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We haven’t said a lot about what will be in the first issue release of 360 WoodWorking, but as we get closer we’d like to announce one of our friends who will be contributing an article a presentation, Darrell Peart. Darrell has been a professional woodworker for a long time, long enough that the URL for his website is furnituremaker.com and he was recently on the cover of Fine Woodworking. He’s written articles for most of the major print magazines and he is the author of two books “Greene & Greene: Design Elements for the Workshop” and “In the Greene & Greene Style”. You can purchase both of those books (and a DVD) directly from Darrell. Before becoming an independent furniture maker, Darrell worked for many years in the custom cabinet and millwork business around Seattle, Washington while building studio furniture on nights and weekends. In addition to running a working shop, he also offers classes on a variety of topics.
Darrell’s work is inspired by the work of California architects Charles and Henry Greene who worked in Pasadena, California in the early 20th century. Those elements are just the starting point for a wide range of furniture designs, be sure to visit his site and view the furniture gallery. In his presentation for 360WoodWorking, Darrell discusses how he stays competitive with much larger (and better equipped) shops. He has adapted elements of his work in commercial shops to speed his workflow without sacrificing quality or breaking the budget. You can read, see pictures and video of exactly how this professional furniture maker ensures that everything fits and the work goes as planned. Those are worthwhile goals for every woodworker, whether amateur, pro, or would be pro. You won’t want to miss this “cross media presentation”.
In mid-December the first major presentation of 360WoodWorking will be released. Darrell Peart’s contribution is one of several, so stay tuned to see what else is coming. All content for 360WoodWorking will be free until January 2015, but if you want to go ahead and subscribe rest assured that your credit card will not be charged until next January and your subscription (if you opt for the annual plan) will run through 2015. If you sign up for the monthly plan, your subscription will start in January.
While I already have a couple of (virtual) handshake agreements with presenters for WIA 2015 (and a long list of potential presenters), next week (after the February 2015 issue is to the printer), I’ll be diving deep into the programming for next year’s conference (which is Sept. 25-27 in Kansas City, Mo.). And you can help. • What one presenter would you most like to see? • What one topic […]
For many people, Sunday is a holy day. Though I no longer attend a church on a regular basis, Sunday still does hold significance at my house because it is usually the only day where I am guaranteed to not be scheduled to work. For that reason, it is usually the only day I can manage to woodwork for a few hours. It is also a day to spend time with my family, relax, etc. So if I do plan on woodworking on a Sunday I usually try to prepare accordingly and even more importantly get an early start.
My goal for this past weekend was to get the case of the Enfield cupboard glued up, while it was drying get in some work in the yard, and then attach the face-frame. At that point I could get the final measurements for the back of the cabinet, cut them to size, and have them waiting to go for next week. On Saturday night I even prepped my garage in attempt to make the whole operation go more smoothly. All in all I planned on having roughly 3 hours free, which should have been enough time to do everything I had in mind. If things went well I even hoped to get in a little sharpening. Then we received a phone call early on Sunday morning and my plans were changed. My wife had to take care of some family business, so I spent the day with my daughter.
Normally, I would have no problem woodworking with my daughter in the garage. I generally won’t operate any power tools while she is in the room, but other than that she is old enough to at least know the drill. Unfortunately, everything I needed to do involved gluing the case first, and I will be the first to admit that when I attempt a glue-up it usually involves a lot of yelling, cursing, and complaining. Much of that complaining stems from the fact that my garage is a miserable place for gluing up anything of size. I realize that in the grand scheme of things, complaining that my garage sucks for woodworking is probably pretty small on the list, but however petty a complaint it may be, it is still a complaint nonetheless.
Rather than make a half-hearted, rushed attempt at woodworking, I decided to put it all on the back-burner. It bothers me to have a half-finished project sitting in my garage, but more important matters needed to be handled. The unfortunate part was the nice, warm weather we happened to have on Sunday morning. A sunny day in the 60’s is a fairly rare occurrence in November for this part of the country. It is conceivable that the next warm weekend we have won’t be until next March. That is a long time, and at that point I hope to be at least two projects removed from my cupboard. The one bit of good news is that Thanksgiving is on Thursday, and I may just be able to get in an hour and at the least get my case glued and clamped. There is nothing wrong with a little woodworking on Thanksgiving morning, is there?
