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Shop Talk Live 11: That Sinking Feeling

comments (16) July 20th, 2012 in blogs

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On this weeks edition of Fine Woodworkings very own podcast, we answer your woodworking questions. Plus, our editors reveal their recent building blunders. - CLICK TO ENLARGE

On this week's edition of Fine Woodworking's very own podcast, we answer your woodworking questions. Plus, our editors reveal their recent building blunders.

Every two weeks, a team of Fine Woodworking staffers answer questions from readers on Shop Talk Live, Fine Woodworking's biweekly podcast and video livestream. Send your woodworking questions to for consideration in the regular broadcast!

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Shop Talk Live 11: That Sinking Feeling


On this week's edition of Fine Woodworking's very own podcast, we answer your woodworking questions and reveal our own building blunders. Plus, Asa, Mike, and Ed attempt to divine the future of the craft and somehow manage to work a conversation concerning dreadlocks into the show.

Asa Christiana
FWW Editor

Mike Pekovich
FWW art director

Ed Pirnik
Senior web producer

Listen to Previous Episodes

posted in: blogs, how to, podcast, hand tools, sharpening, shop talk live, adhesives

Comments (16)

RayRoc RayRoc writes: Can you "Fabulous 4" tell me where I can find a list of woods that should not be used around food or that should not be ingested into ones system?
Enjoy your podcast, and I marvel at how the four of you put together such a first class magazine year after year.
"Thumbs up" always, keep up the good work. As a boss of mine used to say "you done good"
Posted: 11:28 pm on November 18th

RayRoc RayRoc writes: On one of your recent podcast you touched on having your children in the shop and sometimes it was a little burdensome. From my own experience I started my sons going to the shop with dad when they were in infants, and today they have a love for working with their hands, and are better at it than I ever was.
So I say to everyone do not miss the chance to let them in on your woodworking, DIY projects, work on the cars, whatever you can do, share it with them, you will only get one chance to do so.

Posted: 3:39 pm on August 26th

cahudson42 cahudson42 writes: Its here!

Posted: 1:46 am on August 6th

cahudson42 cahudson42 writes: Its here!

Posted: 1:46 am on August 6th

Ed_Pirnik Ed_Pirnik writes: saschafer: Yes, Furniture & Cabinetmaking is a wonderful magazine. We have a subscription here at the office. They put together a wonderful mag!



Posted: 8:45 am on July 24th

Jmos Jmos writes: Outstanding, thanks Mike!

I'm currently using Norton waterstones, but will likely need a new 1000 grit stone in the next year. The price of the Shapton flattening stone was scaring me off a bit. I'm using 400 grit wet/dry on a granite reference plate now for flattening my 8000 grit Norton, so if that will also work for the Shapton, that sounds great.

Thanks again!
Posted: 2:00 pm on July 23rd

MPekovich MPekovich writes: I've been using the Shapton glass stones recently. I've tried flattening them with the Shapton diamond plate which is expensive at $379. It cut slowly, but the one I'm using is used and it may be worn. I've also tried the Dia-Flat plate from DMT (less expensive at $199). It cuts faster than the Shapton plate, but leaves a coarser scratch pattern on the stones, though that doesn't seem to effect the performance. I've used it on my Norton stones for the past year with no ill effect.
I've just recently tried 400 grit wet/dry sand paper on glass which cut quickly and left a smoother surface. It's certainly a cheaper alternative to a diamond plate, but I haven't used it enough to give it a recommendation over diamond plates which I've used successfully in some form for a number of years (mainly the DMT DuoSharp coarse/extra course plate). The DuoSharp plate is only $119, but wears more quickly when used to flatten water stones than the Dia-Flat does. Still, it may represent a better value depending on how much flattening you do.
The Shapton glass stones are designed to handle A-2 steel better than the professional stones, but I've gotten good results with the pro stones as well. The thing I like best about the pro stones, and the Norton stones for that matter, is that they are 2-sided and I can get twice as much sharpening done before I need to flatten them. The trick with any stone, though, is to flatten them often so you never have a lot of work to do to get them flat.
Also, I have a 16,000 grit Shapton on loan that I'm goofing around with. I'm still trying to determine if there's any benefit to going beyond 8,000. So far, it's too close to call.
Posted: 12:55 pm on July 23rd

Jmos Jmos writes: I love the podcast, fun to listen to and informative. I stream it instead of using Itunes; not an Apple fan.

A question for Mike P. if I can regarding the Shapton stones he talked about - exactly which Shapton stone type does he use (traditional, glass, Professional...), and how does he flatten them when flattening is needed?

Posted: 11:25 am on July 23rd

BStev BStev writes: Great content this week, I really enjoyed the discussion on the future of design. That and the house made of poo. Steve, I've read Furniture and Cabinetmaking for years and while I agree the professionals in the UK (Andrew Varah, Makepiece, Savage, Senior and Carmichael, etc) all do exciting work it rarely gets featured in the magazine. Most of the pieces in the mag are heavy old designs from the British Arts and Crafts era. That's the primary reason I stopped reading it, I found more interesting work just looking through the makers websites.
Posted: 10:04 pm on July 21st

saschafer saschafer writes:
I don't know if you ever read any of the British woodworking magazines (I recommend Furniture & Cabinetmaking), but one thing's for sure: The Brits are not afraid to stick their necks out as far as design is concerned. It would be refreshing to see more of that on this side of the pond.


