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Words for Woodworking that Make me Barf

I love to look at websites of woodworkers – amateurs and professionals – and see photos of their work. But when they describe their work using the following words, I think: This person is a pompous wee-wee head with a fake underbite and who walks like they are carrying a corncob without using their hands. You might disagree – that’s what the comments are for. But here is my list […]

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Pricing Your Work – You Can’t Win

I typically keep a few pieces of my work in the window at my workshop in Covington, Ky. Right now I have a couple chairs on display, plus an aumbry. The pieces do attract attention – and also some uncomfortable conversations about the prices on my work. Recently Patrick Edwards visited my workshop, looked at the aumbry and said: “It’s too cheap. You should be charging three times as much. […]

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It’s OK (Good Even!) When They Hate Your Work

The city council candidate was screaming at me through her phone as I sat hunched over my desk in the newspaper’s newsroom. “How about I pull down my pants and you come and watch me go to the bathroom?” she screamed. “You’d like that wouldn’t you?” This impolite invitation was issued after I inquired about a long string of tax troubles the candidate had suffered during the last few years. […]

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Dugout Chair: Fastening the Seat

Every step of making this dugout chair has been a little weird. Fastening its seat in place was no different. After cutting the seat to shape using using the help of ticking sticks, I rasped the rim of the seat until I could wedge it inside the trunk and get it level. I usually use a 6” spirit level for this task, but I left it at home. So I […]

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Yes, Megan and Brendan are Alive

This week, Popular Woodworking Magazine is short two employees as Megan Fitzpatrick and Brendan Gaffney have joined me on a chair class in Maryland. We’re building a version of the Jennie Alexander chair from “Make a Chair From a Tree” with Larry Barrett – one of Jennie’s students and friends. If you think that taking a class is easy for an experienced woodworking magazine editor, think again. No matter how […]

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& Rung & Jennie Alexander">Post & Rung & Jennie Alexander

For the next five days I’m in Maryland with four other friends to build a Jennie Alexander chair from Larry Barrett, a student and long-time friend of Alexander. Larry makes a chair that is 90 percent similar to Jennie’s iconic chair from her book “Make a Chair From a Tree.” Some of the details of Larry’s chair are a little different than Jennie’s – especially the front rung that is […]

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& Why">Diagonal Wedges: The How & Why

When wedging through-tenons, I prefer to orient the wedge diagonally across the tenon. This is a somewhat atypical way to work, so an explanation is in order. A diagonal wedge has the advantage of closing up any gaps on all four edges of a rectangular mortise. That’s because it pushes the tenon against all four walls of the mortise. The more typical wedge, on the other hand, will push against […]

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Fit Irregular (Impossible!) Shapes with ‘Ticking Sticks’

The trick to fitting wooden pieces into impossible recesses is to learn about “ticking sticks.” These simple sticks – plus a sheet of paper – can make monstrous tasks into a easy job. Here’s how they work. “Ticking sticks” go by many names in the historical record, but they are the best technology for cutting a piece of wood to fit an odd opening. All you need to perform this […]

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Install a Grippy Liner on Your Bench Vise

I’m a huge fan of installing a grippy liner on your bench vise. Wood faces grip your work OK. Add the right liner and the grip will become fantastic. Here are some details on choosing and installing a liner. What’s a Good Liner? Most people prefer leather, cork, felt or a rubber such as Crubber. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Peel-and-stick cork is fast to install but isn’t very durable. […]

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The Hardware Drawer of Last Resort

Some of you will file this under “Bleeding Obvious,” but few people ever discuss their “junk drawers” in their shops. I call mine: The Hardware Drawer of Last Resort. It has saved my butt a thousand times. Actually, it’s not one drawer. It’s five. The one shown in the photo above is the “random fasteners” drawer. Every time I install some hinges and have extra screws left over that don’t […]

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