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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: 3 hours 55 min ago

Spring Fever Sale at Shop Woodworking

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 7:35am
Two days of savings Feb. 27 & 28

Two days of savings Feb. 27 & 28

As I’m sitting here staring out the window in my office all I can think about is “how soon will Spring get here?” Don’t get me wrong, I’m one of those weirdos that loves Winter, but Spring is nice too!

The folks over at Shop Woodworking must be thinking the same thing. For two days, starting today February 27 and running through Saturday February 28 you can save 40% on videos, eBooks and digital downloads in their massive collection.

What this really means is that rather than trudging through the snow to go to your local bookstore, or woodworking retailer, you can instead purchase the downloadable item of your choice and get right into the shop (or warm comfy chair) and start learning something new for your next project.

I just picked up an eBook copy of “Simply Built Cabinets” by Danny Proulx.

This is a small hint for an upcoming project in the spring, but given the drop in temperature forcasted for my neck of the woods, I’ll be comfy and warm while I learn a thing or two AND have saved a dollar or two at the same time.

Hurry, this sale ends February 28, 2015!

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Categories: Hand Tools

540 Madison’s Dresser Pt 4 “Drawer Frames”

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 3:30am

We’re making progress with the 8 drawer tall dresser I’m building for my daughter Madison. In today’s episode we’re moving on to building the drawer frames for the dresser.

drawer frames

Drawer frames are a crucial component in the overall body of the dresser, and while most probably won’t notice them in their entirety (other than the edge of the front facing rail) it’s still important to make sure they’re well constructed.

There are a number of joinery options to choose from, including non-traditional joinery such as pocket-holes (which is actually what I was originally planning to use.) But the joinery I decided to use in this build was a traditional tongue and groove joint.

To insure the mating pieces match up as perfect as possible, I opted to use a tongue and groove router bit set I featured several years ago in an episode of “Router Bit of the Month.”

Also featured in this episode is the glue-up process for assembling the drawer frames and a quick discussion of cleaning up the dados from the last episode (something I didn’t plan to do, but it turns out they needed a little assistance.)

A full set of detailed plans are available for sale on my website, thanks to Brian Benham of Benham Design Concepts.

You can find them by visiting our new “Digital Downloads Store” by clicking here.

Episode available for download in the following formats:
|SD Video||720HD Video||Audio only|

Help support the show – please visit our advertisers

Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Woodworking’s “Arts & Crafts Ultimate Collection”

Sun, 02/22/2015 - 5:59pm

It’s nearly the end of the month and I just realized I forgot to mention that this month’s Shop Woodworking Value Pack is the “Arts & Crafts Ultimate Collection”

Arts and crafts value pack

According to the description on Shop Woodworking’s website:

“Get 110+ Arts & Crafts furniture projects in this ultimate collection!

Start off with basic, easy-to-build pieces in Arts & Crafts Furniture Anyone Can Make, then move up with tons of projects in Arts & Crafts Inspirations and the brand-new book Popular Woodworking’s Arts & Crafts Furniture 2nd Edition. Then, you can learn from one of the leading Arts & Crafts designers, Charles Limbert in the first book to detail 33 of his designs. And last (but not least) watch-and-learn with a fun mantel clock project with Robert Lang!

Discover this must-have bundle including 800 pages and 130+ minutes of instruction, tips, techniques and PROJECTS! If you have a liking for Arts & Crafts furniture, you will love this bundle of unique, inspiring projects.”

