Techniques

Below you’ll find smart woodworking techniques including quick tips, advice for beginners and more advanced methods to improve your skills and allow you to get the most out of your workshop and tools. Whether you’re looking for traditional woodworking techniques using hand tools or power tools, finishing or sharpening advice, or just want to hone your woodworking basics, the advice below is from seasoned and trusted woodworkers and furniture makers working at the top of their field.

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How to Make ‘Condor Tails’

An ingenious way to combine routers, a band saw and hand tools for big dovetails. by Jameel Abraham pages 48-53 from the August 2011 issue click on the photos below to make them larger I know what you’re thinking: “Another opinion on how to cut dovetails.” I hear you. But this one’s different. I...

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In Search of the Perfect Wax Finish

My four-decade-long desire to identify, understand, replicate and develop new analogs to historic furniture-making materials has led me on some interesting quests and situations. Included in these would be learning a lot about tropical insects whose “sweat” is the foundation for the most amazing finish ever (shellac); studies of sausage casings, artificial skin and...

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Grain-painting Done Well – Quite Well

When people ask me what foods I hate, I usually say, “I’ll eat anything, as long as it’s prepared well.” I didn’t like Brussels sprouts until I had them roasted. I didn’t like oysters until I tried them right from the creek. And I didn’t like green beans until I had fresh ones (ugh,...

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Sharpening Shortcuts

It goes without saying that there is a renewed interest in hand tool woodworking, and much has been written on the topic, and that’s great because there really is a lot to know about these tools that are “new” to many woodworkers. That said, my experience with hand tools has taught me one thing...

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Friends of the Finisher: Glazes, Toners & Wax

Here’s a common and frustrating finishing problem: You apply finish to your piece, and one of the parts – say a rail or a stile – ends up a slightly different color or shade. The off-color piece makes the project look like a jumble of parts instead of a cohesive whole. There are several...

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Linseed Oil, an Ancient Friend (and Foe)

When Egyptian King Tutankhamun was buried in haste, the linen cloth he was wrapped in was soaked with linseed oil. And, perhaps because Tut was buried in haste, the oil was not allowed to cure. And so began one of the most common safety messages in relation to finishing: Spread out your oily rags...

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Hand Drafting Skill-builder FAQ

Q: Is there ever a time in the hand drafting process when you use paper with lines on it, such as graph paper? A: If I am out in the field and do not have a portable drafting setup, then graph paper is desirable paper to have on hand. The most common graph paper...

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Dovetail Joints: How Tight is Too Tight?

  Last weekend I built a dovetailed campaign-style officer’s trunk for the San Diego Fine Woodworkers Association and several of the members were shocked when I drove the carcase dovetails together. What was shocking to them was how tight my fit was between the tails and pins; it required a few hard whacks with...

What is shellac?

What is Shellac?

This 11-minute video excerpt, featuring the one and only Don Williams, is a fairly complete answer to a common question – what is shellac? I say “fairly complete” because the video generated a couple follow-up questions in my mind. Fortunately, there’s WIA – our annual woodworking conference. Don spoke for 4 hours at the...