Archive

Coming Clean About Being Clean

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After working with woodworkers all over the world for short periods of time and (in some cases) many years, I can say these four words that might make your woodworking easier: Clean up your crap. I’m not a natural neatnik, but when it comes to working in the shop, every day ends up with me putting away the tools I’m not in the middle of using and sweeping up the […]

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When Your Liquid Hide Glue Turns Bad

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There are lots of tests for when your liquid hide glue has gone bad – the most common one that I know of is to put some glue between your index finger and thumb. Tap your finger and thumb repeatedly to see if the glue turns tacky and produces long stringy strands. If it does, then your glue is good. I’ve done this test with glue during woodworking classes all […]

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Rethink the Rules of Liquid Hide Glue

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I’ve just finished writing an article on liquid hide hide glue for Popular Woodworking Magazine that takes a critical look at the adhesive compared to yellow glues. My hope is that it’s a fairly dogma-free article. While liquid hide glue will probably always be my favorite adhesive for interior work, there are some cases where another glue is a better choice. During the research for the article, I talked to […]

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Karl Holtey’s Final Plane: The 984

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If you ever hear a criticism of the pioneering work of Karl Holtey it’s that his planes are “too perfect” or “lack a soul.” I’ve always been a little befuddled by these comments because I have used a good number of planes that have no soul by the likes of Harbor Freight, late-model Stanleys and other Far East makers. These “planes,” which can only be called by that word because […]

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On Thick, Wet Slab Tops for Workbenches

Benchtop slabs (6" thick) that are green and ready to use.

During the last seven years, I’ve slowly become a fan of using a monolithic slab for the top of a workbench. And I’ve also slowly begun to ignore all the criticisms of slab tops. I built my first slab-top workbench in 2009-2010, which was published in the August 2010 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine. The top was some wet cherry that had been rotting in the log yard of Ron […]

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It’s Chairmaking Season (For Me, at Least)

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While I love making cabinets, tables and bookcases, I have always been drawn to making chairs. At first I made Morris chairs because they were very cabinet-like – lots of 90° angles and traditional square-mortise joinery. There might be an odd angle or two for a builder to conquer, but nothing outrageous. Then I encountered John Brown, a Welsh chairmaker who made stick chairs that didn’t look like a frilly […]

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A Shaker Failure

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I’ve had bad days wrestling with my sketchbook where it was impossible for me to draw anything but junk. Junk I didn’t want to build and junk that no one would ever buy. Sometimes I leave those stepchild pages in my sketchbook as a reminder of how awful I am. Sometimes I crumple the pages up because someone might see the drawing if I die before destroying the evidence. And […]

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Woodworking Magazines: The Real Truth

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Woodworking magazines might be dying (or just shrinking), but they aren’t going down without a fight. I’ve been reading woodworking magazines since 1992 or so, and I have kept up with all the major titles since at least 1996. I know most of the writers and editors, and I think a lot about their content and how it’s presented. (I cannot help myself, really, because I’ve been in media my […]

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Dumb (But Effective) Dust Collector Trick

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You don’t see a lot of dust collector tricks in the woodworking magazines, but here’s my contribution. When your two-bag dust collector is too full, the usual solution is to remove the lower bag, let the chips dump all over the shop and then clean up the mess. When I foolishly let my dust collector to get too full, I do something different. With the dust collector off, I punch […]

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