The collection consists of the following titles:

  • Popular Woodworking’s Arts & Crafts Furniture 2nd Edition “42 outstanding designs for every room in your home! This expertly selected collection represents some of the most visually appealing pieces of furniture ever created. The 2nd edition of Arts & Crafts Furniture contains 304 pages of woodworking advice, how-tos and design inspiration….”
  • Building Classic Arts & Crafts Furniture “Charles Limbert was one of the leading figures in the Arts & Crafts furniture movement, and also one of the most unique. His beautiful pieces combined curves, splayed sides and negative space with the more common straight lines of Arts & Crafts furniture, producing designs that were highly prized. Both the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park and the Mission Inn in Riverside, California, feature his work…”
  • Arts & Crafts Furniture Anyone Can Make “Furniture doesn’t have to be complicated to be good looking. By reducing classic Arts & Crafts furniture designs to their basics, then adding simple, screw-together joinery, anyone can build great-looking furniture. Using basic tools (jigsaw, miter saw or circular saw and a cordless drill) even as a first-time woodworker you can successfully create a piece of furniture in a weekend that you’ll proudly display for years.
  • Arts & Crafts Inspirations “You don’t need to be a purist or an expert woodworker to build the projects in Arts & Crafts Inspirations. Each project is adapted from an original furniture design to blend more with a contemporary household. In addition, much of the construction details have been simplified where appropriate to make the projects more approachable and successful. The projects range from a simple desktop book shelf to a glass-door bookcase and a traditional rocker.”
  • Build an Arts & Crafts Mantel Clock with Robert W. Lang “Expand your skills while making a clock you’ll be proud to display. Though it was designed in 1895 by British architect and designer C. F. A. Voysey, this attractive mantel clock will look at home in just about any setting…”

Hurry, the last time I checked the inventory for this collection was getting low and the month of February is almost over! Don’t miss out on this collection. Click on the image above or on this link to visit and purchase your value pack before they’re gone.

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Categories: Hand Tools

539 Madison’s Dresser Pt 3 “Sides, sides, everywhere are sides”

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 1:45am

It’s time to get started with the actual building of Madison’s tall dresser, and the first steps in the process is making the sides for the body.

sides with dados

Parallel dados for the win

These consist of two wide, solid-wood panels just over 49 inches in length and 19 inches in width.

In order for us to attach the drawer frames (which not only support the drawers but are an important part of the overall structural framework of the dresser,) we need to plow out a few dados across the width of the sides and cut rabbets at the top/bottom and also on the back edge to eventually receive the back panel.

For the side panels I got really lucky and chose two extra-wide boards (approximately 12+ inches in width each) to make up the majority of the width, and then eventually glued them together with some not so extra-wide 8 inch boards to give me a rough dimension I could start working with.

To mill the extra-wide boards I decided against ripping them to widths that would fit on my 8 inch jointer, and instead built a very simple thickness planer sled that would allow me to flatten one face as if I had ran it over the cutter head of a monster-sized jointer.

Then after the glue-up was completed it was over to the table saw to crosscut and rip the panels to size, followed by installing my dado blade and getting to work on those dados and rabbets.

I’d love to tell you there weren’t any complications along the way…but that would be a lie! So we’ll discuss what happened and how I fixed those mistakes in today’s episode.

A full set of detailed plans are available for sale on my website, thanks to Brian Benham of Benham Design Concepts.

You can find them by visiting our new “Digital Downloads Store” by clicking here.

Episode available for download in the following formats:
|SD Video||720HD Video||Audio only|

Help support the show – please visit our advertisers

Categories: Hand Tools

Get Woodworking Week 2015

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 9:03am


We’re now right in the middle of “Get Woodworking Week” 2015 and it’s off to a great start! A huge thanks to Tom Iovino of Tom’s Workbench for taking the time every year to plan it and put it together.

If you’re not familiar with Get Woodworking Week head over to Tom’s website at www.tomsworkbench.com to see all the great posts and links him and other woodworkers from around the internet are putting together to help inspire and educate non-woodworkers (or brand new woodworkers) in to taking the plunge and discovering the hobby of woodworking.

Checkout Tom’s website everyday this week to see what’s new (or old) and invite a non-woodworker to check it out too. You might just be surprised at what you’ll discover, or be inspired by yourself!

