s something we can incorporate into our own process.

A couple of years ago Marc Spagnuolo and I reviewed the DVD “Unlocking the Secrets of Traditional Design by George Walker”

Unlocking the secrets of traditional design

George is definitely someone who knows a lot about design and has some great insight into it, so I have no problem what-so-ever recommending the DVD to anyone who wants to learn more about the topic.

If anything, the number one lesson I learned was about scaling and proportions. In fact, the more I think about it, that’s probably where I got the idea from originally and then just continued to build from it.

Checkout our original review of the DVD on “Review Show #11 – Unlocking the Secrets of Traditional Design.” Or if you’re convinced already it’s something you want to add to your DVD collection and design library pickup a copy at Shop Woodworking by clicking here.

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Categories: Hand Tools

Do you “design” a piece or “re-dimension” it?

Mon, 01/12/2015 - 3:30am
after redimensioning

The original re-dimensioned and re-imagined…slightly

The truth is, I’ve never designed an original piece in my life. Everything I’ve ever built has been a version of someone else’s work.

If there was an extent to my design work it’susually just altering the dimensions to fit the need, and perhaps tweaking some embellishments or edge profiles. I’m not ashamed to admit this and I don’t think anyone else should be either.

original dresser

Original Ikea dresser as the starting point for re-dimensioning, image courtesy of Ikea

Quite honestly I’d be much happier if someone would design the pieces for me, then all I have to do is mill the stock, cut the joinery and assemble (in an even more ideal world, someone will do the finishing for me also!)

So now that I’ve admitted this openly let’s talk a little bit more about my own “design” process. It’s pretty simple, either someone comes to me with a picture of what they want built, or we identify what needs to be built and then search for examples of it through catalogs and online. It couldn’t be easier!

But don’t let that fool you, because while a picture can say a thousand words, I’ve found that just about 90 to 95% of those words have nothing to do with the dimensions or a parts list. This to me is where the design process really begins, dimensioning and re-shaping a piece to fit it’s intended purpose and location.

In the past, when it came to determining the dimensions for an “original” piece I would get bogged down in the quagmire of the Golden Rule and other design theories that I can’t pronounce or spell. I’m confident the measurements end up falling into them, but that’s a happy coincident and not on purpose.

When I would allow myself to be ruled by these I would spend so much more time calculating and re-calculating the lengths and widths of components than I would actually spend milling and dimensioning them, not to mention I would end up with insane fractions that no one wants to deal with.

Who in their right mind purposely wants to dimension components to any size that includes the possibility of fractions like 23/64″?!

original design drawing

No rules of design were followed here!

This is why my design process for large pieces of furniture is very simple. I start by asking about the location of the piece. What are the limitations on size? Do you plan to ever move it around the room? Is it being used frequently or is it more for decoration?

If I’m building something for a child is it intended to be replaced when they get older or will it be child-sized permanently (the furniture, not the child?)

Once I have a better idea of what I’m working with determining the dimensions is a lot easier, not easy, but easier.

Usually it simply involves scaling the existing dimensions up or down by some percentage, and then tweaking it to sizes I can easily wrap my brain around.

For example with the dresser I’m about to start building for my daughter the original design started as an existing piece we found somewhere and I ended up scaling it up. I don’t recall the exact starting dimensions but I’m confident I increased the height by roughly 20%.

This raised it from 45″ to 54″ and it meant I had to then play with the existing drawer dimensions to accommodate the new size. I could have either increased their height and left it at the same number of drawers or tweak them to a slightly shorter height to make room for an extra row.

As for the other dimensions, width and depth. I end up asking myself if they still look proportional and pleasing to the eye or do they also need to be changed? If it turns out they need to be altered, I’ll start with the same proportional scaling and then adjust as needed.

This method doesn’t always result in sizes that don’t have one of those crazy fractional dimensions I despise but if one shows up, I just round it up or down to something I want to work with and go from there. In a nutshell, I’m lazy and don’t want to work harder than I have too to determine the measurements and proportions of a project.

