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Matt's Basement Workshop
The wait is finally over! As this post is going live I’m close to boarding a plane heading to Woodworking in America 2014 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
A full weekend of nothing but full-immersion into woodworking goodness and overload with some of my closest friends from around the country, and even internationally (it’s just Canada, but technically it counts I guess?)
Highlights from WIA 2013
If you’re in attendance be sure to keep an ear out for the Chortle or an eye open for the Woobie and then come up and say “hi,” I always look forward to meeting as many woodworking friends as possible each visit.
For whatever reason, if you can’t make it this year I promise to gather up as many photos, videos and great stories from the weekend as possible to share with you in the days to follow when I get home.
Don’t forget, the whole reason I’m able to attend this year, to keep getting this great content, is thanks to the folks at Highland Woodworking. I’ll not only be gathering great content for my own blog, but for their’s also.
Can’t make it for the entire weekend but have a few hours to spend in the vendors marketplace? You’ll find me in there too…a lot! Print this coupon and save a couple of dollars on the entry fee, then use it on an amazing tool, or spend all your time checking out the free seminars happening every hour.
Choosing the right wood for a project is probably one of the hardest things a woodworker has to do. Typically for myself, the process of elimination comes down to which color and grain pattern. But occasionally I need to consider durability, and that’s when I need a little help.
Recently the folks over at Gate Expectations created two handy infographics to help woodworkers make an informed decision. Check them out!
Use this quick-reference chart to determine which class of durability your timber selection falls into.
When I was growing up, just about the only thing I liked about going back-to-school at the end of the summer was getting school supplies. A backpack full of new pencils, binders and paper was the signal of a new beginning. Of course by day two, the euphoria was over.
Now that I’m older and have kids, back-to-school has an entirely different euphoria attached to it…a return to “normalcy!”
Thanks to the week long “BACK TO SCHOOL SALE” at Shop Woodworking I can get all excited about getting “new supplies” to start the school year out right, down in my own wood shop class!
From September 8 thru 15 save up to 50% on almost everything in the store. Pick up some “textbooks” and other “educational materials” to make your woodworking education complete this year.
Everybody loves a success story, especially one that involves a boyhood dream and a relentless drive to turn moments of near-failure into that success.
Thanks to shows like This Built America (a new multimedia platform from AOL) we have a chance to explore the companies and people re-imagining American manufacturing. In other words, the rebirth of the Great American Success Story!
We meet founder Lewis Bratcher—a relentless American driven by boyhood dreams of living in America’s last frontier. Surviving financial hardships and waning industry, Bratcher fought to keep his Alaskan dream alive by risking it all to open The Great Alaskan Bowl Company. Along the way, Bratcher brought innovation that had not been seen in woodworking before.
For The Great Alaskan Bowl Company, representing Alaska in This Built America is another testament to their hard work and the American spirit.
I’m so excited to be going that I know it’ll be impossible to sleep over this last seven days until I’m off the plane and checked into my hotel in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Woodworking in America has always felt more like a family reunion to me than an educational conference, but don’t let that description fool you, you will learn a ton of great woodworking information from an amazing line-up of instructors.
Instructors like Roy Underhill, Don Williams, Peter Galbert, Frank Klausz, and many more. Including of course, the editorial staff of Popular Woodworking Magazine and one of my friends who’s making his WIA inaugural appearance, Wilbur Pan.
In case you’re interested, Wilbur will be teaching a class or two on Japanese tools. A topic I know an inversely proportional amount about compared to him!
If you haven’t bought your tickets yet there’s still time. Online registration closes on September 7 at 11:59 PM EST. However, you can still register for the show when you get to the Benton Convention Center. You can choose from a one day, or a full weekend conference package.
As there is every year, the woodworking marketplace will be open both Friday and Saturday. With over 60 exhibitors selling tools you may have only seen online or didn’t even know existed. It’s a great opportunity to get some hands on experience with them and decide if it’s something you simply can’t live without!
For more information, including links to register for the event, class times and descriptions, along with a list of optional “extra” events happening on Sunday to round out the weekend, visit the Woodworking in America website by clicking here. Tell them Matt sent you!
