saschafer

Athens, OH, US
member




Recent comments


Re: Three great finishing tips

@ButchMacDonald,

The cabinet is on its side, and you're looking at it from the back. The extra rail-looking thing is the French cleat upon which the cabinet hangs.

-Steve

Re: Arched-Top Whiskey Cabinet


I see one serious problem: The bottle of scotch is empty!

Re: Shopmade veneer by hand


This is a traditional Japanese parquetry technique:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yosegi

Re: If this guy can make guitars in a refugee camp...

@solidwoodguy,

The camp is located in a former prison. See http://www.dzaleka.org/about/.

-Steve

Re: Magnetic Assisted Geometry Furniture

@TopspinD,

Strong magnets do affect pacemakers, but you'd have to get the magnet very close to the pacemaker (within a few inches) for there to be any problems. See http://www.kjmagnetics.com/blog.asp?p=pacemaker-safety.

Unless you're still using floppy disks, VCR tapes, or CRT displays, modern electronic devices are pretty much immune to the magnetic fields from small permanent magnets, even very strong neodymium samarium-cobalt ones. Your credit cards may be at risk, however.

-Steve

Re: Possum: It's What's for Dinner

Ed,

Where exactly does Tim live? The photo you used is of a Brushtail Possum, from Australia.

Assuming Tim is in the US, what he's going to be cooking up is a Virginia Opossum.

-Steve

Re: UPDATE: Win an all-access pass to Fine Woodworking Live 2013!

Posting a comment is so much work... Isn't there an easier way to enter?

Re: How To Show Different Material Options


I like to give binary choices, like your optometrist does. It seems to narrow down the choices pretty quickly. "Which one looks better, A or B?" Then, depending on the answer to that first question, I give a second set of choices, and so on.

-Steve

Re: The birth of a hobbit cupboard

Why is it that some blog posts are inundated with robo-spam, while others get none? There must be some mysterious keyword in the text somewhere that they trigger off of.

Anyway, while I do like the design of the cabinet, I've always felt that it's rather inhumane to keep your hobbits in a cupboard.

-Steve

Re: Rockler has 5 great ideas under $25


I've been using a silicone bowl for mixing epoxy, etc. ever since Lee Valley started selling them a couple of years ago. And I bought a silicone pastry brush (for cooking) nearly ten years ago.

So, people have thought about these things before.

-Steve

Re: MIT Students and Professor Invent Handheld CNC Router System


@Ron Alley,

I'm not sure how you reached your conclusion. The device is basically a traditional servomechanism. Yes, it's possible to move the base so far from the line that the servo can't correct, but within its operating range, the servo works both ways: If you move the base too far away from the cut, the servo will move the bit towards the line; if you move the base too far into the cut, the servo will move the bit away from the line. You have the same amount of leeway in any direction.

Judging from the video, the way the user interaction works is that you just have to keep the leading edge of the cut more or less within the circle at the center of the screen. As long as you do that, the servo will have enough range to keep the cut where it belongs.

-Steve

Re: Hawaiian Steel Guitar Project - Part 2


John,

You need to put your camera on a tripod, close down the aperture, and increase the exposure time. ;-)

-Steve

Re: A Move Tool Exercise


@Dave,

The point that @niceguystrom makes regarding components is, without a doubt, the solution to @Hughie's difficulties.

Components, components, components.

Converting everything into components early and often is the (relatively) unintuitive part of SketchUp, that makes all of the rest of SketchUp much, much more intuitive.

Have I made myself clear? It's components, components, components.

-Steve

P.S. In case anyone missed it: Components, components, components.

Re: Shop Talk Live 11: That Sinking Feeling


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.

-Steve

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

Re: Neckties and Tablesaws Just Don't Mix


Ed,

With all due respect, this blog post is utter nonsense. The assemblyman is not using the table saw, he's doing a photo-op, with the table saw as a prop. He's demonstrating to the reporter how table saw injuries occur. At no point is the saw even turned on.

Posting this kind of sensationalist bovine excrement, irrespective of any "official position" disclaimers, does nothing to improve whatever reputation for journalistic integrity that you might still have.

Just because it's a blog post doesn't mean you don't have to think before you publish.

-Steve

Re: Freeze your beetles


@UnseenWombat,

I've used Tim-bor. I haven't done any real side-by-side tests, so I can't definitively say that Tim-bor worked when the no-treatment option would have failed, but I can say that nothing that I've treated has shown signs of post-treatment insect activity.

If your wood is heavily infested, I think you have to get the treatment well down into the holes. Tim-bor is basically just borax, so it's a very mild insecticide, and the insects have to ingest a significant quantity for it to be effective.

-Steve

Re: Shop Talk Live 8: Just a Splash of Water


@Matt,

The fact that the show is live has been brought up a couple of times as a reason that it's difficult to do a good job with the video. But why does it have to be live? What value does being live add to the show? Even call-in shows like Car Talk are actually prerecorded.

-Steve

Re: How to make a sacrificial rip fence that never wears out


Strictly speaking, if it never wears out, then it's not really "sacrificial," is it?

-Steve

Re: Free Chapter Download From Woodworking 101


@able339,

Were you able to at least see the complete chapter on screen? If so, then your Adobe Acrobat Reader installation is working properly. Depending on your operating system and browser, the specific steps required to print the article vary, but trust me, it's possible to do.

