Author Archives: Robert W. Lang

About Robert W. Lang

Robert W. Lang is executive editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine.

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Grobet Cabinetmaker’s Rasps

by Robert Lang page 18 A good quality machine-cut rasp or two should be in every serious woodworker’s tool box. Rasps come into play when a small amount of material needs to be removed, either on a flat or curved surface. It wasn’t that long ago that you could walk into your local hardware...

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The Most Important Lessons in Woodworking

Learning woodworking isn’t just about “how to” do something. A good example of this comes from my days as an apprentice in a commercial cabinet shop. I entered the experience with a misguided, romantic notion of working beside an experienced craftsman and being tutored in the fine points of cabinetmaking. I figured I would...

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Dovetails in SketchUp – Easier Than You Think

When I teach woodworkers about SketchUp we always reach a point where I say, “the level of detail to include in your model is up to you”. Then I explain the level that I usually work to and conclude with “but if you know what you’re doing it doesn’t take that long.” Dovetails are...

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Hollow-chisel Mortiser in Action

Hollow-chisel mortisers are one of my favorite tools. When mortising machines were first invented, a drill bit and a chisel were mounted side by side. Ralph and Robert Greenlee changed all that, and production woodworking forever with the invention of the hollow chisel. It’s quite an accomplishment to drill a square hole, and while...

ChipBreaker

Improve Hand Plane Performance

There was a time when nearly even adult male in the United States owned a Stanley #4 smooth plane. The one I have was passed down to me by my dad (a chemical engineer) who got it from his dad (a tool and die maker). When I was a kid, dad dragged the thing...

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Quartersawn White Oak Grain Matching

I once worked with a guy who maintained that white oak wasn’t suited for furniture and that whiskey barrels are a far better use for this wood. Looking at the pile of wood in the photo you might be inclined to agree with that, and there are days when I find myself leaning in...

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21st-Century Workbench Leg Joints

It’s hard to separate woodworking from history. Most of the skills we need and tools we use come from earlier times when everyday items that are now mostly plastic or cardboard were made of wood. It’s easy to look back and assume that a tool or process developed for a specialty in the 18th...

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Use SketchUp to Preview Proportions

Of all the variables of design, context is the easiest to miss. That is one of the powerful things about using SketchUp, you can easily compare one piece to another, add a human figure to the model or place the piece in a room setting. Seeing is believing and knowing is better than guessing....

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Proportion Problems Solved With SketchUp

I’m in the early planning stages for an upcoming project build for Popular Woodworking Magazine. The project will be a reproduction of a wardrobe cabinet from the early 1900s. I was trying to decide between three likely candidates. I thought that I had a decision made, but as I worked on the SketchUp model,...