The Holidays are always a time for Woodworkers to shine. Receiving a handmade gift from someone you care about is a wonderful treat, and as a woodworker it shows you are willing to invest time and skill into what you give to that person. I know that as a woodworker, I enjoy giving gifts to my friends and family that I make and I will be doing just that this coming Holiday season.
As a woodworker there are a couple things you can do in the outset to make your life a bit easier when giving gifts. I like to first determine the number of gifts I am going to be giving out. Then I take a look at that list and see if I want to do a single type of gift for everyone, or if I want to try and change things around. Lastly I like to think about the various people I am giving gifts to and determine if the project I have in mind is right for that person. Once I have my list set and my projects determined, I can start planning out how I want to tackle them through the coming months.
I find the hardest, but most essential part, is determining what exactly you are going to be making for each person. As a woodturner I tend to stray toward things that I can turn on my lathe, though now as I am branching out into the broader world of woodworking, my project ideas are growing. Another thing that influences my project choices is if the project stretches skills that I want to focus on. As I am growing my woodworking and my various skills I am looking for projects to help me with that. I have some boxes I want to make for friends so that I can work on my joinery skills; I have some casework I want to work on for others, so that I can work on a different set of skills.
With Holiday projects you can test your limits or take it easy, the most important thing is to get out there and make something for the folks you care about.
Matthew York has been a woodturner since 2004 and has been interested in woodworking since he was a teenager. He currently lives in downtown Atlanta and has a small shop in his basement. He is an avid woodworker and is always available to talk about the craft. He can be contacted at email@example.com or visit his website at fracturedturnings.com. You can also follow him on twitter at @raen425
The post Making Your Own Gifts for the Holidays: Test Your Limits or Take it Easy appeared first on Woodworking Blog.
Just before going to bed a few nights back, I saw that a respectable auction house in Wilson, NC was having their annual post-Thanksgiving auction, always special. Previews were running all week. I could preview the auction and visit my favorite four-acre antiques dealer and the high-end dealer right across the street. And maybe a few along the way.
Saturday morning I went on-line to see if the preview started on Saturday by any chance. I should never make plans based on something I read right before going to bed. The auction was pre-Thanksgiving and started in a half hour. It’s a 90 minute drive east and taking pictures once an auction starts is always awkward.
Since my chores were done and I was planning a road trip anyway, I went looking for another auction to visit. Nothing looked promising until I saw a warehouse clearance auction in Greensboro, 45 minutes west of me. It looked interesting but it is often hard to tell much from 100 pixel square images. I packed up my iPhone and hit the road.
The address was a large mill complex that is in the midst of preservation and redevelopment. The Revolution Mill is the 630,000 square foot former Cone Mills textile plant that had seen better days. The auction was in a smaller building away from the main 500,000 sq. ft. structure. The auctioneer had lost his lease and in the process of vacating the premises.
It was a big, dark, cold building with an uneven/rotting floor. Expected loud and annoying, aging transformer hum. Discarded latex gloves around and a few other unsavory things I choose to forget. I was trying to get a feel for the inventory but it was hard. Often you can get a feel or some vibe from the items but this one was all over the place. I just gave up try to understand it and just decided to go with the flow. An odd collection of left-overs and unloved curiosities. It is what it is.
This is the title piece, I don’t think the plastic shrink wrap is purely decorative:
There was this really unique, painted chest:
And a large armoire:
What makes it interesting is the wooden pintle hinges top and bottom on the doors:
The were many shipping crates:
With sliding dovetail battens:
And last but not least, the final preview and my first PG image ever:
Once I got into the right frame of mind, it really was a wondrous and eclectic collection. Nothing there I wanted to own but I am certainly glad I went.
I am a better man for it.
Click HERE to be taken to Oz.
Quartersawn lumber stays flat, but flatsawn lumber does not (ironic, I know). Flatsawn lumber cups during the drying process and it even cups after it’s dry if not cared for properly. Wide boards are especially fussy and panel glue-ups can be a giant pain in the tuchus.
I deal with cupped lumber all of the time, and I was reminded of this common problem when a friend of mine was trying to figure out why his wide panel glue-ups had cupped. Whenever I am asked about this, my first question is always, “How did you store your panels after they were assembled and surfaced?” The answer is usually that they laid the panels flat on a table. A quick bit of logic says that a flat panel on a flat table should stay flat, but that isn’t how it works, at least not with solid wood.
