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.

big_benches_IMG_1815

Where to Buy Big Wood for Big Workbenches

During the last few years, I’ve been using giant 6×6 softwood timbers to build workbenches for classes and customers. These big hunks look old school and make the construction process quick and painless – the top has only three glue lines. Of course, the problem for most people is finding this wood. You can...

skew-block_IMG_1993

Exploit the Weakness of the Tree

In hand-tool woodworking, brains almost always trump brawn. For example, when I need to remove a lot of material from a localized area, I need to think like a tree assassin and exploit its weaknesses. Think about it for a minute: Trees are much stronger in the vertical axis than they are in the...

joint_stool1_IMG_0256

Make a Joint Stool in New Jersey

With the release of the long-awaited book “Make a Joint Stool from a Tree,” I hope to get many more reports like this one from woodworker Wilbur Pan in New Jersey. He and some fellow members of the Central Jersey Woodworkers Association (cjwa.org) started in on building joint stools last weekend at a woodlot...

nail_open_IMG_1421

Stock Your Shop With the Right Nails

I use cut nails in my furniture projects. They hold better and look better than common wire nails. They do have a couple downsides, however. They are more expensive than wire nails and more difficult to find. You cannot walk down to the local hardware store and buy a bag. Well, let me qualify...

chest_wood_IMG_4091

Good Wood Species for Tool Chests

I’ve seen a lot of vintage tool chests in my travels, and most of them have been made of pine. What kind of pine? Hard to say. Most pines look the same when they are covered in paint, dirt, grease and what looks like monkey dung. But pine is not the only wood appropriate...

londonderry1_IMG_1136

Campaign Pulls from Londonderry Brasses

My credit card is groaning a bit thanks to all the hardware samples I’ve been ordering to find a selection of quality brasses for some Campaign-style pieces I’m building. Today I received a chest pull that I ordered from Londonderry Brasses of Cochranville, Penn. I have some other pieces on order from Londonderry, but...

MW_mahogany_IMG_1106

Why You Should Visit Midwest Woodworking Co.

In this business, there are a few things you don’t share: Finishing secrets, wood sources and saliva. This post breaks one of those three cardinal rules – revealing excellent wood sources. Last week Andy Brownell took me to a lumber supplier that has been sitting under my nose since I moved to Cincinnati in...

mahogany_IMG_1025

Let the Campaign Begin

A knock at the door at 8:01 a.m. today marked the beginning of my campaign chest project. Sure, I’ve been sketching, studying and digging up details on campaign chests for weeks now, but for me the project doesn’t really begin until wood gets hurt. The trucker at my door this morning looked a little...