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Updated: 4 hours 35 min ago

Center for Furniture Craftsmanship – Dovetails

Wed, 08/09/2017 - 11:37am

Molly Bagby is an employee at Highland Woodworking who recently finished up a 2 Week Basic Woodworking course at Center for Furniture Furniture Craftsmanship (CFC). Although she grew up at Highland Woodworking from a mere 1 week old, her knowledge of woodworking skills is limited. With this class, she was able to change that. You can follow her on Instagram @HighlandWoodwoman.

To read my previous post on Mortise and Tenon Joinery, click here

At the start of week 2, I felt it was finally time to move on to dovetails, something I had been dreading because it was already about 5 days after Peter had done his first demo on how to make them. Luckily, one of Peter’s most important teachings is that the student should feel comfortable in each step of the process and not have to rush through any of it, so he was happy to go through the process step by step with me.

Specific Tools I Used for Dovetails

The first step in marking out dovetails is to figure out what angle you want the dovetail to be. For learning purposes, we made a 1:7 angle, which we first drew out on paper and then recorded that angle with the sliding t-bevel, to transfer to the wood.

As I may have said before, I am a very visual learner and since I had never used some of these tools before, instead of having Peter demonstrate them multiple times, I took pictures of “how they work.” For example, the sliding T-Bevel seems like it can go in a million directions and figuring out what side needed to lay on the wood for proper marking of the dovetails proved to be a challenge for me. But once I took a picture of it in action, I was able to reference it for future layouts.

As I learned the hard way, the goal for cutting dovetails is to try and get a finished fit right off the saw so then you have to do less chiseling. I didn’t trust myself with the saw right away and so my cuts usually ended up being way off the line I had marked for myself. At least I was almost always following one of Peter’s most important rules of not cutting/paring away the pencil lines!

Cutting out the waste with a fret saw

When cleaning up the tails, one of Peter’s tricks to get a nice clean edge is to square a new visual guideline with a sharp pencil a few inches from the tails. After marking out your new lines, put the wood piece into the vise so that your new lines are perpendicular to the vise and you will be able to get a nice, straight cut down your new pencil line to the shoulder. The most important part of the cut is the positioning of the elbow and hand that is holding the chisel, as illustrated below.

Ideal hand positioning for cleaning up the tails with a chisel

When I first started my dovetails, I took the long route and marked both my tails and pins at the same time. Then I learned that by the time you’re done with your tails, they are a lot less likely to fit the original pin sizes you created. You’re better off marking and cutting your tails first, and then marking your pins based on the size of the tails you just cut.

Mark your pins by tracing the tails you just created

Again, one of Peter’s most important steps in cutting both tails and pins, is to make sure you saw the waste up to the pencil line, but DO NOT REMOVE THE PENCIL LINE.

Removing the waste of the pins

Paring back the pins with a chisel (note the vise setup with backing board)

Are they ready to be put together and joined?

Unfortunately, there was a point where I wasn’t using a backing board when paring away the waste on my pins (as pictured above) and I ended up chiseling across and going off the far side. When this happened, Peter got really excited because it made for a great class tutorial on fixing cracks.

Crack Fix: With thinned out Titebond glue, brush the glue onto the surface and then push it down into the crack with the brush. Remove excess glue off the end grain surface, clamp up and let dry. Make sure you clean your glue brush while waiting for your piece to dry!

The first dovetail I’ve ever made with just a small gap on the right side.

I started my dovetail practice on a Monday, and the next Tuesday I received a package from Highland Woodworking containing a Lie-Nielsen Dovetail Saw and a David Barron Magnetic Dovetail Saw Guide. Let me just say, that with these 2 amazing tools, I was able to speed up my dovetail making two-fold! Not to mention that I already had 1 set of dovetails down, so it is always easier once you know what you’re doing.

The David Barron Magnetic Dovetail Guide is an amazing time-saving jig for cutting dovetails precisely and quickly!

For the rest of the week I used my David Barron Dovetail Guide on all of my practice and project dovetails. I occasionally felt like Peter was giving me the side eye when he saw me using the jig, but it made my process so much less stressful and I was able to make my project dovetails a lot more quickly!

When I first watched Peter demonstrating dovetails, I got really nervous that they were going to be hard and complicated. Once I started practicing them, they came very quickly to me and I actually enjoyed making them a lot more than mortise and tenon joints! I also enjoy how they’re so pleasing to the eye!

The post Center for Furniture Craftsmanship – Dovetails appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Highland Woodworking Googlemaps Store Tour

Tue, 08/08/2017 - 10:52am

If you have never had the chance to visit our Atlanta store in person, you can still get a sense of what it is like to walk around with the Googlemaps virtual store tour. Click around below to see! And when you get a chance, come visit us in person. We’d love to see you!