And of course, send a big thanks to the folks over at Highland Woodworking for making my trip possible.
Frequently I receive press releases and updates from manufacturers about tools and services they’re rolling out. I’ve always wrestled with whether or not to say anything about them, but then I’ll hear from someone asking if I was aware of it and why I didn’t say something?
So after giving it some thought, I figured I’d start posting one a week as they come in. I promise they’ll always be woodworking related and not an announcement about the next super towel or odor absorber.
Of course, if it’s an exceptional week and some amazing things hit the market all at once I may have to announce more than one, but I promise I’ll keep it to a minimum.
This is something that seems to be happening right now since IWF 2014 just wrapped up and tool manufacturers are rolling out some great new updates to classic tools or introducing all new ones.
For example, this just hit my inbox today from the folks at Tormek USA:
TORMEK® REDEFINES PRECISION WITH NEW SECOND GENERATION T-4 WATER-COOLED SHARPENING SYSTEM
The company setting the standard in innovative tool sharpening since 1973, today announced the launch of the T-4, the second generation of Tormek water-cooled sharpening systems. The newly designed T-4, ideal for sharpening hand tools, knives, scissors, woodturning and woodcarving tools, was developed to take precision and stability to a new level.
All the vital functions of the T-4, such as the motor and the main shaft, are mounted in a solid zinc cast top, which also includes the patent-pending integrated sleeves for the Universal Support. The result is a rigid machine with a significantly improved level of precision for the Universal Support, which is the base from which all the Tormek jigs operate.
The new cast zinc top section also has an integrated handle, an appreciated feature which makes the machine easy to move and place when necessary. Another new detail is the metal machine plate which can be a convenient place to store the included Tormek AngleMaster (with magnetic feet). The Tormek T-4 can be customized and configured with Tormek jigs to fit specific sharpening needs.
“We have made significant enhancements with our second generation T-4, such as improving the rigidity by 300 percent and, with the new patent-pending Tormek design of the sleeves for the Universal Support, we have been able to minimize the play by 50 percent,” said Håkan Persson, CEO for Tormek. “Combined, these improvements will affect your control of the sharpening and increase the precision of your result.”
Start up accessories included with the T-4 are the Stone Grader SP-650, AngleMaster WM-200, honing compound, DVD and the comprehensive Tormek Handbook on sharpening. The Tormek T-4 has a $399 MSRP and will be available in fall 2014 at select woodworking retailers.
For more information, visit www.tormekus.com.
I knew it was eventually going to happen, the temptation is far too great to avoid.
Don’t worry, I’m not talking about turning to the darkside and taking up knitting (although I wouldn’t mind making my own matching wool scarf and woobie set for winter, especially if it’s as cold as last year.)
Instead, I’m talking about another blackhole of woodworking that I’ve been very vocal about avoiding for years…WOODTURNING!
Sure I’ve had the lathe for awhile now, and yes I’ve dabbled a little bit with it here and there. But I’ve never taken the plunge and unleashed the full power of the turning tools.
Recently I moved the lathe up and out of the basement workshop and into the garage where I could enjoy the warm summer evenings and not feel like I had to stop every five to ten minutes to vacuum up the accumulating chips and sawdust.
On today’s episode you get to witness the fruits of my dabbling. The result of what happens when a woodworker decides to make more than a dowel and attempts to learn what each woodturning tool does (preferably without hurting himself in the process.)
You’ll see plenty of mistakes in this video and probably laugh at my fumbling with the tools (especially when I attempt to identify which gouge I’m using) but hopefully more than anything else, you’ll enjoy seeing the first of what I imagine to be numerous woodturning projects to come.
Have you been looking for great information and tutorials on the construction of furniture components such as drawers or frame and panel doors? Look no more! Well, actually DO TAKE A LOOK!
Take a look at the two new DVD titles released recently from woodworking expert Hendrik Varju of Passion for Wood. Both titles are filled with hours of great information.
And since Hendrik doesn’t skip out on the details these DVDs live up to their sub-title “Private Woodworking Instruction in a Box” with over ten hours of footage each.