Solid wood needs to expand and contract evenly, on both sides, to stay flat. If the panels are placed flat on a table, they can breathe on one side but not on the other. The bottom side will remain as dry or wet as it started, but the top side will shrink or swell depending on the ambient humidity in the room. Usually, this problem arises when lumber is moved from a non climate-controlled environment (like a garage or barn) into a dry, climate-controlled shop, so the top of the panels will shrink and the lumber will cup up and away from the table as it dries.
In a perfect world, rough lumber would be stored for months in the exact same, hermetically sealed environment where the processing is going to happen, but since we don’t live in a bubble, that’s not really possible. Even if you store the lumber in your climate-controlled shop and build in your climate-controlled shop, the climate still changes – in small increments from day to day and more dramatically from season to season. And, since you know that these changes will make your wood expand or contract, it is even more imperative to store surfaced lumber and panels properly to make sure your flat work stays flat.
Again, storage is the key, and there are two approaches to keep things flat. The most common way is to store the wood so that it can breathe on all sides. This is done by keeping it stacked flat on sticks or by storing it upright at an angle, perhaps leaning against a wall. The other approach is to not let the wood breathe at all and keep it wrapped or covered in plastic. I commonly use both tactics, leaning panels against the wall for short-term storage, usually during a day of processing and then covering them with a sheet of plastic for longer storage. Note that dramatic changes in flatness can happen in just hours if the conditions are right (or wrong, in this case).
Now, let’s say you didn’t follow this advice and your panels developed a cup in them. They were planed and sanded flat and ready to be put into the door frame before you left the shop, but when you returned the next morning they had a noticeable rock. Since everything was already to final thickness, what options do you have? There is no meat left to machine flat and the wood can’t really be bent back into shape… or can it?
No, it can’t really be bent back, but it can be coerced back by doing the reverse of what caused the cup in the first place. The key is understanding the cause of the problem.
First, you need to identify the wet side and the dry side. If you are looking at a cupped panel from the end and it is shaped like a rainbow with the legs down, then the bottom side is the drier side. It is drier, tighter and smaller, and the outside edges are pulling together. The top side is wetter, looser and bigger, and its outside edges are pushing apart. These two forces, one pushing and one pulling, are working together to make a cupped panel.
After you have identified the problem, the solution is to treat the panel to the opposite conditions. This can be done by drying the wet side or wetting the dry side, but since almost all problems in woodworking are from wood that is too wet (at least around here), you should choose to dry the wet side.
I recommend to use a hairdryer for convenience, but on nice sunny days you can put the sun to work for you too. Both work fine, but the sun can fix a lot of panels at a time, quickly and quietly. The sun works great because it focuses all of the drying energy on just one side, and it focuses it on the entire side, not on just one spot like a hairdryer. (Be aware that some woods, like cherry, change color quickly in the sun and may be a better choice for inside drying).
The process is simple. Put the dry side down on a flat surface, one that restricts air movement across the bottom of the wood. The wide board or panel will be sitting like a rainbow, with the two legs down and the center up. Then just proceed to dry the top side, either with the sun or a hair dryer. If you are not in a hurry, you can simply move the wood to a drier environment, like the inside of your house on a cold winter day and let it dry out on the top side overnight. Any way to dry the top side while the bottom remains as it is should do the trick.
Keep an eye on the panels and check them regularly. With a hair dryer you will probably end up propping it up in a position to blow on the panel and check it every thirty minutes. In the sun, check the progress every hour. If you just move them to a drier environment, check them once or twice a day. Even with regular checks it is not uncommon to go too far and overcorrect. If you let the wood bake too long on one side and it starts to cup the other way, just flip it and dry the other side. Eventually, you will get a feel for how long it takes and end up with a flat panel, and now a drier panel (both good things).
Follow these guidelines for flat wood:
- Build with quartersawn lumber. Quartersawn wood doesn’t cup.
- Store lumber in the rough. If the lumber goes wonky you will still have extra thickness to machine flat.
- Store lumber and build in an environment similar to where the piece will end up.
- Quickly build with lumber after it is machined. Don’t give it a chance to move on you.
- If you can’t build immediately, store wide boards and panel glue-ups properly. Give them air on all sides or no air at all.
