Recent comments

Re: Calculating for Wood Movement


Good article, however, I do have some questions.

From what 'starting time' are you calculating how much to deduct from your design width to allow for seasonal change? Are you assuming the middle of summer as your starting point? If so, and you calculate 5/16" of an inch to allow for expansion in the middle of winter, does that mean that constructing the piece half way between summer and winter you would only deduct 5/32" because your at a mid-point in the seasonal change? If you get your timing wrong will you end up with too much play or too little?

Will that depend on where you live? For instance, in many areas of North America the summer will be the driest, but in high humidity areas, the summer may be the wettest when it comes to humidity and therefore how much moisture the wood absorbs.

Will the design be affected by where it will end up? For instance, in a forced air heated house, winter humidity may be lower than during the summer when the furnace is shut down and the interior humidity is more akin to the exterior humidity.

Re: Should Woodworkers Say Goodbye to Ebony?

Kudos to Bob Taylor! Not only does he make exceptional guitars, he is taking an exceptionally responsible position with respect to the sustainable harvesting of ebony.

Yes, there are other woods that can and are used for luthurie, but ebony is particularly good for all it properties and appearance. Yes, it is a concern that one organization controls 75% of anything, however, it is doubtful that you could have organized say dozens of individual harvesters to adopt a single unified harvesting protocol that would have produced the same outcome. Any protocol for the marketing of all trees cut would have produced differential rates of remuneration based on the perceived quality and marketability of the product, and would in all likelihood still condemned the harvesters to a continuing subsistence existence. Here is a case where a virtual monopoly was able to make a decision of conscience that would have been nigh on impossible in a rambling free and open market.

Not all monopolies are to be feared, or at least some are to be tolerated. The vast majority of us are served by monopolies in the supply of our electricity, and they are kept in check by a combination of regulation and the fact that other energy sources moderate the price that can be charged. In many cases, efficiency demands a monopoly. We wouldn't want multiple power companies each having the own set of distribution cables cluttering the landscape or being buried under our roads. The cost of multiple distribution systems would drive up the costs dramatically and so we reasonably tolerate the existence of their monopoly, or get off the grid.

The virtual monopoly for ebony will be kept in check by virtue of the fact that there are other woods that can be used as a substitute for ebony so the price to be paid for the lumber can only go as high as there are people willing to pay it. And let's face it, the real price of a Taylor guitar, or a Larivee or Martin is not determined simply by the cost of the wood that goes into it, or the manufactured components of truss rods, tuners, strings, pick guards, inlay, banding, strap buttons, finish, etc. the real value is the labour, even in a factory situation. Building quality musical instruments, fine furniture or other wooden items of value and quality are among the most labour intensive activities in human existence, and always will be. But we love what we do and what we are capable of producing, from what was once a tree, and that's why we subscribe to Fine Woodworking in the first place. We revel in what we do and we want to be able to do it better!

Bob's video didn't talk about reforesting, so we don't know what is happening in that regard. His video suggests he is licensed to produce lumber from trees grown on public and/or private lands. There is no suggestion he owns the land on which the trees are grown and therefore, it is unlikely his company is responsible for reforestation. Having said that, it would certainly be in his interest to promote and support reforestation practices. And with the new policy that all trees cut now have value, it is in the interests of the Cameroon government to work with private land holders, and for their own lands, to initiate a reforestation program if one does not exist, or tune up whatever program does exist, as the value of their standing forests, and therefore the positive long term impact on employment and their foreign exchange, just went up ten fold as a result of one man's decision.

With the decision that all trees cut will be sold, it may well be that other countries might find it in their interest to plant ebony in their forests for future harvest. I doubt that ebony plantations make sense, as most hardwoods are dependent on the diversity of other species for the health of the forest, but I may be wrong. Regardless, with the instant marketability of coloured ebony as a result of Bob's decision, as the acceptance of the wood sets in, my bet is that other suppliers, might well come to the fore as market acceptance creates a demand for wood not previously thought marketable. Additionally, market acceptance of 'colour' in fret boards and other applications will result in the expansion of other species put into service, likely garnering higher returns than was previously the case, which will act as further moderation on ebony monopoly.

