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.

Bookcase

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...

ChipBreaker

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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How to Straighten Warped Wood and Eat Humble Pie

Exclusive for Popular Woodworking newsletter subscribers! Enter your email address in the box below for a free digital guide to the lumberyard. It will help you select the straightest, highest-quality boards. You’ll also receive e-newsletters from Popular Woodworking and select partners, crammed with great information. Someone once said, “The toughest advice to follow is your...

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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.”...

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The Anarchist’s Gift Guide, Day 7

The last two items on my list are for woodworkers who have been very good this year. They are a bit more expensive than the other items on my list, but they are excellent tools. Of those last two items, the first is the Saddle-Tail from Sterling Tool Works, a one-man toolmaking company in...

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3 Ways to Make Raised Panels

Traditional raised panels appear in almost every furniture style since Roman times, though the way to make them varies wildly. All the methods, however, fall into two different camps: One method is to use a tool that is specially designed to do the job, such as a panel-raising plane or a panel-raising router cutter....

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Defective Dovetail Diagnosis

When I teach woodworking, most of my job is diagnosing defective dovetails. Tail walls that are not 90°. Floors of pin and tail boards that have lumps aplenty. My diagnosis tools are my sensitive fingers, a small square and my eyes. But in some situations, all of those tools fail. When cutting dovetails with...