Don't let him fool you...he's actually knows how to use the tools! image courtesy Tom's Workbench

Don’t let him fool you…he’s actually knows how to use the tools! image courtesy Tom’s Workbench

Thanks again Tom and everyone who’s participating this year!

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Categories: Hand Tools

Christophe Pourny’s “The Furniture Bible”

Tue, 02/17/2015 - 9:00am

I’m so far behind on getting something posted about Christophe Pourny’s new reference book “The Furniture Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Identify, Restore & Care for Furniture” that I’m surprised the publisher hasn’t shown up in my shop to beat me with it!

And with good reason too, because after finally sitting down and doing a little more than looking at the beautiful pictures and skimming the pages I actually learned a thing or two about both finishing techniques and identifying what’s unique about each period of furniture design(more about these two topics in a second.)

Then again, the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced my delay in cracking open “The Furniture Bible” is a good thing, especially given the recent emergence of two new furniture design shows on television.

Given the potential for people to be scurrying to the internet and bookstores for titles on the topic of furniture design and construction I think my timing is due to kismet, pure and simple (if you believe in that kind of thing.)

Author Christophe Pourny image courtesy artisanbooks.com

Author Christophe Pourny image courtesy artisanbooks.com

I’ll tell you right from the beginning, just like with the new television shows, Christophe’s book is not a “how-to” book in furniture construction. In the beginning there is some great general information about how furniture is constructed, but it’s my impression that the author’s intention isn’t to teach the reader how to make pieces, but instead to give them a cursory understanding of the topic.

As to the end result of that goal, I found myself learning a few things about the evolution of furniture from “roughly the 5th century” all the way to the “20th century” as Christophe uses chairs as the center of his examples in how design changes and adapts to the tools of the time, the style and fashion of those periods, and to the needs of the people who lived in those eras.

And along the way he also injects some interesting historical snippets to help make his point.

As for the rest of this first part of the book, Christophe discusses topics such as “common wood species” used in furniture construction, in which he charts them to show the reader what their typical color is, characteristics, what period they were most commonly seen in, and then what kind of projects they were used for and even which finishes work best with them.

The author then moves on to topics covering the cuts of wood, and even types of traditional joinery used.

Perhaps the one part of the book I enjoyed reading the most (because I struggle with it all the time) was the portion titled “Finishing School.” Here Christophe covered topics in finishing ranging from an overview of Wax finishes, Hand Lacquer, Shellac, oils to gilding and paint.

While it’s not a finishing book like others already on the market I found “The Furniture Bible” to also have some great information about this topic. Especially in the form of helpful identification tips, the history of the technique and especially the pros and cons of using it.

I know I mentioned this title wasn’t a “how-to” book when it comes to furniture construction, but in the third part of the book titled “Prep School” Christophe gets right into the mix of things and breaks out all the information one would need for re-finishing an old family heirloom or an amazing antique store find (and it’s not to much of a stretch of the imagination to translate it into techniques for finishing a new piece from your own shop.)

At this point in the book topics such as dismantling an existing piece, stripping it to bare wood, dewaxing, filling holes and cracks, sanding, staining, sealing, and more is covered in great detail.

And then to help the reader take it the next step, the author included another section discussing and demonstrating twelve different finishing techniques along with a discussion on wood & veneer repairs.

What I found extremely useful about this part of the book was that each of these twelve finishing techniques weren’t just discussed, they were presented with easy to follow instructions and details (including troubleshooting tips) to help the reader to have a successful result when they try it themselves.

And what would a book with a title such as “The Furniture Bible” be without a discussion of the tools to complete the tips and techniques discussed within it, and also a section on the care of furniture pieces to maintain them for the longterm?

Overall, if anyone was looking for a good book on furniture identification, restoration or a “how-to” on getting great results and improvements on a wide variety of finishing techniques, Christophe Pourny’s new reference book “The Furniture Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Identify, Restore & Care for Furniture” is one that should be on their list of suggested reference guides.

