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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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...

Anatomy of a try square

All About Try Squares

One of my favorite parts of our now-retired publication, Woodworking Magazine, was the back cover. Each issue featured a handy, illustrated guide to something every woodworker should know – and about which some woodworkers are too proud to ask. The following post on try squares is a perfect example. We are releasing the new...

One method of removing white water marks (rings) is to wipe over with a lightly alcohol-dampened cloth. You’ll have more control if you fold the cloth into a pad, like a French-polish pad. Use only enough alcohol so you leave an evaporating trail resembling a comets tail as you wipe.

How to Remove Watermarks

A wet drinking glass can make an ugly white  or dark ring on your furniture. Here’s how to fix the damage. by Bob Flexner Watermarks occur on furniture with finishes that have aged. These marks, also called water rings when they’re round in shape, rarely occur in newly applied film-building finishes, even those such...

Breadboard ends help defeat cupping.

Breadboard Ends – Why and How

Cross-grain construction tends to freak out most beginning woodworkers, but it’s a viable construction method in many cases. Wide tables and chest lids often employ breadboard ends to keep things flat, as well as cover end grain. If it’s done right, expansion and contraction problems can be nearly eliminated. There are many methods to...

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Making Greene & Greene Ebony Plugs

Ebony plugs are essential to the Greene & Greene style. In fact, it would be almost inconceivable to design a Greene & Greene piece without them. They are simple to make, but woodworkers often struggle with the process. Over many years of building and teaching in the Greene & Greene style, I have developed...

Top closed. With the hinged top folded closed,
the piece serves as a chest of drawers. Notice
my veneer repair in the lower left-hand corner
of the top.

The Thick & Thin of Veneer Repair

Veneer is just thin wood – so don’t be afraid of it. by Bob Flexner from the November 2009 issue, #179 I love repairing old furniture – the older the better. I find repairing more challenging and satisfying than making new because someone else, or time and age, has set the parameters within which...

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Almost-forgotten Handsaw Tricks

by Carl Bilderback pages 64-65 from the October 2006 issue This article also appears in the book “Handsaw Essentials.“ About 35 years ago I was using a handsaw in what I considered the usual method: Cut, blow the sawdust off my pencil line and then cut some more. The foreman on the job was...

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Pros and Cons of Routers for Joinery

Although routers were originally designed to create moulded shapes, they can be excellent joinery tools. In fact, they’re better in some ways than table saws, professional quality mortisers or dado cutters when it comes to cutting joints. There are several reasons routers have an advantage: • Simplicity: Setting up hand-held or table-mounted routers is...