Use your mouse to navigate through the store! Click the white arrows on the floor to move in that direction. Click and drag to rotate side to side.

And if you would prefer a video tour of Highland Woodworking, click here.

The post Highland Woodworking Googlemaps Store Tour appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Narex Chisels Tool Review – The Madcap Woodwright

Thu, 08/03/2017 - 8:00am

In the August 2017 issue of Wood News, John McBride, The MadCap Woodwright, reviews his new set of Narex Bench Chisels and Narex Mortise Chisels. He offers a lot of useful thoughts on setting them up for use and gives his initial impression on working them into his shop rotation. If you have been looking for a new set of chisels, read his thoughts!

Click here to read more

The post Narex Chisels Tool Review – The Madcap Woodwright appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Center for Furniture Craftsmanship – Mortise and Tenon Joints

Wed, 08/02/2017 - 11:44am

Molly Bagby is an employee at Highland Woodworking who recently finished up a 2 Week Basic Woodworking course at Center for Furniture Furniture Craftsmanship (CFC). Although she grew up at Highland Woodworking from a mere 1 week old, her knowledge of woodworking skills is limited. With this class, she was able to change that. You can follow her on Instagram @HighlandWoodwoman.

To read my previous post on The Importance of Sharpening, click here

After we learned the most important skill in woodworking (sharpening), it was time to move on to joints. For learning purposes, we practiced with poplar wood, an ideal wood choice for beginning joinery. During the two weeks of the class, we learned and practiced 3 types of joinery, Mortise and Tenon, Dovetails, and Half-Blind Dovetails. It’s amazing how much work goes into just 1 little joint of a project.

The hand tools I used for all of my joinery included:

Specific Tools for Mortise and Tenon

As I’ve said before, even though I have grown up around power tools, I’ve never actually used any of them. We went through a full walkthrough of the machine room on Day 1, and were told the only machine we could use by ourselves without shop assistant supervision was the drill press. Over the course of the first week, I got to know the drill press really well with the amount of mortise waste I was drilling out on my samples. An important tip I learned on the drill press was to make sure all dust and wood chips are removed from the table before setting up what you are drilling, or else you’ll get an uneven drilling.

I spent several days “perfecting” my mortise and tenon joint. I am a slow learner and even though Peter demonstrated each process in front of the entire class, I needed a separate tutorial for each one, where I could go step by step to make sure each “move” I made was correct. By the end of the week, when everyone else was starting their projects and had already “perfected” their dovetails, I had made about 5 mortise and tenon joints. That also included a full day of re-sharpening all of my chisels, and countless demos and discussions by Peter about other aspects of woodworking.

One of the most helpful tips I learned in making my mortise and tenon joints was the use of the Lie-Nielsen 271 Router Plane to help flatten the cheek of the tenon.

My last few words of advice on making a mortise and tenon joint: make sure you measure tenon size based on the size of the mortise you end up with! If you base your tenon on the size you were originally intending from the beginning….it will likely not fit.

A successful mortise and tenon joint!

They fit into each other!

The whole time I was working on my mortise and tenon joints, I couldn’t help but thinking about Mortise & Tenon Magazine, and fully understanding the meaning behind the name of this incredible magazine! If you haven’t read this magazine, I strongly suggest you get a copy. They’re just about to release issue #3!

The post Center for Furniture Craftsmanship – Mortise and Tenon Joints appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Poll: How Do You Like To Make Your Furniture Edges?

Tue, 08/01/2017 - 7:00am

I’m not known for being a wishy-washy person.
In fact, I’m often thought of as an all-or-nothing type.
But, on this matter, I like it one way sometimes, and sometimes the other way.
Edges

An argument could be made that the bedside table in the photo below should have had its edges rounded. Infrequently, I have bumped into the table on my side of the bed and, if I ever hit the corner, I know it’s going to hurt.

It just hasn’t happened yet.

I’m not sure what made me think in the beginning that I wanted these edges sharp, but, it came to be a challenge to keep them from becoming damaged. I think they came out nice, while, at the same time, I recognize the advantages of rounded and chamfered edges.

When I made a matching pair of tables from old, recycled oak flooring, I made up my mind early, I would try to maintain the squareness of all of the corners. After all, if something went bad where it showed, I could always whip out a router and a roundover bit.

On the other hand, I’ve never made a child’s stool without easing the edges. Just common sense, I’d say. Even if I liked the look of the acute junction, I wouldn’t jeopardize a kid’s safety for my taste.

Now that I think about it, sharp edges might not even be attractive in this stool.

