Robert W. Lang

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What Hand Planes are Good For

The difference between school and real life is that in real life the tests come first and then the lessons. This is especially true of woodworking; you never know how far you should take one step of a project until you are knee-deep in the next step. That’s when you realize you didn’t fuss...

plugs

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...

SKP_Dvtsls_2

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...

mortising1123

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...

joints1445

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...