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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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...

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The Redneck Polissoir

Whenever I teach a class that involves turning, I like to show them how well the French “polissoir” can finish off your work on the lathe. A polissoir (say it poly-swaar) is a bundle of broom corn that is used to burnish a wooden surface to produce a tactile, low-lustre finish. While the polissoir...

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For Those Who Love Books, Travel & Joinery

When I was a kid, I used books to escape from my (boring) Arkansas upbringing. Today, I use books to escape from the drudgery of air travel. Every room in our house is full of books, and there is never enough room for them all. So as a woodworker, I’m always building more bookcases...

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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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Restoring an Early Spiers Smoothing Plane

The first time someone showed me a photo of an infill handplane, it was bewilderment at first sight. “That’s a handplane?” I asked. All I could see were a bunch of odd lumps of wood and some steel. This was years before both the Internet and modern toolmakers made this form of tool a...

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Dyed by My Own Hand

When I finish my pieces, I use restraint when adding stains or dyes. Most woods look best (to my eye) with some shellac, lacquer and maybe a little colored wax in the pores. But when I do color wood, I’m a fan of the W.D. Lockwood dyes, which are usually found packaged as J.E....

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The Fear-Love Spectrum of Finishing

Every time I purchase lacquer at a professional paint store, I have the following conversation. Me: “Could you put that gallon in the paint-mixing machine for a couple minutes? That will save me some time.” Employee: “I’ll do it, but you won’t like it. You’ll create bubbles in the finish.” Me: “I’ll risk it.”...