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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Get Ready to Make a Roorkhee Chair

My mailbox has been deluged with questions about the Roorkhee chairs that will be featured in a fall issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine. The No. 1 question: What does a woodworker need to do to get ready? Answer: First, make sure your subscription is up to date so you don’t miss the issue. New...

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Furniture Hardware from the Automotive Department

When you build furniture that hasn’t been popular for a century, the hardware can be difficult to find. The Roorkhee chairs I’m building for a fall issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine feature an unusual stud that gave me fits. It’s a simple metal nipple at the top of each leg. The chair’s arm straps...

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Aging Hardware with Jax Chemicals

I’ve used a lot of different methods to add age to my hardware – everything from a propane torch to ammonia to gun blue to (yes) human urine. Whenever I discuss these methods, I get complaints. So in an effort to garner more complaints, here’s another one: Jax Chemicals. These are the formulas that...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...