- Make sure assembled furniture stays flat by finishing both sides of solid wood panels the same. This is especially important on wide glue-ups like tabletops.
Remember, wood moves and changes size all of the time. It is your job as a woodworker to understand how these changes happen, how to prepare for them and how to control them. And, luckily, in the case of wide wood, you may even have the chance to correct them.
My kids complain when we draw together, they say all I draw is patterns & designs. (Here’s them painting; I can’t find them drawing right now…)
I’ve been doing some drawings lately. It’s somewhat new for me to draw before I build something, usually I make it first, then I draw it…
I’m finishing up a few projects, which means it’s time to start the next ones…I’m real good at starting them…it’s easy. I always have more ideas than time. A further challenge is when one thing leads to another, and a project comes up out of nowhere, and jumps the queue. I’m right now struggling to keep that from happening. I’m losing that struggle. But that’s OK.
I had a visit from Chris Pinnell from Montreal recently, and we were talking about joinery in New France. I had remembered some photos sent to me from a reader, and dug out pictures of joined work from Brittany. [It was Maurice Pommier, author of Grandpa’s Workshop – here’s my original post from a few years back – http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2010/03/27/bretagne-joinery-an-english-book-stand/ and the book is here http://lostartpress.com/products/grandpas-workshop ]
Afterwards, I went back & started drawing this carving over & over. I’ve probably drawn five versions of it since yesterday. I plan on carving it just to get it out of my system, so I can get on with the other stuff I really should be doing.
One of the projects I have to do next is a wainscot chair. For this project, I’ll be using some of that really wide riven oak I just got in. The panel is 14” wide x 16 3/4” high. I decided I’d draw this design a few times before picking up the tools, that way I know the shapes I’m after. Those size panels don’t grow on trees, you know. This is slightly different from my usual approach. Typically, with this Ipswich/Devon stuff I carve my own versions of the panels…it’s easy enough to make them up using various elements from existing patterns. This time, I’m trying to copy the existing chair …)
I’ve drawn it about 3 times, including one that’s half the panel, full size. I won’t lay out a grid on the panel, but I will work from the scaled full size drawing. I want it to have irregularities in it, and those are easy to get.
One last drawing – this thing jumped in front others, should be done this week. A bretstuhl – in walnut. Here’s the carving design I made up for the shaped back board to this chair. the chair is based on one Drew Langsner wrote about in Fine Woodworking in the early 1980s, from Switzerland. The carving designs I adapted from Dutch work of the 17th century.
Utter the word “Apprentice” and perhaps for many it conjures up wistful emotions of times past, a master passing on knowledge and values consigned to history. However that most traditional sounding method of training still exists today and it’s doing rather well. I have personal experience of completing an apprenticeship and from my family’s perspective, we have throughout the last 105 years experienced the changing face of training the trades. […]
I have used my jointer to taper legs for the past eight years. I like the technique, especially its repeatability. If, however, you’re making a double-tapered leg (there is a second, smaller taper just at the foot), the jointer is not the best tool for the job. You could pull out your handsaw to trim away the bulk of the material, then finish up using a plane. But with four legs and four tapers per leg, I’m turning to my table saw and to a table saw jig.
If you’re cutting a four-sided tapered leg using your table saw, to complete the taper on the fourth face requires two distinct setups because the first angled face is against the fence when you make the fourth taper, which changes the angle of the taper. Another option is to be creative with the cutoff piece using it as a spacer.
The jig shown at the right is setup for two tapers. The first side aids in cutting the first three sides of each leg, then the jig is reversed and the second setup makes the last cut to keep the four faces identical. This is another reason that I enjoy tapering legs at my jointer – I’m not referring to making multiple passes and counting each pass so I can get the tapers to match. (If you’re not familiar with my technique, which I learned from someone else, you need to read the desk-on-frame article coming out next month.)
After the legs are tapered, a jig to cut the second taper is easy because the major angles of the leg’s faces do not change. The photo to the left shows the simple setup. One scrap of plywood, a makeshift fence and a stop at the foot does the trick. Because it’s such a small cut (shown below), there’s no need for a clamp to hold the legs in place.
As you would do when tapering the full leg using your table saw, do the layout work on one foot at its bottom and the ankle (where the cut terminates), position that foot to the base of the jig, then tack in your remaining jig parts. Then it’s snip, snip, snip , snip – four times for each leg, and you’re done. Double tapers are so easy once you have the major taper work complete. Plus, the extra taper on the legs catches your eye, especially when there is a cuff of tiger maple popping off the walnut background, as there is on my upcoming desk.