The last thing I want to do in any project build is have to grab a magnifying glass to read my measuring tools to make sure I’m laying out a line for a crazy complex fraction that I could have avoided by scaling the project just a little bit different in the design phase.

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Categories: Hand Tools

Demo video for the Carter Accu-Right Circle Cutter

Fri, 01/09/2015 - 3:00am

While I’m still working on getting the first of the videos prepared for “Madison’s Dresser” I thought I’d share a recent product demo video I produced for the fine folks over at Highland Woodworking.

In the video I had an opportunity to try out and show what you can do with the Carter Accu-Right Circle Cutter. According to it’s description:

“The Accu-Right Circle Cutter by Carter Products lets you cut consistent and accurate circles with your band saw. The extruded aluminum jig lets you cut circles from as small as 2 inches up to 4 feet in diameter (w/ proper side stock support). The jig clamps easily to most band saw tables and provides the ability to set a radius anywhere along the clearly marked tape readout. Simply mark the center of your circle diameter with a nail punch, slip onto the centering pin of the sliding pivot plate and you’re ready to cut a perfect circle.”

In the video it appears as if the circle I cut was left with a jagged edge, and it was, but that had nothing to do with the jig and everything to do with the blade and materials. Specifically I was using a resaw style blade with 3-4tpi on some less than ideal plywood which practically splintered when I looked at it.

Overall, I think it’s a great jig and will be using it in plenty of projects further down the road. Thanks Highland for letting me try it out!
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Categories: Hand Tools

Get more Roy in 2015

Wed, 01/07/2015 - 4:00am

Baby it’s cold outside and with all the snow that’s been coming down in my neck of the woods the last thing I want to do is leave the warm shop (okay…couch!)

Apparently the folks over at Shop Woodworking are aware of this and they came up with a great excuse not to leave by releasing Seasons 21-31 of the Woodwright’s Shop on DVD.

Click on this banner to learn more...

Click on this banner to learn more…

For the month of January 2015 Shop Woodworking is offering as their Value Pack the “Woodright Shop Volume 21-31 DVD Collection”:

“Everyone loves Roy Underhill – so we’ve compiled a collection of Seasons 21-31 of The Woodwright’s Shop! Enjoy over 60 HOURS of Roy’s unrivaled knowledge and woodworking techniques. In 130 episodes, Roy will walk you through projects of all sorts: stools, spoons, benches, veneer, wood types, wood turning, and so much more! This is a collection of a lifetime!”

Hurry, this collection is expected to sell out fast, don’t miss this opportunity to have ten years worth of Roy Underhill in your own shop for those long cold nights of winter.
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Categories: Hand Tools

Coming soon “Madison’s Dresser”

Mon, 01/05/2015 - 3:30am

Now that I don’t have the holidays to use as an excuse for why I’m not in the shop I guess I should just get off my fat butt and start working on some new projects and content for the show?

I don’t want to come across as this being a chore, or something I’m not looking forward too, because I’m actually pretty excited to get started. Sometimes it just takes a little shove to get me moving since it feels like the hardest part is deciding where to get started and then to keep from getting distracted along the way.

Thankfully I already have a project in mind and decided to wait until the new year to get started on it.

For a long time now we’ve been telling ourselves our daughter Madison needs a new dresser (“chest of drawers” to some of you.) The problem all along has been me avoiding the issue by coming up with other projects, especially given she already has two mismatched ones we’ve picked up over the years.

Well it’s time to finally do what I’ve been promising for years; build her a dresser that fits her needs now and maybe into the future?

I don’t have a firm date for the release of the first video in the series. As I’m writing this I have yet to start filming much, but the goal is to document the entire process from “idea” to “finish.” Of course there will be plenty of extra footage for Patrons of Matt’s Basement Workshop, including bonus episodes for “Woobie” level patrons.

I promise the free version will be just as full of great content and information on its construction, and thanks to some help from a friend, I have a set of drawings and plans that will eventually be available for purchase.