Before rounding over these edges, this antique pine didn’t look like anything special, but …

…just a few minutes in the router table and a little sanding, and the grain flowing over the edge comes to life.

Then, the finish makes it shout.

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Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

The post Poll: How Do You Like To Make Your Furniture Edges? appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Collecting Sawdust – Tips from Sticks in the Mud – August 2017 – Tip #2

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 7:00am

No Southern-fried Southern boy wants to be called a Yankee, but we share the characteristics of shrewdness and thrift. Thus, each month we include a money-saving tip. It’s OK if you call me “cheap.

A few days ago I was looking for a big piece of paper to trace an outline on. I didn’t have any paper that big, so I found some 8 x 10 advertising sheets that came with a product I’d ordered, taped them together and that worked fine. When I’m putting newspaper into a cage at work, if I run across the funny papers, I’m inclined to stop and read a few strips before moving on. When I picked up these sheets, I couldn’t help noticing that a company was selling sawdust for you to use to color your glue and epoxy.

Don’t fall for that! You’re already making sawdust just about every time you’re in the shop. All you have to do is collect it. Here’s how I do it.

First, I get a zipper-locking bag. No, not a brand new one! You do have a collection of free used bags, or bags that came in tools or parts that you saved, don’t you? Using a Magic Marker, label one red oak, one white pine, redwood, cedar, etc. Before you start collecting for your collection, vacuum the dust bag on your random orbit or vibrating sander. It doesn’t have to be sterile, you just don’t want a contrasting color of sawdust diluting your specimens.

Clean the bag on your sander thoroughly before beginning to collect for sanding dust to use for future coloring.

Sand normally.

Continuing to wear your dust mask, pour the sanding dust into the plastic bag.

Don’t be wasting your woodworking budget on Ziploc bags…find a used one in your collection.

The natural question arises, “Why not just take the dust from the vacuum or dust extractor?” That might work, if you use your dust extractor for nothing but sanding. But, if you’re like me, and you clean your shop with it, too, there is a high likelihood of “stuff” being in the mix you wouldn’t want on your project.

Be prepared to do some experimentation prior to using sanding dust on a project. For example, when you add this, or any other foreign material into epoxy, it changes the curing behavior, and you don’t want surprises on an actual project.

I like coloring epoxy, but there are challenges to determining how the coloring, the wood and the epoxy will all gang up against you. Some wood, for example, makes epoxy produce more bubbles. Some additives make the epoxy cure very rapidly.

Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

The post Collecting Sawdust – Tips from Sticks in the Mud – August 2017 – Tip #2 appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Sand in One Direction – Tips from Sticks in the Mud – August 2017 – Tip #1

Sun, 07/30/2017 - 5:00am

Welcome to “Tips From Sticks-In-The-Mud Woodshop.” I am a hobbyist who loves woodworking and writing for those who also love the craft. I have found some ways to accomplish tasks in the workshop that might be helpful to you, and I enjoy hearing your own problem-solving ideasPlease share them in the COMMENTS section of each tip.  If, in the process, I can also make you laugh, I have achieved 100% of my goals.

I got started making stools for grandbabies, and I just can’t stop. Now, I like making a variety of styles.

The last stool I made, for little Kessa, the legs were rather close to the edge of the top; wide for stability.

I ran into a problem when I began to sand that little area of the top’s underside, though, between the leg and the edge. I started out going back and forth, like one usually would when sanding, but there was just no way I could make my hand go straight enough not to cross the grain, even though the angle was very, very slight.

I discovered, though, that if I put the sandpaper up against the leg and simply pulled it away, in one direction, that the scratches were invisible, because they were perfectly in line with the grain of the wood.

Little scraps of saved sandpaper came in really handy for that job.

Vintage pine made a beautiful project, even if it was challenging to sand.

Funny story: I don’t always have paper handy to write myself notes, so I often dictate notes to myself on the iPhone. To keep myself from forgetting to write this tip, I dictated, “Sand in One Direction.” Why, I wondered, did iPhone capitalize One Direction? Then, I thought of our eldest granddaughter, who loves the boy band, and figured it out.

Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

The post Sand in One Direction – Tips from Sticks in the Mud – August 2017 – Tip #1 appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Off Center Turning

Wed, 07/26/2017 - 8:00am


Off center turning can be fun and exciting but it can also be a bit wild or scary. The principles in this article can be used to turn off centered goblets, candle sticks, handles and other items.

Click here to read how to use the technique of off center turning to turn a replacement handle for a small tack hammer.

Click here to read the rest of the July issue of The Highland Woodturner.

The post Off Center Turning appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Rust Never Sleeps!