“Making Drawers” includes numerous topics such as “types of drawers,” “orders of operations,” “cutting rabbets on a tablesaw,” along with bonus footage on “fitting and installing drawers.”
“Making Frame and Panel Doors” includes topics such as “designing a frame and panel door,” “making and joining stiles and rails,” “decorative routing and panel grooves,” and many many more, including exclusive bonus footage “fitting and installing doors.”
These two new DVDs make the 13th and 14th titles in Hendrik’s DVD library. To learn more about them visit passionforwood.com/woodworking/dvds. Click on the title you’re interested in learning more about and watch the sneak peek video snippet.
If these are a topic you’ve been searching for more information on, then these are the titles for you!
Several times a year it’s inevitable I’ll get asked if I ever experience “woodworking burn out?” So let me state without a doubt “YES!”
At some point we need to step back and do something different. It happens in all aspects of life, with a variety of activities, so it only makes sense it’s going to happen in our hobbies and passions.
Personally, I’ve identified a few times throughout the year that it’s almost certainly guaranteed to occur. The beginning and end of summer, and right around the Christmas/New Year holidays.
These are times of the year when my focus is anywhere and everywhere else but in the wood shop, and if I’m working on a project at that time, I can assure you I’m completely miserable until it’s completed.
In fact, the more I think about it, I also experience a little short-term burn out towards the end of any large project I’m working on. It kind of makes sense if you think about it.
Typically the beginning and middle of a project is exciting and new because you’re very active in getting the process underway. Lumber is to be milled, joints are to be cut and eventually assembly is just around the corner.
But once it hits the glue-up and finishing stages, I’m still excited to see all my hardwork come together, but frequently it’s starting to feel like “work” instead of relaxation.
It’s very counterintuitive really, given that all the milling and joinery work can be so tedious and time-consuming, but I think what makes it a little bit exciting is that you’re kind of uncovering something new.
Every new layer of wood revealed by the milling process is turning a rough and dirty board into something beautiful. And everytime you shape the pieces, for the joinery, you’re creating and manipulating the board.
You’re creating something unique and different out of something that was rather ordinary.
Still, without a doubt, at some point burn out hits us and we find ourselves struggling to get into the shop. Should we force ourselves in at this point? Or is it better to stay away and wait for the muse to draw us back in?
I addressed this issue back in 2008 in episode 313 “Downtime Monday”, and while I might not always agree with some of my earlier advice, this still sounds like exactly what I do today.
How about you? What’s your way of overcoming or avoiding burnout?
“Your Brain on Matt’s Basement Workshop” t-shirts are being marked down to make room for more inventory.
As the cooler weather isn’t that far away, some of you are asking for long sleeve shirts, and there’s even the chance a special “CHORTLE” design could be in the works too!
The “Your Brain on Matt’s Basement Workshop” t-shirts are a lightweight polyester/cotton blend that are comfortable to wear in OR out of the shop.
Sizes are limited to what we currently have in stock, ranging from Medium to 3XL. So hurry before they’re sold out.
The price per shirt doesn’t include shipping and handling. Shipping and handling charges are a flat-rate fee* for domestic shipping in the USA that will be added to the order at checkout.
For international orders please contact me directly to order so I can determine the proper shipping charges prior to purchase. Email me using this link.
|“Your Brain on MBW” – Sale Price!|
Want to order both “Your Brain” and the “MBW Classic Logo” shirts together? CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE MBW T-SHIRT PAGE.
*Why a flat-rate fee? The weight of the t-shirts and packaging take them very close to not being eligible for 1st-class shipping rates, so to make it easier for the shipping department (me) and to keep costs low, I’m currently only offering the one form of shipping unless indicated.
I’ve always wanted to learn how to play the guitar, but I have ZERO musical talent (ever hear me attempt to “sing” on the show? Not pretty!) The next best thing for me might be making one instead. But where do you start?
Looks like the folks over at M&M Tool Parts have been asked this question before. That might explain this great “How to Build a Guitar in 3 Easy Steps” infographic they posted recently on their blog “Shop Talk”.
I don’t know if I’ll ever actually make a musical instrument, but regardless, it’s nice to know there’s resources like this to help me get started when I do.
