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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How to Stock up on Traditional Fasteners

If you build traditional casework with traditional joints and fasteners then you already know the local hardware store is of little use when you need some 4d rosehead nails. Lucky for us, there’s the Internet, which can be a pretty good hardware store. Several readers have asked about what fasteners they should keep in...

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A Pencil from the Tailor Helps Sawing

For me, one of the biggest challenges when working with dark-colored woods is marking them out for sawing and chiseling. Knife lines and pencil lines disappear into the tangle of growth rings and – if it’s a porous wood – pores. I’ve been dovetailing teak this week for a campaign chest I’m building and...

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Strip Zinc with Citric Acid

Sorry zinc, I am not attracted to you. Yes, you keep the elements at bay, but your non-stop shiny countenance is irritating. It looks out of place on my traditional projects. And you do not age well. Zinc, it’s over. I’m going to go get me a stripper. </stupidliteraryexercise> There are lots of ways...

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Quick Review: Whitechapel Crab Lock

OK, so let’s say you are too cheap to purchase a blacksmith-made lock for your next tool chest or blanket chest. Wait, that wasn’t very kind of me to call you “cheap.” Instead, let’s put it this way: Let’s say your spouse just ran off with the village blacksmith, so you are looking for...

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Improve the Clinching Power of Your Cut Nails

Here’s a tip from Tim Henricksen, a fellow woodworker who has been building some six-board chests with me as I research this important early form of furniture. One of the trickiest things to do when building a chest with nails is to clinch the nails’ tips so they bend back into the work and...

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A Tip that’s So Stupid…

While I was on staff at Popular Woodworking Magazine, all of the editors had to read through all of the reader submissions to “Tricks of the Trade.” This was generally drudgery that was punctuated by little nuggets of brilliance. Here’s what the drudgery looked like: “A coffee mug makes an ideal place to store...

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Handmade Nails for Your Finest Work

I bought a box of 1,600 pneumatic nails about two presidential administrations ago that cost about a half penny each (yes, I know I overpaid). So why in the world would I buy a box of 40 nails for – cough – $1.50 each? Easy. Hardware is as important to me as every other...

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How to Save Your Tool Chest and Your Tools from Water

While I think a tool chest is the best place to store your tools, the chest can also become a rusty tomb if you aren’t careful. Woodworking shops can be nasty places. I’ve worked in unheated garages, damp basements, former warehouses and sheds with dirt floors. And when I inspect old tool chests, it’s...