Madisons dresser concept art

Early drawing of “Madison’s Dresser” thanks to Brian Benham of
“Benham Design Concepts”

Here’s a few details about “Madison’s Dresser” to possibly pique your interest. The dresser is a full 8 drawers. Four small ones up top, two per row, followed by four larger drawers below. My version is being constructed entirely from Poplar as my daughter has already indicated she wants to paint it.

The body of the dresser will sit on four legs that I plan to turn myself, but the conical shape is something easily available through wooden parts retailers and possibly at home centers. Or it could be modified rather easily also to either be dropped into a rabbeted base or some other square”ish” shape.

I don’t plan to use very complicated joinery in much of the project, including the drawer box construction, simply because I don’t think it’s necessary. I don’t have anything to prove about my woodworking skills and quite honestly, no one but myself and fellow woodworkers would even notice. But if someone else wanted to do so, the plans could be easily adapted to do so.

I’m really looking forward to getting started, so rather than writing more about it, it’s time to get started. Keep a look out for the first video to released sometime soon”ish.”
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Categories: Hand Tools

Hello 2015!

Thu, 01/01/2015 - 5:00am

Happy New Year everyone! 2014 was an amazing year filled with more ups than downs, and remarkable experiences than I ever thought it would be.

In fact, it was such a great year I have a feeling 2015 will be working exceptionally hard to live up to. But I suspect a year from now I’ll be writing the same thing, wishing 2016 good luck! Why am I so optimistic? I don’t know, I just am!

As 2015 begins today I want to share with you some thoughts about my plans for the coming year. I don’t have a lot of them fully formed yet, so rather than just regurgitating them all at once hoping it will force me to follow through as the year progresses, instead I’ll share a couple of things I won’t be doing. Confused? That’s okay, I am too!

The first thing I won’t be doing in 2015 is suppressing my opinion as much as I have over the last nine years. Are you surprised to hear that? It’s no secret I’m a self-described “fence sitter” when it comes to a lot of topics, but that has less to do with NOT HAVING AN OPINION and more to do with not wanting to be a jerk.

I don’t know how else to put it, so I’ll just call it what it is, I have a bit of an acid tongue. Ask any of my family or closest and dearest friends and they’ll tell you it’s true. The reason I’ve never shared it openly on the podcast is that nine years ago when I started the show I didn’t feel as confident in my woodworking opinions as I do now.

Don’t take that as my implying that I’ve somehow become some sort of expert woodworker with all the answers, because I haven’t! Instead, as someone who’s had a chance to interact with a lot of woodworkers (professional and amateur) over the years I feel more comfortable in what I’m currently doing than ever before.

I want to make it clear, my goal isn’t to use this as an excuse to give me license to be a jerk and say mean-spirited things just because “that’s the way I am!” (which by the way is the lamest response to being called out on being a jerk, next to “in my humble opinion.”)

Instead it’s just to inform you that if you ask me a question about a topic I’m comfortable with, I’m going to give you as true a response as I possibly can (not that I haven’t in the past,) even if it means I simply tell you “I don’t know.” But I can reassure you that I’ll still make every effort to point you in the direction of someone who might be able to help you!

The second thing I won’t be doing in 2015 is sticking to a regular schedule of content release. This has always been a struggle for me, because I love producing content. It’s always been a way for me to learn more about the techniques I’m trying for the first time or even for the ones I’m continually honing after years of doing them.

My world...

My world…

The number one reason I’m planning to not stick to a regular schedule is simple, family. Podcasting and woodworking are not my primary source of income. My kids are both teenagers and my wife and I realize more than ever how close they actually are to leaving us to start their own lives, so it’s important to make the time to enjoy our family the way it is now, before it becomes one where we only see each other on holidays and special occasions.

I don’t intend to suddenly drop content down to an infrequent dribble, but I ask for your patience when content becomes a little more sporadic in its release.

There are a few other things I won’t be doing in 2015 related to the show, but they’re so minor I’ll just stop doing them and you probably won’t even notice.