To purchase your own copy of Christophe Pourny’s “The Furniture Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Identify, Restore & Care for Furniture” from Amazon.com click here.

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Categories: Hand Tools

Cutting dados and rabbets in the basement workshop

Mon, 02/16/2015 - 9:00am

Later this week I’m releasing the first of the construction videos for our current project build “The 8 drawer tall dresser.” Among the topics you’ll see in the video I’m sharing my current technique for plowing out dados and rabbets in my projects.

plenty of dados

As you’ll see, the technique is pretty simple. Whenever possible I like to do them on my tablesaw with a stacked dado cutter. Why?

Because without a doubt I feel like I have a lot more control over the process, and as we all should know by now, when you feel more confident about something you’re more apt to get better results (or at the least feel safer, which should never be discounted as a reason to not choose one technique over another.)

cutting dados

I will admit there could be some potential drawbacks to using a stacked dado head cutter to do all my cutting, but with a little planning ahead of time you should be able to limit them.

Specifically the number one drawback I can think of is trying to cut dados on a large panel. Whenever possible I like to bring my tools over to large components, such as the sides of this dresser, to get a task completed. But because I can’t do that with a stacked dado cutter, I’ll just have to take a few minutes to strategize my cuts.

Another rather obvious issue with using a dado cutterhead on my tablesaw is that stopped dados and grooves can add another layer of complexity to the process, but it’s easy enough to either stop just shy of the end of the cut or to carefully setup for a different approach (one I’m not going to describe here, because that could take a while.)

It might be me being overcautious (because I know my tablesaw could easily handle it) but something else I do when using my stacked dado cutterhead is to not add all the cutters needed to cut the full width of the dimension I’m trying to cut.

This seems counter-productive, but as I explain in the upcoming video my reasoning is pretty simple, I like being able to sneak up on the final fit. If anything were even slightly off in my milling of the mating pieces I could be looking at some extra time spent milling new stock to fit, or seriously considering shimming them in some way.

sides with dados

Parallel dados for the win

Of course this all begs to ask the question “why not use a tool like a router?” or maybe you see it as the basis for an argument for why hand tools are more superior for these kind of tasks.

And my response is that you’re probably right…for YOU to do YOUR preferred method. But each of these have their own drawbacks that need to be dealt with and I’m already familiar with my own technique’s issues.

So rather than saying one way is superior over the other, I prefer to say each has their merits, and whatever works best for the woodworker employing them is probably the best one for the job at hand.

And while I prefer this method for the vast majority of my dado and rabbeting tasks, I will every so often turn to my router or a hand tool to tackle the job when necessary

Which is your preferred method? Do you use just one or do you use a wide variety of methods?

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Categories: Hand Tools

538 Madison’s Dresser Pt 2 “Sorting the Stacks”

Thu, 02/12/2015 - 3:30am

Now that the design, and dimensions of Madison’s Dresser have all been worked out in the planning process it’s time to order the lumber, and sort through the stacks looking for just the right pieces for each component.

stack of poplar

Doesn’t look like a lot from this angle…but that’s tall dresser full

Given the fact this project is being painted, I’m far less worried about matching colors or grain patterns, but I still need to find stock that can easily accommodate specific sizes for components, and not to mention setting “flawed” pieces aside that might work better for interior pieces.

Ordinarily this process might be taken care of at the lumber yard if I were to hand pick the boards myself, but I usually order my lumber through a service like Bell Forest (yes, they are an advertiser, and no they didn’t pay me to say that…because I’ll continue to use their service long after they stop advertising.) Typically there’s not a lot of “flawed” material, the occasional small pin-hole knot or barked waney edge, but that’s about it.

The real benefit of this task though is that it’s a great opportunity to familiarize myself with the stack and it also helps me to pass the time while waiting for the lumber to acclimate to my shop, that is, if it’s necessary.

Given it’s the middle of winter while I’m building this project…I’m not taking any chances. A couple weeks of patience to be on the safe side is well worth it.