Tue, 07/25/2017 - 7:04am

Prevent rust from taking over your tools with these simple tips.

Summer heat and humidity can be tough on our woodworking tools, especially if you store them in an unconditioned space. The absolute best way to eliminate rust from the surfaces of machines and other tools in your shop is to stop it from ever really getting started in the first place. If you’ve already got a rust issue, we’ve got some solutions for how to completely remove it once it’s already formed.

Click here for rust prevention methods for all of the tools in your shop!

The post Rust Never Sleeps! appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

The Importance of Sharpening – Center for Furniture Craftsmanship

Wed, 07/19/2017 - 7:00am

Molly Bagby is an employee at Highland Woodworking who recently finished up a 2 Week Basic Woodworking course at Center for Furniture Furniture Craftsmanship (CFC). Although she grew up at Highland Woodworking from a mere 1 week old, her knowledge of woodworking skills is limited. With this class, she intends to change that.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, we delved right into Sharpening on Day 1. I quickly learned why Highland Woodworking has an entire section of the store dedicated to sharpening supplies. A lot of work goes into getting tools sharp, but a sharp tool really makes all the difference, especially when making joinery.

Peter Korn has an entire section on Sharpening in his book Woodworking Basicswhich discusses each step of the process in detail. What he taught us in class are the same methods he discusses in his book, but here are the main steps I picked up from the process (as a side note, I had brought up a brand new set of 6 Narex Chisels, which in their description say “like most edge tools, they’ll need sharpening before use”…they forgot to mention the words “A LOT” but apparently that is the case for almost all new chisels, and even if they do come “pre-sharpened” you’ll still want to do a little bit more yourself to get them in “perfect” working condition.

Flattening the Back – Your goal in this part of the process is to flatten the back of the chisel.

  1. On the two sides of a 5×12 piece of glass, stick a long piece of 220 grit adhesive sandpaper.
  2. Rub the back of the chisel flat on the sandpaper by holding it down at a slight angle and move it back and forth to remove the factory marks from the top 1-2 inches of the chisel (I found that I had a hard time keeping the chisel flat…this necessity was stressed time and time again).
  3. Switch to a 1000 grit waterstone and continue flattening the back of the chisel, taking out the 220 sandpaper scratches.
  4. Switch to a 6000 grit waterstone and continue flattening until the back of the chisel has a shiny, mirror finish to it (i.e. once you can see your reflection in the back of the chisel).

One of these chisels has been sharpened and one of them hasn’t…can you tell which is which?

-When sharpening on stones make sure you are using the whole length of the stone and are holding the chisel on the steel portion of it so that you are less likely to lift the handle and round the chisel back.

-Once you have flattened the back, you will no longer need to use the sandpaper or 1000 grit waterstone on the back of your chisel.

Honing the Front 

Once the back is flat, it is time to hone the front of the chisel. First you want to make sure your chisel is ground down to a 26-30 degree bevel angle. Anything less than 25 degrees will fail. I found the grinding process on the electric grinder to be very technical and won’t go into the details of the grinding process, but there are some great YouTube videos that show this process.

After you have the proper angle from grinding, go back to the waterstones to get the perfect edge:

  1. Start on the 1000 grit waterstone and make sure the bevel edge is flat on the stone, with only the front edge making contact with the stone.
  2. Again, keeping the chisel as flat as possible on the stone is key in order to keep from misshaping the edge.
  3. Move the chisel back and forth on the stone (making sure to use the entire surface of the stone), applying downward pressure when pushing it forward and no pressure on the return back. I found that I had to go back and forth for several minutes and sometimes counted my strokes to help pass the time (I think I got to over 100 one time).
  4. Remove the burr that has been created on the back of the chisel on the 6000 grit stone.
  5. Repeat Steps 1-4 on the 6000 grit stone.
  6. Once your chisel is sharp enough to remove hair from your skin, it’s sharpened.

Congratulations! You now have a sharp chisel….maybe. Unfortunately, this was not the case the first few times I was going through the sharpening process and I found the entire process to be very frustrating, detail-specific, and I felt like I had no idea what the perfectly sharpened chisel was supposed to look like.

I was so frustrated by sharpening that I tried to stab my benchmate’s mascot with my “sharpened” chisel…it clearly wasn’t sharp enough

I compared the process to making a magic wand work. If it wasn’t perfect made, no magic would come out of it. If the chisel wasn’t sharp, it was not going to cut wood the way you wanted it to. I don’t actually believe in magic, which is why I found this comparison to be true…a magic wand will never actually work, and the sharpening process was so arduous that at times I felt like I was never going to get my chisel sharp enough.