So, for those who want to continue to use ebony, this is as good and outcome as one could hope for, given the historical devastation of forests elsewhere. For those who want to use other woods and either celebrate whatever natural look those other woods have and/or dye the wood to mimic ebony, good on you as well. The important thing is that good stewardship is being promoted and practiced and we woodworkers, whether as luthiers or otherwise, have a responsibility to support those enlightened practices.

On any sense of overall balance Bob Taylor's decision is a good one!

So let me end with how I started, kudos to Bob Taylor. You sure make fine guitars!

Jef Keighley,
Halfmoon Bay, B.C.

Re: Caption Contest Winner!

"Okay guys, who put the crazy glue on the counter top? Hello...I can hear you laughing! Guys? Guys?"


"Of course, if you find you're running out of time during a glue-up and and forgot to get your clamps ready in advance, you can always resort to one of my favorite shop tricks, I call it 'the elbow clamp'. Assume a standing pose like The Thinker, place your elbow on the work piece, bear down on your elbow, and hold that position for 30 minutes. You may find it useful to use your fingers to hold your chin up for the duration of the clamping time, or scratch your nose, adjust your glasses, the choices are endless."

Re: CPSC Drafting New Tablesaw Regulations

Fine Woodworking friends:

Take two valium and call me in the morning. When the 'market' does not respond on safety issues, the government must! Detroit didn't put all the safety features we find in today's automobiles because the 'market' delivered the goods, so government had to act in the absence of market action. The same goes for tools. I for one welcome safer tools. Yes I am careful. Yes I take pride in knowing how to use my tools safely. Yes I still have all my fingers and thumbs. But I know that every time I'm in my shop, I could have an accident and do myself some serious lifelong harm. So if safer saws add somewhat to the cost of tools, so be it. With regulation, manufacturers will be compelled to research 'better mousetraps', and if the history of the auto sector is any guide, they will do it and do it well and we'll all be the better for it.

By the way, that's be $100 for the medical advice.

Jef Keighley,
Halfmoon Bay, B.C.

Re: UPDATE Caption contest: Win a CommandMax Sprayer

Mmmm....I love the smell of burnt skin in the morning!


Shave mister? Don't do it! Sand beard away, the beautiful way with grit...G...R...I...T..., grit!

Re: Tablesaw Safety Goes Under the Microscope--Again

Come on folks! Get with it! FW's bias is hanging out by the virtue of the headline of the story "Table saw safety goes under the microscope -- again"! One can almost hear the sigh of frustration before you get to the text of the article.

I have a table saw without saw stop and I still have all my digits, because I am careful and know how to use the tool...and because I'm lucky! But had I lost a finger, would that make by inept or stupid? No, but it place me in the ranks of the unluckuy. And the 10 homeshop woodworkers a day who lost fingers aren't inept or stupid either, they had an accident, plain and simple, nothing more.

The saw stop technology is the first of what will be a new generation of safety devices has caught a lot of attention, and so it should. Everyone agrees that adding that or similarly functioning devices will cost more money. So what? Look at the carnage it will prevent! It would cost a lot less to build cars without seat belts, air bags, impact absorbing bumpers, safety glass, horns, brake lights, and a host of other safety features. So why do we all expect and demand those safety devices on automobiles? Because they save lives!

Why did it take government regulations to force those changes on the auto industry? Because they added to corporate costs and cut into profits. It is a rare corporation who voluntarily adds to their costs at the expense of their bottom line simply to make a device safer. Individual manufactures want to be out of sync with other companies who don't offer such features because they fear the resultant higher profits of their competitors will attract more investment capital than they can attract. But with government regulation, the problem is solved. If every car manufacturer has to build cars with the required safety features, no manufacturer has an advantage or disadvantage in the commercial market place. It is then up to the manufacturer to design to achieve the regulated standard, and in the process, competing firms come up with better mousetraps at relatively lower prices and the overall quality of the product improves.

