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Medieval Method Can Improve a Modern Design

I recently finished building an Enzo Mari table from the 1970s as part of an article for Popular Woodworking Magazine, and I have only one worry about the project. It looks great. It feels stout. But I’m worried that the joinery might not last forever. The joinery? Lots of properly installed wood screws, with diagonal bracing to reduce or eliminate racking. But screws can come loose and might allow the […]

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Don’t Sand – Burn off your Machine Marks Instead

Shou sugi ban – the Japanese finishing process that chars the outside of wood – is an ideal surface finish for some furniture pieces. One of the unsung advantages of burning the wood is that you can reduce (or even eliminate) sanding or planing your boards before finishing them. There are limits to this, of course. If your jointer, thickness planer or saw leaves deep marks, this won’t work. But […]

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An Enzo Mari Table – and a Puzzle

“Mari is right, everyone should have a project: after all it is the best way to avoid being designed yourself.” — G.C. Argan, L’Espresso, 1974 In 1974, Italian designer Enzo Mari published a series of furniture designs that were free to the public. People were encouraged to use his drawings to produce tables, chairs, beds and bookshelves. What’s more, Mari designed the pieces so they could be made from standardized […]

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John Brown for the 16th Time

Every time I read John Brown’s book “Welsh Stick Chairs,” I latch onto something different. When I read the book for the first time in the mid-1990s, I became obsessed with the Welsh stick chair’s form (and I remain so to this day). After a few more readings, I became obsessed with the history of Windsor chairs and wondered if JB was right that the origin of American and Welsh […]

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Objections to David Charlesworth’s ‘Ruler Trick’

The first time I used David Charlesworth’s “ruler trick” on the backside of a plane iron it took an act of sheer will to do it. I had watched David’s groundbreaking 2004 video with Lie-Nielsen Toolworks “Hand Tool Techniques Part 1: Plane Sharpening” and had thought about the ruler trick for a few weeks before I could muster the courage to try it myself. I couldn’t come up with any […]

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Video: Folding the Folding Bookstand

The June 2018 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine features an article I wrote about making a folding bookstand using scraps and copper rivets. It’s a design based on 18th-century pieces that were popular among British military officers. Several readers have requested a video that shows how the bookstand folds and unfolds. So here you go. Though the mechanism looks complicated, it’s not. If you have a drill press, this project […]

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Make a Marking Gauge for Curves

If you work with curves, you need a marking gauge that can deal with curves. Me, I make chairs. So I need a gauge that can follow the curve of a seat so I can delineate the lines for the scooped-out saddle, the spindles and the “gutter” – a shallow and decorative channel on traditional chairs. I also need a gauge such as this for marking out the armbow and […]

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The Tools in the Bottom of my Tool Chest

The tools at the bottom of my chest are the heavy and expensive stuff – the planes and saws that get constantly used. At the back of the chest are my moulding planes. And the front wall of my chest has a tool rack that contains the stuff I need to grab without even looking at it. Let’s start with that rack. The Tool Rack From left to right: My […]

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A Dovetailing Kit for Beginners

Last week I discussed the Zona Razor Saw and how it’s the ideal saw for beginning dovetailers. It’s just $12 to $15 and cuts extremely well. This saw got me thinking about what other inexpensive tools could fill out the kit for the beginner (or someone who is short on money). So here’s my best shot at this list. I’ve also included (at times) what I think is the next […]

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The Tools in the Third Till of my Tool Chest

The bottomost till in my chest carries the heavy stuff that isn’t on the floor of the chest, and stuff that doesn’t fit in the top two tills and has migrated downward. Three of my essential planes are here, as are some of my most important measuring equipment. When you keep most of your tools in one chest, little is non-essential material. Let’s begin on the left side of the […]

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