Build Something Great!
If you’ve been reading this blog over the past few years, you’ve probably noticed that I rarely advocate one tool, or one method of woodworking, over another. I’ve always made mention of how I like to do things, and how I chop out mortises is something I’ve written about frequently.
Of course there are several different ways to make mortises. I’ve always used a mortising chisel because firstly it’s cheap, and secondly a mortising chisel doesn’t take up any space in my garage. Chopping out mortises with a chisel isn’t overly difficult, and it offers one big advantage, and that is the ability to use the chisel to accurately size your tenon, which is much more important than many woodworkers realize. I’ve found that much of the time spent making a mortise and tenon joint isn’t chopping out the mortise, or sawing the tenons (no matter if you use a hand saw, table saw, or both), but fitting the tenon to the mortise. I was taught to make a tenon oversized, and then paring it to fit the joint. I’m sure there are woodworkers out there that can saw out a tenon that fits the tenon perfectly nearly every time, but I’m not one of them. Making the tenon oversized will always insure that you can achieve a snug fit. At that, when you have a project with two dozen M&T joints, paring every one down to size is not always fun, or easy, or accurate. Suddenly your weekend hobby has become a weekend chore bordering on frustration. Some people will tell you to enjoy the process and not think about the time spent. That sounds great, but I don’t work that way. Here is what I’ve discovered: making tenons to fit is much, much easier when the mortises are all identical. When you chop a mortise by hand, no matter how good you are there will be slight variations in width and possibly depth. Those variations, however slight they may be, at best will be added work in fixing, at worst make your project go out of square. All of this has lead me to consider purchasing a tool that I never considered purchasing: a hollow chisel mortising machine. There are certain pieces of woodworking machinery I am against owning such as a jointer, for safety reasons, and a hollow chisel mortiser. In my opinion, a hollow chisel mortiser is a tool for professionals who make a living building furniture. Now I’m sure there are thousands of amateur woodworkers who own hollow chisel mortising machines. I’m not saying that I have some sort of issue with that, and even if I did it’s still none of my concern. I can only speak for myself, and it’s difficult for me to justify spending $400 + dollars on a tool that has only one purpose. At the same time, I don’t like veg-o-matic tools like the router, which it seems that every other day somebody is trying to find a new use for. But I’ve determined that at this juncture in my life I don’t have time enough to dedicate to chopping out several dozen mortises by hand, even though I don’t mind the process. My current project has only eight mortises, had that number been doubled or tripled, I would be looking at not one month of build time, but three. And as I’ve said before, the longer it takes to build a project, the better the chance that it will never get finished. So even though I am not a professional woodworker, and even though some of my projects are not heavy on M&T joinery, the next piece of woodworking machinery I purchase may be a hollow chisel mortising machine. I can say from experience that if anything else they are consistent, and consistent is accurate, and accuracy saves time. Should woodworking be about saving time? Maybe not, but it also shouldn’t be frustrating, and nothing can be more frustrating than having to go back and fix step 2 when you are about to start step 9. This I do know, I spent several hours last weekend making and fitting(2!!!) mortise and tenon joints. Part of that is just because of my skill level, but the other part is the method. If I am going to continue making furniture in my spare time but not compromise on the joinery, then it’s high time I bit the bullet and invested in the proper piece of equipment to make that happen. Or maybe my wife will take a hint for once and it will be under the Christmas tree on December 25th.
I know I said the next blog would be about tables but it’s not. Seems I need to get one more picture that I didn’t have in my extensive inventory. And I looked. Twice. I do use labels and tags but I never thought this was a label or tag I would need. I was wrong. Just this once.
Back in late October, I wrote about William S. Wooton and his desk company. (You can read it HERE.) I did find another picture of an Ordinary Grade desk:
I visited an antiques shop in Greensboro, NC a while back and found this monster:
Closed it would look something like this:
It is much newer than most Wooton desks and not nearly as well made. You might be able to see it in this picture:
Wings lift off:
And it’s made by:
Who knew? If you know anything about them, please share.
It’s my first real woodworking article.
It’s in the November/December issue.
