I've been interested in wood working for as long as I can remember and have the scars to prove it. However, it is only since we bought a house that I've had a chance to really learn anything substantial. With an 80-year old house, lots of maintenance work necessary, and an attic full of doug fir decking that a former owner salvaged, I was able to show my wife that buying a few tools, even expensive ones, and doing the work ourselves was cheaper than paying for the work and materials. Once the house repairs are complete I plan to learn furniture making.

Recent comments

Re: STL 60: Dumpster Diving for Terrific Tools

As an archaeologist - working mostly in California - one of the facts about historic sites, 19th and early 20th century, that has always stood out is that metal tools are very uncommon. I've seen more guns, mostly pistols, than chisels for instance, and more cross-cut saws (the kind operated by either one or two men) than chisels. I excavated a ranch forge where two cross-cut saws were set, teeth downward, on slate bedrock cleared of soil, across the mouth of the forge and small, fine single-cut files were driven tang downward into the slate to fix the saws upright in position. I've also found a fragment of a Chinese natural water stone. But, by and large tools arfe not common. I've never seen a regular handsaw or a plane nor do I recall a hammer in more than 20 years or professional archaeology on about 30 historical archaeological sites.

I never understood this until I began woodworking. Most of my planes are older than I am and some will turn 100 in the next few years - Type 11 Stanley Baileys. My wife's uncle, who is now in his 90s gave me several saws and a Millers Fall bench plane when he moved back to Connecticut. In looking them up, most were at least as old as he was, and one is pre-Civil War (1850s). There are a large number of hand tools that are a century or more in age that are still in use and will still be useable a century from now. I expect my son will get mine.

Re: Shop Talk Live 36: Definitely a Dovetail Disaster

Regarding the new music. The complainers need to turn in their ears, or get an education in music. Changing theme music occasionally doesn't hurt. But still, "bluesy" is adult????

BTW, moving cabinetry between southern and northern California, or between the coast and the interior can result in catastrophic failures: doors twisted into pretzels, panels jamming and then splitting.

Re: Avoid Twisted Doors in Your Furniture Projects

I have, well my wife has an old "gun cabinet" that I believe started life as a side board. I think it was retasked for guns and fishing rods, possibly when whoever ordered the original failed to pay up. We moved the piece from southern California to northern California and within about a year the doors were twisted like pretzels. The material is good looking mahogany and the door panels are nicely cut tongue and groove multi-piece assemblies that were unfortunately glued together and then glued into the door assembly. So, not only did the doors twist madly, the tongues on some of the subpanel elements have ripped right off. It is quite a restoration project, but I think it will be in better shape when done than it was when new.

Re: What hand tools can't you live without?

I would replace the tape measure with a folding rule, or else add one. I'ld also suggest treating the interior of the chest so that the tannin in the oak won't corrode carbon steel tools.

Re: It's impossible to cheat at woodworking

Cadabra, you're playing semantic games with your definition of "cheating." In fact you don't use it in the same sense in all of the examples you offer. So, is it really "cheating" to reheat pizza in the microwave? Well, no. If you have the time, the oven is definitely better, since the results aren't soggy and resemble the original out-of-the-oven version more closely. It IS "cheating" if you are telling yourself it has all the same pleasant qualities as oven-baked though, but you are only cheating yourself.

Matt's article makes it pretty clear that quality is a key criterion and that happens to recognize a vital historical fact about tools and tool use without syaing as much. Patterns and jigs were in use centuries ago. Arguing that such devices are "cheating" is the logical equivalent of saying that metal tools (blades, scrapers) are cheating and that the ancient Egyptian way is the only true way, or that hafts on tools are cheating and Cro Magnon man was the last true wood worker. It's silly.

In fact, I can say so from experience, a fully hand-cut joint can be a mess, if you have yet learned the methods for using the tools you employ to make the joint and that is as true for machine tools as it is for hand tools. The fence Matt shows is precisely the same conceptual application as a bench hook or a miter box, and it is used for precisely the same reason, to guide the blade and relieve the craftsman of some of the need for additional, and tiring, concentration and muscle control. You can focus on driving the chisel and the depth of cut.

Re: Neckties and Tablesaws Just Don't Mix


Doesn't matter. Ties around table saws are poor thinking. That photo still presents profound ignorance of good practice. Probably he has handlers who have insured that the saw is unplugged, but still, a moment of thought would let anyone who actually knows much about physics and electricity, that a SawStop will not protect you from being strangled by your saw, because you dipped your tie in it. In fact, given the first comment, about the SS reacting when the blade touched his head, it would not have strangled him. It would have snapped his neck like a hangman's noose. SO, while it is certainly safer than a regular saw, it could be that a truly catastrophic accident with an SS would be fatal, not just an injury. It would not be nearly as common as amputations, and would be less costly than physical therapy, so insurance companies might like it better. Rehabilitation can be considerably more costly than simple death benefits.