The latest Acrobat Reader actually makes it more difficult to figure out how to print something. You need to hover your mouse near the bottom center of the page, at which point a toolbar magically appears. Click the printer icon near the left end of the toolbar, and you're all set.

-Steve

Re: Video Sneak-Peek of New Groundbreaking Video Workshop Series


And they said it couldn't be done: melding Greene & Greene and Ikea to create a fresh new style...

-Steve

Re: Shop Talk Live 3: Diminishing Returns

"Doctor" (from the Latin verb docere--to teach) meant "scholar" long before it was usurped by the physician cabal.

-Steve

Re: Building a Two-Slab Roubo Workbench (Part 1)


For pieces that big, it's actually simpler and much more accurate to keep track of the moisture level by periodically weighing them. Take some of the cutoffs and dry them in an oven at 250°F for a couple of hours, then weigh them to obtain the average density of the wood at 0% moisture content.

The rest of the calculations are left as an exercise for the reader...of Bruce Hoadley's _Understanding Wood_.

-Steve

Re: Wear your love for woodworking on your sleeve


T-shirts and tattoos are both pretty tame. What Matt really needs is a tongue piercing, and instead of the usual barbell, the stud should have a miniature molding plane on the end.

If he does it right, there's a dental hygiene bonus: He can use the plane to clean plaque from his teeth.

-Steve

Re: Yep, it's wood!


With all of the pseudo-wood surrounding us these days, you really do need a magnifier to be sure that something actually is wood.

-Steve

Re: Designing around the lumber you have

I'm just finishing up a large wall cabinet that I needed to build on short notice. I happened to have a good supply of 8/4 white ash on hand (that had been earmarked for another project), and was able to figure out how to get what I needed from the pieces that I had. The only design deviation I had to make was that I went with floating tenons in the door frames, because I didn't have enough material to be able to cut tenons into the ends of the rails.

-Steve

Re: UPDATED: Help a Fine Woodworker Solve a Veneer Problem


Ed,

I'm afraid that now that you've aired your dirty laundry, so to speak, your only option is to start over from scratch. ;-)

-Steve

Re: Building a Cherry TV Cabinet with Hand Tools - Part II


I concur with the previous comments regarding the prices of Japanese tools: you can get very reasonably-priced Japanese tools from a number of vendors.

But I think that's all rather beside the point. None of the work shown here is dependent on the use of Japanese planes, chisels and saws.

-Steve

Re: Repairing a Checked Tabletop


@Ed,

While the finishing process may have been the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak, I think it's safe to say that the internal tension that led to the crack has been there for a while, and if it hadn't opened up when it did, it could very easily have done so next week, or next year, or never.

-Steve

Re: Make Millions in Woodworking in only 250 Years


Assuming an initial price of $10, that's an annual yield of just over 5%.

-Steve

Re: A Solid Cherry Beam Becomes a Cool Stool


To control cracking/checking, you may want to do what Japanese temple carpenters do with boxed-heart posts and beams: saw a deep longitudinal groove the full length of the piece in the center of one of the faces. As the piece dries, the groove will open up to relieve the stress.

-Steve

Re: Easy, cheap way to manage cords


@canadacheap:

The word you are looking for is "watch." Not "wacth," but "watch."

-Steve

Re: New Segmented Cutterhead Changes My Woodworking Game


How is it that this one blog post seems to attract so much spam? It's uncanny.

-Steve

Re: Perfect Bevels on a Bench Grinder

@thedude50:

I think you need to go back and reread the full text. It describes a process for creating a hollow-ground bevel, not honing an edge.

-Steve

Re: 2B or not 2B


"...once graphite was discovered the scribbles became much more user friendly and I’d guess a bit tastier as well."

Actually, no. That's a big problem with lead paint (and many lead salts in general): it tastes sweet, which is one of the reasons it's so hazardous to young children. Lead acetate (known as "sugar of lead") was even used by the ancient Romans as a sweetener.

-Steve

Re: Quick and Easy Lumber Rack - Part 1


Okay, I get the "quick and easy" part; that's obvious from the photos. But where's the actual rack?

-Steve

Re: Dovetails with a Reciprocating saw?

False advertizing! I want to see you cut the entire joint with a reciprocating saw, just like Frank Klausz does.

Of course, his reciprocating saw is human- rather than battery-powered.

-Steve

Re: Build a simple fort with your kids


@Asa,

We're just so aghast that we're speechless. ;-)

-Steve

Re: Huge advances in woodworking technology


@allenn,

As I am 100% certain that you well know, when Asa says, "20 to 30 times longer," he means, in your universe, "20 to 30 times as long." If you want to be especially pedantic, one could interpret his statement as meaning "21 to 31 times as long."

Can you provide a definitive reference for your assertion that "'Longer' indicates addition and subtraction..."? I know of no such semantic rule. Rather, it depends on the context: A phrase such as "...three hours longer than..." indicates addition, whereas "...three times longer than..." indicates multiplication.

-Steve

Re: A Simple Door Pull of Copper and Wood

Tandy Leather Factory (http://www.tandyleatherfactory.com/) also sells copper rivets, in slightly smaller quantities.