To end this post on the bright side, since I’m worried this may come across as being all negative, I should mention a couple of the “for certain” ideas I have for things I WILL be doing in 2015.

Without a doubt, 2015 will have more large-project builds. I have a list of furniture pieces I’ve put off building and it’s time to take care of business (after all the kids will need stuff for their first apartments in a few years.)

In 2014 there was more of an emphasis on small, quick projects thanks to a misreading of the feedback from some rather vocal audience members on YouTube. By “misreading of the feedback” I mean simply put, trying to satisfy the loudest voices who didn’t like long form videos.

Yes some of the videos will be long”ish” but I’m making a promise to all of you that it will be something that helps to teach a lesson or reinforce an existing technique. And some of it will even be interspersed with attempts to answer direct questions you might have.

Something else I’m planning to do in the new year, as soon as possible in fact, is to make some changes to the Patrons of Matt’s Basement Workshop campaign. As far as I’m concerned it’s been wildly successful and I’m still very excited by it, but I think the way it’s currently set up makes it hard for everyone to participate and support the show.

So in 2015 I plan to make it more inclusive while still offering all the great benefits current Patrons are already enjoying.

Thanks again for making the past year as amazing as it was, Happy 2015 everyone! I look forward to hearing from all of you over the next twelve months and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you want my real opinion, CHORTLE!

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Categories: Hand Tools

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wed, 12/24/2014 - 4:00am

Merry Christmas from the Vanderlist Family to all of you!
2014 xmas card

2014 xmas card 2

2014 xmas card 3

Categories: Hand Tools

Last Minute Virtual Woodworking Gifts

Tue, 12/23/2014 - 5:06am

It’s coming down to the wire for getting those last minute gifts for the woodworkers on your Christmas list, so here’s three great gifts any woodworker would love to receive!

How about a membership to one or both of these premium online woodworking websites? Shannon at The Handtool School and Marc at The Wood Whisperer Guild are both fantastic instructors and there’s not a woodworker online that wouldn’t be excited to be part of their upcoming builds and seminars!

Click on the logos below to be visit their websites and sign up your woodworker today.
Sidebar Banner
The Wood Whisperer Guild

Another great last-minute gift would be a virtual gift certificate from the folks at Highland Woodworking.
Highland e gift certificate

Or perhaps you’ve heard them talk about a digital downloadable book, DVD or seminar at Shop Woodworking? Save 25% at checkout when you use coupon code “Mattsbasement25″!
Shop Woodworking - 20,000 Pages of Woodworking Ultimate Collection
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Categories: Hand Tools

536 “I love lamp” the veneer lampshade

Mon, 12/22/2014 - 3:15am
veneer lampshade

I’ve found the best light for my looks…

During the long, cold winter nights I like to cozy up with a hot cup of cider and sit down to watch a movie or read a good book, and to help set the mood (because who DOESN’T take the time to set a mood?) I’ll turn on a nice accent light and let it bath me in its warm glow.

On today’s episode we’re making a wood veneer lampshade for just the kind of accent lighting that I like to use. The project is super simple, and you can batch a whole bunch of them out to be placed wherever you think a little light needs to be cast.

The veneer I’m using for this particular project came from the folks at Oakwood Veneer at www.oakwoodveneer.com. It’s a paperback cherry veneer that’s easily bendable and cuts clean with very little splintering. It comes in a variety of species, and we already have some amazing Douglas Fir veneer waiting for another project or set of lights.

It’s not only the species of veneer you can experiment with, but also the design of the seam where the two ends meet. In this video I’ll demonstrate how to create a zigzag pattern that looks pretty sharp when the light is turned on, but there are so many options to play with, the choice is completely yours.

Download Video
Download HD 720 Video
Download Audio

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Categories: Hand Tools

2014 Top 10 Videos from the “Festool Connect Contest”

Sat, 12/20/2014 - 4:00am

Regardless of whether you’re a fan of Festool or not, all these videos are inspiring in their own way. As woodworkers and craftspeople we tend to see beauty in places and ways others don’t, so when we see individuals who are just as passionate about their craft as we are, it stokes the fires in our soul and drives us to create.

