Raw Materials

Few magazines and web sites cover the raw materials that we build our projects from. We like to learn about the trees we use and the processes that make them into lumber. In fact, a deep understanding of the materials used in woodworking is absolutely essential to mastery of the craft. Here you’ll find tips on what kinds of materials to use for different kinds of projects, as well as get the skinny on woodworking supplies of all kinds.

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An Economic Truth About Cut Nails

I prefer to use cut nails in reproduction work because they hold better and look right to my eye. But when it comes to cut headless brads, which are used to hold moulding in place while the glue dries, I don’t think these nails are the right choice for me. While cut nails are...

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Blue Tape Improves Your Screwing

I’m installing 12 hinges today on a collapsible bookcase and about half of them are in tight quarters where no drill can go, and screwdrivers are no picnic, either. To make the job easier, I like to cut the screw threads in the pilot holes before assembling things. And because I have 72 screws...

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12 Things About Working Teak

1. Your house will smell like Pier 1 2. Because of teak’s waxiness, your machines will be able to take only about one-fourth of their usual cut. Teak bogs everything down. 3. When handplaning it, you cannot position your cap iron close to the iron’s edge. The waxy shavings gum up the works. Ditto...

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Lumber Sale in Cincinnati Aug. 16-17. Be There

Note: I cross-posted this entry from my blog at Lost Art Press at the request of madame editor. Midwest Woodworking – my favorite source for lumber – is selling off its stock of more than 300,000 board feet of premium hardwoods and softwoods. Wide mahogany. Clear sugar pine. Teak. Chestnut. Red gum. A near-endless...

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Straightedge Theory: Full of Holes?

When it comes to making wooden shop tools, I think that most of the modifications we make to them are to stop us from throwing the tools away by accident. Many winding sticks are a right triangle in profile. Why? Mostly (I think) to prevent you from pitching them out with the garbage. Yes,...

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A Misunderstood Heart

Here’s a lie I heard once at a lumberyard: When picking out boards, you should always choose ones that have the heart – or pith – in them because that is the strongest part of the tree. Those boards will be the strongest. Here’s a second lie I heard at another lumberyard: Never pick...

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The Simple ‘Dirty Mahogany’ Finish

Here is one of my favorite finishes for any wood that is ring-porous or diffuse-porous. I call it “dirty mahogany” or “creepy janitor.” First a warning: I think this finish looks like crap on woods that have a closed pore structure, such as maple or cherry, and on softwoods. It looks great on anything...