But with a little lot of patience, time, and wet/flattened waterstones, eventually you will get your chisels sharp enough to start making joinery. Keyword=eventually. It wasn’t until midway through week 2 that I handed one of my chisels to Peter who was showing me a dovetail technique and he specifically said “wow, you’ve actually got a really sharp chisel!” That was probably one of the highlights of my time at CFC.

The post The Importance of Sharpening – Center for Furniture Craftsmanship appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

My 2017 Summer Woodworking Reading List – J. Norman Reid

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 9:41am

I have a lot of interests, only some of them related to woodworking, so my reading plans for the summer are somewhat diverse. But let’s start with woodworking.

First on my list is David Esterly’s The Lost Carving: A Journey to the Heart of Making. Having read this one previously, I know it to be a lyrical exploration of the craft of fine carving to replace a Grinling Gibbons carving burned in a Hampton Court fire. I am relishing the chance to revisit this favorite of mine. I also plan to read Aldren Watson’s classic Hand Tools, as much for his finely-executed drawings as for the many ideas contained therein. I recently bought the Stanley Tools Catalogue No. 34 from Lost Art Press and plan to spend some time perusing Stanley’s classic offerings. Finally, I have a copy of Joshua Vogel’s The Artful Wooden Spoon that is another fine example of the craft of making things of utility and beauty.

I’ve developed a passion for black & white photography and have set a goal for myself to master fine art B&W printing. I have a stack of books on this subject, the principal of which are Harold Davis’s Monochromatic HDR Photography, Michael Freeman’s The Complete Guide to Black & White Digital Photography, and George DeWolfe’s B&W Printing. There are others in my library, but I’ll commence with these.

I’ve also set myself on a course to better understand the roots of creativity and the creative life. I’m starting with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s classic Creativity, a study of notably creative people and the factors that characterize their lives. I’ll follow this with historian Daniel Boorstin’s The Creators, which recounts the lives of historically important creators. I’ve already begun Michael J. Gelb’s How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, though because it is replete with exercises that will take me time to work through, I have no expectation of completing it this summer.

As if this weren’t fun enough, I’ll listen to audio books while working in the woodshop—my usual practice. Here my tastes run the gamut from Greek and Roman philosophy to military history and the latest Michael Connelly mystery. It should be an informative and entertaining summer of reading.

Norm Reid is a woodworker, writer, and woodworking instructor living in the Blue Ridge Mountains with his wife, a woodshop full of power and hand tools and four cats who think they are cabinetmaker’s assistants. He is the author of the forthcoming book Choosing and Using Handplanes. He can be contacted at nreid@fcc.net.

The post My 2017 Summer Woodworking Reading List – J. Norman Reid appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

My First Day at Center for Furniture Craftsmanship

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 7:00am

Molly Bagby is an employee at Highland Woodworking who is taking the 2 Week Basic Woodworking course at Center for Furniture Furniture Craftsmanship. Although she grew up at Highland Woodworking from a mere 1 week old, her knowledge of woodworking skills is limited. With this class, she intends to change that.

Since this is a 2 week class, the school sets up housing hosts for those who come in from out of town. I arrived in Hope, Maine around 10:30pm the day before my class started after a brief detour visiting my sister Kelley, a fellow author on this blog. I was easily able to find the house and my room, and my host was gracious enough to leave handwritten notes everywhere to tell me where everything was located. The next morning, she was in the kitchen when I came downstairs and she and I chatted a bit. Her name is Deb and she is active in the local arts community.

My residence for the 2 weeks I’m studying at Center for Furniture Craftsmanship

After a quick stop for some breakfast at The Market Basket (a deli I’ve frequented many times on my visits to the Lie-Nielsen Toolworks factory) it was off to my first day of woodworking school.

Each 2 week class at Center for Furniture Craftsmanship (CFC) accommodates 12 people (i.e there are 12 workbenches plus 1 for the instructor). When I entered the Workshop Building (1 of 5 buildings on campus), all but 2 of the workbenches were occupied with students ready and raring to go! I found an empty workbench at the back of the room and 5 minutes later, a guy named Mike Z from NYC showed up and took the last bench (and became my bench mate since our benches were butted up next to each other, as every 2 benches were situated in the classroom). Mike has been a really cool guy to get to know and we both have several things in common (being the 2 youngest people in the class and both having lived in NYC, among other things).

Mike brought this doll head from his school workshop in NYC. It stares at me a lot, so one day I tried to stick a chisel in its head so it would stop staring at me. My chisel wasn’t sharp enough.

