Inside Colen Clenton’s Adjustable Try Squares

Inside Colen Clenton’s Adjustable Try Squares

I first heard about Colen Clenton’s tools from Joel Moskowitz of Tools for Working Wood in Brooklyn, N.Y. On Joel’s recommendation, I purchased one of Colen’s squares and was deeply impressed by its craftsmanship and accuracy. I asked Joel how I could e-mail Colen and ask him a few questions about his tools for an … Read more »

The post Inside Colen Clenton’s Adjustable Try Squares appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.


How to Make a Family Room for the Whole Family

Our client’s family (two adults and three children) wanted a room in which all their different activities could take place. Their TV and stereo components, video games, the computer(s), the home’s business area, library shelving and additional storage (for all those small things that would clutter every surface if not put away)… were all incorporated into the plans for these built in cabinets… Our plan was to create a room that had a place for everything and look great at the same time.
Although they wanted built-ins that were richly appointed, they expressed their wish to maintain the appearance of ‘hand wrought’ craftsmanship. I knew they didn’t want ‘rustic’, but I felt that perfectly straight-grained, ‘select’ boards and veneers wouldn’t portray enough character for their tastes.
So… we decided use cherry but made sure to include some great looking imperfections, so you might get a sense of the actual trees from which this furniture was made.























I’ve included my renderings so you can appreciate how our plans became realized.


where the children do their homework







her antique desk sits in front of this piece that has 5 hanging-file drawers

Although labor intensive, the right details make a world of difference.

full beading on vertical corners, side walls paneled


create a thicker counter top with a routed profile


We’ve done many built-ins that were difficult to get a good picture of…
…and there are some that just seem to be made for it.


click on this master shot for full screen / it's crystal clear, 4,368 pixels wide

With smart design, honest craftsmanship… and a great client… it’s hard to go wrong.

Russell Hudson / 4-12




Out With The Old… (not so fast!)

Those who know me know that I prefer old machinery, almost universally, to new. So it will come as no shock to learn that I have recently acquired a 14″ Davis & Wells band saw, the smaller (and I think somewhat younger) brother to my 1940-ish D&W 20″ saw. I like to leave the 20″ machine set up for resawing, while the 14″ model will serve for smaller jobs, circle and curve cutting, etc. I have to re-rubber and crown the wheels, and repair or replace the broken lower guide assembly — otherwise I think the saw is in operational shape. While it’s down for cleaning and refurbishment, I may strip the original paint, which is a little shabby, and give it a fresh look. We’ll see. I’m really looking forward to putting this saw in service. Here’s a few “before” images:

dw14 dw14 dw14 dw14 dw14

Note: The Comet Manufacturing company, of Los Angeles, made some Davis & Wells machinery in the 1950′s and ’60′s. This saw had remnants of the ‘Comet’ badge (decal) on the upper wheel cover, but the heavy cast base leads me to believe this saw was made by D&W proper, late ’40′s or early ’50′s, placed in Comet’s inventory and badged and sold as shown. Existing Comet product info from the late ’50′s shows the 14″ saw on a steel base.

So, you may rightly ask, why would I think this saw has any advantages over a more modern, or new 14″ saw produced by Delta, Powermatic, or any of the other usual players? Weight, quality of materials and casting, precision milling (where it counts) and overall design and craftsmanship. One look at the trunion assembly under the table, in the image above, says just about all that needs to be said. Compare that to any modern saw, and I rest my case. I would also mention cost as a factor. Typically, you can find older saws (and even an old ’50′s-’60′s Delta beats it’s modern descendant by a long shot, quality-wise, IMHO) for less than you pay for the poorer, newer stuff.

I guess I won’t wait by the phone to field endorsements from the current manufacturers.    :-)


Cabinetmaking Class

The first iteration of the class “Make a Wall-Hung Cabinet” (henceforth to be called simply “Cabinetmaking”) was held over three days in late August (26-28) 2011 with two students: Matt Vredenburg and Chip Hidinger, both woodworkers with some experience. It was a very busy three days, but in the end I think we arrived about where I had hoped we would, and both students went home with cabinets they can be proud of.

Cabinet The cabinet we made was small (50cm x 30cm x 15cm), a simple design based on the kind of work done at the College of the Redwoods. Built of Honduras mahogany and curly soft maple, the carcase is doweled and the back is a full frame-&-panel construction glued into a rabbet. The door overlays the front of the cabinet completely and is hung on 7mm (5/16″) brass knife hinges. The door frame is slip mortise-&-tenon, and the panel is installed as would be a piece of glass –  so it is removable. Up to two adjustable mahogany shelves can be placed in the interior of the cabinet. The top and bottom edge profiles are worked completely by hand, with planes and spokeshaves, and all surfaces are hand planed and lightly sanded (400-600 grit paper). The finish is shellac polish, hand-applied prior to assembly.

Success! Considering it would take an experienced maker several days to make this cabinet (while honoring the construction methods, attention to craftsmanship and detail work), asking less experienced makers to do all the work in three days is biting off a lot. There’s simply no way we could start from scratch and hope to get anywhere close to completion, so I milled all the parts and did the mortise-&-tenon joinery in advance. The students did the case joinery and all the hand work of fitting the frame and panel joinery, planing and finishing all the surfaces, designing and working the top and bottom edge profiles, assembling the case and fitting and hanging the door. At the end of the session we issued a collective “Whew!” There’s much more to this kind of work than meets the eye, and much of the detail work comes at the end when everything is assembled and fitted.

Check out the image gallery from the class (below), and look for this class to be offered again in the next course rounds.



  We’re putting on a show! It’s the Resident Mastery show and I know that one of them is working real hard to get his piece done on time. Please come by the Studio from 4pm to 7pm, Saturday June 25th, and see the work of the present and some previous resident students. It’s sure [...]