When it comes to popular, enduring woodworking styles in the United States, one immediately comes to mind: the Shaker. Woodworking luminaries such as George Nakashima and Wharton Esherick were influenced by the Shakers, and so are many contemporary makers like Garrett Hack, C.H. Becksvoort and Thomas Moser.
For many woodworkers, Claro walnut is the connoisseur’s walnut — and it's easy to see why. Claro is a medley of subtle intermixed colors — browns, reds, black, purple, yellows — and beautiful figure.
Finishing is possibly the most gratifying part of any woodworking project — and potentially the most stressful. You’ve put a lot of time and effort into what you're making, and the pressure to get the finishing touches just right can be intense.
The way two pieces of wood fit together is a thing of beauty — and a great way to spot a quality piece of furniture. So nailing dovetail joints is a must when you're looking to up your woodworking game.
A while back, we looked at how a bandsaw can affect how you use and design with wood. If that didn't inspire you to buy one, this guide to choosing a bandsaw for a small woodshop should do the job.
Old-world hand crafting comes naturally to Anna Warren and Sarah Kirkham, whose brand, Tactile Craftworks, is known for gorgeously embossed and tooled leather pieces. But you might be surprised to learn that digital technology is essential to everything they do and make. Working with the Dremel DigiLab digital laser-cutting tool, the pair has found a sweet spot between handcraft and high-tech — and built a successful business in the process.
Learning how to use food-safe finishes is a must for woodworkers, whether you're creating a dining table, a cutting board, or even just a decorative object. That's because many finishes contain toxic drying agents, not to mention that many people are sensitive to chemicals.
Her Instagram feed is a wall of wood, tattoos, carvings and the occasional bloody finger. Her Twitter bio reads: Chainsaw artist seeking a life of travel, freedom and inspiration. When she's not working in the workshop, professional chainsaw artist Griffon Ramsey, a subject in our series Spark, is a big-time influencer who shakes up assumptions about women artists and the world of wood-carving. Her art is definitely not about happy wooden bears lingering at tourist traps — though she does have a magical story about a roadside attraction.
Typically things turned on a lathe are round because they are shaped while they rotate around a single center. While I always have enjoyed the shapes that are produced on a lathe, I also find using a single center constraining. Why limit yourself to something that is purely round when you can incorporate many circular elements in your design by using multiple sets of centers? I enjoy creating shapes that look like they were made on anything BUT a lathe. Let's have a look at one method of creating such a form.
Joining wood can be one of the tougher parts of creating beautiful wood creation, so we're always looking for quick and easy joinery techniques. That's exactly what makes pocket hole joinery so appealing.
In my last post I pointed out a few design considerations for turned forms. One primary consideration was that bowls will appear much lighter if the curve profile appeared to complete itself above, on or slightly below the surface upon which it sits. The bowl will have a lighter appearance if it does not have an overly wide base relative to the diameter of the bowl. I turn a series of forms which I call "Zen Candles" that present a problem as far as the required diameter of the base.
When woodworkers talk about the most important tool in their shop, often they will mention a machine, like a table saw, or a hand tool, like a plane. Either way, it’s arguable that the most important tool in any woodworker’s shop is not a hand tool or a machine, but a workbench. If you took away a woodworker’s machine or tool, the woodworker could probably figure out another way to accomplish the task at hand. But without a workbench, it becomes difficult to work on the individual pieces of a project, to assemble the piece, and to apply the finish.
One of the most fun and varied items you can turn on a lathe is a lidded box. In the photo below you can see that there are several designs, usually related to how the lid fits to the box. There are an almost unlimited number of designs when creating a turned, lidded box. Not bad for such a simple little project. Lidded boxes are also a quick seller at everything from craft fairs to art galleries, so they can also be quite profitable.
Starting out in woodworking, as in any craft, is full of excitement, hope, and, yes, a degree of bewilderment. In the quest to put one's heart, mind and hands into making things, it helps to have some guidance. I humbly offer these tips, most of which are really applicable to all crafts.
Bandsaws are terrific tools to use, and can be very versatile in cutting wood. But for a bandsaw to be at its best, it needs a sharp blade. Many problems with using a bandsaw can be traced to using a blade that is too dull for the task at hand.
In my last post about cutting perfect miter joints, I covered the fundamentals. However, that's only half the battle. Those slick 45-degree mitered corners coupled with slippery glue are enough to stress out any unwary woodworker.
To choose the right wood for any project, you need to know how it will perform, not just how it looks. One of the key considerations in performance is wood movement. You'll need to predict how the particular species and cut of wood that you choose will change over the seasons and years. Ignore this and even the prettiest wood could turn out to be a pretty big disappointment.