A full set of detailed plans are available for sale on my website, thanks to Brian Benham of Benham Design Concepts, you can find them by clicking here to visit our new “Digital Downloads Store.”

Episode available for download in the following formats:
|SD Video||720HD Video||Audio only|

Help support the show – please visit our advertisers

Categories: Hand Tools

Festool’s 2015 Video contest

Wed, 02/11/2015 - 8:00am

image courtesy Festool USA

image courtesy Festool USA

Festool’s Connect 2015 Event was just announced the other day and their searching for Festool users to submit videos featuring them using their Festool tools in the following categories:

  • Testimonial
  • Instructional / How-To
  • Share Your Shop
  • Share Your Festool Project
  • Shop / Vehicle Organization with Festool

2014 Entries and winners

According to the Festool Connect 2015 Event page

“Share your Festool video featuring a Festool power tool for a chance to win one of several great prizes! Everyone with an eligible entry is guaranteed to get some Festool swag. Some of our previous video contest participants…have gone on to partner with Festool to review tools and do additional videos.”

“We will select two random winners who will receive $750 (USD) toward any Festool product(s) of their choosing. Festool employees will also vote to select their favorites from all of the entries, each of whom will receive a Festool 18-Volt Cordless Drill. Those finalists’ videos will be featured at our Festool Connect 2015 event on March 19th where those in attendance and viewing online will vote for the grand prize winner who will receive $1,000 (USD) toward any Festool product(s) of their choosing.”

For more information, including the entry form, visit the Festool Connect 2015 Event page by clicking here. If you enter, Good Luck, I hope you win!

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Categories: Hand Tools

Am I overlooking something?

Mon, 02/09/2015 - 7:48pm

It might not come as a big surprise but over at Wood Talk we get a lot of questions throughout the year. Sometimes they’re repeats of old topics (occasionally almost word for word,) others are brand new, and once in a while they’re complete stumpers.

business man shrug

On the most recent episode I decided to take a listener’s question about glues:

“Kyle – I was wondering if there is a need to use a wide variety of different glues. I almost exclusively use Titebond 3 for everything from cutting boards to shadow boxes and haven’t seen a problem. Is there something I’m overlooking?”

It’s a pretty simple question (I like those the best) but it’s also something I ask from time-to-time when I’m standing in the glue aisle at my local Woodcraft. So I thought I’d ask it too, because just like Kyle was asking… I want to know too “…Is there something I’m overlooking?”

I won’t give away my answer, or the ensuing conversation (you can find it over at Wood Talk 218) but long-story short is that Kyle isn’t and thus neither am I apparently.

Over the last 9 years I’ve been podcasting, questions like this come up over and over, and that’s a good thing!

Most of them are asked by new“er” woodworkers just trying to wade their way through the vast amount of information floating around out there. But you may be surprised by the number of experienced woodworkers who suddenly find themselves asking aloud “Is there something I’m overlooking?”

That has to be good right? Wouldn’t it mean that rather than getting stuck doing the same thing repeatedly and never looking for new ways around old issues, people are still posing difficult (or not so difficult) questions to see if things have changed?

For example, some other woodworking topics I find myself asking this question about are in regards to things like exotic woods, complicated finishes, opposition to safety equipment, and especially to non-traditional joinery techniques.

I won’t take a hard and fast stand on these things, but some of them just seem like topics people are desperate to undertake just to make their life more complicated.

While it doesn’t work for everything, and once in a while you do have to do something different, isn’t simple just better? Or am I overlooking something?

How about you? What’s a topic you’ve been wondering all the fusses is about or why are there so many choices and why isn’t it obvious? Leave your comment below!

Categories: Hand Tools

537 Madison’s Dresser Pt 1 “Design Talk”

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 3:00am

I’m only a few years behind finally building a dresser for my daughter, but it’s just in time for her to graduate from High School in a couple of years and head off to college.

