Cutting open a log or thick board is one of the most rewarding feelings a DIYer or woodworker can experience. Who knows what the grain will look like? Who knows if you'll find a burl, a beautiful sapwood/heartwood transition, or a knot you'll be proud to feature, not hide? Beneath all that bark lies a world to be discovered, a geode of cellulose waiting to be explored.
Right? Well...sometimes. Or, you can split something open only to find punky, foamy wood, damage from bugs, or just boring, boring grain.
If you want gap-free joinery and a perfect, long-lasting fit for both strength and aesthetics, precise measuring and marking of parts is essential. But, each step of the process — measuring, transferring marks, and cutting — can introduce tiny little errors of 1/64 or 1/32", which, over the course of a project, can add up significantly. So here's a simple little trick that takes no extra time, but creates much more accurate results.
Rare is the craftsperson who couldn't use just a little more workspace. Maybe not more square footage (though I'd certainly take some), but perhaps more work surfaces to spread out projects, or some more storage to keep track of all the bits and pieces that come along with any technique.
Building this custom tool cabinet will certainly help.
On the side, my wife and I sell some of our handiwork at craft fairs, barn sales and vintage markets. When we got started, we had mostly folding plastic tables and white table cloths. And as you know, nothing, except maybe a grilled hot dog on a paper plate on the Fourth of July, looks its best on a folding plastic table and white table cloth.
My name is Bryson and I have a problem. Whenever I find myself in a hardware store I have a list and I have a second list. On that second, unwritten list, are the things I always tell myself I need for my shop and I inevitably walk out with a bag full of it.
I work in a tiny, leaky, antique shed. Workspace is a precious commodity that keeps getting taken up by scraps and in-progress pieces and just plain junk.
I always like a tool whose name indicates its purpose. Oh, what's a screwdriver do? A citrus squeezer? How about a box cutter? The function is all right there in the name.
In many ways, a speed square falls right into the category. It tells helps you determine "square" - that is, when one edge or line is exactly 90° to another, and it helps you do it quickly. Done. Right? Wrong.
Here's the problem many intermediate-level woodworkers face: you want to take on a big project, a truly ambitious one. Say, a dining table that will be the centerpiece of your home and can fit eight to ten people. And you do the research, figure out some techniques, and they're a little bit of a stretch and you'll be trying them for the first time in the middle of a big project. And then you start shopping for the wood, realize how much it's going to cost, and all of a sudden, that next-level project doesn't seem like the best place to test out some new joinery.
There's corner of my yard that is a bit of an eyesore. It used to hide my pool pump, but the cheap stapled grid surrounding it fell apart in the sun. I wanted to replace it with something that would hold up well, and also contain a bit of the pump sound. Of course, it had to look great, too. Take a look at what I came up with.
At its core, a chair is simply a seat with a back. And while they often have legs and arms and complex joinery for strength, sometimes, a little physics can accomplish the same thing.
I got a lathe last year, and soon, the addiction hit hard. There's something incredible about the hands-on approach to shaping wood that makes you lose track of time fast. Like all skills, you need practice. But turning is immensely satisfying work; you can go from a straight block of wood to a finished project in just an hour or two. And crafting heirloom writing instruments is a great way to get started.
Kitchen knives, pocket knives, craft knives....a creative guy who likes to make stuff simply has to cut things up on the regular. Here's the ManMade list of the nine knives every man should own, but if you're interested in crafting your own from raw materials, it's actual relatively straightforward and requires fewer tools than you might think.
Last summer, in the midst of the August showers, a neighboring building lost a beautiful maple tree in a major thunderstorm. It was quickly disassembled by the electric company, presumably so it wouldn't fall onto the power lines. And there it sat. For weeks.
Then, a month or so later, I heard a loud grind out of my open windows (horray for open window weather!), and spied a big truck with a wood chipper in their yard.
"Surely," I thought, "they're just gonna grind up the small stuff and use the trunk for something." But, they just kept throwing in big, beautiful chunks of pure hardwood, turning it into mulch. I immediately rushed out and asked if I could have what hadn't been chopped.
The guy was very hesitant (apparently no one had ever proposed such a crazy thing), but allowed me to escape with an armful straight limbs and branches (sadly, no trunk segments) as long as I promised not to tell anyone. So, don't repeat that.
My branches have been seasoning and drying all fall and winter, and are now ready to be turned into all kinds of fun "bring the outdoors in" projects. First up, these playful tree branch magnets which cost a mere $1.00 and some glue to make, and can be whipped up in less than 30 minutes.
So, ever since I learned to use an electric drill, I've followed this rule: when joining two pieces of wood, you drill an appropriately sized pilot hole completely through the top, and down into the second. This guides the screw, and the two pieces are held together when the screw's threads grab the wood and lock everything into place. The pilot hole's size is determined by the inner diameter of the screw's body, minus the threads. Right?
When Erin discovered Anne Steensgaard's CatchMe keyholder online, she became instantly obsessed. Functional, beautiful, and full of organic textures and charm. Unfortunately, the piece is only sold in Boila stores, which are all located in Denmark or Sweden.
But, she knew she couldn't rest until she had some
I've wanted to build a boat ever since I sunk my small dingy on the Trinity Lake as a kid. Once I have the space, I will fashion a sea-worthy vessel and take it out to brave the ocean, or at least a sizeable pond.
I have a million e-mails. It's not actually a million, but it makes my soul feel that way. I know this feeling. It happens when I've been staring too long at a screen, clicking reply until I lose track of time and space and what name I'm supposed to sign in the sendoff. (It's Chris. My name is Chris.) The only way to fix it? Get away from the computer, turn on some music, and build something.
So let's go out to the shop and build a box that will never, ever have e-mails in it. Here's a simple woodworking project that can get you back to working with your hands, but isn't too fussy or complicated. And the cool part — it uses just a few basic tools and single board. When it's done, you'll have a stylish, versatile, stacking storage solution that will come in handy in any room in your house.
Gives a whole new meaning to the concept of "finish coat," right?
Woodworker Rob Brown invites us to look at our hand tool collection in whole new light... not simply using the tool only for tasks it was intended for, but as opportunities to see these common items beyond their typical use.