When I make a table or bench, I like the added elegance of tapered legs. You can taper them on a jointer or a bandsaw, but I prefer to make them with a jig on the table saw. There are several commercial jigs available, but I haven’t found one I’m happy with, so I made my own. It is easy to make and so simple to set up and use.
Push sticks and hold downs are essential safety tools for any shop. You could buy them, but once you start making your own, you will love using your custom pieces so much that you never want to go back.
If you ask a woodworker what tool he or she would love to have more than any other, the answer would probably be a board stretcher. You could use a board stretcher for those times you need a board that is, say, 12” wide, and you only have one that is 10” wide.
Working in solid wood is a joy but wood movement must always be taken into account. Ignoring it is no solution but understanding it is. Here are five things every woodworker should know.
Wood-bodied hand planes can do as good a job as metal planes but you can customize them however you want. There are just a few more steps left to do before my Krenov-style smoother plane is ready to go. The hard part of setting the bed and ramp angles is over, and the next steps bring out the plane’s character. Let’s finish this plane and put it to work.
The most important tasks in building a wood-bodied plane are cutting the bed to an accurate angle and setting the mouth. With the bed and ramp blocks cut, it’s time to put everything in position, set the mouth and glue-up the plane. After this next set of steps, our smoother plane will start looking like an actual plane!
Welcome to the last in this series on green spoon carving! Are you ready to finish your spoon? A quick recap, in the preceding weeks we have covered safety and sharpening your axe, sharpening your hook knife, and shaping your spoon. At this point, you should have sharp tool, a split log with a flat face and a creative spoon design penciled in. Now, we're finally ready to carve our green wood spoon out of the log, and do some much-needed refining.
I still remember the first time I attempted to dimension a board with hand tools. I watched hundreds of videos that all made it look easy. I convinced myself that I would have a four-square board within minutes. I put my Stanley jack plane to the board, and off I went.
The last few weeks we have been getting prepped to start green spoon carving. In previous posts we went over safety and sharpening your axe and sharpening your hook knife. In this post, we're going to get out our axe and put together the perfect piece of wood from which you can carve out a beautiful green wood spoon!
You have to draw a curve before you can build it in wood. Including fascinating curves in furniture designs is fun, and when done well adds memorable distinction to your work.
Making your own wood-bodied planes teaches critical woodworking skills and leaves you with a tool you’ll love to use. Since we've already discussed the first steps to making a Krenov-style plane, let’s get going with milling the wood, drawing the plane and cutting the parts for this wooden smoother.
Having a sharp tool set is an essential part of being able to safely and effectively carve. Today we will continue our green carving series with instructions on how to sharpen your hook knife.
Bowl design is a very subjective thing so what pleases the eye of one may not for another. That being said, there are a few conventions that generally hold true and are at least a good starting point when coming up with a design that will suit your esthetic and practical objectives. Once you get comfortable with these rather pliable tenets, you will have also learned when and where to break them.
A bandsaw is one of the most useful machines you can have in your shop. It can make straight cuts, it can make curved cuts, it can make long rip cuts more safely than on a tablesaw, and it can be used to resaw a board into thinner pieces. In fact, there’s no other machine that is as well-suited for resawing a board than a bandsaw. Today, we’ll learn how to set up and use a bandsaw for resawing.
I love displaying photos of family, friends and fun times. I also like to switch the photos to keep up with growing children and new events. By creating a frame with a thin metal background and coordinating magnets, it's easy to change photos as often as you'd like. Scroll down to see how I did it and learn how to make your own DIY photo frame.
A lot of time in most woodworking projects is spent on the unglamorous task of sanding. Choosing and understanding the right wood sanding tools will greatly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your efforts.
One of the most influential woodworkers of the 20th century was James Krenov (1920-2009). His legacy has to do not only with his style of woodworking, which was an exploration of form, proportion and the unornamented beauty of wood, but also with his approach to teaching.
In a nutshell, hide glue has been used as an adhesive for as long as humans have been trying to glue things together. As the name suggests, hide glue is made from animal products. Skin and bones, tenon and tissues.
Any discussion of sharpening woodworking tools is likely to generate plenty of disagreement among woodworkers. This is partly because it is difficult to comprehend exactly what is happening at the microscopic level as hard steel meets abrasive particles, but also because there is a wide variety effective tools and methods for achieving sharp edges.
Book matching is the process of cutting a board through its thickness, then folding the two boards open as if opening a book. This gives a mirror image of the grain pattern. It's an easy way to get fascinating grain designs and all it takes is an interesting board and a way to resaw.