April 2015 #217

Popular Woodworking Magazine April 2015 CoverMario Rodriguez pays homage to one of the great Art Deco designers, Émile-Jaques Ruhlmann, with a jewel of a tabouret (side table) for our cover story for the April 2015 issue. From its torpedo-shaped holly and mahogany legs to the 80 holly dots that orbit the veneered top, Mario has designed a piece that pulls from Ruhlmann’s design dictionary of crisp rectangles, sinuous curves and lush materials – and shows you a few tricks of his own.

Frank Strazza, a woodworking teacher and furniture maker working out of Texas, shows you how to use hand tools to make sliding dovetails. Frank demonstrates how this versatile traditional joint can be made by hand quicker than you think.

Ever have a project you felt like putting to the torch? Raney Nelson builds a Japanese-inspired lamp that showcases intricate kumiko, or latticework, along with a finish created by fire. More than 130 small pieces make up the latticework and Raney shows how a few clever jigs simplify the process. And blacksmith Seth Gould teaches you how a flame, some wax and a scouring pad can create a beautiful black finish and let you skip sanding.

On Page 42, school is in session — flex your joint-making muscles with a stool by Neil Cronk that includes eight different types of joints, along with bent lamination and several hand-shaped parts.

Not many people can say they changed the world — but a curious attorney revolutionized the woodworking world with an iconic chair and years of research. Read about Jennie Alexander’s near-perfect chair and amazing journey that popularized green woodworking, in this profile by Christopher Schwarz.

In “Flexner on Finishing,” Bob Flexner looks at one of the major factors that makes finishing a difficult task sometimes: Misleading instructions and manufacturers that may not know their own products.

George Walker takes on killer wood in his “Design Matters” column, and how the wrong wood can hurt a good design.

In Tool Test, we review the Mirka DEROS random-orbit sander, the “Easy Parter” tool from Easy Wood Tools and Bosch’s “Power Ready” wireless charging system. “Tricks of the Trade” gives you a great tip for using a Forstner bit on a hand brace, a new use for a oil drain pan and something you can do with leftover beer or wine corks.

Also find out what’s been piling up in Peter Follansbee’s shop, and in “End Grain,” a reader learns to love furniture from a big-box store.

Ruhlmann Tabouret

Create sultry sophistication with Art Deco details by Mario Rodriguez page 23 Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann (1879-1933) is considered by craftspeople, collectors and designers to be the premier Art Deco furniture maker; he was called “Art Deco’s greatest artist” by The New York Times in 2009. All the fuss is for good reason. This French designer’s...

Tapered Sliding Dovetails

Hand tools are the way to go for this traditional joint. by Frank Strazza page 30 Tapered sliding dovetails are multipurpose joints traditionally used for drawer dividers, holding legs in place on a pedestal table and attaching tops to case pieces. The primary reason for a tapered joint (instead of a straight joint) is...

Kumiko Lamp

The road to enlightenment is paved with lots of little strips of wood. by Raney Nelson page 33 I am not by nature organized or detail-oriented. When I was young, I was the guy with the punk rock blaring and the messed-up clothes; the dog often ate my homework. Even as an adult, attention to...

Charred Finish

Fire and wax together produce a rich black surface. by Seth Gould page 40 Fire might not be the first finishing technique that most woodworkers gravitate toward; then again, I am not most woodworkers. As a blacksmith and toolmaker, I am around fire every day, and when I began burning my hammer handles, I...

Curve Appeal

This stool builds your skills with eight different joints and bent laminations.  by Neil Cronk page 42 Competition is the whetstone of talent; this was in full effect when I built this Wharton Esherick-inspired stool for an online shop stool build-off hosted by Flair Woodworks. It was the perfect opportunity to try out a...

Make a Revolution From a Tree

A curious attorney helped kick-start ‘green woodworking’ with a single chair and a book. by Christopher Schwarz page 50 Of all the unusual twists and turns in the life of Jennie (formerly John) Alexander, surely the most incredible has been to be pronounced dead in the media while being very much alive. When her...

DEROS Random-orbit Sander

Mirka’s compact electric sander performs like an air-powered tool.  by Megan Fitzpatrick page 12 I avoid sanding as much as possible – but sometimes it has to be done. Since early 2010, when we got a Mirka CEROS (Compact Electrical Random Orbital Sander) in for pre-release testing, that’s been my go-to tool for this dreaded...

Easy Wood Tools 1/8″ ‘Easy Parter’ Parting Tool

by Christopher Schwarz page 14 Since my first experience with Easy Wood tools in 2011, I’ve been a fan. Thanks to the tools’ long-lasting carbide inserts, I can focus on the shapes I want to produce instead of heading to the grinder or tweaking the lathe’s tool rest. The three basic tools in the...

Bosch ‘Power Ready’ Wireless Charging System

by Megan Fitzpatrick Page 14 Although wireless charging is nothing new (it’s been around for years for home and mobile phones), the Power Ready system from Bosch is a first in the tool sector. As of this writing, the system includes only the WCBAT612 18-volt thin-pack 2Ah battery ($89), which is backward-compatible with all...