-Steve

Re: Blade brake inventor aims to compete with SawStop


@joe4liberty:

You picked an exceptionally bad example for your anti-regulatory rant: From 1920 to 2008, automobile fatalities in the US have dropped steadily, year by year, by an overall factor of TWENTY. Because of safety improvements in both automobile and roadway designs, you are now only 5% as likely to die in an automobile accident, per mile traveled, as your great grandfather was. Even in just the last decade, fatalities have dropped from 1.55 to 1.13 per 100 million miles traveled, with electronic stability control being responsible for a significant portion of that decline (estimates are that ESC--now required on all new vehicles sold in the US--has reduced fatalities by around 18%).

On top of all of that, and despite all of the moaning and groaning about the cost of regulations, the inflation-adjusted price of a new car has actually stayed pretty steady over the years (both inflation and new car price increases have averaged a little under 4% annually). And this doesn't even take into consideration the fact that cars these days last much longer than they used to. (It's true that the buying power of the average American has gone down over the last few decades, but that's because a significant fraction of wealth has shifted from the middle class to the upper few percent of the population, and has nothing to do with the cost of regulation.)

In 1963, a friend of mine was killed in an automobile accident while driving a Chevrolet Corvair (the other three people in the car were injured but survived). He died because the steering column in the Corvair was (a) solid, rather than collapsible, and (b) extended further forward than any other portion of the vehicle's major mechanical components, thereby almost guaranteeing that the driver would be impaled in a frontal collision. That sort of fatality simply cannot happen today, because of changes in steering mechanism design (driven by regulation, of course--most auto manufacturers at the time were adamantly opposed).

-Steve

Re: Blade brake inventor aims to compete with SawStop


@jerrysandiego,

Yes, electromagnetic braking does work with induction motors, although it's not as simple as it is with universal motors. There are a couple of different techniques that are used; a regenerative brake uses the motor windings, but an eddy current brake is independent of the motor. I don't know enough about the specific characteristics of the different systems to be able to say which would be most appropriate for braking a table saw.

With any kind of electromagnetic brake, regardless of the type of motor, the effectiveness of the braking varies inversely with the rotational speed, so the electromagnetic brake only gets you part of the way to a full stop; you always need to have some kind of friction brake to finish the job.

In general, there is likely to be more risk of overvoltage than overcurrent. In order to reduce the current in an inductive circuit, you need to apply a reverse voltage, and the more rapidly you want the current to go down, the higher the voltage needs to be. So you eventually reach a limit where either you can't generate a voltage high enough, or the insulating materials in the circuit can't withstand a voltage high enough.

-Steve

Re: Blade brake inventor aims to compete with SawStop


I concur with @AuroraWoodworks: The capabilities of this device are such that it probably adds some level of protection over a conventional guard arrangement. But the suggestion that it's competitive with SawStop is a bit of a stretch. SawStop stops the blade with the amount of violence that it does because there just isn't any other way to do it fast enough. (Aircraft ejection seats have the same kind of engineering constraint: Only a rocket or explosive charge can move the seat away from the fuselage fast enough to be effective.)

So, as a homebrew device it might be worth considering for a retrofit, but unless and until it can promise performance that is reasonably on par with SawStop, it has no commercial viability.

-Steve

Re: Make Your Own Dowels


@kingfinny,

I rive out a block so that all four sides are as nice and parallel to the grain as I can get, then cut the block into dowel blanks on the bandsaw (far less waste than the tablesaw, as well as easier and safer to handle, given that the block is relatively small, typically about 2" x 2" x 6").

-Steve

Re: Build a Super-Precise Tablesaw Crosscut Sled


@GLJacobs,

I'm not sure I completely understand your question. The design of the sled is based on what we in the software business call "separation of concerns." That is, rather than have one module do two unrelated things, and do both of them not so well, split it into two modules, each one optimized for doing just one thing.

In a traditional crosscut sled, the crosspiece nearest the operator performs two unrelated functions: It keeps the sled from falling apart, and it registers the workpiece with respect to the saw blade. By separating that one piece into two pieces that each perform just one of the two tasks, you can optimize each one for the task that it performs, without compromise.

-Steve

Re: Build a Super-Precise Tablesaw Crosscut Sled


@GLJacobs,

Remember that there is only one runner--that is the key to understanding why you have to have two pieces spanning the kerf at the near end:

In order to square the fence to the blade, you need to first cut the kerf. In order to cut the kerf without the sled falling apart, you need solid support at both ends of the kerf. If you only had one piece spanning the kerf at the near end, you'd either have to rigidly attach it to both sides of the sled, thus giving up accuracy, or else you'd have to make it adjustable, thus giving up rigidity.

-Steve

Re: Build a Super-Precise Tablesaw Crosscut Sled


I'm pretty sure that the bar in your photo is aluminum, not steel...

I wonder why sliding-table saws don't have more of a presence in North America? In Europe, even fairly low-end saws have sliding tables. Most of what people use crosscut sleds for is done more easily with a sliding-table saw.

-Steve

Re: Quirks with the Push/Pull Tool


My workaround is to always start with a solid object before creating any details. So, in this case, I'd create a rectangular block as the very first step, then cut into it with push/pull to form the outline, etc.

