Shop Blog

Woodworking with Wee Ones

Kids’ imaginations are inversely proportional to their attention spans.
By David Ross Puls
Page: 58

From the August 2010 issue #184
Buy this issue now

Want to take up woodworking with your kids, but find it difficult to keep them in the shop? I share this desire and dilemma. I sheepishly admit that the diffi culties arise from my needs and notions, not those of my son. He is, of course, perfect in every way.

I believe that all of us old-fart woodworkers need to give up our foolish notions of design, technique, function and even completion if we are to encourage our kids to join us in our ligneous endeavors.

I learned quickly with my son that allowing him to follow his muse was utmost. It also took the pressure off me. He happily does as he pleases and I get to look brilliant with almost no effort. My son, Elvin, and I have clocked a gazillion hours (his count – it has only felt like a couple zillion to me) working on countless projects in my shop. And, I can honestly say that I have absolutely no idea what many of our creations are. They are of the highest caliber, however, and are of maximum coolness, according to Elvin.

Blog: Read Editor Chrispoher Schwarz’s adventures in the shop with his youngest daughter, Katy.
Web site: Our “I Can Do That” page features projects that are ideal for budding woodworkers (with adult supervision, of course).
To buy: One of our favorite collections of beginner projects is John Nelson’s “The Big Book of Weekend Woodworking.”

Flexner on Finishing Blog

Filling Pores for an Elegant Look

Two methods to create a mirror-flat surface.
By Bob Flexner
Page: 54

From the August 2010 issue #184
Buy this issue now

Very few woodworkers or refinishers fill the pores of wood anymore. The process is not well understood and it’s perceived to be difficult. So if the wood has large open pores, the pitting is usually allowed to show.

This open pored, “natural wood” look has even become quite popular and is often promoted in the woodworking literature.

But for some, the natural-wood look creates a less-than-elegant appearance. This is surely the view of companies that mass-produce high-end furniture and most people who buy this furniture. For at least 150 years, in fact, most better-quality, factory-produced furniture has had its pores filled to create a “mirror-flat” appearance.

Better-quality furniture in the past was made largely from mahogany, walnut or quarter- or rift-sawn oak. It’s these and other woods with similar pore structures that look better with their pores filled (in contrast to plain-sawn oak, for example, which is difficult to get flat because of the wide segments of deep grain.)

If you use these woods to make furniture or you restore old furniture and you want the wood to look its most elegant, you need to know how to fill pores.

Articles: Visit the ‘Flexner on Finishing” archive.
In our store: Publisher Steve Shanesy’s new DVD, “The Ten Commandments of Finishing,” is now available.
To buy: Bob’s first book, “Understanding Wood Finishing, ” is available through
In our store: Bob’s new book, “Flexner on Finishing,” will be available in mid-August –pre-order now!


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