Between now and August 27, 2014 you can save up to 75% on purchases at Shop Woodworking. This is a great opportunity to start stocking up for the long cold winter ahead or even to get an early jump on the holidays (yes I said holidays!)
Don’t miss out on this chance to get something for your shop while helping to support the show.
Before we delve deeper into the topic of podcasting we need to discuss equipment. Depending on the podcast format of your show; video, audio or both, will dictate the equipment you’ll need.
Let’s start with a simple audio podcast (I say simple, because as far as I’m concerned they’re the least complex to produce compared to some of the extra equipment you’ll need with a video show.) When I started in 2006 there were primarily only audio shows, so all you really needed was a microphone and recording software (which we’ll cover in the next post.)
As I mentioned previously, my first microphone was a little plastic mic from one of my kids’ toys. It worked well enough to get my feet wet, but I discovered quickly that I needed to step it up a little.
Still reluctant to take the full plunge I didn’t actually improve things all that much when I ran out to a big box electronic store and picked up this same exact microphone pictured here, the Sony Omnidirectional Microphone.
Let’s just say it didn’t improve things all that much and move on. I won’t bore you with the long list of mics I tried until I finally decided to spend the money for an USB mic like the Samson G-Track.
Let me just state this as clearly as possible. While the Samson G-Track is not the ultimate mic on the market, it’s been well worth the money and has been my microphone of choice since I bought it in 2008.
What makes it a great mic for podcasting?
- It’s a USB mic - this means you don’t need a mixer or some other intermediate piece of equipment to get your voice into the computer and on to the recording.
- Onboard volume adjustment - the Samson G-Track has it’s own input volume dial so you have more control over the level of your voice or another piece of equipment.
- Line-in jack - not only is it possible for you to record yourself into the computer, but because there’s a secondary line-in jack on the mic it’s possible to have a sound board with sound effects or even another microphone plugged in for easy interview recordings without having to mess with a mixer.
- Supercardioid pickup pattern - unlike an omni-directional mic which picks up sound from all directions, the supercardioid pattern means it pretty much picks up what’s directly in front of it (trust me, there’s been plenty of times I’ve worried about someone else in the room making noise only to discover it was never picked up.)
- Zero-latency monitoring with volume control - or more specifically, you can hear yourself in real time with headphones. This is great so you can hear the recording happening in real time as your audience will eventually hear it when you post it. This is a huge bonus if you’re concerned about picking up background noise or simply for monitoring any feedback.
Another important piece of equipment to consider when looking at microphones is the stand. Without a good stand, even the best mics won’t work to their full potential. With that said, of course I started out with the most basic desktop stand, which is nothing more than a weighted base and short rod with a clip.
This was okay, but I wanted (and recommend) something with more versatility and reach. A mic stand such as the RODE PSA1 Swivel Mount Studio Microphone Boom Arm is a great investment.Regardless of which one you pick up, the main thing to remember is to make sure you can get the microphone in a position that’s comfortable and out of the way…just in case you’re a hand talker!
Last but not least is whether you need a wind screen or pop filter. If you’re prone to POPPING your “p’s” when you’re talking or are afraid you may “spray it when you say it” a pop filter of some sort is a great investment to keep your audience from cringing at the sound of spit hitting your microphone.
We could easily go into a discussion about headphones, I recommend you get some if you use a mic or system with zero-latency monitoring. They’ll give you a true feel for how you’re show will sound before the audience can tell you in a not-so-nice way.
There is other equipment audio professionals might say you can’t live without, but this is the equipment I’ve used for Matt’s Basement Workshop – “the early years”, Spoken Wood Podcast, & Wood Talk for all these years.
Next post, we’ll expand the discussion of audio podcast equipment to recording software. There’s EXPENSIVE or SHAREWARE. Guess which one I’ll potentially recommend?
If you haven’t noticed yet there’s a bit of a theme to my videos this summer. Have you figured it out? It’s “Scrap wood projects!”
What I find great about this project is that it’s an opportunity to use some of your smallest scraps and you’re truly only limited by your imagination when it comes to shape and size. Okay, maybe you’re a little limited also by the strength of the magnet, but that’s easy to fix too with the purchase of a rare earth magnet or two.