-Steve

Re: Stupefying Engineering in an 18th Century Table


@andybarss,

You need to check your sources. While "stupid" and "stupefy" obviously share etymology, their meanings have diverged over the years. To stupefy is to stun, amaze, etc., or to put into a stupor (i.e., knock out). In other words, to stupefy is to make stupid only in the old-fashioned sense of "dazed and unable to think," rather than the modern sense of "lacking in intelligence."

-Steve

Re: Seeking more sustainable practices? Follow furnituremaker John Wiggers


@jwiggers,

The kind of tree farms that I'm looking at are not the ones over which concern is expressed in that FSC article (although there is plenty of that kind of operation in Costa Rica, too). In fact, "investment" is perhaps misleading, as all I'm really interested in is reforestation and habitat restoration, not monetary gain.

Specifically, I'm restricting my search to operations that are replanting previously deforested upland acreage (typically pasture, but occasionally old coffee plantations), so no logging of existing forest is involved, and in particular no lowland rainforest.

My second criterion is that the operators must be planting native species (purpleheart, cocobolo, Spanish cedar, etc.) along with high cash value non-natives (principally teak), and certainly no eucalyptus, radiata pine, etc. Ideally, only natives would be planted, but it doesn't appear that that is economically feasible. An advantage of natives and teak is that they can be grown without pesticides or fertilizers (intensive teak monoculture plantations exist, but I'm specifically avoiding those).

The third criterion is that the operation must have significant local involvement.

I have an acquaintance, a US expat who has lived in Costa Rica for over thirty years and works as a naturalist there. He knows more about the natural history of Costa Rica's flora and fauna than anyone else I know of, and also a fair bit about its eco-politics. I will be meeting with him later this year, and one of the topics of the conversation will certainly be narrowing down the choice of operations to invest in.

In January 2001, I was standing along the edge of a road near Mindo, Ecuador, watching a bulldozer knock down a tree, making way for an African oil palm plantation. It was a fairly small and rather scraggly tree, but it had a special significance to me: Two weeks prior, I had seen three species of bird in that tree that I had seen nowhere else before. I invest heavily in tropical forests to avoid having to replay that scenario.

-Steve

Re: New Hot Rod Powered Drivers from DeWalt

So I guess the "MAX" in the name means, "This is the MAXimally meaningless number that we measured for the battery voltage."

-Steve

Re: New Hot Rod Powered Drivers from DeWalt

Since there's no such thing as a 20-volt Li-ion battery (Li-ion battery voltages are always a multiple of 3.6 volts), I assume that this is really an 18-volt battery that has been "upgraded" in the same way that 10.8-volt batteries are now advertised as 12-volt. (Because if you measure the open-circuit voltage within a few seconds after the battery comes off the charger, a 3.6-volt cell reads about 4 volts, never mind that as soon as you connect a load to the battery, it almost immediately drops down to 3.6 volts per cell.)



-Steve

Re: Seeking more sustainable practices? Follow furnituremaker John Wiggers


@jwiggers,

I apparently failed to get my points across:

1) I did not say that using veneer was fraudulent. What I said was that making the claim that the use of veneer is sustainable, solely by virtue of the fact that you're using less material, without worrying about where that material comes from, is fraudulent. It reminds me of the old joke about the shopkeeper who takes a small loss on every sale, but makes up for it in volume. Using a little bit of a resource that has been harvested unsustainably is still unsustainable.

2) I did not say that obtaining FSC-certified material is next to impossible in general. What I said was that obtaining FSC-certified exotics is next to impossible. I see from the FSC database that your certificate applies to black cherry, white ash, sugar maple, and Cuban mahogany, which demonstrates my point. (One could consider Cuban mahogany to be an exotic, even though it's native to Florida. Of course, since it's a CITES II species, and commercially extinct in the wild, I assume that you're dealing with plantation-grown material.)

I am well aware that sustainability is a complex issue and requires a comprehensive end-to-end approach. Specifically relating to the tropics, my wife and I have made seventeen trips to Latin America, everywhere from Mexico to Peru (with two more scheduled for this year). When we go, if we can manage to set up a relationship with a contact there (it doesn't always happen), we take with us Spanish-language natural history educational and reference materials (field identification guides, for the most part) to donate to schools and other institutions. A few years ago, we assisted a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala who was working with a community to set up a nature preserve in their community-owned forest. We've also made significant cash donations for land purchases to preserve primary forest habitat in Belize, Ecuador and Panama. And I've been trying to schedule a trip to Costa Rica in order to visit a tree farm that I'm considering investing in.

So I assure you that I know whereof I speak. Overall, the sustainability picture in North America is slightly better than "bleak." In Latin America, it's awful but at least getting better. In Africa and tropical Asia, apart from a very few and scattered signs of hope, it's utterly catastrophic.

With a species like Macassar ebony, for which there is a thriving illegal trade, if you can't document the provenance of the piece you're holding in your hand, you're contributing to the problem, not its solution.

-Steve

Re: Seeking more sustainable practices? Follow furnituremaker John Wiggers


I have to agree as well. If this were April 1st, I would have thought that the whole post was a joke.

