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When I was first learning woodworking, HVLP didn’t exist. That’s something I lament on occasion when I recall taking a deep breath (even with a face mask and decent air collection) before starting to spray a lacquer finish. The overspray cloud was amazing and there really wasn’t a way to avoid it – affecting my breathing and my ability to see what I was finishing! HVLP (high volume low pressure) […]
Repair knots, cracks, bark inclusions and other defects in natural, live edge, wood tops. In this video Steve Johnson, the Down to Earth Woodworker, shows us how he fills knots and stabilizes bark inclusions with two-part epoxy… and he shows us how he messed one up and fixed his own mistake!
We shot this short video to show our new Swing Away Seat in action. We have them in stock and ready to ship.
Further details here.
The first-ever gathering of the Intergalactic Ripple Molding Association (IRMA) convened at The Barn recently. In the fortnight preceding this I was wondering how to accommodate the many folks who at one time or another said they were coming to this free event. Not to worry. Of the dozen or so who expressed an interest in joining me for the week, three actually did. It turned out to be the optimal attendance, allowing for a perfect number of collaborative participants to brainstorm, design, fabricate, problem solve, debug, and finally produce moldings on both an old machine and a new one (or at least get to the point of “proof of concept” for the new one).
Our first two days were spent deciphering, assembling, tuning, dismantling, repairing, reassembling, and finally producing some moldings on the Winterthur Museum Felebien/Moxon machine built by my long-time friend and colleague Cor van Horne.
This machine was the one described by Roubo, sort of, and was a moving-workpiece-fixed-cutterhead style with a rack-and-pinion setup for bringing the cutter and the workpiece together.
The phrase, “Now exactly how does this work?” was muttered countless times through the day.
By the end of the first day we had it assembled and working, after a fashion.
In March, Chris wrote a post titled “The Best Job I Ever Had.” He joined Popular Woodworking Magazine in 1996 as managing editor. I joined the magazine in 2001 as assistant editor, and then moved up to associate editor and, later, managing editor. Before Chris left for Germany he gave me some ideas for posts, and with Brendan Bernhardt Gaffney slated to join Editor and Content Director Megan Fitzpatrick and her crew in July as the new managing editor, Chris thought it might be nice if I offered a behind-the-scenes look at the job, from my perspective. So here goes. (I’m fairly certain Chris didn’t realize I have pictures.)
First, a confession: I suck at headlines. Which is why I swiped Chris’s. But the words and the sentiment are true for me as well.
Some background: I graduated from Ohio University with a magazine journalism degree in 2001. A few weeks later I moved into a sketchy studio apartment in Alexandria, Va., to write for a b-to-b mag in the printing industry. The people were great, the topic was dull and I was in love with a guy who was still in school at Ohio State University. I found an ad for an assistant editor position at Popular Woodworking Magazine, and I applied.
Steve Shanesy (editor at the time) and Chris (managing editor at the time) interviewed me. They liked my clips. They needed a wordsmith, not a woodworker. I told them about the lamp I made in junior high shop class, and that I had dropped it while working on it and, with the school year rapidly ending, I had tried to hide the dent I had made by mixing sawdust and glue, and filling it in. I told them I got a “B” in the class (which, looking back was quite generous, given my lack of skill at the lathe as well). They still hired me.
“Behind-the-scenes” can mean different things for different audiences. According to my résumé, my managing editor responsibilities looked like this:
• Responsible for day-to-day operations of a 200,000 circulation magazine that competed with six different woodworking magazines for subscribers – developed line-ups; created and maintained photography and illustration schedules; tracked status of, edited and made changes to articles; made corrections to final binder; reviewed printer page proofs; attended press checks to ensure printing quality at all hours.
• In charge of special issues – additional responsibilities included conception; developed cover lines.
• Managed approximately 40 authors, photographers and illustrators per year—negotiated, wrote and tracked approximately 100 contracts per year; in charge of manuscript submissions; established and enforced deadlines.
• Primary editor for an $83,145 manuscript budget and a $66,650 art budget.
• Wrote five features, seven how-to articles, seven profiles, two reviews and Contents page; built projects.
But honestly? I had to look all that up to remember it.