Madisons dresser concept art

In this first episode of a multi-part build series we talk about my own design process, starting from the rough idea in my head then taking it to the finished plans and drawings.

For many, inspiration comes from a variety of places, but for myself it’s mostly a result of the family identifying a need and letting me know we need to fill it.

While it’s a far cry from being inspired by a mythological muse it’s still very effective and has resulted in some great projects that fill our house.

Episode available for download in the following formats:
|SD Video||720HD Video||Audio only|

A full set of detailed plans are available for sale on my website, thanks to Brian Benham of Benham Design Concepts, you can find them by clicking here to visit our new “Digital Downloads Store.”

Help support the show – please visit our advertisers

Categories: Hand Tools

SketchUp presents “Visiting Connor Wood Bicycles”

Wed, 02/04/2015 - 3:00am

I’m a huge fan of SketchUp for a long list of reasons. At the top of that list is that it helps me to quickly workout some ideas for projects I’m about to build or ones I’m trying to decide if I want to build.

The other day I received an email from the SketchUp folks (I’m signed up for their newsletter, just like you can be too) and it included a cool video they shot to promote the software.

Connor "Woody Cruiser" - image property of Connor Wood Bicycles

Connor “Woody Cruiser” – image property of Connor Wood Bicycles

You can’t miss that it’s a promotional piece, but after seeing Chris Connor of Connor Wood Bicycles shaping the frames of his wooden bikes and talking about his love for woodworking, I felt I had to share it with the people who would appreciate it most!

We visited Connor Wood Bicycles (www.connorcycles.com) to see how SketchUp has helped Chris Connor create rolling works of functional art. These sustainably built ash and walnut bicycles are individually hand-sculpted to create a fusion of nature and cycling. We hope hearing more about Chris’s passion will inspire you to create something you love.


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Categories: Hand Tools

Patreon Campaign News and Updates

Mon, 02/02/2015 - 7:02pm

I really want to tease this out a little bit more, maybe even build up some drama, but there’s no way other than just coming right out and saying it.

I’m making some changes to the Patrons of Matt’s Basement Workshop Campaign and I think you’ll like them!

Patreon button

Click here to visit the MBW Patreon Page.

If you were already a Patron of Matt’s Basement Workshop you probably saw this announcement over the weekend, if not, let me first say that this isn’t my announcement that I’m pulling the plug.

Instead, I’m announcing a significant change to the sponsorship levels, most specifically to the “Woobie-level” of patronage.

Starting right away I’m making the following effective immediately:

  • NEW “Patron” level for $1/mo – At this level you’ll get a huge “Thank You” from me for helping to support the show!

    You’re donation gets added to the combined sum of all the Patrons of MBW, which means we’ll get even closer to all those milestones we’ve established (which starts first with the return of the Spoken Wood Podcast as soon as the monthly support from all the Patrons combined hits $500/mo.)

    As part of my thank you, your name gets proudly displayed on the Patrons of Matt’s Basement Workshop web page here at the website.

  • The price of “Woobie” Patronage drops from $15/mo to $10/mo – At this level of support, you not only get your name on the Patrons of Matt’s Basement Workshop web page (including a link to your website if you have one) but you get the following also:
      1. Full-length sneak previews of the latest episodes at least 1 day before non-Patrons.
      2. Guaranteed bonus content from every episode.
      3. An extra bonus episode made just for Woobie level Patrons.

There are two other levels of Patronage but the only change to both of them is that I’m no longer including a monthly schwag giveaway for Patrons (actually that’s at all levels, not just these two.)

Sorry, I know you’ll be a little disappointed, but I hope you understand (I promise I’ll make up for it with even better content!)

