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.

A Pencil from the Tailor Helps Sawing

For me, one of the biggest challenges when working with dark-colored woods is marking them out for sawing and chiseling. Knife lines and pencil lines disappear into the tangle of growth rings and – if it’s a porous wood – pores. I’ve been dovetailing teak this week for a campaign chest...

Strip Zinc with Citric Acid

Sorry zinc, I am not attracted to you. Yes, you keep the elements at bay, but your non-stop shiny countenance is irritating. It looks out of place on my traditional projects. And you do not age well. Zinc, it’s over. I’m going to go get me a stripper. </stupidliteraryexercise> There are...

Quick Review: Whitechapel Crab Lock

OK, so let’s say you are too cheap to purchase a blacksmith-made lock for your next tool chest or blanket chest. Wait, that wasn’t very kind of me to call you “cheap.” Instead, let’s put it this way: Let’s say your spouse just ran off with the village blacksmith, so you...

Improve the Clinching Power of Your Cut Nails

Here’s a tip from Tim Henricksen, a fellow woodworker who has been building some six-board chests with me as I research this important early form of furniture. One of the trickiest things to do when building a chest with nails is to clinch the nails’ tips so they bend back into...

A Tip that’s So Stupid…

While I was on staff at Popular Woodworking Magazine, all of the editors had to read through all of the reader submissions to “Tricks of the Trade.” This was generally drudgery that was punctuated by little nuggets of brilliance. Here’s what the drudgery looked like: “A coffee mug makes an ideal...

Handmade Nails for Your Finest Work

I bought a box of 1,600 pneumatic nails about two presidential administrations ago that cost about a half penny each (yes, I know I overpaid). So why in the world would I buy a box of 40 nails for – cough – $1.50 each? Easy. Hardware is as important to me...

On Wide Wood and Where to Get it

Sometimes I wonder what I would do if I lived in a place where I didn’t have easy access to clear, wide wood. Then I realize the answer: I would move. Today I picked up about 300 board feet of 5/4 and 6/4 sugar pine – most of it 18” wide –...