I’m only 38, but so far my years at Popular Woodworking Magazine impacted me professionally and personally more than any other job I’ve ever had (and that includes the weirdness that occurred working third-shift at Meijer’s selling jewelry to folks at 3 a.m.). I’ve spent the past week trying to pinpoint why, and I can’t. But I have some ideas.
The editors at the time insisted they were looking for a new hire with a journalism degree, not a woodworker. And while they expected me to learn the craft, just as any niche magazine editor must do, they didn’t expect me to excel at it, unlike the expectations they did have regarding the responsibilities I have on my résumé.
At the time, though, I didn’t believe them. And so I tried my damnedest to do both. All of the editors regularly pulled me into the workshop to learn. Those seven how-to articles? I built them, but with an editor guiding me every step of the way. Never was a failure laughed at or mocked (at least to my face, ha!). Instead every single one was viewed as a teaching opportunity.
One afternoon I was working on a project with Chris in his basement home shop. I forget what we were building but it involved the table saw, which I had used many times before. I don’t remember exactly what happened (maybe Chris does) but for some reason the wood drifted away from the blade. One thing I was doing right: My body was positioned not in line with the blade. Which was good, because when I realized it was all going oh-so-wrong, I looked up to see Chris, white as a ghost, waving his hands at me. I’m sure it was frantically, but I only remember it in slow motion. The kickback was so powerful that it bent the blade of one of his chisels hanging on the wall.
We stopped. I was shaking. We went to Skyline Chili for lunch. He said it would be good for me to go right back to what I was doing. So I did, with no instances of kickback this time. And he kindly refused when I asked if I could replace his chisel.
They put me into classes. I took a weeklong course at Lonnie Bird’s School of Fine Woodworking, where I built a Shaker end table. I was nervous as hell, believing that Lonnie and the fellow students would have assumptions about an editor from Popular Woodworking Magazine. But everyone was incredibly kind and respectful, and seemed to understand something that I did not: I was hired as an editor, not a woodworker, and that was OK. In fact, the only unnerving part of the week was when I tried to build a fire in the fireplace in my chilly room at the local bed and breakfast, and woke up some angry wasps.
The Shaker end table I built at Lonnie’s still sits next to my side of the bed, and has two small rings of milk stained on the top of it. I feel terribly guilty about this, every time I look at it, but in some ways, it’s fitting. That table was difficult for me to build, and took a lot of courage. But so did pumping milk and bottle feeding two twin boys in a sleep-deprived state for a year while also caring for a 2-year-old.
I, along with several editors of the magazine, built a Welsh stick chair with Don Weber. This took place shortly after my honeymoon with the guy who was studying at OSU. We currently live in a 100-plus-year-old foursquare now, and my chair sits in the entry. My kids call it “The Evil Chair.” At the time I was working on it Chris suggested I break the edges a bit more. I didn’t listen. All three of my children and my husband have scars from the times they’ve run into it. But I refuse to move it.
My house is filled with many loved treasures from my time at the magazine.
Then there was the traveling. We were so lucky. And as a young 20-something, the trips had a deep impact on me. Although I grew up in a family that valued and was able to travel, never before had I stayed in hotel rooms solo. And I’ve since learned that long road trips are one way to truly know another person – I knew my coworkers well.
We ate well. I, along with Steve and Al Parrish, our photographer, once ate dinner at a seafood restaurant in Boston after visiting Norm Abram for the day. They ordered raw oysters. I carefully watched them take their forks to detach the meat, pick up the oysters and slurp them down. I followed suit, pretending I knew what I was doing. I had only recently stopped being a vegetarian. (I haven’t had a raw oyster since.)
We ate burritos with Sam Maloof. Don Weber introduced me to lemon curd. Lonnie Bird introduced me to shrimp and grits. The art director, Linda Watts, who I became dear friends with (and still am) invited me to her house for movie nights where she introduced me to slightly burnt butter on popcorn—it’s delicious. Chris invited us all to his house for dinner, many times. (He’s an excellent cook.) Once we visited Eugene Sexton, on the way to something else. Sexton had a wood-drying process shrouded in mystery called ESP-90. He offered us some green beans from his garden that he said would allow us to live longer (very Tuck Everlasting-ish). I even ate some of those and as for their success, only time will tell.
