April 2015 #217

Popular Woodworking Magazine April 2015 CoverMario Rodriguez pays homage to one of the great Art Deco designers, Émile-Jaques Ruhlmann, with a jewel of a tabouret (side table) for our cover story for the April 2015 issue. From its torpedo-shaped holly and mahogany legs to the 80 holly dots that orbit the veneered top, Mario has designed a piece that pulls from Ruhlmann’s design dictionary of crisp rectangles, sinuous curves and lush materials – and shows you a few tricks of his own.

Frank Strazza, a woodworking teacher and furniture maker working out of Texas, shows you how to use hand tools to make sliding dovetails. Frank demonstrates how this versatile traditional joint can be made by hand quicker than you think.

Ever have a project you felt like putting to the torch? Raney Nelson builds a Japanese-inspired lamp that showcases intricate kumiko, or latticework, along with a finish created by fire. More than 130 small pieces make up the latticework and Raney shows how a few clever jigs simplify the process. And blacksmith Seth Gould teaches you how a flame, some wax and a scouring pad can create a beautiful black finish and let you skip sanding.

On Page 42, school is in session — flex your joint-making muscles with a stool by Neil Cronk that includes eight different types of joints, along with bent lamination and several hand-shaped parts.

Not many people can say they changed the world — but a curious attorney revolutionized the woodworking world with an iconic chair and years of research. Read about Jennie Alexander’s near-perfect chair and amazing journey that popularized green woodworking, in this profile by Christopher Schwarz.

In “Flexner on Finishing,” Bob Flexner looks at one of the major factors that makes finishing a difficult task sometimes: Misleading instructions and manufacturers that may not know their own products.

George Walker takes on killer wood in his “Design Matters” column, and how the wrong wood can hurt a good design.

In Tool Test, we review the Mirka DEROS random-orbit sander, the “Easy Parter” tool from Easy Wood Tools and Bosch’s “Power Ready” wireless charging system. “Tricks of the Trade” gives you a great tip for using a Forstner bit on a hand brace, a new use for a oil drain pan and something you can do with leftover beer or wine corks.

Also find out what’s been piling up in Peter Follansbee’s shop, and in “End Grain,” a reader learns to love furniture from a big-box store.

Killer Wood

Don’t let fabulous figure overshadow your design elements. by George Walker page 16 Much has been written about how Michelangelo, the great artist and sculptor, spent years of his life in the Carrara, Italy, marble quarries. He sought out promising stone and often took part in the whole process, from the...

Work Begun

Forget the stockpile of wood; what about the stock of partial projects? by Peter Follansbee page 58 When building furniture, some woodworkers keep a stockpile of lumber on hand and draw from their stacks as they begin a new project. Others buy enough lumber (with some extra) for each piece they...

Why is Finishing So Difficult?

Misleading claims and directions may be due to manufacturer ignorance. by Bob Flexner page 62 In the previous issue (#216) I wrote about teak oils and how none have anything to do with teak wood. Reading the article, you may have asked yourself why companies would put out products that aren’t...

Why I Love Ikea

Lessons from a big box guide my approach to woodworking by Edward Suter page 64 I love Ikea. Yes, I said it. This store has provided me with an understanding of furniture design and with products I use on many of my projects. For some I’m happy to pay, but for most...