And just like all the other scrap wood projects we’ve seen over the years, this is a great opportunity to not only use material that might ordinarily get tossed or burned, but it’s an inexpensive way to familiarize yourself with a new species or two.
If after watching the video you decide to make some yourself, please feel free to share pictures. I’d love to see what you create!
Don’t miss out on this opportunity to pickup great titles such as:
Christopher Schwarz’s classic reference book “Workbenches”
Jeff Miller’s “The Foundations of Better Woodworking”
Steve Latta’s “Fundamentals of Inlay: Stringing, Line and Berry DVD”
Whatever your choice is, remember to use checkout code THANKYOU30 to save 30% on your purchase between now and August 14, 2014.
Are you ever confused about which saw blade is the right one for your table saw or miter saw? With all the different tooth configurations, hook angles, or thin kerf versus wide it gets confusing right out-of-the-gate.
Personally I’m a fan of a 40 tooth combo blade on my table saw and preferably a 60 to 80 tooth blade on my miter saw. But even after using those styles for years I still look at all the blades on the market and find myself wondering if I could be using something different?
Because understanding and then choosing the right saw blade can be so difficult if you’re not already familiar with them, the folks over at Rockler posted a nice tutorial earlier this year.
Saw Blades 101 is an easy to understand guide and glossary of the most frequent terms you’ll run into when looking for the right saw blade for the task and tool you have.
The folks at Rockler have done a great job of breaking down the basics and helping you understand the terms you’ll see and hopefully help you make the right decision with the least amount of confusion.
My only question is, where was this when I started woodworking?
For more information and to read the post, visit Rockler.com/how-to/blades-101 by clicking here.
Woodworking in America is turning 6 this year and to celebrate they’re moving the entire show east to Winston-Salem, North Carolina! Okay, they’re not actually moving because it’s their sixth year, it’s moving because the Winston-Salem area is an amazingly beautiful destination and has a ton of variety to offer attendees.
Not familiar with Woodworking in America? It’s described as “…the ULTIMATE woodworking weekend. The nation’s best woodworking show and conference… Learn from woodworking legends and discover new techniques. See the latest tools and talk shop with other woodworkers.”
I’ve had an opportunity to attend quite a few of the conferences and it’s never let me down in expectation. The instructors have always been great. They’re informative, easy to approach and cover a wide range of topics any woodworker would want to know more about.
Throw into that mix the location of the event, the attendees and ESPECIALLY the tool marketplace (which is where all the magic happens) and you have all the makings of a perfect woodworking weekend!
For more information, especially on the speakers; who now include the Popular Woodworking Magazine editorial staff, and woodworking icon Roy Underhill. Along with WIA favorites Frank Klausz, Don Williams, Graham Blackburn and Peter Galbert.
And this year acclaimed woodworkers Phil Lowe, W. Patrick Edwards and Drew Langser, among many others, will be speaking at WIA for the first time.
You won’t want to miss this event! Tickets are on sale now. For more information visit the Woodworking in America website.
Since my workshop is located in the basement it makes sense that I might be a little concerned about the potential for explosions or fires due to the exposure of sawdust, woodchips & shavings to pilot lights from our gas furnace and water heater. But I’m not!
Am I being cavalier about the topic?…Maybe. Do I know something others should in a similar situation?…Always a possibility. So why am I bringing up this topic if it’s something that doesn’t bother me?
Because it’s a topic many of you have asked about in emails over the years, and since I’ve never written about it before I thought it was time.
Let me start by saying that “YES!” Yes I am concerned about fires or explosions due to the exposure of sawdust to ANY flame source in my house. But I also know from years of experience that you’re more likely to slip and fall on the sawdust than you are to have an explosion.
So my first piece of advice to anyone concerned with this situation is that they should be diligent about keeping their shop clean. I’m not saying their shop should be spotless (mine always has a fine layer of dust on the shelves and chips & shavings under the bench) but instead I’m suggesting they should take the time to sweep up the big piles off the floor at the end of the day or even in between heavy dust/chip-making operations such as planing or sanding.