Class started promptly at 9am when Peter Korn walked into the classroom and called everyone over to his workbench. He gave a brief overview of the school and then explained what would be happening over the next 2 weeks. He introduced us to Mary Ellen Hitt, the co-instructor for the class, and Eddie Orellana, who has the all-encompassing role of Shop Assistant. Then everyone taking the class introduced themselves. After I introduced myself, Peter noted that Highland Woodworking had donated many of the workbenches found throughout the school.

After introductions, Peter told us one of the most important things to know in woodworking safety: “Oily rags will spontaneously combust.” We haven’t even had our finishing talk yet, but already, this phrase has been repeated multiple times.

The rest of the morning included a basic overview of wood: “We’re going to start with wood…wood comes from trees…” This discussion included types of wood, types of grain, wood thickness, and wood grades. Next, he went right into discussing steel and chisels, which quickly led to the most important aspect of woodworking, sharpening.

I have quickly learned why sharpening is many woodworkers least favorite parts of the trade, but at the same time, I have also learned how important it is to have a sharp tool at hand. Peter went through a detailed step-by-step demonstration of his preferred sharpening process, which I will go into further detail about in an upcoming blog entry dedicated to sharpening and how much I hate love it. For now I will just say that Peter makes everything look really easy.

The last part of the day was spent touring the Machine Room and learning what each machine was used for, as well as safety measures for each machine. While I’ve grown up around power tools and machinery, I’ve never actually used any of it. I am excited to learn, but I am happy that the school likes to focus more on hand tool usage…

The Machine Room consists of the following:  a 10″ SawStop tablesaw, a 12″ sliding tablesaw, 8″ and 12″ jointers, 12″ and 15″ thickness planers, 14″ and 20″ bandsaws, drill presses, a lathe, a shaper, a chopsaw, a scrollsaw, a slot mortiser, grinders, a stationary disc/belt sander, and an oscillating spindle sander. There is also full dust-collection.

Every workday ends at 4:30pm with a class meeting to go over the next day’s schedule and then it’s time for shop and workstation clean-up. Peter made sure to note that according to OSHA standards, it is “illegal” to sweep a woodshop. Vacuuming it is!

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Categories: General Woodworking

Tips from Sticks in the Mud – July 2017 – Tip #2– Modifying a Portable Air Tank

Tue, 07/11/2017 - 7:00am

No Southern-fried Southern boy wants to be called a Yankee, but we share the characteristics of shrewdness and thrift. Thus, each month we include a money-saving tip. It’s OK if you call me “cheap.

This little modification will make your portable air tank infinitely more useful: Where it originally came with an attached hose, turn the air-flow shutoff to the closed position, then remove the hose at the fitting, using a tubing wrench. Save the hose.

New, portable air tanks come with the air hose attached. You don’t want to ruin the hose or the fitting, so utilize a tubing wrench to disconnect the hose. Be sure the tank is empty, or the air valve is in the closed position, or both.

Using the appropriate-sized brass nipple, attach a female quick disconnect to the tank. Be sure to cover the threads with Teflon tape or pipe dope, because you don’t want any air being wasted through leaks.

A quick disconnect will allow you to attach any sort of air tool to your portable air tank.

Now, install a male quick disconnect on the supplied hose. You did save the hose, didn’t you?!

Congratulations, you just increased the utility and versatility of your little tank!

Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

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Categories: General Woodworking

Poll: How Do You Feel When Non-Woodworkers Call You a Carpenter?

Mon, 07/10/2017 - 7:00am

How do you feel when non-woodworkers call you a carpenter?

I suppose I was a woodworker in 7th grade, when I took wood shop in Mr. Boney’s South Park Junior High class, but I wasn’t very good at it. It seems I could never get anything square, or make good-looking joints. That was 1964, and I’m not even sure the term “woodworker” existed then. “Woodwork” dates to 1640-1650.

I was a framing and trim carpenter for a time after my Air Force stint. That was really fun work, and I learned a lot.

This was my very first nail apron, purchased from Sears. Our local Sears is scheduled to close its doors after 45 years in Edgewater Mall.

I remember a homeowner asking our foreman, Jack English, whether he knew any carpenters who could make her some bookshelves. One of my coworkers, older and more worldly than I, said, “What she wants is a cabinetmaker, not a carpenter.” I didn’t know that there was such a thing as a cabinetmaker, much less a difference, but I didn’t let my ignorance show, I just filed the information away for future use.

When I went to the University of Mississippi, Ole Miss, I was carrying a heavy class load, so there wasn’t time for a job, but I did spend some of my weekends making picnic tables to sell. Po’ Boy spruce studs were 10¢ each, and were straighter and had fewer barked edges than today’s studs at 33 times the price. Treated pine, with real arsenic, made a premium dining surface, unless you wanted to spring for heart cedar or redwood, and even that was affordable.