Sit down, take a moment and enjoy the beauty that unfolds in each video. Set aside any feelings you may have about them being a commercial for a tool brand and appreciate the artist sharing their craft, because in reality, sometimes it is about the tools enabling the individual to do more.

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Categories: Hand Tools

Dan’s Hockey Stick Bench

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 9:00am
hockey stick bench

Dan Z’s broken hockey stick bench

It’s always exciting to see friends get featured and recognized for their woodworking projects, but it’s even more exciting when it’s something you they asked you for a little help with when they were first building it.

If you’re a subscriber to the Highland Woodworking Newsletter you probably already saw Dan’s Hockey Stick Bench, but if not, it’s a fun project to take a look at.


Dan originally sent a question into Wood Talk back in August 2013 asking for a little advice on attaching the goalie sticks (which were being used as the stretchers) to the sides of the bench. I can’t remember if we gave him the answer he was looking for, but regardless, the benches were so amazing that someone took notice and hired him to make quite a few more.

So congrats Dan! You did a great job and the benches look amazing. What’s next, one made from broken curling brooms?

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Categories: Hand Tools

Understanding RPMs hurts my head

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 4:00am

Lathe RPM label

Before we go further, I should point out that I have never been someone who understands motors. You’d think growing up in the Detroit area I’d be fluent in all things horsepower & RPMs, but I’m not and I’m okay with that.

But regardless of whether you speak motor, or not, a basic understanding of RPMs is important for woodworking tools like drills, routers, and lathes.

In fact, the more time I spend at the tool rest of my lathe, the more I’m starting to understand why I’ve been getting such hit and miss results with my router and drill bits. So in a nutshell, it turns out the variable speed dial on the drill press or router motors weren’t as much about “some highly advanced technique I’ll never employ” as I thought.

Okay I’m jesting more than being serious, but there is some truth there. I never took the suggested guidelines for RPMs serious because I was either in a hurry or more-than-likely I didn’t believe they mattered all that much.

Then, in the end, I’d look at my frayed or burned edges and either blame the bit manufacturer or the materials themselves. This would inevitably be followed up by cleaning them the best I could hoping not to accidentally alter its shape. But that’s all about to change!

Thanks to some great feedback about the latest turning project, the Wood Body Coffee Scoop, I’m starting to see just how much the RPMs can have an effect on the results.

And while I won’t claim to fully understand it, the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that frequently the better RPM range might be the lower one. This is especially true for avoiding the burning effect of a larger diameter drill bit or even for rough turning square stock to a round shape.

RPM ranges thanks to Doc Greenwood Turner

RPM ranges thanks to Doc Green’s Woodturner website

I don’t know why it’s so counter-intuitive to me? But the idea that the larger the diameter the spinning tool or block of wood is, the slower the RPMs of the motor should be, it seems so wrong. In my mind it seems like you’d want it spinning faster so there’s more cuts in the same amount of time as a narrower bit.

But as I’m standing at the lathe and I have something large spinning around I start to see how unstable it looks at that higher speed. As a result I’m also realizing how dangerous and ineffective my cutting action can be.

So when I adjust the belt on my lathe to something slower, I immediately see what appears to be a more stable rotation and more importantly something much safer to work on.

Lathe spindles

To help further solidify this concept for me, I started thinking of two figure skaters spinning. One is a petite and graceful skater and the other is me. The petite skater can easily spin in a circle and stay balanced and upright at high speeds. Me, because of my extra bulk, could potentially spin at that higher speed but I would never be fully balanced, nor upright. But if I were to rotate at a slower rate I know I could.

Seeing this concept at work in this manner now makes me cringe at the thought of all those times I used a very large diameter router bit without slowing down the speed of the motor. Thankfully, the only damage ever done in those situations was to the stock and nothing more.

The hardest part for me to continue adjusting the RPMs to match my work will always be the fact that I’ll need to turn the lathe off and manually adjust the belt, but if it means I’m getting better results on the finished end, then I’m all about it.