The article doesn't say whether or not the Macassar Ebony used in the piece is FSC-certified. It's within the realm of possibility for it to be (lots of vendors claim to be be able to supply FSC-certified exotics), but the unfortunate reality is that except for a few species, unless you're interested in container-sized quantities, no mere mortal is ever going to be able to obtain any. The only exotics where I've ever been able to confirm the availability of FSC-certified material is in the species that are used for flooring.

And using veneer under the guise of sustainability is just plain fraudulent. Sure, you use less material, but unless there is a plan in place to regenerate the material you consume, no matter how little, the practice isn't sustainable.

You can read the IUCN fact sheet on Macassar ebony here:

http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/33203/0

It's listed as Vulnerable, which is just one notch below Endangered. From the fact sheet: "The number of mature trees has declined and large parts of the habitat have been converted to crops." And "Felling of the species is now only allowed by quota but continues illegally."

Regarding sassafras, the author is correct that sassafras contains volatile oils. The major component of the oils in sassafras is safrole, which is a suspected carcinogen. The reason it (and most essential oils in general) are present in plants is that they are effective insecticides...

(I'll never understand the "It's natural so it must be good for you" crowd. I recommend that they try a salad of fresh poison ivy leaves with castor bean dressing, and a cup of comfrey tea on the side.)

Regarding hawthorn, the results of the clinical trial demonstrating that hawthorn promotes well being and clear thinking is published in which journal, exactly? If we visit a Chinese herbs web site (http://www.chinese-herbs.org/), we find that kava kava is recommended for well being and clear thinking, but hawthorn is not. Similarly, if we visit a different herbal site (http://evenstarherbs.com/spotlight.html), we see that hawthorn is recommended for allergies and "blood building," whatever that means. And so on and so on and so on.

The irony is that hawthorn actually does have some medically recognized cardiovascular effects, but certainly nothing to do with "clear thinking."

-Steve

Re: Elongated Holes in SketchUp


I discovered through trial and error that holes that don't go all the way through a piece can be copied without difficulty, so when I'm faced with having to duplicate holes, that's what I do: I create the original hole as being only part way through, copy it as many times as required, then use the push/pull tool to finish moving the bottoms of the holes to the far side.

-Steve

Re: UPDATE Caption contest: Win a CommandMax Sprayer


"If you adjust the tension just right...you can hear it play 'Rockabye Baby' against my chin."

Re: Just Plane Trivia: Why Do They Call It a Frog?


I think Rollie's right. But your choice of frog photo isn't the best; a bullfrog is too heavy in the hindquarters. The resemblance is much better with one of the smaller species, like this wood frog:

http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-10370_12145_12201-60113--,00.html

-Steve

Re: How to Build and Use a Plane Stop for Narrow Parts


Hey, that looks suspiciously identical to a planing tray I made about a year and a half ago, for working on chair parts.

Have you guys been sneaking into my shop? ;-)

I posted a photo of mine, in flagrante delicto, here: http://www.dendroica.com/Scratch/planingTray.jpg

-Steve

Re: Workbench clamp for perfect dovetails


@trchrind,

I thought about that, too, but unfortunately, it doesn't quite work. 1/2" pipe has a nominal outside diameter of 0.840", significantly more than 3/4".

-Steve

Re: Have You Run Into the Clipping Plane?

I think of the clipping plane as a sheet of glass that's interposed between me and the model. When I get too close to the model, I crash into the glass. Decreasing the focal angle is the same thing as using a telephoto lens: I can stand further away (thus avoiding hitting the glass), but still have an image that's large enough for me to see fine details.

-Steve

Re: Furniture Lab: Recycling Found Objects into Fine Furniture


Have you considered applying for Superfund status? It would appear that you have enough toxic waste there (asbestos, lead, mercury from the TV picture tubes) to poison a small city.

-Steve

Re: Do you Click-Move-Click, or Click-Drag-Release?


I find click-move-click to be easier, especially if I need to zoom in to the start point, then zoom out, pan, and back in to the end point.

On the other hand, the other drawing programs that I use all follow the click-drag-release paradigm, which means I sometimes get mixed up when moving between them and SketchUp.

-Steve

Re: Lamello's Zeta is a Knockout Tool for Knock-Down Furniture


@damian_penney:

The slot made by the cutter is actually a sort of curved T-slot--it's not a regular biscuit slot. The connectors have flanges that slide into the arms of the T, so that unlike a regular biscuit, they can't be pulled straight out of the slot.

-Steve

Re: Going from Amateur to Pro Woodworker? What's Your Niche?

With due respect to Chris Anderson and Yet Another Buzzphrase, this is a misstatement of the principle of the "long tail."

All probability distributions have tails; the mere existence of the tail (i.e., niche markets in the discussion above) is never in question and never an example of a long tail. To qualify as a long-tailed distribution, the tail must contain a DISPROPORTIONATE fraction of the distribution. In other words, the tail must, in some marketing sense, be more "valuable" than the head.

Unless you can demonstrate that your particular distribution is in fact long-tailed, targeting the tail over the head isn't likely to result in a net positive.

None of this means that you shouldn't target niche markets, of course (there are many reasons to do so), but presenting the long tail as an argument in favor of targeting a niche market is, in the absence of evidence of a long tail in that market, specious.

