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.

Waterstone Mat

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...

finishing_prod_IMG_0053_1

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...

oil_on_can_IMG_0033_2

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...

Hand drafting brush and eraser shield

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...

dovetails_IMG_8496

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...