The editors present some of their favorite designs.
By Matthew Teague, Robert W. Lang, Megan Fitzpatrick & Steve Shanesy
Whether we spend most of our time building 18th-century highboys, production cabinetry or toys for our kids and grandchildren, we all build small boxes from time to time. Because we produce so many small offcuts of beautifully grained and highly figured woods, to do otherwise would be a shame. Building small boxes can be the mainstay of our shops – or simply a nice diversion from our usual work.
Often, a simple box can be made in just a few hours, either to break up the work on a more involved project, or simply to test our skills with a miniature masterpiece. Boxes can be customized for display, built to house jewelry, cigars or various keepsakes and collections. Plus, small boxes are lightweight, which makes them a nice respite if we’ve logged hours muscling larger timbers around the shop.
strong>Blog: View a series of step photos that show how to assemble a solid box then cut the top off using the table saw.
In our store: “Box Builder’s Handbook,” by A.J. Hamler. Read more
Expose your joinery skills with this Arts & Crafts classic.
By Robert Lang
In the early 1900s, furniture maker Gustav Stickley began producing a unique style of furniture that he called “Craftsman.” At the time, the world was coming into the modern industrial age, and Stickley, among others, began to question the value of mass-produced furniture and its effect on those who made or owned it.
Victorian furniture featured many machine-made elements that sought to mimic the handwork of earlier times. In most cases these adornments detracted rather than added. Just because machines could produce intricate imitation carvings and mouldings didn’t mean that they should. Stickley decided to get back to basics.
This simple book rack is a good example of the style. The joinery, along with the character of the quartersawn white oak, becomes the decoration. Function comes first, and the form is a combination of nice wood, good proportions and honest joinery.
Article: Learn to create an authentic-looking finish with modern materials.
Patterns: Download Full-size Patterns for the Book Rack sides
In our store: Buy the “Great Book of Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture.” Read more
Take the easy way out: Find sizes without measuring. By Robert Lang Pages 62-63 This small coffee table is a great introduction to building furniture. It doesn’t require much material and it’s an opportunity to develop your skills. This project is sturdy, attractive and easy to build. All of the parts come from standard widths … Read more
Bigger doesn’t always mean better. By Robert W. Lang Page 16 Small routers are easy to handle, and the addition of multiple bases makes them good all-purpose tools. The basic 1⁄4″-collet router that comes in the new Makita compact kit (RT0700CX3) has good power and variable speed. The motor slides in the base and clamps … Read more
Why you’re better off to look this gift horse in the mouth.
by Robert W. Lang
From the April 2012 issue, #196
There is a trap lurking within the pages of this magazine. It is also in most woodworking magazines, and many books. It is called the cutlist, and while it poses as your helpful friend, you’re better off to ignore it and make your own. A published cutlist can keep you from learning some of the most important skills in woodworking – and if you’re convinced that you can’t make your own, you can and you should.
Making a cutlist may not be the most enjoyable part of building, but it is a critical step and a fundamental skill. The good news is, it isn’t difficult. The bad news is, it can be tedious and it involves arithmetic.
In theory, a cutlist speeds the building process. You cut all the parts for your project to size in one step and put them together in the next. What could be more straightforward than that? For that theory to work, you must cut all the parts exactly. That means right on the money for every dimension, each piece perfectly straight and absolutely square.
In our store: Robert W. Lang’s book, “Drafting & Design for Woodworkers.”
Editors’ blog: Read our blog posts about the process of building and other woodworking topics.
Video: Find out more about buying lumber and lumber terminology.
Video: Find out more about choosing lumber. Read more
First-class shaping tools from France. by Robert W. Lang Page 12 From the April 2012 issue, #196 In 2004, Popular Woodworking introduced hand-cut French rasps to American woodworkers. Those tools from Auriou were definitely a cut above what was previously available, and we happily added them to our tool kits. A few months ago, we … Read more
Designing the process can be as challenging as designing the object.
By Robert W. Lang
From the February 2012 issue #195
Buy the issue now.
The way something looks is only the first half of a design problem. How to make it and how to make it efficiently are often greater challenges. If you want to make more than one of something, the problem grows exponentially. I designed these hand mirrors as a production item about 30 years ago. They are an example of making good choices from available options for quality and efficiency.
VIDEO: Watch a video of the circle-sanding jig in action.
FULL-SIZE PATTERN: Download the full-size PDF pattern of this project: Mirror_Pattern Read more