-Steve

Re: Fine Woodworking On the Road: Come out and see us


Now that's impressive: All you have to do is post a photo of a bald guy, and you get a bot-generated comment that's an ad for scalp treatment. That's some pretty fancy image processing software...

-Steve

Re: Death at Yale University a Sad Reminder for Shop Safety Vigilance


@Dan3055:

That's not how a deadman switch works. In the case of a lathe, a deadman switch would normally be implemented in the form of a foot pedal. You have to keep your foot on the pedal in order for the lathe to run. The moment you take your foot off the pedal, the lathe stops.

-Steve

Re: Free Plan: Overhead Lumber Rack


The "CLICK HERE to download the free PDF..." link is throwing a 403 - Forbidden error: "The website declined to show this webpage."

-Steve

Re: We're Giving Away Grooving Planes!


"Could you get me a bandage? I just planed off the tip of my right index finger!"

Re: Milwaukee Tools Boost Their Battery Power


@AmazingMatt,

There has been a rash of Li-ion battery infant mortality during the last year or two. Assuming it isn't too late, you should be able to get your dead ones replaced under warranty.

I bought a Makita drill with two batteries about a year ago. One of the batteries died after the third charge, and so I brought the whole kit into the service center. The technician ended up replacing both batteries; he said that even the one that was still working wasn't taking a charge properly.

So far so good with the new batteries, but I haven't used them that much.

-Steve

Re: Against the Grain: Bone-Headed Bandsawing


@CreativeWorks:

I've confirmed that it works fine in Firefox 3.6.x with Adobe Flash 10.2.x, but does not work with Flash 10.1.x.

Firefox is the only browser of the ones I tried (IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari) that doesn't automatically update the Flash plug-in; you have to go to the Adobe download page and install the update from there.

-Steve

Re: Against the Grain: Bone-Headed Bandsawing


@redryba:

I think you just need to upgrade to the latest version of Adobe Flash (10.2).

-Steve

Re: Simple Solution to a Potential Shop Hazard: The SafetyGate Outlet Adapter


@ButchersWood:

You can get a DPST-NO contactor rated at 3HP/240V for about $15 from McMaster-Carr. Wire your machine through the contactor's load circuit, and use the SafetyGate to supply operating power to the contactor. When the power goes out, the contactor will open, and won't reconnect until you reset the SafetyGate.

-Steve

Re: Homemade Slot Mortiser Has all the Right Moves


You know, it's those "a bit too esoteric" topics that are the reason that some of us have subscribed over the years...

-Steve

Re: Video: How to Flatten Wide Boards


@Mailman14:

You don't absolutely need the scrub plane; it just makes the job easier, because the work goes faster. Some years ago, I flattened a seriously warped mahogany board about 16" wide and five feet long, using a single #5 plane for everything.

Of course, I was a lot younger then... ;-)

-Steve

Re: The Perfect Winter Woodworking Project: Snowshoes!


Hmmm. It was 68°F here in Ohio today. I think we may have missed our snowshoe window of opportunity for this year...

-Steve

Re: Weekend lantern project


Might I suggest that instead of getting your fingers within an inch of a spinning router bit, it might be better to use some heavy-duty carpet tape (available from home centers, etc.) to attach a "handle" to the corner pieces? A 3/4" X 3-1/2" X 8" piece of random wood will serve nicely as a handle.

You could also use a few spots of glue from a hot-glue gun instead of tape. Use the "all purpose" glue sticks rather than the "high strength" ones.

-Steve

Re: Tablesaw Safety Goes Under the Microscope--Again


@hydroelectricguy:

The amputation figures come from compilation of hospital ER data. The CPSC just gathers together the numbers from all of the hospitals in the US (the rate they came up with is about 3800 per year). And yes, the other kinds of saws cause amputations, too, but at significantly lower rates. (Many of the available reports don't clearly identify what kind of saw did the damage, which makes the estimation job more difficult.)

Of course, all of this information is freely available from the CPSC, but I guess in today's society, uninformed speculation is far more popular than making an effort to find the truth...

-Steve

Re: Cutlists are a waste of space


I agree with mkrok and shrink2 that what's more useful than a cutlist is a set of approximate quantities of the various materials used.

-Steve

Re: Needs Software for Managing a Shop


It's sounds like they're looking for basic accounting software. Quickbooks is probably the market leader; other popular packages are Peachtree and MYOB. There are also some freeware and web-based packages available, although I have no experience with them. I don't think you're going to find anything that's specifically tailored to a small woodworking shop.

-Steve

Re: Search Trouble on FineWoodworking.com?


@Gina,

Hmmm. It's there now, but it definitely wasn't when I checked earlier, and I triple-checked it at that time. (I wonder if searching for it enough times caused the Google gerbils to finally give in?)

I understand the issues with search-engine optimization, but my experience with Google (the real one) is that if you know the exact title of a document, using that title as the search term will work essentially 100% of the time.

-Steve

Re: Search Trouble on FineWoodworking.com?


The true irony of the situation is revealed when I go to google.com and try the "Give Legs a Kick With Dazzling Inlay" search there, and the article in question comes up as the first hit...

-Steve

Re: Search Trouble on FineWoodworking.com?


