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Design Brief No. 3: The Danish Campaign Chest

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A lot of Danish Modern dressers are taller than your typical campaign chest because the designers added a drawer or two. But some of them look like the pieces shown here. After staring at the 25 campaign chests from part 1 of this series I hope you can see the connection. We have an unadorned dresser that is square and perched on a plinth. Just like a campaign chest, the […]

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Design Brief No. 2: The Danish Campaign Chest

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So after looking at the 25 campaign chests in the previous post, did you spot any patterns? What I see with these chests is that most of them are a square shape that is perched on some sort of plinth. After measuring a bunch of them, the typical size is 36” long x 40” high x 15” to 18” deep. The square shape of the carcase is 36” x 36”. […]

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Design Brief No. 1: The Danish Campaign Chest

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While there are a dozen good ways to design a piece of furniture, I can write intelligently only about my own methods. I designed my first piece of furniture in 1993 and have – surprisingly – stuck with the same basic technique for the last 23 years. It doesn’t involve formulas or ratios (though I believe those also work). Instead it relies on what I was trained to do as […]

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Squaring Up Cabinets – Don’t Forget the Back

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When gluing up a frameless cabinet, we all know that we have to square up the carcase before the glue cures – otherwise the doors and drawers will never fit well. When working with beginners and many intermediate woodworkers, they usually square up only the front of the case with diagonal clamping pressure. You can get away with this about half the time – either the diagonal pressure at the […]

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James Krenov in the 1990s

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When James Krenov died in late 2009 (wow, has it been that long?) I wondered at great length what would happen to his reputation. For some undefinable reason, when some influential woodworkers die, their legacy seems to fade with each passing year. See Tage Frid and Alan Peters for examples of this. And others seem to grow with every passing year, such as Sam Maloof, Wharton Esherick and George Nakashima. […]

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A Clamping Tip for Wet (or Weakened) Hands

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Sometimes I can have seven or eight panel glue-ups going at once. When that happens, my hands get pretty wet and slimy from all the water and wet glue. At times it makes it near impossible to get a grip on my wooden-handled clamps. I’ve also taught many students who have a reduced grip – due to arthritis or some other malady – that prevents them from applying clamp pressure […]

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‘Dancing Master’ Calipers

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I have a hammer that looks like a squirrel. And I wish I had one that looked like a goat (alas, those are pretty rare and expensive). A little bit of whimsy in your tools is a good thing – it makes the connection that that natural world and the built world are connected. (The handsaw was said to have been inspired by the sawfish. I personally suspect hammers were […]

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Check Squareness on Big Pieces

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When you’re building casework, your parts really need dead square ends if you hope to fit drawers, dividers or a gallery inside. I don’t trust any table saw gizmo to give me square cuts. And I don’t trust my shooting board, either. The only thing I trust is a square that has been tested for accuracy. To check my carcase parts, I have a couple of huge Starrett squares that […]

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Faster and Better and Healthier and….

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Sometimes I feel the need to test myself, particularly when it comes to crap I say and crap I do. For many years I’ve contended that using handplanes is faster in almost every workshop situation – versus even a random-orbit, DA and drum sander. (I’ve not faced an industrial wide-belt sander. Yet.) Recently I bought a nice drum sander for dimensioning thin lams for a big load of bent lamination […]

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Use ‘Gun Blue’ to Instantly Blacken Hardware

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I use blacksmith-made hardware whenever I (or my customers) can afford it. But if you’re on a budget or have hundreds of pieces of hardware for a project, it’s time to visit the gun store. My favorite way to blacken steel, iron or even zinc-plated hardware is to brush on a thin coat of liquid “gun blue” – typically a combination of selenious acid, nitric acid and cupric sulfate. If […]

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