Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Quarter sawn lumber

You can call me a woodnerd, but I never get tired of watching lumber videos like this. 

A student emailed me the other day, asking about quarter sawn wood, and how it was different from plain sawn lumber. Here's the best explanation I've ever seen.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Which hobbies help an aging brain? (Let me help you out... Woodworking!)

As if you needed a better reason to get into woodworking... this article by Jessica Firger came out last week:

Which hobbies help an aging brain? 

A new study from researchers at the Mayo Clinic looked at the benefits of a number of activities in middle and old age and found that engaging in a creative hobby helped reduce the risk of dementia and preserve memory.
In addition to arts and crafts, the study, published Wednesday in the journal Neurology, also examined the longterm benefits of social activities such as book clubs, movies, concerts, time with friends and travel. Additionally, the study considered the brain-health benefits of computer pastimes such as surfing the Internet, playing video games and even online shopping.
All of them helped -- but artistic pursuits seemed to be most effective.
"There's enough data here to suggest that being socially, mentally active -- along with what we know from other research, physically active -- probably does influence whether you're going to get dementia down the line. And you can reduce your risk by being mentally and physically active," said Dr. James Leverenz, a neurologist at the Cleveland Clinic's Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, said in a video press release. 
The researchers surveyed 256 people with an average age of 87 about how they used their leisure time. At the start of the study none of the participants were found to have memory or thinking problem. In follow-up assessments approximately four years later, 121 people had developed mild cognitive impairment. 
The researchers found participants who engaged in artistic hobbies such as painting, drawing or sculpture in both middle and old age were 73 percent less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment than those who didn't. Those who crafted -- doing things like pottery, woodworking, quilting or sewing -- were 45 percent less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Are you a music lover? Are you free Tuesday, April 21?

One of the best parts about running a woodworking school is meeting amazing people. Seriously, I've met magicians and poker stars, politicians and brothel workers, and just about everyone in between that spectrum.

One of the more memorable people is Corey, who started out as a student, but has morphed into my website master and friend. Oh, and a table maker.

So when Corey invited me to an event at his house last year - I jumped at the opportunity. 

Corey and his better half, Stacy,  host small concerts at their home, and after attending one - I think it's a fabulous idea! They turn their living and dining rooms into a mini concert hall, and the shows are intimate and soulful. If you ever have an opportunity to attend, you should..... 


You DO have an opportunity!!! 

They're hosting the awesome group Vandaveer, and if you're not familiar with their music, take a look here.

Here's another one to hold you over until show time! 

I really hope you get the chance to attend one of their living room concerts - it's quite a different way to spend an evening in Las Vegas!

Monday, April 06, 2015

The Ridgid Conundrum

Ahhh... the Ridgid Conundrum.

  1. a confusing and difficult problem or question.
    "one of the most difficult conundrums for the experts"
    synonyms:problem, difficult question, difficultyquandarydilemma;
    "the conundrums facing policy-makers"

When people catch the woodworking bug, they inevitably want to buy a few tools and get a woodshop assembled in their garage. And they ask me for tool recommendations. 

Of course, it all depends on their budget and what they want to make, but for years, I've been recommending the Ridgid brand for someone's first tablesaw. It's affordable, pretty accurate, and best of all - their lifetime warranty is hard to beat.

But I've noticed a troubling pattern with Ridgid, and I actually wrote to them about it, in hopes of getting an answer. (Still no good response from them...) -  


It started when I bought this Spindle / Edge Sander combo tool. 

It took me nearly three months to register this tool, even though I did every single thing they asked me to do. In the end, I had to send every single bit of paperwork to them by snail mail, because they claimed I wasn't filling out their online registration form correctly. The kicker is that I had to send it via registered mail, which I now think they require as a deterrent. They figure after three months of screwing around with the registration process, you're either going to lose some important piece of paper that you should have saved (like the label from the original box, for example) or you're just going to give up out of sheer frustration. 

The sander eventually got registered, but I've encountered simpler paperwork clusterfucks applying for my passport or registering for a college class. The first time - I thought it was a fluke. 

Fast forward to this weekend, when I bought this Shop Vac. A nice product,to be sure. 

But when I went online to register for the lifetime warranty - again... I encountered a sea of paperwork. There were login problems; my original login password no longer worked. It took hours to get a new password, and then when I did - I couldn't register both tools on the name account; I had to set up a new registration for each tool.

There's something fishy about their registration process.... has anyone else encountered that?

What a joke... 