Today, 23 treated pine 2x4x8′ boards to make this picnic table and matching benches would cost you about $110.00. In the 70s, I sold the completed table with benches for about $50.

Cedar’s price has gone up a bit. When I made this rectangular heart cedar table for our eldest granddaughter, the wood cost about $200. But, it was pure heartwood, and has stood up well to brutal Kentucky summers and winters…

…The lumber for this little round job, with curved benches, on the other hand, cost around $400, and I had to do a lot of selecting to minimize sapwood use in crucial parts. Fortunately, it will live on a porch, where it will have a bit more protection from Kentucky weather, though it will still have to stand up to the two youngest grandchildren.

In the time between the end of the spring semester in Oxford, MS, and the fall start time in Auburn, AL, I needed income. I couldn’t make a long-term commitment to an auto mechanic’s job, and it didn’t occur to me to look for a nearby dairy farm, but there was a lot of home construction in Auburn, and it was easy to find a job on a home-building crew. So, for a time, I was a carpenter again.

We established in a previous poll that most woodworkers are DIYers. Therefore, we’re doing a lot of carpentry on our own homes and businesses, and maybe some for customers, too.

For me, then, I’m proud to be considered a carpenter. Still, when I think of my role as furniture-builder, I consider the difference between what my wife, Brenda, produces, which is fine art, versus what you can buy at a flea market, which are craft-level items. Not every piece of furniture I build rises to the level of art, but it’s always what I strive for.

In carpentry, on the other hand, art is not usually my goal, but I still give it my best.

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Categories: General Woodworking

Tips from Sticks in the Mud – July 2017 – Tip #1 – Portable Air Tank

Sun, 07/09/2017 - 9:56am

Welcome to “Tips From Sticks-In-The-Mud Woodshop.” I am a hobbyist who loves woodworking and writing for those who also love the craft. I have found some ways to accomplish tasks in the workshop that might be helpful to you, and I enjoy hearing your own problem-solving ideasPlease share them in the COMMENTS section of each tip.  If, in the process, I can also make you laugh, I have achieved 100% of my goals.

Sometimes you have a little job, but you just don’t want to do that job with a hand tool.

Take this little canoe repair. A crossmember needed a single rivet to supplement the existing rivets, but I ran out of the proper size and needed to put the canoe into storage instead of leaving it in the way until I went to the store.

Four rivets down, one to go. Darn the luck! I ran out of rivets when I originally repaired this crossmember, turning the final, single rivet installation into a separate job.

When I finally got the right fastener, I first reached for the manual rivet gun to pop it into place. Then, I remembered the pain in my arm, shoulder and neck from having hurt myself during a garage renovation project. That’s when I decided to put in a little effort now in order to achieve a long-term savings.

As you can read in my Highland Woodworking Blog post, after the injury I purchased an inexpensive, air-powered rivet tool. While it seems like overkill to pull out an air tool for one rivet, I’ve discovered that I can still aggravate that old injury with the wrong squeeze of my hand. The canoe repair was uneventful.

One of the ways I made it easy was by taking my air with me, instead of running a hose all the way to the canoe.

Enter: the portable air tank.

If your job isn’t too terribly big, you may be able to accomplish all you need to do with one good filling.

First, pump it as full as the attached gauge shows is safe. My compressor goes to 125 psi.

Fill the tank all the way, but don’t exceed the safe pressure limit.

Let your imagination fly! I finished my little riveting job in far less time than it took to set up, but, gained the two weeks that I would have been in pain. I’ve used the tank for impact wrenches and blowing small jobs that didn’t lend themselves to a brush or broom.

Of course, the original intention of an air tank purchase was to pump up flat tires, but it’s far more versatile than that!

Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

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Categories: General Woodworking

Intro – Basic Woodworking Class at Center for Furniture Craftmanship

Wed, 07/05/2017 - 7:00am

Me, Nick Offerman, and my Dad (Chris Bagby, co-owner and founder of Highland Woodworking)

My name is Molly Bagby and I have been involved with Highland Woodworking since I was a mere 7 days old (or maybe even sooner than that). Once my Mom, Sharon Bagby, recovered from pregnancy she started back to work right away and brought me with her. While I don’t remember much from those early days, growing up at Highland Woodworking has contributed to my passion for learning new things, as well as my crafting skills. But despite being around tools for most of my life I have never actually taken the time to learn basic woodworking. Now that I am more involved with the business side of helping to run the store, I figured it was about time to actually learn some woodworking skills.

