Archive

The Stupidest Glue-up Ever

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If you love to read about people screwing up, this post is for you. This week I’m shooting a DVD in the Popular Woodworking studio on building a traditional 18th-century tool chest (it should be out by mid-March). Building one of these chests alone in my shop is a 40-hour sprint-a-thon. Building it along with a class is an exercise in concentrating through interruptions. Building it in front of a […]

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I’ve Been Doing this Wrong Since 1993

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I cut my first dovetail in 1993 and that was also the first day I learned to use a marking gauge. The instructor didn’t tell me how to use it, so I set it and worked things out for myself. I ended up marking my baselines by pulling the gauge toward me. And I’ve never done it any other way. The funny thing is that this year I’ve been editing […]

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Don’t Kick the Bucket (Out of the Shop)

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There’s a lot going on in the photo above that’s important when making casework. I have two case sides for a chest clamped together before dovetailing them. Here is a quick summary of what I’m doing: I’m going to dovetail both pieces at once, called “gang-cutting.” This saves time and makes it easier to keep your saw at 90° across the thickness of the boards. But before I can dovetail […]

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Coming: The Anarchist’s Tool Chest DVD

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More than five years ago I built myself a full-size 18th-century style tool chest to replace the beat up blue one I’d been using since 1997 or so. That new chest was the subject of the book “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” and I didn’t think a single person in the world would build it. Why? The book is more about limiting your tool set to basic high-quality tools. The chest […]

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Improve the Grip of all Your Vises: $10

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For many years I’ve lined the jaws of all my vises with sueded leather to improve their grip. Whenever I mention that I do this, I get a barrage of questions: Where do you buy suede? (Really? Any craft store, fabric store, Tandy etc.) What glue do you use? (Any glue. Hide, yellow glue, epoxy, contact cement etc.) How do you apply the leather? (Like veneer. Clamp a caul on […]

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Bad Luck with Hand Drills

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While many people get warm and wet feelings about their smoothing planes, I have those emotions about my hand drill. Maybe it’s because I use a hand drill almost daily for nails and screws, especially after building a ton of campaign furniture with all the inset brasses. So this summer I gave away my hand drill to a friend who didn’t have one and thought: “I’ll just buy another on […]

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Breaking News: Mike Dunbar Retiring from Teaching

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Mike Dunbar, the founder of The Windsor Institute and the leader in the renaissance in Windsor chairmaking announced today he is closing the school. According to an e-mail sent to students, Dunbar and his wife, Sue, have sold the the school’s buildings and as of March 31, will not be teaching chairmaking. The contents of the school – tools etc. – will be sold via auction by Martin Donnelly. Dunbar […]

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A Quick Tour of my Not-so-great Workshop

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Visitors to my shop are always surprised how small my shop is – 15’ x 25’ – and that I share it with the house’s furnace (it’s a friendly relationship, I promise, with good dust collection). At the request of a reader, here are some photos of my shop and some details of why things are the way they are. Before I dive into this explanation, keep in mind that […]

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The Better Way to Get a Plane to Stop Cutting

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Making “stop shavings” – where the plane cuts only one part of the board – is one of the keys to better edge joints and lots of other handplane techniques. But few people in my hand-tool classes have ever been told how to do it right. Most people do it like they are taking off on a runway. They start pushing the tool where the cut should begin and then […]

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