I'll go back to recommending other tools that are much more consumer friendly. 

Thursday, April 02, 2015

This is how you embrace a new technique!

Have you noticed I haven't been blogging as much as usual? That's because I'm in the middle of a tough teaching schedule, with little time to get much of anything done!

But I just had to throw these photos up here, because they're so cool! We just wrapped up two sessions of compound miters, and everyone really seemed to excel at their projects! 

There were a lot of happy lamp makers here, some with excellent use of color. It's funny; sometimes I'll talk about MilkPaint and the class will just yawn. This class really dove into painting, and their results were wonderful.

If one is good, then two are amazing... new walnut bedside lamps! 

Not everyone wanted to make a lamp... here's a very interesting clock with a crooked (on purpose!) lid. The color and feel of this piece is amazing; I wish you could feel it!

How about a personalized planter? 

If I told you this piece had a secret compartment, it really wouldn't be a secret anymore, right?  There are a couple more pieces that didn't get finished tonight, but trust me - they will be worth the wait!

Friday, March 27, 2015

My Boy Friday

Building your own tool chest is considered a badge of honor among most woodworkers. I get the attraction. They're clever, they're attractive and functional and a terrific way to see what tools you have on hand, rather than rooting through a drawer to find something. 

One of my favorite's is this chest, built by Chris Becksvoort. It's simple and clean, and well organized.

Or this one: 

If you've been hanging out at my shop lately, you may have spied this tool chest in the back room, 

being built by Denny, my Boy Friday. 

Boy Friday 

A 'go to' boy; a man who will help you get things taken care of; a man you can rely on when you are in need of extra assistance; a man who acts as a 'jack of all trades' and is capable of doing almost anything; a man you can count on when you are overwhelmed with your own chores and the duties must be done; a man who does most of the leg work on a project, but never takes (or gets) credit.

For example:  When you need extra help -- I'm your Boy Friday.


He was inspired by seeing this book - 

and this cabinet by Greg Radley. 

Sometimes a piece will do that to you - motivate you to create your own interpretation of it. So he hopped to it, building the top cabinet to house his favorite tools. His chisels and various hand tools will eventually hang inside the doors, but for now - he's working on the base. 

Here's a nice little detail - a hand pull routed into the bottom of each door, so that he didn't have to use hardware.

The grain on these drawers match all the way across the faces - and the drawers are dovetailed, 

as is the whole cabinet. 

He even included some cool details, like wedged tenons on his shelves.

And these cubbies were designed to hold his routers and sanders - a nice solution to an ever present storage issue. I can't wait to see what he comes up with for the base - there are a lot of options.  

There is some amazing work coming out of the shop these days....  Lupe's chairs

Beth's dining room benches and chairs,

  Ann's lathe work...

  Even the tamboured jewelry boxes we're making in the Box class ...

 everyone is inspired and doing amazing work. 

It's a very Happy (and busy!) Spring in the shop!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Who is excited about woodworking?

Classes start next week and let me just say - there's an excitement in the air! I've been hearing from a lot of the new students - they're psyched to get into the woodshop and start making sawdust!

Not quite this excited, but close....

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Private Label Project

It's true - I get some of the coolest requests  - and I love the opportunity to design one of a kind pieces. They're challenging and (sometimes) frustrating all at the same time. Maybe it's more about keeping me on my (building) toes than anything else. 

I just like the challenge. 

So when I was asked to build a box for this box,  

I knew I had to come up with something interesting. The fellow who requested it said his parents drink wine in a box, and that he'd like to make it look less ...( what's the word I want?) ... less like this parents were drinking wine from a box. He envisioned some sort of a cask or "crate" to hold the wine. 

Since I'd just finished building this small prototype for another customer, 

I showed it to him, and suggested we tweak it to work for the wine box.  Of course, we had to so some research, so he brought a box of wine for me to drink play around with. 

Taking the bladder out was easy, but working with it was like trying to work with a waterbed - hard to handle!

The bladder had a spigot on it, and I needed to figure out a way to fit the spigot through the hole. 

The easiest solution was to split the hole, and slid the front door around it. 

I love simple solutions!

Really, this was a fun way to spend an afternoon, and the best news - I got to take the box of wine home, after doing my research!

I didn't get a photo of the final piece, but I trimmed the front piece to length and added a small handle on top of it, to make it easier to pull up.  Ta da!

We left it unfinished, but discussed getting some artwork lasered onto the side of the box - the ideas are endless!

Wait - there are more....