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.

flush_pulls_IMG_5286

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...

pile_of_nails_IMG_4297

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...

rotted_chest_IMG_4274

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...

FON_pine2_IMG_4070

On Wide Wood and Where to Get it

Sometimes I wonder what I would do if I lived in a place where I didn’t have easy access to clear, wide wood. Then I realize the answer: I would move. Today I picked up about 300 board feet of 5/4 and 6/4 sugar pine – most of it 18” wide – for some projects...

ring_pull_IMG_3076

Install a Ring Pull – Against my Better Judgment

One of my first orders from the Lee Valley Tools catalog was for a big supply of these traditional ring pulls. I love this fastener for so many reasons. It is inexpensive. It looks great. It is made in Italy. It works with a wide variety of furniture styles, from Japanese tansu to contemporary....

titebond_hide_IMG_4399

Strong as the Union: Franklin Liquid Hide Glue

I use hide glue for almost everything in my shop (except as a party dip on a cracker), and have tried all modes of this versatile adhesive. But my usual go-to, work-a-day version of this wood glue doesn’t get much love out there on the Internet, and I am bewildered by this fact. Most...

blacksmithbolt1_IMG_3020

Look Close at my Screws. No, That’s Too Close

One of the first times I was a guest on Roy Underhill’s “The Woodwright’s Shop,” I was explaining the construction of a schoolbox from the book “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker,” and I had made a terrible mistake. Before we shot the show, Roy explained each shot to the crew that was filming it....

pine_overall_IMG_2608

How I Buy Wood & Why I’m Weird

Compared to many of my woodworking friends, I buy wood and treat it a little differently than most. Many of my friends have a significant stock of lumber on hand, from a garage-full to a few barn-fulls. When they find good lumber, they buy it. In many ways, this is an excellent strategy because...