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.

wierix1_IMG_8746

Build a Wierix Square, Step 1

A customer asked me to make a Wierix try square for him this week, and because it’s silly to make just one wooden square, I’m making a batch of five this week and am documenting the process here on the blog. If you don’t know what a Wierix square is, it’s an old style...

early_squares_group_IMG_9488

Free Plans: Ancient Squares for Ancient Scraps

I don’t turn pens much, and the word “fireplace” is a dirty word in our house (thanks to an incident involving a flaming log and full nudity). So my scrap pile is always overflowing. I give away scraps for kindling to my neighbors or I burn them in our outside firepit, but that is...

veneersaw

Soup Up a Veneer Saw with Mario Rodriguez

Once at a woodworking show, I witnessed Frank Pollaro making up veneered chess boards. He must have produced more than 30 pieces and each was perfect. The seams were tight and clean; there was no tear-out or split veneer. What impressed me most was that he was getting these results straight from his veneer...

unfinished_try_squares_IMG_9360

Another Engine

I have lost track of the number of wooden try squares I’ve built in the last five years. At this time last year I had the parts for about 20 mahogany squares in my shop. Now I’m down to one (the rattiest one I couldn’t sell) and some special parts for squares that I...

honing_guide_IMG_9219

The Church of ‘Leave me Alone, Please’

During the last 17 years that I have been using a honing guide to sharpen, I’ve been approached (sometimes nearly assaulted) by people who want to teach me to sharpen freehand. My response: “I sharpen freehand all the time.” They don’t believe me, and so they spend an hour or so to show me...

sharpen_tray_IMG_9070

A Place to Call ‘Hone’

When I think of all the things that improved my sharpening skills, two things loom large. No. 1 is practice, of course, but close behind that is a dedicated sharpening tray. About 14 years ago I built a shallow tray from scrap plywood, nails and glue. No fancy joinery, no water-resistant materials and no...

DTA0288

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...

polissoir_ng_IMG_8771

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...