The pictures were taken by my friend and colleague Doug Mitchell, who is a much better photographer than I am.
The article is an update of my original blog post on carving a wooden spoon. In writing the article, I had to re-think my carving process, breaking it down into discrete steps, so this article is, I think, clearer and more concise than the original post. It’s also a little shorter. I suspect writing this article has ultimately made me a more efficient spoon maker.
You can purchase a copy at any Rockler store, or at the magazine’s website.
Tagged: Rockler, Woodworker's Journal
Ever since the age of sixteen I drove a pickup truck. However, when I trade my Ford Ranger in this February, I lost the convenience of running to the lumber yard and throwing a piece of plywood in the back. I currently drive a Mercury Milan while my wife drives the Ford Edge. Neither vehicle can handle a sheet of plywood, so when my wife Anita had to rent a trailer for a design show she was doing this weekend, I jumped at the chance to pick up some wood.
I plan on building some built-in bookcases for the dining room, but I’ve never been able to get started on them since I had no way of getting a sheet of plywood home. I guess I could have rented an open trailer for a few hours, but I’m too cheap for that. Two sheets of 3/4″ birch and 23 board feet of poplar should be enough.
Anita told me to trade in the Milan and get another pick up truck, but I hate having a car payment. The Milan currently has 135,000 miles on it, while I drove my Ranger until it had 275,000 miles, so I’m going to have to deal with this problem for a few more years.
things finished – the box w drawer (mostly, just needs one more board in the drawer bottom.) and a birch bowl.
This birch bowl has been around a while, but I just finished carving it yesterday, then chipcarved some of the rim last night. It’s big – maybe 20″ long or more. Great fun. It’ll be for sale soon, no paint – don’t worry.
I added a link on the sidebar to Plymouth CRAFT – where you can sign up for spoon carving, card weaving, lace making & more. http://plymouthcraft.org/
Maureen tells me there’s new felt stuff on her site too. So that’s what she’s doing while I’m here doing this… https://www.etsy.com/shop/MaureensFiberArts
Sure, we have several excellent new woodworking books and videos in the works and I’m sure I should be writing about those. But with “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” sales coming up (and me hopefully off work most of next week to clean, cook and eat, then eat some more), I thought I’d take a few minutes while I’m still in the office to list what I consider “must haves” […]
The post ‘Black Friday’ & ‘Cyber Monday’ Backlist Suggestions appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
Your hobby or vocation is woodworking. You love it. You think about it all the time. Woodworking is almost your “grand obsession.” You read the Highland Woodworking catalog on the subway, train, or in your car (only at stop lights, please!). You watch YouTube videos about woodworking at lunch. You are in your shop every spare minute. You live, eat, and breathe woodworking. And you know what gifts people are going to give you over the holidays? Socks. A tie. A gift card to a coffee shop. A pair of pajamas or a new sweater. Bah. Humbug.
Oh, you will, of course, be polite; you’ll ooh and ah, express your gratitude; and as soon as the gift wrap remnants are swept away, you will be back in your shop or deep into your favorite magazine reading… about woodworking.
It may be politically incorrect, but I suggest putting your altruism aside and consider making yourself a gift this year. Who deserves it more? Get what you really want! Maybe a new workbench? How about a new rack for all your clamps? Have you been selflessly building projects for others when what you really need is a new router table? Then damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead… make something for yourself… something for your shop!
|Figure 1 – Tidy Whities? Bah, Humbug!||Figure 2 – Now that’s a gift that keeps on giving!|
Or perhaps buy something for yourself. Sound selfish? Well, it shouldn’t. Gift wrap it for the full effect. Try to act surprised when you open it. Try this… when the spouse and kiddies are away, grab the department store gift box (it is pretty obvious which one) and remove the giftwrap like a surgeon. Be careful not to tear the paper. Take the shirt, socks, underwear, or whatever out, toss it or return it, then place that new Woodpeckers Square in the box, re-wrap it, and put it back under the tree. When you open the gift everyone will be amazed… there really is a magical Santa Claus or philosopher’s stone capable of transforming plaid socks into cool tools!
If you are tempted to feel guilty for what some might consider selfish acts, don’t despair. The human mind can rationalize almost anything. A “selfie” gift is actually generous, since you are saving others the torment of trying to figure out what you really want. Plus, who wants a grumpy woodworker around with piles of useless tchotchkes? Better you go off to the woodshop to play with your new toys, grinning like a guiltless child.