The same would happen if all saw manufacturers were mandated to employ injury preventing technology. As soon as it is a requirement to employ such technology, a market is created and inventive minds will devise more and better ways to achieve the mandated standard. Saw stop may gain an initial edge, but you can be sure that it won't be long before other equally good or better options emerge, and in the process, a lot of jobs will be created designing and building the new technology and we will all be better off for it.

The manufacturers' concern that use of the technology would imply some measure of liability would go out the window with government regulation. That is because their iron clad defense in a claim against them as to why a particular manufacturer employed saw stop or similarly purposed technology becomes simple, 'because we were required to do so by law'!

And let's give our heads a shake. Government regulation is not the thin edge of the wedge to socialism, it is in fact one of the most important functions of government in a democratic society. We don't regulate those things that are socially desirable and morally laudable. We don't have laws that say parents must love their children, because, with rare exception, we all do! We don't have laws that people must care for their pets, because, with rare exception, we all do! We create regulations in cases where it become evident that people or corporations do things that do not demonstrate responsibility to protect the public interest. So we have laws that say you cannot dump poisons into the environment, because in the past, without those laws, we found that some failed in their responsibilities. We have laws that say you cannot rob your neighbors house because we found that some failed in their responsibilities. Where people and corporations consistently act in a responsible manner, we need no regulations. Where that is not the case, we do!

Regulation, simply put, is the rational, collective response to the lack of individual and/or corporate responsibility. It is not socialism. It is not Big Brother. It is not too big government. It is not something to set one's hair on fire over. It is a necessary function of responsible government.

Jef Keighley
Halfmoon Bay, BC.,

Re: Updated: Stanley Sells Delta Tools to Taiwanese Company


I completely agree that it is sad that yet another quality tool maker appears to be sliding farther down the slippery slope to mediocrity, but the the sale of Delta is simply a continuation of a process that's been going on for a very long time. Stanley Black & Decker is not in the business of making tools. They are in the business of making money! They just happen to make tools in order to make money, just as GM, or MacDonalds or Starbucks, or Chase Manhattan is first and foremost in the business of making money, and chooses to make cars, hamburgers, coffee or lend money to accomplish that goal. That's why Stanley Black & Decker sold Delta, plain and simple! The business of big business is to make money, as much as possible, as fast as possible. Quality and customer relations are important only to the extent that a company needs to maintain a client base sufficient to accomplish the primary make money! There are still lots of small and medium sized family owned businesses that started with and maintain the concept of delivering quality at a fair price, but once those companies are bought out and become absorbed into a larger corporate empire, run by 'professional managers', the scale of whose financial remuneration is inversely proportional to the duration of their focus and vision, quality becomes at best a secondary consideration. This is not a phenomenon driven by employees or unions they may choose to represent them. This is a phenomenon driven by the top echelons of the respective business empires made easier by the policies of the political minions their money buys them.

With so many good jobs exported from North America over the last several decades, at the hands of these same corporate empires, for the same reason, ie. to make more money, there has been a serious shrinkage in the average disposable income of Canadians and Americans relative to our cost of living. This fuels the drive to sell cheaper, lower quality goods, because our collective purchasing power to buy better quality tools is shrinking.

Having said that, it is still sad to see Delta slide further down the slippery slope.


Jef Keighley
Halfmoon Bay, B.C., Canada

Re: BOOK GIVEAWAY: 500 Tables (Updated with winner)

Routing - A Haiku
By Gregory Paolini

router is power
grain is true and clear
maple chips fly free

Re: BOOK GIVEAWAY: 500 Tables (Updated with winner)

Greg's routing philosophy..."before beginning, cleanse your mind of all non-routing thoughts, find your routing zone...and BE THE ROUTER!"

Re: Plywood for Fine Furniture

I use furniture grade plywood quite extensively. Always for pieces that are unseen, usually for panels and the like, with solid wood reserved for edges and frames where joinery is either necessary or a feature of the design. I may or may not use it for tops, depending on the design and appication. I accept the fact that on the basis of board foot pricing good quality plywood, carefully chosen, is no cheaper than solid wood, but whether I am doing a piece for the love of it or for a price, I value my time, and not at some miserable minimum wage rate! There is no way solid wood can compete with plywood when supply price and labour time are taken into consideration for the uses I put it to.