As a woman in a workplace made up almost entirely of men, I was respected. My gender was never part of the conversation. Once I was helping out at our booth at a woodworking show, and a very well-known tool manufacturer had a booth next to us. They had hired a bikini-clad model whose only job was to stand with a sign that said “let me grind your wood.” I was so irked by the whole thing that the following day I told my colleagues that I was going to go over and say something to the folks who worked for the company. My fellow editors didn’t bat an eye, even though I’m fairly certain that company was an advertiser.
The job was varied. After a day spent making editorial corrections to files and re-checking those corrections to make sure I hadn’t introduced a new mistake, I got to spend a day researching who built Pope John Paul II’s coffin. After a day spent sending contracts, writing check requests and updating our editorial calendar, I got to spend a day lugging around Al’s photo equipment two hours up north for a photo shoot at Troy Sexton’s. After a day spent reading seven manuscripts and making marks with my purple pen (we each had a different color when editing to know who to argue with when we disagreed with a change), I got to spend a day in the shop, sweeping, learning sharpening techniques or drilling so.many.holes for a Tool Test piece on cordless drills.
I often had guilt. Here I had a woodworker’s dream job and I wasn’t a (good) woodworker. I had a bit of, what I later learned was called, imposter syndrome. But with time I learned that what I had to offer was valued.
When I left and Megan became managing editor, I was in absolute awe. Here was a woman with an MA in English Literature and an exceptional knowledge of Shakespeare who poured herself into the task of learning the craft of woodworking. And only a few years in she was building the most beautiful pieces (and still is, today). She’s wicked smart and exceptionally kind. I never worked for her but still, when I was stuck in the hospital in the hell that is preterm-twin-labor-stifled-by-magnesium-sulfate, she stopped by, to visit. She’s one of my favorite people.
And Brendan, I don’t know you (yet), but after reading Megan’s post, you are a perfect fit. And know that it’s worth the move. Because editing and filing and contracting and invoicing and harping on (and on and on) about deadlines aside, this community is filled with great people. Getting to know them has been one of the great pleasures in my life. Welcome.
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In this episode of 360 with 360WoodWorking Bob Van Dyke, owner of the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking, is on the hot seat to explain why he calls his 6-week intensive woodworking class “the best he’s ever taught.” Here’s a hint: It has to do with the fact that there is no project.
Join 360 Woodworking every Thursday for a lively discussion on everything from tools to techniques to wood selection (and more).
Anon that asked about the 'beyond repair' chisels here. I've not seen any japanese chisels with no sign of any lamination remaining, but I have seen many on ebay with the hollow smaller than a framing nail head and the lamination line on the edge of...
Got a link to an example? I’d love to see it.
Without actually seeing it, and having seen a lot of used Japanese chisels, my guess as to what you’re seeing is a combination of really aggressive working of the back to make the hollow get that small, and a sharpening method that obscures the lamination line at the bevel. This deserves a more detailed discussion, but I’ve found that sharpening with (some) man-made waterstones tend to make the lamination line disappear, whereas sharpening with natural waterstones really brings that detail out.
- Maker: Attributed to Joseph de Frías (Spanish, active Seville and Cadiz, ca. 1775–1800)
- Date: ca. 1780
- Geography: Seville, Spain
- Culture: Spanish
- Medium: Spruce, rosewood, cedar, ebony, mother-of-pearl
- Dimensions: Height: 37 5/16 in. (94.7 cm) Width (of lower bouts): 11 in. (27.9 cm) Depth (at tail): 4 3/4 in. (12.1 cm)
This nearly pristine instrument is a fine example of Spanish guitar making in the late eighteenth century. Rather unusually, the soundboard is of five pieces, similar to a guitar by Frías located in the Museo de la Festa in Alicante. It is decorated with inlaid rosewood, mother-of-pearl, and ebony floral features around the soundhole, at the base of the fingerboard, and between the bridge and the end of the guitar. An important feature of this instrument is the absence of bracing on the underside of the soundboard. Most six-course (twelve-string) guitars of this period were fan braced, whereas here the soundboard has been reinforced with woven cloth adhered in an X pattern to the inside of the soundboard.
|Myles' first tool|
|my just rehabbed #3|
|I will donate a #4 to the tool chest too|
|this is pretty clean|
|road test was more than satisfactory|
|I thought of this clamping today|
|this much better looking|
|practice miter for another way|
|other piece is off square too but not as bad|
|the angle is good|
|planed the angles square|
|better but it still needs a bit of finessing|
|I like this better|
This is what I am planning on going with. I will cut out a couple of pieces the same size and practice making the left and right side before I do the bookcase frame.
|rethinking the shelves|
What is quinsy?
answer - inflammation of the throat
I recently had a chance to be a foster parent for a few short weeks. An acquaintance of mine, actually an acquaintance of an acquaintance’s neighbor gained custody of a Hans J. Wegner designed CH36 dining chair by Carl Hansen & Son.This person wanted me to pick up the chair and give it shelter until transport to its forever home could be arranged. I was quite willing to help and went over to the agency/auction house and picked it up.
