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Whenever I meet with a new woodworking group for a seminar or an event of some kind, I give them background on my early days in woodworking and me. One area I touch on is how I learn from my Dad (I should have written this column last week, prior to Father’s Day).

Dad has the ability to read something in a book, anything in a book, and instantly he can do whatever he reads. Well, maybe not anything , he’s not part The Matrix. But, he picks up most things very quickly.
He wired his first home when he decided to start building houses, he’s restored a number of antique cars by the book and he has picked up a tremendous amount of woodworking knowledge by reading articles by some of the finest furniture builders. Lucky him!

I, on the other hand, have this innate ability to read most things four to five times and not   remember what I’ve read. I guess it’s a blessing at times. I can read a birthday card a week later and it’s as funny as it was the first time. A good book has a never-ending spot on my “best seller” list.

Now before you start shaking your head, let me tell you what I am good at. If you show me something I get it right away. I see how someone does the carving of a fan and I can do it; of course I’ll need to practice to make it better. Show me how create a specific type of woodworking joint and I’m there.  I’m a watcher, not a reader.
What type are you? I’m betting that the majority of us woodworkers are the “see it ,do it” type. You’ll pick up woodworking much faster if you can see it being done. I know you’ve watched the weekend PBS shows. I learned plenty from Norm Abram, Roy Underhill and the rest. You have as well. Admit it. When I first started woodworking these guys were what we watched.

What’s the point of all of this? Popular Woodworking has redesigned our web site, but I’m sure you’ve noticed that already. Right? Along with making past articles and some new articles available for you to read, we’ve added video to the site. Now you can watch new techniques and information online instead of waiting for the reruns of those weekend shows.

Right now, we have a few videos up and running , with plenty more coming down the pipeline. You can watch and learn how to make tapered legs at the jointer, gather some information and history behind Editor Chris Schwarz’s new Holtzapffel workbench, or check out how to make half columns for the Shaker Tall Clock that is the cover project of the August 2007 issue.

Also, you can see the first in a series of “Interviews,” a collection of interviews with woodworking-related people, delivered in a “60 Minutes” format (but don’t worry , ours aren’t quite that long). The first video has Bob Lang, Popular Woodworking senior editor, interviewing John Economaki, owner of Bridge City Tool Works.

Now here’s where you need to do your part. Aside from watching the videos, how about putting your idea into the mix? If you have a woodworking topic that you’d like to see instead of read, let us know. If there’s someone that you’d like to see Popular Woodworking interview, pass it along. Simply add your comment here or drop an e-mail to me (link right from this blog). I’ll keep a running list and will make it a point to film worthy ideas , then you can say, “I gave them that idea.”

Click here for the Holtzapffel Workbench Video
Click here for the Tapering Legs Video
Click here for the Interview Video
Click her for the Split Turnings Video

, Glen Huey

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  • Glen Huey

    Thanks for the accolades Jon. I’m going out on a limb here, but I doubt that woodworkers in the 1800s had the advantage of paper bags while making split turnings. More than likely the columns on that museum piece were cut in half after turning or the woodworker reversed the hide glue on a joined assembly (a messy job.) The furnituremaker custom fitting the split turning to the furniture could account for the less than 180 degree column.

  • Jon Johnson

    Hurrah for the new website. The videos are great! Keep it coming!

    The split column concept is neat. I recall a late 19th century museum furniture piece that employed a half-column spiral fluted element. At the time, I got the distinct feeling that the column may have been sawn in half, as the half column did not appear quite a full 180 degree half. Does anyone have knowledge of this technique?

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