  • “Spoiler” Patrons $2/mo – Similar to the “Patron” level, plus access to new content a minimum of one day before the rest of the world gets to view it. Allowing you plenty of time to post inside jokes and share the occasional pearls of wisdom you gleaned from the content. In other words, you can be a Matt’s Basement Workshop “Spoiler” for the rest of the audience by spoiling the surprise of what is so awesome in each post.
  • “Chortle” Patrons $5/mo – Same as the “Spoiler” level but with an option for a clickable link to your website (if you have one) on my Patrons of Matt’s Basement Workshop web page. Plus you have access to special bonus content from each new episode; easily an extra 5-10 minutes of bonus footage exclusive to this level of patronage and above.

Find out more about the various patronage levels, including how to sign up right away before you miss the next episode (and depending on which level you choose the possible bonus content) by visiting the Matt’s Basement Workshop Patreon page by clicking here.

Help support the show – please visit our advertisers

Categories: Hand Tools

I have no style!

Mon, 02/02/2015 - 10:19am

The title of this post doesn’t comes as a shock to anyone who knows me, especially when it comes to fashion. It’s obvious I’m stuck in a rut and couldn’t be less current on hip clothing if I tried.

But in this case I’m referring more specifically to my lack of style when it comes to “designing” furniture. Even more definitively, my nearly complete lack of following an established design style all together.

For the past week I feel as if I’ve discussed more about furniture design than I have in the last few years, and I’m not saying this isn’t a good thing, I’m just kind of shocked at how much it’s been front and center in my world recently.

To be entirely honest, I’ve never really given it much of a thought before, because without a doubt I don’t have a particular design style that I’m drawn towards and attempt to emulate. Well that’s not entirely true, I tend to lean towards shaker, but by lean I mean sway in the wind a little.

Up until now, most of my design ideas have been as a result of the whim of the “client,” or more frequently in the Vanderlist household, driven by function versus form. Of course as soon as I typed those words I realized that IS my style! If I had to give it a name I guess it would have to be “Functionalist?”There, now that I’ve said it, and now that I’ve named it I feel better!


Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I feel a need to lump myself in a group or give myself a title, but instead it’s just nice to not have to struggle to think of an established style of furniture that my projects come close to resembling.

Up until now, whenever I tried to describe what I was inspired by, or tried to incorporate elements of into the build, I’d no sooner say it and then it would be obvious by the look on people’s faces they were thinking “…has he ever seen anything from that style of furniture? Because that looks nothing like it!”

So here’s to the “Functionalist” furniture builders of the world! Those who put function before form. Who aren’t constrained by a specific edge profile or charateristic wood species. To those who don’t ask if it’s okay to mix solids with sheet goods, or whether you can substitute non-traditional joinery for construction.

To you my “Functionalist” friends I tip my Woobie and say let nothing constrain you from building your projects, damn be to the established styles that paralyze our fellow woodworkers with over analysis.

For us, filling the need with functional projects trumps style everytime! Except of course if our spouses hate them so much that they get sold in a garage sale on a table marked “FREEBIES…PLEASE TAKE!” in that case we might get a second opinion before we start building, because that just hurts to watch our hard work being carted away with our old acid-wash jeans and concert t-shirts.

What about you? What would you call your own unique style of design if you had to name it?
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Categories: Hand Tools

8 Drawer Tall Dresser Downloadable Plans

Sun, 02/01/2015 - 7:00am

Coming up this week I’m releasing the first episode of a multi-part series on the construction of my daughter Madison’s 8 drawer dresser. It’s been a long time coming, so I’ve had plenty of time to plan out the details.

Frequently when I build projects I get a lot of requests for measured drawings & plans, and then usually fail to follow through and provide anything. But not this time!

Thanks to some hard work on the part of Brian Benham of Benham Design Concepts we have a full-set of plans for purchase.

The 8 drawer tall dresser plan includes all the measurements, cut list, and detailed diagrams in a downloadable PDF file (PDF drawings only, not available in a Sketchup file format) for building this classic piece of furniture, and are available for sale right now.
Madisons dresser concept art

Click on the blue button when you’re ready to purchase. You’ll be redirected to your shopping cart.

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Categories: Hand Tools

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


by Dr. Radut