P.S. I have a mustache for no good reason; does that count?

Posted: 5:21 pm on July 21st

MPekovich MPekovich writes: Chris-
Great tips on getting scary sharp to work for you. Both of them address the drawbacks that Asa referred to and would yield improved results. There are so many ways to skin a cat in woodworking that no matter which technique I'm teaching or demonstrating I always tell folks that, ultimately, tthe best method is always the method that works best for you.

Also, all of your construction changes on the chimney cupboard are sound. I just taught that as a class and we left out the dovetails at the top as well. Instead, we just ran another dadoed rabbet. That way all of the case joinery was done with a single set up on the table saw. Sliding dovetails are a great way to go, but because I could get glue blocks under the middle and bottom shelves, cupping wouldn't be an issue. Biscuits are a great way to attach the face frame and I would probably use them if I were to build the piece again. There's also nothing to apologize for about using plywood for the back, it's actually the best material for case backs. I'll often use plywood and where it's visible on the inside of a case, I'll usually dress it up with a simple stub-tenon frame. Actually you could build the entire case from plywood and biscuits if you wanted, and it would still look great and be plenty strong.
Posted: 8:17 am on July 21st

Ed_Pirnik Ed_Pirnik writes: Hi folks,

Thanks for the heads-up on the link. Not sure why it was doing that. Anyhow, it's fixed.

Also: "The Beard for No Good Reason:" That's priceless. Actually, I was in such a rush to finish getting the episode up on Friday afternoon that I had a heck of a time titling it. I WISH I had gone that route!

Best to all - and a special thanks to the kind folks who responded to my blog at LJ's for their questions and comments.


Posted: 6:33 am on July 21st

Jmos Jmos writes: Ed, I'm also getting episode 9 when I use the streaming link from the FWW page. I don't use Itunes. Can't find a link to Episode 11.
Posted: 5:31 am on July 21st

beem beem writes: I really liked the discussion about what the future may hold for emerging furniture styles or the lack thereof. As always, Mike has such great insights. And I completely agree with Asa on boutique versus LN/LV hand tools in terms of usability, but I think a similar dynamic is happening here with hand tool users, namely, a deep appreciation of the handmade artistry that goes into the tool itself whether vintage or new. Knowing Bertha (aka Al) and the rest of the hand-tool gang over at lumberjocks, the usability of a tool is crucial but it goes beyond that because these guys are artisans themselves.

Anyway, you guys hit on an interesting theme this week. By the way, I think you should have titled this episode - "The Beard For No Good Reason..."

Hey Ed, for some reason the link for this podcast is resolving to episode 9 and not 11 - just a heads up.
Posted: 10:19 pm on July 20th

cahudson42 cahudson42 writes: Traditional vs. Functional

This was another great discussion.

In my case, I have VERY few shop hours to make stuff - only for the family. (As my daughter observed: 'Thank God you never tried to make a living on woodworking, we would have starved'..

So I look at Mike P's great chimney cupboard. But rather than dovetails for the subtop - I will use biscuits. IMHO - just as good.

I will use biscuits again to line up the face frame..

And - God forgive me - plywood for the back.

But I will also use sliding dovetails for the bottom and shelves - rather than dadoes since I have developed an easy technique to do them. Advantage - forces out any cup if done right.

So my process approach is - always what functions - not traditional.

Lets have more on that!

Posted: 6:55 pm on July 20th

cahudson42 cahudson42 writes: Another great podcast!

May I add something on 'scary sharp' which I use and seem to get great plane shavings?

1. NEVER use any adhesive. Instead, as long as you are using a honing guide like the Veritas Mk II - simply wet both the back of the sandpaper - as well as the front - with baby oil. The surface tension will keep it stuck to the granite - flat. 1/3 sheet. A finger maybe will keep it from sliding around.

2. Use a microbevel. This means, on the final 2000-grit pass (the highest 'normally available' wet-dry) little needs to be removed. A couple swipes, you are done.

3. Use the 'ruler trick' at the end (assuming you don't want a back bevel) on the 2000 - sideways, one swipe.

I do remember a course I took some years ago where the instructor emphasized waterstones. I used scary sharp instead. Everyone else was still working flattening their stones, whatever. I was busy planing - and had better, thinner shavings than all of them.

I might concede that expert waterstone sharpening is superior - but scary sharp is consistent, easy, repeatable and far less finicky.

If you don't think 2000 is fine enough, try some diamond paste rubbed on a strip of a Staples-like mylar sheet protector. Again, baby oil the underside to have it stick to the granite. While I do think this is an improvement, I rarely bother with it anymore.

Keep the podcasts coming!
Posted: 4:52 pm on July 20th

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Fine Woodworking magzine's biweekly podcast, Shop Talk Live, allows editors, authors, and special guests to answer your woodworking questions and connect with the online woodworking community.