Raw Materials

The MDF of the 19th Century?

In college I had a girlfriend who was half Japanese, half German and entirely unpredictable. And for a kid raised in Arkansas, she was quite the exotic Axis-power antidote to my small-town upbringing. My grandmother flipped her wig when I brought the girlfriend to the Natural State for a visit (mission accomplished). I was...

Building Strategies Part 2 Using a Cut List

If you look at the video I made about buying lumber, you can see how I approach that task. If the piece were more complicated, I would have had my cut list in hand. The most important part of the video is at the end. I have all the raw materials I need, I’ve...

White Water Meeting House Bench

This coming week I’m starting to build a pair of close reproductions of the White Water Shaker Meeting House benches. Earlier this summer I measured the original bench, which is in a building near the Meeting House. When I’m done with these reproductions, we’re donating the benches to the Friends of White Water Shaker...

Review: 'Trees of North America'

Woodworkers are like the undertakers of the tree world. We dissect the living tissue and prepare it (some might say mummify it) for its trip to the afterlife as a highboy or napkin basket. Personally, I’ve always been a bit embarrassed that I don’t know what the different species look like in the wild....

'Wood Smart' Wood Samples

Growing up in Arkansas, it seemed we had two kinds of wood: yellow pine and pine that was yellow. I didn’t really start to understand the crazy diversity of lumber available until my grandfather let me play with his collection of veneer samples from Constantine & Son. The store, founded in 1812, used to...

Faces in the Face Grain

As a 4-year-old, the woods behind my grandparents’ house in Bronxville, N.Y., was both foreboding and magical to me. My grandfather would take me for walks there almost every day during the year my father served in Vietnam. We’d look under rocks, find bird’s nests and poke around the underbrush. I clearly remember one...

LVL: Getting Under My Skin

Today we glued up two chunks of what will become Managing Editor Megan Fitzpatrick’s workbench. For those of you just tuning in, I haven’t broken my vow of workbench chastity. The bench design isn’t new (it’s actually quite old), but the material we’re using is. The whole thing is going to be made out...

The Angel Oak Meets the Dukes of Hazzard

After pestering my flu-infested father for three days, he finally felt well enough for us to visit the Angel Oak on John’s Island , which some people consider to be the oldest living thing east of the Rocky Mountains. It’s a gargantuan live oak (Quercus virginiana) that is estimated to be 1,400 to 1,500...

A Prize at the Top of the Pile

I was about 12′ up in the rafters of a barn, climbing on the biggest mountain of Eastern white pine I’ve ever seen. Then I saw it above me: a monster 5/4 board that was at least 20″ wide. And it was on the top of the stack of lumber , easy pickings. But...