The post The Down to Earth Woodworker: Politically Incorrect Woodworking Gift appeared first on Woodworking Blog.
Like most woodworkers I have a bunch of jigs kicking around the shop and like most guys my age I have firmly held opinions. As a reader I’ve seen more than enough articles about jigs for this and fixtures for that. As an author I’ve tried to steer clear of writing too much about jigs, although from time to time my name has appeared. To me, jigs exist to make certain tasks (usually repetitious ones that require a consistent degree of precision) safer, faster or easier. A really good jig will do all three of those things. Some authors are specialists in devising intricate solutions and some woodworkers get sidetracked into making jigs as their hobby instead of using jigs to make things. I am neither of those.
At right is my set-up for drilling the cup holes for Euro hinges. It’s a straight fence glued and stapled down to a piece of 3/4″ thick plywood. There is a rabbet on the fence that keeps chips of wood from keeping the edge of a door off the straight edge. The three pencil lines are my intricate system for placing the holes in the same location on every door. The center line is in line with the center of the bit, and the other two lines are an equal distance away. When I have the jig positioned where I want it, I lower the bit 1/4″ or so into the plywood base. The next time I need to use it, I lower the bit into the hole and clamp the base down to the drill press table. That puts the jig back in the right position without any fuss or measuring. All I need to do then is set the depth of the bit and I’m ready to go. In use, I line up the corner of the door to one of the outer pencil lines and drill. This is a pretty good example of my philosophy toward making and using jigs.
- Don’t expect a jig to give you skills or precision you don’t have. Simply put, if you can’t measure accurately, make parts to an exact size or put a square line in the right place you won’t be able to make a working, reliable jig; you’ll end up spending a lot of time without getting the desired results.
- If it takes longer to make the jig than it does to perform the task without the jig, you’re wasting time unless it’s a task you’ll be doing on a regular basis. Knowing how long things will take is an essential element of successful jig use. If you don’t know, you’re better off working without jigs for a while. When you find yourself in the midst of a repetitious task, you’ll start thinking of ways to make life easier and you’ll probably come up with a good idea.
- Good jigs are one-trick ponies. Universal and micro-adjustable take way too long to make, take up too much room to store and usually don’t work as well as simple, quick and easy. These are the kinds of things you’ll see in print and if you’re tempted, ask yourself how often you’ll be tapering legs and what range of lengths and angles you’ll be needing. Chances are pretty good that it’s a narrow range and for me it’s a lot quicker to make a new dedicated jig each time I’m faced with this task. It isn’t likely that you really need the T-track extrusion and all the gizmos that go with it.
- Make jigs from material you have on hand. A trip to the lumber yard or hardware store can easily wipe out the time-saving advantages of making the jig. The exception to this rule is to keep some 1/2″ and 3/4″ plywood, a couple of hold-down clamps and an assortment of fasteners on hand so that you’re ready when inspiration strikes. It still isn’t likely that you really need that T-track and all the gizmos that go with it.
- Put the jig together quickly, glue with staples or nails, a couple of screws or hot-melt glue work just fine. One of my uncle’s favorite phrases was “you ain’t making a grand piano here” and it applies to jig construction. Get the job done, but don’t get fancy with it.
- Don’t make a jig for an anticipated need, wait until the task is in front of you. That micro-adjustable finger joint jig that will handle any size material and any size of fingers might look tempting but will you ever really use it? Most woodworkers make finger joints once or twice an move on. If I had a nickel for every finger joint jig gathering dust in American wood shops I could probably retire.
- Use a minimal number of pieces put together in the simplest possible way and don’t bother to apply a finish other than some paste wax where things need to slide. As the parts list grows, the chances of making something that actually serves a useful purpose diminishes exponentially.
Jigs are essential in most shops, and I’m not against them. I am generally opposed to wasting time and my thinking is influenced by experience making things for sale. In that world, I only get paid for the time I spend making pieces of wood smaller, so jigs are only worthwhile if they enable me to make more pieces of wood smaller in less time.
The problem with the simple jigs I tend to use is that they look a lot like scraps. So I tend to keep them piled in one place and I also like to label them. When I’m feeling really clever I give my jigs a name, generally what the thing is good for followed by . . . Master and a number with a lot of zeros at the end.