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An Inside Look at the Peabody Essex Museum

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If this whole “building world-class furniture” thing doesn’t work out for Phil Lowe, I think he could get a job as a museum docent. Lowe, an amazing maker and owner of The Furniture Institute of Massachusetts, has worked on many pieces owned by the Peabody Essex Museum in neighboring Salem, Mass. As a special treat, Lowe took the entire class over to the museum on Thursday morning and showed us […]

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A Visit to the Furniture Institute of Massachusetts

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If you want to learn to build high-end gorgeous American furniture, then Phil Lowe at the Furniture Institute of Massachusetts is the guy to see. He is the father of the modern furniture program at the North Bennet Street School. He is a winner of the Cartouche Award from the Society of American Period Furniture Makers. He is one of the most accomplished hand craftsmen I’ve ever met. And I’m […]

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Patterns for a Simple Camp Stool Seat

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The most difficult part of making a folding camp stool (for woodworkers) is the leather or fabric seat. Getting the right shape for the seat and the three pockets for the legs has vexed many people who aren’t accustomed to a material that bends with hand pressure. These patterns are based on a few years of refinement, and they aren’t perfect in any way. So if you do find an […]

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Archimedes the Chair Maker

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The first time I ever tried steam bending wood, it took two of us to pull the scalding hot ash against the bending form and then clamp it down before it cooled. While it was an amazing experience, it was something I had difficulty doing on my own with just pure muscle (you will never see me shirtless in a beefcake calendar. Perhaps in a stringbean calendar…). Years later, bodger […]

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A Benefit of an Out-of-flat Workbench

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I’ve been putting off the inevitable chore of flattening my workbench – I have a low spot that is interfering with my ability to handplane thin panels. But this time, I’m going to allow a high spot to remain high because it has proven to be useful. Like many French workbenches with the traditional joinery, my bench’s tenons protrude a little as the wet top is shrinking around the joints. […]

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This Maple Eats Tools

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Yesterday was the first time in 20 years I wished for an electric sander. I’m finishing up a new table design and am just about to finish all the surfaces before assembly. The only problem is that this maple trashes every plane iron after about two strokes. I’ve seen this happen with exotics such as purpleheart that naturally have a lot of silica. And with a stick of Douglas fir […]

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Skew the Handplane – Sometimes

Skewing at the beginning of the cut can eliminate skittering.

Skewing the body of the plane lowers its effective cutting angle, which can work in your favor or against you. Skewing also changes the relationship of the cutting edge to the wood fibers, which can change the surface finish of the wood. While the above two statements might seem obvious, I’ve watched a lot of students struggle with the topic of skewing. Part of the problem is that any discussion […]

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A Tour of the Tool Chest in the August 2015 Issue

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The August 2015 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine mails soon. It features the first installment of a two-part series on building a tool chest with a marquetry panel. The chest was a joint project between me and Jameel Abraham of Benchcrafted. I built the carcase; he built the carved marquetry lid, which will be featured in the October 2015 issue. Before sending the chest to its final destination, I shot […]

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A Tour of the Tool Chest in the August 2015 Issue

PW_Toolbox-Opener-3

The August 2015 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine mails soon. It features the first installment of a two-part series on building a tool chest with a marquetry panel. The chest was a joint project between me and Jameel Abraham of Benchcrafted. I built the carcase; he built the carved marquetry lid, which will be featured in the October 2015 issue. Before sending the chest to its final destination, I shot […]

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