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.

How to Avoid Runs & Sags

One of the biggest problems woodworkers have is runs and sags drying in their finishes, especially with slower drying finishes such as varnish (including polyurethane and wiping varnish) and water-based finish. They can also happen in shellac, though it dries faster. The remedy is simple. You should never have runs or sags drying in...

Sharpening hand tools is fast and easy with Steve Maxwell's setup.

Sharpening Hand Tools: A Woodworker’s Journey

Sometimes the journey of becoming a skilled woodworker takes you down paths that didn’t seem important at first. Sharpening hand tools was one of those paths for me. Actually, there were two paths involved. It all started when I got serious about woodworking in the early 1980s. There was a good woodworking program at...

Check Squareness on Big Pieces

When you’re building casework, your parts really need dead square ends if you hope to fit drawers, dividers or a gallery inside. I don’t trust any table saw gizmo to give me square cuts. And I don’t trust my shooting board, either. The only thing I trust is a square that has been tested...

Cutting Boards: The Best Finish

A seemingly never-ending question concerns how to finish cutting boards. You don’t need any finish on a cutting board. Water won’t hurt it and no finish will keep water out anyway, after a few knife cuts. Nor will the finish continue to look nice after numerous knife cuts. If the cutting board begins to...

Rejuvenating Old Finishes

Editors note: Bob Flexner’s blog will move to the Flexner on Finishing Blog at the end of April. You can find it here. Just because a finish is old and deteriorated, you don’t necessarily have to strip it and apply a new finish. You may be able to rejuvenate the finish so it looks...

Lacquer for Antiques & Reproductions

It’s widely believed and promoted that the proper finish for 18th and 19th-century antique furniture and reproductions is shellac. The reason is that shellac was the finish that was most likely used in that time period. I have no problem with this, but I want to make the case that nitrocellulose lacquer is also appropriate....

Lacquers Vary in Coloring

Lacquer is a very versatile finish, especially because of its widely understood easy application in different weather conditions. You can speed up or slow down the drying by adding the right thinners. Not so widely understood is the range of colors – the amount of yellowing (or “oranging”) of the various types of lacquer....

You Can Own the Rulers of the Ancient World

How we measure the world around us is a reflection of how our society interacts with the world. To wit: The metric system is, in my opinion, the most efficient way to gauge everything around us. And that is exactly why I dislike it so. It is a system based on base-10 efficiency and...

Beware VOC-Compliant Solvents

Southern California has the strictest VOC laws in the country. These laws have forced manufacturers to change the ingredients they use in paints and finishes, and even eliminate some – for example, oil paint and varnish. They have also done the same with solvents. For example, you can’t buy naphtha anymore, a solvent I...