Canadian company creates a steel combining the best of the old and new.
By Christoper Schwarz
I’ve long been suspicious of the so-called “super steels” that promise long edge life between sharpenings. That has always meant that you have to spend a long time sharpening the tool on your stones or – even worse – you have to buy fancy equipment to even get a serviceable edge.
Plus, no new steel I’ve tried has ever had the feel of old-fashioned high-carbon steel. Until now.
Veritas is using a powdered steel (a closely guarded formula) that seems to defy many of the normal laws of high-carbon and alloy steels. Powdered metal is nothing new in woodworking. During the last decade, I’ve tried out several plane irons and chisels that were made using the sintering process.
In a nutshell, powdered metals are where you take your raw materials, combine them in liquid form and then atomize them to form a powder. The powder is sifted through a screen for consistency, put into a mould and then heated to form a solid billet. This sintering process allows you to make materials with remarkable consistency that can have properties that would be impossible to make by smelting.
Blog: Read more about PM-V11 on Christopher Schwarz’s blog.
Web site: Visit the official PM-V11 web site. Read more
By Matthew Teague
Festool recently released the Domino XL DF 700, big brother to its revolutionary Domino DF 500, one of the most innovative tools of the last few decades. Aside from the size, the loose-tenon joints created by the XL are the same as with the earlier version. From a machine that resembles a biscuit joiner, a router-type bit both plunges and oscillates to cut mortises in mating parts. Into each mortise fits a loose tenon, or “Domino.”
How’s the fit? As good as I’ve seen, whether cut by hand or power. And lining up the joint couldn’t be easier.Cut butt joints on square or angled parts, align the two mating pieces and mark the tenon location on both pieces with one quick swipe of your pencil. Line up the machine and make the plunge cuts. The XL also has an improved indexing system that allows for even less measuring.
For the combination of speed and strength, this joinery system is tough to beat.
Video: See a collection of XL reviews. Read more
By Steve Shanesy
M-Power Tools offers an aftermarket router base that offers a number of features at the very reasonable price of about $90. It can be mounted to any router that has 5/16″-diameter edge-guide holes spaced between 35/64″and 51/8″.
One key feature is an indexed micro-adjusting wheel that lets you dial in the router bit to a measurement or layout line – it’s particularly useful when routing dados or grooves in combination with a guide rail or circle-cutting jig.
And speaking of cutting circles, the base comes with a pivot pin and pre-drilled holes for cutting circles as small as 3/4″ and up to nearly 9″ in diameter.
Video: See the CRB7 in action. Read more
Small changes can make a big design difference – and help train your eye.
By George R. Walker
How do you dial in the proportions on a furniture design? I used to pose that question a lot. Perhaps what makes this puzzling is the fact that small differences can have a dramatic effect. The line between the merely good and the dazzling is often blurry. Face it: Most of us aren’t setting out to create a masterpiece; we’d just like to be able to make solid, confident design decisions and create furniture we’re proud of.
For many years, whenever I’d spot an eye-catching bookcase or chair design, I’d question the maker about how he or she found that sweet spot. But even experienced builders often have difficulty answering that question. I often heard, “trust your gut.” That’s code for, “Build a lot of furniture and eventually your eye for proportions becomes second nature.”
No doubt – there’s no substitute for experience. But for many of us it sounds like a long journey. Even if you accept a long journey as part of the equation, a road map would be nice. I don’t want to set out on a journey to Savannah, Ga., and end up in Newark, N.J. (no offense to the Garden State). The good news is that our woodworking tradition offers some helpful insight to help us cut through the fog. With a little practice you can begin to trust your gut and not have to wait until you’ve designed and built a lifetime’s worth of furniture.
Blog: Read more from George R. Walker on his Design Matters blog.
In Our Store: George R. Walker’s DVDs, “Unlocking the Secrets of Traditional Design,” and “Unlocking the Secrets of Traditional Design: Moldings.” Read more
Notched and nailed joints add visual interest to this simple project. By Megan Fitzpatrick Pages 50-52 This form is typically called a Shaker silverware tray – but it comes in handy for ferrying all sorts of things hither and yon. I got lucky at the big box store in finding some perfectly straight, flat and … Read more
Design your tool storage from the inside out.
By Adam Cherubini
I currently store my woodworking tools in a traditional cabinetmaker’s/joiner’s tool chest. In building that chest, I leaned heavily on surviving period chests as well as images dating from the period. Over the years I’ve been an advocate for these sorts of chests. But I’m not convinced of their popularity with modern woodworkers.
This year at the “Woodworking in the 18th Century” conference in Colonial Williamsburg, North Bennet Street School (NBSS) instructor Dan Faia showed images of chests made by the school’s cabinetmaking students. NBSS focuses on traditional cabinetry and many students and graduates build reproduction furniture. So I was a bit surprised to see no chests resembling mine. The students’ chests were more similar to Gerstner’s machinist’s chests than to 18th- or 19th-century-style cabinetmakers’ chests. I pondered how such chests could hold any cabinetmaker’s tools. Where would one store a half set of hollows and rounds? A ripsaw? A try plane? What are these students being taught?
It took me a minute to arrive at an answer: Most woodworkers don’t have or use any of the tools I consider absolute necessities. These boxes probably held some tools familiar to me (such as chisels and dovetail saws), but they likely also contained hex keys, screwdrivers, dial indicators, combination squares, rulers and other things either I don’t use or don’t associate with woodworking.
Blog: Read Adam’s Arts & Mysteries blog.
Video: Watch our video visit to Gerstner & Sons, in Dayton, Ohio, makers of machinist’s tool boxes.
In Our Store: “The Arts & Mysteries of Hand Tools” on CD. Read more