Thanks to everyone for their feedback, it’s been fantastic!

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Categories: Hand Tools

535 Wood body coffee scoop

Fri, 12/12/2014 - 3:05am

matt drinking coffee

Mornings are rough…coffee good…

Mornings can be rough for me, but a good cup of coffee can make all the difference. Over the years we’ve tried several different coffee makers, including the K-cups, but in the end we always come back to our good old Mr. Coffee coffee maker. As a result it’s important to make sure I get the right amount of coffee grounds in the filter every time for the perfect cup. This doesn’t sound like it should be a big deal, but when I’m doing it with one eye open (and that one eye is unfocused and sleepy) it can be a challenge.

For years we’ve used an old measuring scoop that I’ve never been convinced was giving us the right measurements (or at least for me it hasn’t,) so I decided to do something about it. And that something is to make my own coffee scoop from scrap maple I have laying around. Okay, that’s not completely true, part of the reason I want to make the new coffee scoop is that I want an excuse to keep honing my woodturning skills and this seemed like the perfect project.

So on today’s episode, we’re turning a maple bodied coffee scoop on the lathe. It’s surprisingly simple, and can be knocked out in less than an hour (if you’re not filming it to share with friends.) Perhaps the hardest part about the project is deciding how big of a scoop you’ll need, or even what species of wood to use. This one ended up being just deep enough to equal one cup of coffee per scoop, which is perfect for me, because the only math I have to do when I’m waking up is adding up the number of cups I think I’ll need to figure out which pair of pants to wear.

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Categories: Hand Tools

The Highland Woodworker episode no. 16

Thu, 12/11/2014 - 4:30am

the highland woodworker
Need a break from all the chaos the Holidays bring? Here’s a good way to step back from the madness and enjoy this shared passion for woodworking we all have, it’s the latest episode of The Highland Woodworker with Charles Brock.

In this episode Charles and the crew visit with Don Williams in the Moment with a Master segment to discuss this recent efforts to translate Andre Roubo’s volumes from french to english (if you haven’t seen our interview with Don, and photographer Narayan Nayar, check it out afterwards by clicking here.)

Episode 16’s feature story is “They don’t build them like they used to!” Roger Gramm is thoroughly convinced of that statement. He loves vintage woodworking machines and shows a few of his favorites.

In the Generation Next segment Charles visits with Chris Barber, a young professional woodworker who turned to furniture making when he learned he didn’t have to follow mandated rules, to check out his gallery and learn how he markets himself to potential clients.

There’s also a visit with Popular Woodworking’s David Thiel in the Tips, Tricks and Techniques segment, and so much more. Don’t miss out on this episode!
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Categories: Hand Tools

The NEW MBW t-shirts are here!

Wed, 12/10/2014 - 7:00am

The jury is in, and the MBW Classic Logo is hands down the favorite design in the MBW t-shirt line-up!

tshirts only

And to ensure I can keep them in stock, and reordered in a timely manner, I found a new local printer (Citizenshirt.com) who’s in-house designer did a fantastic job of cleaning up the logo and text, then adjusted it’s size and positioning, and completed the new look by showing me some great color options to make the logo look even better than before.

new MBW tshirts

MBW Classic logo t-shirts

The new version of the short-sleeved t-shirt is printed on an 100% cotton “Fruit of the Loom” shirt, with an antique white logo. The shirt is roomy, very comfortable, and available right now in sizes M-XL & 3XL (no 2XLs currently available in the new design yet…coming very soon.)

sam alone

Plus, we’re offering a new long-sleeve version that’s a little more understated with it’s smaller logo, but equally amazing looking!

matt closeup

The long-sleeved version is a Gildan 100% cotton shirt that’s also roomy, and comfortable with a smaller antique white logo over the left pocket region, and it’s ready to order right now in sizes L-2XL.

To order yours today, visit the MBW t-shirt page by clicking here.

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Categories: Hand Tools


by Dr. Radut