Significantly, that saw in the video is plugged in to the California State Capitol power supply. And, the assemblyman DOES make a cut with a piece of plywood and a hot dog. The observations in the blog aren't just ironic and do not call for a chuckle. There is no indication the fool took his tie off.

Re: California Considers Tougher Safety Standards for Tablesaws

One point that is a good one is the "power, money, greed" triumvirate. The problem is that the culprits are not saw manufacturers, but insurance companies. Liability is an enormous industry in the state - and in the country - that keeps an army of lawyers in expensive suits and really nice cars. Liability suits always target deep pockets rather than responsible parties. Like the "seat belt" laws, this type of legislation protects the profit margins of health and liability insurers.

The proposed legislation will not lower premiums, but it will potentially reduce costs to insurers significantly, since the published indicates that treatment for table-saw related accidents is more than $2-billion a year, increasing the profitability of insurance purveyors.

The aggravation is not the idea of a good active safety measure on a table saw. Mine has none at all, since the Chinese-made elements simply would not mount on the saw. It is that a replacement will cost more, and what I pay will not be recovered by any reduction in my health insurance costs. As it is, I find that sheer terror when operating the saw is a very effective safety measure.

Re: Blade brake inventor aims to compete with SawStop

There's a lot of misinformation on this thread that seems to indicate the same lack of attention that loses fingers in the shop. The system above is triggered by proximity not a touch to the blade. There may well be NO tooth encounters before blade stops - which is precisely what you see in the video - NO blade encounter at all. The brake triggers BEFORE you touch the blade.

Instead of destroying a valuable blade and running up a very costly repair bill replacing the SS-style brake, you still have a usable saw that stopped very, very quickly, a reminder you were not paying proper attention, and all your digits. Better yet, if the zombies in our elected government do pass a law to protect us from our wandering minds and ignorance, the device can be retrofitted to an existing saw, something that can't be done with SawStop. Personally I would like that, since MY saw was shipped from China with a guard that simply couldn't be attached. So, any time I use it, I'm bloody terrified. Of course I feel that way about my chisels too, and I doubt that anyone can invent a chisel stop, or a kevlar glove fine enough to allow proper sense of touch.

Re: CPSC Drafting New Tablesaw Regulations

Two things. First, "what is wrong with you people?" Lawyers. It was clear that there absolutely no reason other than deep pockets for suing the saw manufacturer. There were guards and if the worker had used them, and if the employer had observed the modicum of OSHA requirements there would have been no injury. So, stupid worker, sloppy employer, greedy lawyer (well, maybe just a hungry one).

Second, "why hasn't Sawstop technology been licensed?" It would seem to be a no-brainer for manufacturers to do so. Since they haven't, and they do have experience with lawyers, it would appear that the patent holder has some really vicious licensing. If we get rid of patents, and instead look to the market to establish reasonable margins, the tablesaw might be a good deal safer.

Re: Play Fine Woodworking's Game: Against the Grain

It would have been nice if the "sleeve" issue had a better range where the choice could be selected. I picked the wrong spot three times. Otherwise, pretty cool.

Re: Is Danish Modern the furniture style of our time?

Another possibly indirect influence is notable. Some of the examples of Danish furniture at Danish-Furniture are very reminiscent of classical Chinese work, some of the chairs especially.

Re: Reader Says Mythbusters Missed on Hammer Strikes

While I've never had a steel hammer chip, I've never wailed away on anything while using a steel hammer with enough force to classify the "use" as abuse. I have chipped splitting wedges with a sledge.

On the other hand, I chip stone. I can and have chipped stone all day and know just where each chip will come from and where it will go. The chief lesson learned is that chips are predictable. Any brittle material will chip and the geometry of the strike and striking surfaces, the relative hardness and toughness of the hammer and the object being struck all enter into the result. You would not for instance try to chip glass with a glass impactor.

If you try driving the claws of one hammer under a nail using a another hammer, the plane of the strike interface is going to run through your body, possibly even your head. Since the hammer faces are likely to be nearly equal in the important physical traits (like two pieces of glass or obsidian), either piece may chip. Since the primary degrees of freedom of motion for resulting chip motions are going cluster around the plane between the impacting surfaces; the motion of chips is going to be within a few degrees of that plain. If you can see that point, that's bad. If someone else's body can be intersected by that plane, that's bad. If a surface is present near the blow and and could serve to cause ricochets, that is not good either.

Adequate safety precautions are fairly simple. First, never, ever strike two objects of similar composition and physical character together (well lead or copper will probably be OK, but even brass will sometimes crack and chip). Second, wear safety gear. Third, have others clear out of the potential discharge path of resulting chips. Fourth, a backstop should be a material a chip will embed in rather than bounce off. So peen on a piece of plywood on the workbench, NOT on the cast iron saw table.


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