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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Use ‘Gun Blue’ to Instantly Blacken Hardware

I use blacksmith-made hardware whenever I (or my customers) can afford it. But if you’re on a budget or have hundreds of pieces of hardware for a project, it’s time to visit the gun store. My favorite way to blacken steel, iron or even zinc-plated hardware is to brush on a thin coat of...

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How to Test for Case-hardened Lumber

Thanks to the long-term relationships I’ve made with lumber merchants, I have little trouble with them sending me crappy stock. But even after 20-something years of buying wood from my suppliers, there are times when I get a bogus load of wood. Most problems can be solved by knowing what is standard in the...

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Don’t Forget the Quality of the Kiln

While I prefer to work with air-dried lumber, that’s not always possible for woodworkers who use a lot of wood or don’t have access to a dealer who air-dries stock. One of the major problems with kiln-dried lumber is that it is sometimes rushed through the kiln to get it to market. As a...

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This Maple Eats Tools

Yesterday was the first time in 20 years I wished for an electric sander. I’m finishing up a new table design and am just about to finish all the surfaces before assembly. The only problem is that this maple trashes every plane iron after about two strokes. I’ve seen this happen with exotics such...

Saw Mill in a Forest of Pines. Illustration from Illustrated Travels edited by HW Bates (Cassell, c-1880)

On Logging and Woodworking

The first time I visited the hardwood forests of Pennsylvania I was handed a hardhat. At first I thought the loggers were just trying to get me to wear a stupid hat, but within about three minutes, I realized I was wrong. Logging is incredibly dangerous. And while I marveled at the beautiful forests...

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My Favorite Hardware Sources for Roorkee Chairs

Read Christopher Schwarz's favorite hardware sources for Roorkee chairs (a folding chair that's perfect for the campaign...or for camping in your backyard).