In fact, you don’t even need a heavy-duty dust collection system for this operation. A broom and dust pan are just as effective. And this is important not only in keeping things from getting volatile, but again, it can keep you from slipping and falling (or even from it becoming a haven for unwanted critters like mice and bugs.)
The next thing I would recommend to think about is the location of the tools. Position them furthest away from the pilot lights, or orient the tools so the sawdust and chips are being expelled AWAY from the flame.
For example, my tablesaw is located next to both my gas furnace and water heater, about 3-4 feet away to be exact, and it can throw a lot of sawdust on me when I don’t have the dust collection turned on. To keep things from getting all fired up, I have the saw positioned so that when I’m making a cut, the sawdust is expelled away from the appliances instead of towards them.
I’ve done plenty of dado cutting action that throws an amazing amount of sawdust on the floor. Then because I’m in a rush to get out of the shop for whatever reason I end up leaving those piles on the floor and not cleaning them up for a day or more (sometimes up to a week) without fear of a fiery demise.
If you find it’s the fine dust you’re most concerned about (given its tendency to land everywhere) I’d recommend using an air-cleaner of some sort. I happen to have an overhead air cleaner that works amazing at grabbing a lot of it (of course if you don’t remember to turn it on regularly, like I forget to, it doesn’t do you any good.)
This is actually the stuff I’m most worried about, but again, not for explosions or fires. Instead, I’m more concerned about it getting in my lungs.
If you can’t afford an air-cleaner something as simple as a box fan with a furnace filter taped to it, or even an open window to help circulate fresh-air will make all the difference. Having decent air-flow through your shop is something we might not think a lot about, but good air-flow will actually help to keep that fine dust a little more under control.
In fact, in my first basement wood shop I had some amazing basement windows I could open wide, set a fan in and have it suck a ton of sawdust out that otherwise would have accumulated all over the shop.
There are of course obvious reasons why we want to have some sort of dust collection on our tools. But for a lot of us there’s no way we can justify a huge “whole-shop” system with drop down duct work and supply lines. But something as simple as a shop vac or a bag outfitted under an open bottom tablesaw will help to keep the sawdust and chips contained enough until you empty it.
And for sure there will be streams of sawdust flying out if you’re only using a small shop-vac, but you’d be surprised how much more would be if you weren’t!
So in closing, from my own experience, the flames on gas furnaces and water heaters aren’t as worrisome for starting fires or explosions with sawdust and chips as slipping, falling or even longterm respiratory disease is. What are your thoughts on the topic?
Want a chance to win a $250 gift card at Toolstoday.com? Here’s your opportunity!
Between now and September 1, 2014 visit the Toolstoday Facebook page, like the page, and then submit a photo of one of your projects.
Rules for entering the contest include the following:
- Project must of been created using router bits, saw blades, boring/planing/hand tools or shaper cutters. Project can be made from wood, composite materials, aluminum, plastic, foam or a combination.
- Please be prepared to know what tools you used to work on these projects.
- Submit by clicking to enter below. Submission period ends September 1, 2014. By submitting your photos you agree to the Consent & Release of images included in the contest rules.
- Share your entry and vote. Voting ends September 15. You must upload a picture of your woodworking project to qualify for the contest.
- The project with the most votes wins! Good luck!
Once you’ve entered invite others to visit, like the page and vote for their favorite project (they don’t have to upload a picture to vote), it couldn’t be easier!
Every month the folks over at Shop Woodworking offer up some great value packs filled with tons of useful resources on specific projects or woodworking techniques.
For the month of August 2014 they’re changing things up a little by offering a chance to get Roy Underhill’s Woodwright’s Shop Volume 11 – 20 DVD Collection.
Enjoy hundreds of classic episodes from seasons 11-20 of The Woodwright’s Shop any time of the day! With 20 discs, and over 60 hours of woodworking tips, techniques, and projects, you’re going to enjoy a multitude of interesting projects. Whether you’re a life-long woodworker, new to it, or rediscovering the joy of woodworking all over again, you’re sure to find inspiration, encouragement and valuable information every moment you spend with Roy.
Please remember, your purchases through our links help to support the show!