In real life when you finish a project, you deliver it to a customer, wrap it up as a gift or put it in your house and hope your family says nice things about it. In the curious world of magazines, there is an extra step in between “I’m done” and “what do you think, … Read more
Tag Archives: Article Index Robert W. Lang
By Robert W. Lang Page 14 In 2005, Bosch introduced a new laminate trimmer that eventually became know as the Colt. Powerful and user-friendly, it quickly became a favorite in our shop and in shops across the country. At the time, I suggested to Bosch that they needed to make a plunge base for it. … Read more
Double-check your tools, your technique and your thinking.
By Robert W. Lang
One of the most important skills in woodworking is rarely discussed or considered as a thing that needs to be learned or practiced. The basic skills of measuring and its close cousin, layout, are essential to produce quality work. As a bonus, mastery of these basics reduces frustration during the building process.
But things aren’t always what they appear to be – measuring is a risky business. To be successful, you need to know what can be trusted and what is likely to lead you astray. Any measurement is only an approximation; no matter how precise you think you are, someone can come along with a better device and a finer unit.
Blog: Read the author’s post about techniques for accurate marking and layout.
Blog: Read the author’s post about measuring angles precisely.
In Our Store: “Measure Twice, Cut Once,” by Jim Tolpin. Read more
By Robert W. Lang Page 18 Whenever I use a 23-gauge pneumatic pin nailer, I feel like I’m cheating. It is a fast, easy and reliable way to attach moulding or other parts without much need to disguise the evidence. The slim fasteners leave tiny holes behind that are nearly invisible. This new gun from … Read more
If anyone ever sees that, they’re looking too closely.
By Robert W. Lang
I spend a lot of time looking at antique furniture, often from below. My interest is pieces made about 100 years ago, from the Arts & Crafts period of the early 20th century. I share a passion with those who collect these pieces, but I look at them with a different eye. The lines and proportions draw me in, and I appreciate the rarity and value. But my mind isn’t on the dollar value of any particular piece; I’m out to connect with the guy who made it way back when.
On tours of old houses I hold up the group by crawling under things for a closer look. At museums I set off alarms by getting too close or reaching out to touch when the guard is distracted. My fascination is with how these things go together, and I wonder what constraints of time, money and resources the original maker had to contend with. It’s a reality check against the overload of information in print and online. It’s one thing to read about how things should be done and quite another to look at the tangible legacy of someone’s work.
A journey from carpenter to furniture maker to teacher.
By Robert W. Lang
Dale Barnard got an early start in woodworking and he paid his dues the old-fashioned way. As a teenager, Dale worked for his father and learned on the job. Apprentices in trim carpentry literally start at the bottom, running baseboard. He had to master that task in closets before he was allowed to work in other rooms.
By the time he graduated high school he was performing finer work, in more visible places, but thought that a career teaching math might be a better choice. A few years later, Dale decided to follow in the family trade, and moved to a rural area in Southeast Indiana.
“When you move to an area like this, you can’t be too choosy about the type of work you do,” Dale said on a recent visit. “If you want to survive, you need to be willing to do just about anything.”
Video: Dale Barnard and his work were featured on the HGTV show “Modern Masters.”
Web site: At Dale’s web site you’ll find a class schedule and a gallery of his work.
Article: Dale wrote about his technique for making through-tenons in our June 2010 issue (#183).
Blog: Read about Robert W. Lang’s earlier visit to Dale’s shop. Read more
The end grain holds the secret to what stock to use where.
By Robert W. Lang
The single-most important factor in the appearance of any woodworking project is the selection of the material. This isn’t what species to use or what color of finish; it is the choice of which board goes where. The wrong grain pattern in the wrong location can make even the most finely crafted piece look like junk.
While appearance is always subjective, there are traditional approaches to grain placement and orientation that are based on how wood behaves over time. In the grand scheme of things, these arrangements also appear harmonious to our eyes.
This is similar to music. You may want to write a non-traditional song, but the best-sounding notes and chords will be those that have evolved and been used for centuries. Good furniture design, regardless of style, calls for arranging the wood in ways that make sense both visually and structurally.
The key to understanding how any individual piece of wood will appear and function stems from where that piece of wood was when it was in the tree. It is rather simple to discover that by examining not the face, but the end of an individual board.
Article: Read “Why Wood Warps,” by Glen D. Huey, from the Summer 2009 issue of Woodworking Magazine.
Magazine: For an in-depth look at “Composing With Wood Grain,” read the Spring 2009 issue of Woodworking Magazine. Read more