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Real-life Test: Do You Need Glue?

I build my chairs in a way where glue is only a minor player. And after a stupid mistake yesterday, I now get to test how effective my strategy is. Before I pull my pants down and tell you how I messed up, here’s the set-up. The stretchers and legs of my chairs are built so they are in tension (I do this by lengthening the tenons in the stretchers […]

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My First Experience with Buckeye (Aesculus glabra)

Here in the Midwest, we seem to have a lot more Buckeyes who are people (it’s the nickname for Ohioans) than actual buckeye trees (Aesculus glabra, sometimes called the horse chestnut). In fact, I’ve lived in the range of the Ohio Buckeye tree for most of my adult life and have never seen it for sale. It’s not a popular tree for many reasons. Its leaves and nuts are poisonous […]

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Important Shapton News (a Price Cut!)

All the sharpening systems out there work, but I have a favorite: Shapton Pro Series stones in #1,000, #5,000 and #8,000 grits. Shapton Pros cut fast, stay pretty flat and don’t have to be soaked beforehand. As I sharpen three to five times a day, those are important qualities. Recently there has been turmoil with the supply of Shapton stones to the United States. In the end, the U.S. distributor […]

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A Jig for Drilling Holes for Chair Spindles

I resist making jigs like I resist going to the dentist. So when I do break down and build a jig, it’s going to be something with a dial indicator and lasers. No, that’s a lie. It’s going to be something dirt simple but solves my difficulties completely. I build a lot of chairs with spindles that run between the seat and the armbow. The best way to drill the […]

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Tapered vs. Cylindrical Tenons

When dealing with round tenons, you have an important choice about their shape. Should they be tapered (like a cylindrical cone)? Or straight (like a dowel)? The engineering answer seems obvious: use a tapered tenon. This form of joint gets tighter the more you use it, like a Morse taper on a lathe or a drill press’s chuck. But the historical answer is more complicated than that. When you look […]

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Setting up a (Real World) Workshop

I’m in the final stages of setting up a new workshop in Covington., Ky. It’s my seventh (!!) workshop. I could probably write a book on the process, but instead I think I’ll sum it all up here. During the last 20 years I’ve visited and written about some of the most impressive and modest shops all over the world. From a home shop with a remote-control crane (that shop […]

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A Great (and Free) Read on Chairmaker Chester Cornett

One of my long-time obsessions has been with chairmaker Chester Cornett (1913-1981), a traditional Eastern Kentucky chairmaker who moved to Cincinnati later in life and turned to making mind-bending chairs. Trained by his family in green chairmaking, Cornett made hundreds of chairs and other pieces of furniture during a time in the 20th century when the world was turning to manufactured goods. After serving in World War II, Cornett moved […]

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How to Draw Eye-pleasing Arches

I use a lot of arched shapes in my work. They are a pleasing geometrical construction that can be used in doors, on the ends of bookshelves or on the bases of chests (I particularly like them on the ends of a six-board chest). For the most part, I use three types of arches. And to be honest, that was because I didn’t know the geometry for other forms. Recently […]

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& Build (or Just Shut Up)">Shut Up & Build (or Just Shut Up)

I’m not easily riled. But if you want to get me worked up, then make a casual comment on a piece of woodworking that you’ve never built or dealt with. Case-in-point: I’ve been using a metal planing stop (as shown above) for more than 12 years. It is the foundation of everything I do at the bench. Yet, if I ever show its teeth in an article or on the […]

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& Engravers’ Square">Anarchist’s 2017 Gift Guide, Day 11: Masons’ & Engravers’ Square

Every year with this gift guide, I recommend one tool that is just a little more expensive than the others but is definitely worth the money. This year it’s the Lee Valley Cast Masons & Engravers’ Square. This is a new item in Lee Valley’s catalog, and the minute I saw it, I ordered one. This well-made tool excels at scribing lines that are parallel to the edge of a […]

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