While I agree that were I to be making an heirloom piece or a commissioned piece where price and time was of little concern, then for sure I'd go with solid wood all the way, but in my neck of the woods, if I confined my building to producing for whom cost was not an issue, I wouldn't be spending much time in my shop. The reality is that the vast majority of people who want a custom piece of furniture or cabinetry still have a necessary eye pinned on price, and so plywood is usually a part of the solution to produce a beautiful piece at a reasonable price.

Many have talked about breaking plywood down with a circular saw before using the table saw, and I do this extensively. I have a self made cutting guide, designed like a flat truss to avoid warpage or deflection, which I clamp to the plywood sheet to guide my saw with a fine toothed, thin kerf blade. If the particular piece is to be lodged in a dado, that is my final cut, whether ripped or cross-cut (with the use of tape of course). It it needs refinement, I use the table saw with my glue line blade and that is the final cut before actually gluing.

So...that's my two cents worth.

Re: Having Trouble Finishing? Here's a Great Product

I too agree with the wipe on adherents! Its a great product and because you can wipe on multiple coats in a day, there is no concern about bonding. While the surface feels 'dry' to the human hand within an hour or so, chemically it is still actively curing so the additional coats fully bond with the previous coat. Once all your coats are done, let your piece sit for several days before being pressed into service so the multiple layers have time to fully cure and harden. I tend to dislike a really glossy finish, so I often wet sand the final coat with 1500 wet- dry, available from auto body supply sources, and then sometimes rub it down with rottenstone. The surface is amazingly beautiful and sensual to the touch!

Re: Is it OK to sell furniture based on FWW articles?

Most of the posts above have already captured what I my sentiments, ie. an inspiration is one thing, a duplicate or copy is another, but frankly, both have their place. When someone commissions you to create a copy of a piece, historical or otherwise, they want what they want, ie. a copy, not a version of copy, and almost always a single copy, so go for it, but do fully credit the original designer/builder. But the vast majority of what us woodbutchers produce are in fact inspirations from and not copies of. If it you have produced a truly unique design, wonderful, take full credit! But even then let's face it, there are really only so many ways to resist gravity and hold a human bum 17" or so inches, or a plate 30" or so off the floor? Other and scale and materials, how much different are the elevated stone slabs of Stonehenge from a table? So unless you are running a sizeable production shop and copying someone else's work without consent or credit, I say go for it, but once again, do credit your inspirations when they deserve it. Your customer will appreciate your willingness to learn from and be inspired by others.

But I also want to make a point about even using the word 'profit' as it applies to what most of us do. A 'profit' is what is left over after all the costs of production and marketing are covered: all the wood, the finish, the heat, light and power, the tools and all the labour, including the cost of gathering the materials, time spent designing, building, finishing and packaging as well as delivering the finished product to the customer and the time spent doing the books and banking. You only have a 'profit' if you still have money left over all of that, and I'm willing to bet darn few of us find ourselves in that boat too often. That really only comes about by running a production shop of some reasonable scale with paid employees producing copies, inspirations or original designs for a sizeable market. For the vast majority of us, the best you can expect is to pay yourself wages, and frankly, that's enough, because being able to earn a living doing what you love doing and would do whether or not you got paid, is not too bad a way to live! All most of us are really doing while producing a piece for sale, is being compensated for the time that we commit to the total, some better than others, but few can honestly claim to have made 'a profit'.

Jef Keighley
Halfmoon Bay, B.C.

Re: Broken power tool: Junk it or fix it?

Like so many before depends. It depends on the price of the new tool, and whether the features available on the new tool make it worthwhile despite a higher price. It depends on whether it is a difficult to replace tool, ie. not made any more, hard to find, has features no longer available. It depends on the availability of parts, either new or finding another used one to cannabalize. Jef

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