A Couple Simple Ideas for Woodworking on the Go

Dan's kit for woodworking on the go.

Dan’s kit for woodworking on the go.

We have turned the page into September, and I received the excellent news that I will get to attend October’s Woodworking in America 2013 conference. It will be my first. After booking the air travel and imagining what it will be like to meet the zany Roy Underhill, my next thought was: Will I get to do any actual woodworking on this trip? And, if so, what tools should I bring?

Sometimes you have the opportunity to take your craft on the road. If you’re in a field like preservation carpentry, that may happen quite a lot, and you likely have a “road kit” of tools and materials always at the ready. But all of us – home hobbyists and high-end furniture makers included – benefit from getting out of the shop from time to time. At the very least, just grab a sketchbook and a pencil, and visit the nearest, most inspirational site you can find. It could be a local history museum or even a modern art museum. You’ll learn something about proportion – what works and what doesn’t.

Here’s another very simple idea for incorporating woodworking into your next trip to visit extended family or friends. No doubt there is someone in your clan who is interested in learning a little about the craft, and perhaps has already dropped some hints. Bring a carving blank and a couple basic carving tools, show a few tips from the Sloyd method (grain direction and cutting) and finish the project with several coats of wiping varnish. You’ll dispel a lot of the mystique around woodworking, and help fuel the basic interest level.

That’s when the questions will start pouring in. How do I set up a small shop? What tools or machines do I need? How do I make furniture that lasts? What is joinery? What is a jointer?

At that point, unless you want to explain all of your answers in the abstract – without the benefit of good visuals – you can either take your cousin Fred to the library or you can sit down for some serious Googling. I do the latter every day. Let me save you a little trouble. We are working hard to place good information online where people can find it, but most of the real knowledge is still buried under mounds of amateur photos and misinformation.

The local library may still be a good option, but if you own a laptop or any type of e-reader, I can direct you to an even better choice. Just pick up a subscription with one of our licensed third-party publishing partners – Zinio, Nook or Kindle – and you’ll have instant, on-the-go access to all of our great magazine information. These products make zooming and navigation really easy. You’ll be able to walk anyone through a project plan or technique, no matter where you are.

So my current packing list includes a sketchbook and pencil, a wood blank, a couple carving tools and my laptop (with Zinio subscription). What else do you think I should bring on my trip to Cincinnati? What’s in your travel kit for woodworking trips?

Dan Farnbach

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Dan Farnbach

About Dan Farnbach

Dan apprenticed and worked in two professional shops during the years after college. But sweeping shop floors only goes so far toward learning woodworking. These days Dan is online editor for Popular Woodworking, and is learning new skills every day. He divides his time between Boston and Maine.

4 thoughts on “A Couple Simple Ideas for Woodworking on the Go

  1. Bill Lattanzio

    I’ve found that if I’m in the mood to woodwork but for whatever reason I can’t be at a workbench, reading good woodworking book is ideal, even if it is one you’ve read before. I’ve learned as much in that respect as I have from actual woodworking.

  2. Jonas Jensen

    I am planning on putting together a travel kit for use while I am away working (4 weeks on a ship)
    That way I can relax by working wood after working hours.

    My former ship had a few woodworking tools, but this ship hasn’t got any. So I have more or less made up my mind.

    My kit is going to include:
    A wooden bodied plane (due to weight limitations) with possibly 2 irons, smooth and scrub.
    A mallet
    2 chisels
    A combination stone
    A cork block for sanding
    some sand paper
    A small bottle of glue
    A pencil
    A little assortment of nails and screws
    A couple of small hinges

    If I have the room for it, I am also going to bring
    A marking gauge
    A router plane
    a rabbet plane.

    There is always hack saws and hammers etc on the ships, so that is why I haven’t included those things in the kit.

    Jonas

  3. canstrom

    Dan,

    Relax. Get a life. We don’t have to make sawdust every day. Make some notes. Take some pictures.. Have a beer. Write up the item at the end of the visit. I know you are trying to impress us all, but ease up. This is a hobby for goodness sake.

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