As a precaution, I took little Hans to a local practitioner for a checkup:
Eventually Dr. Underhill came out and did a quick evaluation:
We then took it into the clinic for a more through exam:
Then a tragedy was averted. Will Myers, of Moravian workbench fame, and Ed Lebetkin of the Woodwright’s Tool Store were about to adjust limb length based on a misinterpretation of the ratios in Walkers/Tolpins’ By Hand & Eye.
We had a chance to meet with famed woodcarver Mary May. She had a few ideas of her own.
Next, a trip to respected conservator Martin O’Brien’s shop for a consultation.
Brandy Clements of Silver River Center for Chair Caning lead us in a discussion of style and color:
No day of visitations would be complete without visit to noted Windsor chair maker, Elia Bizzarri.
He tried to help. I had to stop him.
The last stop was at the home of my immigrant neighbors to meet some of his younger countrymen.
It had been a long day when I finally showed him to his room.
Tomorrow, I take him on a tour of the furniture centers of North Carolina to help him understand his cultural heritage:
And a trip to MESDA (Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts) to help explain regional differences.
A couple of weeks ago Daniel the Stone Magician completed the fitted dry-stack wall leading to the root cellar and defining my usual parking space. Watching him shape and fit 500-plus pound rocks with the patience and skill of a surgeon was an awe inspiring moment.
I am not sure if 15 tons of rock can be considered “lovely,” but if so this would certainly qualify. It is a new focal point for the homestead, and when I get the arched bridge done across the two creeks that convene there it will be pretty spectacular.
Mrs. Barn has her eyes set on the soon-to-be-finished plateau above the wall for dwarf pear trees and wild flowers. Meanwhile I have to level the ground in front of the wall with a pick-axe and shovel.
Hand tool enthusiast James Wright (Wood By Wright on YouTube) has put together a great little contest called Tool Make 2017. I love this idea – document the process of building a hand tool, give it away to someone who’s getting started in hand tool woodworking, and become eligible to win one of these great prizes:
- Blackburn Tools 36″ Roubo frame saw kit
- Set of Two Cherries carving tools
- HNT Gordon & Co 3/4″ shoulder plane
- Katz-Moses dovetail guide
- Wood By Wright will be giving away a hand router
Everybody wins – you as a maker build your skills (and could win a great prize), the hand tool making community learns more about making tools, and new hand tool workers get some encouragement and real support.
Better hurry, though – this contest is over at the end of June. Further details can be found in this YouTube video from Wood by Wright.
I am almost through the series on making a beautiful stepladder. What makes a stepladder beautiful? It’s beautiful because I made it with my own hands, my own power, my own strength, my own mind. It’s beautiful because it’s simple to look at. It’s simple because it’s functional and it’s beautiful because I see form …
“I try to live right. I always try to adhere to what I think is right, and that, to me, is the most important part of creative work. So much of me goes into each piece that I make that in making each new piece, a renewal takes place. So it continues: a renewal in my commitment to my work and what I believe.” —Sam Maloof
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As I work on the upcoming article “Young Maker’s Bookshelves” (for the October 2017 issue), I’m reminded of one of my favorite-ever posts (from 2009): “Ridiculous Woodworking Books, ” by Christopher Schwarz – mostly for the hilarious responses. But that was 8 years ago – it’s time for some new ones. Here’s a few from me (which are at best merely amusing): “The Ultimate Guide to Craft Fair Crap” (an […]
Apparently you can ask Nick Offerman woodworking questions on Twitter. I might give this a try.
(Thanks to Matt Cremona for the link.)
Apparently you can ask Nick Offerman woodworking questions on Twitter. I might give this a try.
(Thanks to Matt Cremona for the link.)