An amazing opportunity recently came along to take a 2 week Basic Woodworking class at the Center for Furniture Craftmanship in Rockport, Maine. These classes fill up months in advance and when I called back in April to sign-up I was told that the class was full, but I could be put on the waitlist. I remained on the waitlist for several weeks. About a month before the class was scheduled to start, I gave them a call to see where I was on the waitlist. There were still 2 people ahead of me, so I figured my chances were pretty slim this close to the start. Last Tuesday, I got a voicemail while at work and saw that it was from the Center for Furniture Craftmanship. I called them back right away and they said a spot had just opened up due to a last minute cancellation and it was mine if I wanted it. It didn’t take me long to decide and I said yes right away. I mean, wouldn’t you have said yes to an opportunity to escape to Maine for 2 weeks and become fully engulfed in woodworking?

During these next 2 weeks I’m looking forward to learning as much as I possibly can about woodworking so I can become a better, more educated employee at Highland. I’m also looking forward to beginning a new hobby. Judging from what I’ve been able to see through the shared experiences of our customers, I’m sure it will be a very rewarding one.

Stay tuned to this blog to hear about my journey as a beginning woodworker! You can also follow me and my experiences on Instagram @highlandwoodwoman.

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Categories: General Woodworking

My 2017 Summer Woodworking Reading List – Amy Herschleb

Fri, 06/30/2017 - 8:00am
Making Things Work, Nancy R. Hiller (Putchamin Press, 2017)
Hilarious, engaging, and relatable, Hiller shares her philosophy of work with anecdotes drawn from her life about what constitutes success and the bumps in the road getting there. For some, her coarse language and tendency to call a tool a tool might irk a bad conscience. But for others, her dry wit and tenacity offer a refreshingly honest look at life and work on her own terms.

 

Good Clean Fun, Nick Offerman (Penguin, 2016)
We had the pleasure of seeing Offerman in the store at the outset of his book tour, and it was doubly a pleasure to read his book. It’s a conglomeration of fun, from projects to anecdotes to offbeat asides. Open it to any page and find something charming or inspirational. Learn to properly gauge your manliness. Build a stool. Have a cookout. Meditate on the process of giving new life to a once-living tree. Just don’t stop having a good time.

 

Woodland Craft, Ben Law (GMC Distribution, 2016)
An inspired glimpse at permaculture in the UK, Law’s book brings an ancient craft into modern day. From coppicing and woodland management to furniture and yurt building, this book spans from heritage to sustainability. If only there were such a book suited to North American conservation and resource management—dare to dream.

 

Where We Lived, Jack Larkin (Taunton Press, 2006)
Using data from the 1930s HABS (Historic American Buildings Survey) and first-hand journal entries and letters, Larkin looks at the oldest surviving habitations in the United States (mostly from the 1700 and 1800s) to discover how our colonizing ancestors lived. Bounded in this way by the progression of colonization, Cincinnati is considered “the West” and Florida does not exist. We delve into regional peculiarities, roads and commodes, the atrocity of slavery, and the effect of all, large and small, on the living arrangements of our unwashed if industrious ancestors. Fascinating.

Amy received her MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. She is the staff writer at Highland Woodworking. In 2015 she and her dad co-founded Coywolf Woodworks, their hobby shop in North Florida.

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Categories: General Woodworking

Lie-Nielsen Open House, July 7-8, 2017

Wed, 06/28/2017 - 8:00am

We are excited to be attending this year’s edition of the Lie-Nielsen Open House. The annual event never disappoints, with a great group of hand tool event staff showing off the latest additions to the Lie-Nielsen line. There will also be a diverse group of guest demonstrators present, showing off their wares and creations. And don’t forget to enter the Open House raffle for a chance to win one of three great prizes: a bevel edge chisel, a 102 low angle block plane or a honing guide.

The Saturday night lobster bake dinner may be sold out, but the rest of the open house is still well worth a visit. See you in Maine!

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Categories: General Woodworking

A Coffee Tragedy: Turning a Lid

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 7:00am

This article first appeared in the December 2013 issue of The Highland Woodturner.

There was an accident involving a ceramic coffee container, which was a gift from my in-laws. More specifically, I accidentally dropped and shattered the lid of the container. After pondering this tragic accident, I realized I could turn a replacement lid.

CLICK HERE to read Curtis’s lid-turning process

CLICK HERE to take a look at the Highland Woodturner Archives

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Categories: General Woodworking

A Split Turned Sanding Block

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 7:00am

The technique of split turning is most commonly associated with furniture from the 16th and 17th centuries but can be used for any project that requires a half round column. Curtis Turner recently used split turning to turn a curved sanding block, and he wrote about it in the June issue of The Highland Woodturner. This is a great project for practicing this technique while also creating a useful tool for your sanding needs.

Click here to read how to use split turning to make a curved sanding block

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Categories: General Woodworking

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