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Like Your Woodworking Teacher? Maybe You Shouldn’t

Last month I taught two short classes in Germany – a rare exception to my vow to avoid teaching and instead focus on new furniture designs. The reason I taught those two classes is quite personal, so I won’t discuss it here. But during the classes I was struck by an odd question I’ve struggled with for 30 years: Is it a good idea for students to personally like their […]

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A Visit to the Furniture Institute of Massachusetts

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If you want to learn to build high-end gorgeous American furniture, then Phil Lowe at the Furniture Institute of Massachusetts is the guy to see. He is the father of the modern furniture program at the North Bennet Street School. He is a winner of the Cartouche Award from the Society of American Period Furniture Makers. He is one of the most accomplished hand craftsmen I’ve ever met. And I’m […]

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Staked Sawbenches, Day 2

Building staked furniture sometimes feels a lot more like an episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” than a typical day in the shop. At assembly-time, the legs have to be knocked home hard to firmly seat the the conical tenon in its mortise and make a bit of a mechanical interlock. I’ve been making sample joints all year and sawing them apart to see what is going on inside. The […]

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Building Staked Sawbenches at Highland Woodworking

This weekend I am experimenting on guinea pigs. Scratch that. I’m experimenting on American pigs. Wow. That’s doesn’t sound good, either. OK, I’m teaching a new class on a new topic that has been bottled up inside me for four years now. You’ve probably never heard the term “staked furniture,” but that’s because the term and the joinery technology behind the furniture has largely been shoved to the side or […]

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The Dutch Campaign Tool Chest

This week, I built a lower cabinet for my small Dutch tool chest, a project featured in the October 2013 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine. The unit I just built sits below the tool chest proper and does a few nice things. 1. It gives me extra space for tooling and hardware that I sometimes need to drag along to classes I teach. 2. It raises the main tool well […]

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Workbench Day 2: The Case for Workbench Classes

Building a workbench at a school is, in my calculation, a wise investment. Good schools have huge machines – wide planers, beefy mortisers and sliding table saws – that can make difficult jobs a breeze. You also have lots of help – another 10 to 20 people who can help you muscle the stock. And you get it done in a week, so you can get on with building furniture […]

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Workbench Day 1: Grab the Ash With Both Hands

The hardest part about teaching a class on building a workbench isn’t the teaching part at all. It’s finding good material that makes the class a pleasure – instead of a battle against the material. This week I’m teaching a class on building a traditional French workbench at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking. All 16 students are using ash bench bundles from Horizon Wood Products. This is, without any […]

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Workbench Joinery: 10 Years of Tenons

Tomorrow morning I start a new workbench class at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking. While I’ve lost count of the number of workbenches I’ve built or midwifed into this world, I never tire of the grueling and exhilarating labor they require. For each class, I design a new workbench from scratch that is suited to the material I have gathered for the class, the needs of the students and […]

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Kansas City Woodworkers Guild. Wow.

Kansas City Woodworkers Guild. Wow.

I have visited a lot of woodworking clubs in North America since 1996, and I thought I had seen it all until I stepped into the Kansas City Woodworkers Guild’s enormous facility today. Perched on top of a cave (Kansas City is full of caves), the club has more than 10,000 square feet of space for demonstrations, plus a bench room and a machine room (not to mention storage galore). […]

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Eastern Advice for Western Woodworking

Eastern Advice for Western Woodworking

The only thing I dislike about teaching at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking is that I’d rather be listening than talking – especially if Doug Dale is my assistant. Doug, a 10-year employee at the school, is a low-key, casual and humble guy. But every time I shut my yap and open my ears, … Read more »

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