My formerly biggest beef was that the online magazine index was utterly abysmal. The good news is that you fixed that, and it works much better now. Thank you.

My current biggest beef is that things that obviously ought to be linked are not. Example: I seem to remember that Garrett Hack recently wrote an article on inlay, and I'd like to take another look at it. So I go to the online index, type in "Hack" and scan through the results. Aha! There it is (I think): "Give Legs a Kick With Dazzling Inlay"

Now, I can walk over to my bookcase and see if that is indeed the article I want, but it's undoubtedly available online, too, right? Surely there's a direct hyperlink from the magazine index entry to the online version, right? Right?

No, of course not. So I use the Google site search, using the full title of the article as my search term. I get a half-dozen hits, but amazingly enough, NONE of them are links to the article of interest! How can that be? I finally do find the article, a link to which is buried in one of the More... links at the bottom of another article on inlay.

An additional observation: Most (all?) online versions of articles include an "abstract" that really, really ought to be immediately accessible from the index search results, preferably in-line with each search result, in the form of an expand/collapse block. That way, if you get a lot of search results, you can quickly browse the abstracts to get a better idea whether or not the article is in fact what you're looking for, before you spend time fetching the article itself (either electronically or via sneakernet).

-Steve

Re: The sad (and bloody) story of what happened when I made a saw


I don't understand why the blog post is entitled "The sad (and bloody) story..."? Shouldn't it be "The hilarious (and bloody) story..."? ;-)

-Steve

Re: Mecca for All Things Stickley: Craftsman Farms


@DasHornetson,

"Holy Grail" would not be an appropriate metaphor here, since it represents an object (in particular, an object having magical powers) that people wish to possess, whereas the article talks about a place that attracts people to visit. From the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: "mec·ca n. 1. a. A place that is regarded as the center of an activity or interest."

-Steve

Re: A Mini Banjo


@PORC,

Stewart-MacDonald (http://www.stewmac.com/) has a wide assortment of banjo components.

-Steve

Re: Installing Plugins from Zipped Files


It seems that SketchUp could use a plugin that transparently handles the task of installing plugins contained in ZIP files. Better yet, it would be nice to have a standardized interface for handling the entire process, like Perl's CPAN or Ruby Gems.

-Steve

Re: FWW Holiday Tree


@routerrat,

The one thing that bothers me more than political correctness is people who take pleasure in criticizing what they view as political correctness, when in reality they haven't got a clue.

Like so many symbols of the Christmas season (and the timing of the holiday itself), Christmas trees existed long before they were co-opted by Christians. The earliest record of any sort of tradition of cutting and/or decorating trees in December is from several centuries before Jesus's birth. For example, see Jeremiah 10:1-5 (referring to practices in what is now the Middle East):

"Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel. Thus saith the LORD: 'Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain; for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not; they must be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.'" (KJV)

During the first millenium and a half after Jesus's birth, there were at least as many Christians vehemently opposed to Christmas trees as there were who favored them. Those opposed to the trees considered them to be pagan, although they were only half right: Pagan tradition did (and still does) involve decorating trees (as part of a fertility and solstice ritual), but never included the cutting of live trees.

Incidentally, Christmas trees didn't start showing up in the US until the 1850's.

-Steve

Re: Video: Clever Sled for Curved Bevels on the Tablesaw

This is one of those cases where it seems like a sharp handplane trumps the power tool option...

-Steve

Re: Free Plan: Shaker Blanket Chest


@THumphr:

Another important safety tip: No part of the inside of the chest (anything that will be exposed to the volatile cedar fumes) should have a finish on it. This includes the underside of the lid. The reason is that the chemicals released by the cedar will react with the finish, turning it into a sticky mess. You _might_ be able to get away with shellac, but any other oil, varnish or lacquer finish is likely to be damaged by the cedar.

-Steve

Re: Hardwood selector is free and fantastic


I think the line between "app" and "web site" is pretty blurry these days. If an app is truly standalone (i.e., doesn't go out to the Internet), then one could argue that it's intrinsically different from apps that do use the Internet, but other than that, the only real difference between an app and a web site is that the app is typically tailored to the more limited user interface available in a handheld device. On the other hand, there are also web sites that are tailored to handhelds, too...

With the introduction of the iPad and similar tablet devices, the line is even blurrier, because now you have a screen that's as large as on a "real" computer, so the amount of tailoring that needs to be done is minimal.

There's a sort of rule of thumb in the software development world: If you're designing a piece of software, and it's possible to implement your design using well-established Internet protocols (HTML, CSS, JavaScript), then there's no justification for implementing it any other way.

-Steve

Re: 5 tips for aspiring plane makers


@Nobunaga14:

You can't go wrong with a blade from Ron Hock (http://www.hocktools.com/). Just look for "Krenov-style" blades in the product listings.

I built a wooden plane just the other day using a 1-3/4" Hock blade. It has a curved sole with a longitudinal 36" radius, for planing the concave side of a chair's top rail. Works great.

David Finck, the author of the article and book mentioned above, also sells appropriate blades (http://www.davidfinck.com/), but I don't have any personal experience with them.

-Steve

Re: Does MDF Belong in Fine Furniture?


A point that keeps coming up is MDF's lack of moisture resistance. But you can get Medex, which is an exterior-grade MDF that obviously handles moisture without a problem. As a plus, it's also free of formaldehyde.

-Steve

Re: Help solve a hand tool mystery

There's something similar shown on p. 110 of Scott Landis' _The Workbench Book_.

-Steve

Re: Shaker Lap Desk in SketchUp


@OldMan,

Unless you're still using floppy disks or mag tapes, computers these days are pretty much immune to magnetic fields, even strong ones from rare earth magnets. I'd keep magnets away from any cooling fans (the magnet might be strong enough to cause the fan motor to stop turning temporarily), and keep them away from old-school CRT monitors, which will definitely go wacko if you bring a high-powered magnet near the screen or the yoke, possibly permanently. Hard drives use magnetic fields, but they're so well shielded that you'd have to really try hard to affect one (after all, they have rare earth magnets inside the case...).

-Steve

Re: Chamfered Post Table and Mortise & Tenon Joints


I think of a "stretcher" as something that spans across the middle (more or less) of an otherwise empty space. So any component that's directly adjacent to another doesn't count as stretcher.

The most popular generic term for horizontal members seems to be "rail" (or sometimes "beam" in large work, especially if it acts as a support). With tables in particular, the rails that are located directly beneath the top are typically called "aprons."

-Steve

Re: Rollie Johnson, Primetime Woodworker


This video reminds me of why I no longer watch television...

-Steve

Re: Workbench Tip: How to Cut Small Trim


@Moshup_Trail:

A bandsaw is ideal for that kind of thing. I recently cut some strips that were 2' long and 3/16" square in cross section that way.

-Steve

Re: How Do You Explain Your Prices?


I am rather skeptical of the original premise: Is there anyone who is able to even consider the possibility of purchasing a custom-built dining set (in the tens of thousands of dollars, at least) who also worries that they may be getting fleeced?

The people who are shocked by the price of custom furniture are equally shocked by the price of off-the-shelf high-end furniture, because the two sets of prices really aren't that far apart. I just looked over at the DWR web site, where I see that (on the low end) I can buy a George Nakashima-designed dining chair for $634, or (on the high end) a Frank Gehry-designed dining chair for $2605. Both 100% off-the-shelf. I found a similar range of prices at the Thomas Moser site.

Now, Sam Maloof could sell a rocker for $25,000, and Michael Fortune can sell a custom-built dining chair for $11,000, but I think most of us thinking to get into the business would be perfectly happy to sell custom-designed chairs in the $1000-2000 range, at least while starting out. And if that's a hard sell, all we have to do is point to off-the-shelf retailers like the ones mentioned above to show that we're not fleecing anyone (at least not any more than established businesses are).

I'm generally in agreement with tonyowood regarding the other points. "Solid wood" may be a buzzword selling point at the low end, but if you're making custom furniture for sale and setting prices based on the cost of the lumber, you're Doing It Wrong. Likewise, the "heirloom" argument is at best arrogant. I don't have much interest in creating art for art's sake. For me, it's more of a compliment for someone to say that a chair I made is comfortable than to say that it's a work of art.

I'm not really sure that "fine" is a valid differentiator, either. I can buy a Navy side chair from DWR for $350. It's comfortable, well-made, and all but indestructable. How is that not "fine"? (It's also priced at a point where I'd barely cover the cost of materials if I were to try to make something equivalent in wood.)

-Steve

Re: Here's why your plane doesn't keep cutting into your shooting board


Matt,

I guess you haven't gotten the implant yet? You know, the one that gives you a little electric shock in the side of your neck every time someone adds a comment to your blog posts.

What, Gina hasn't told you about it?

-Steve

Re: Here's why your plane doesn't keep cutting into your shooting board


I sent that last comment before I was finished...

The part number for the mating dowel pins is B001OBSOSE (package of 5). (Note that the first two 0's in the part number are the digit 0, but the last two are the letter O.)

Together, the bushing and the pins will set you back about USD3.00 (plus whatever outrageous shipping fees they charge to deliver to the Bahamas).

-Steve

Re: Here's why your plane doesn't keep cutting into your shooting board


@tompee14:

Do you have access to Amazon.com? If so, you can order a bronze bushing through them. Go to the Amazon web site and do a search on part number CB040604. That particular bushing is 3/8" in diameter, rather than the 5/16" that Matt used, but that just means you need to drill a slightly larger hole in the plywood.

-Steve

Re: The Status of the Custom Market: Are We Seeing a Resurgence?


@HayesFurnitureDesign:

The government hasn't said that the recession is over. The National Bureau of Economic Research said that the recession is over. The NBER is a non-profit organization, not connected to the government in any way.

-Steve

Re: Total garage shop makeover


@bruski,

What you say (about unvented asphalt shingled roofs) may have been true in the past, but some manufacturers are now making shingles that are warranted for "hot roof" applications. There was a recent discussion on this somewhere online; I think it was over at Green Building Adviser. Also, Joe Lstiburek has pointed out that the measured temperature increases from using a hot roof design are small--generally less than 10°F. The temperature differences between an asphalt roof in Minnesota and one in Texas are much greater than that.

True electronic ballasts for T12 lamps do exist, by the way; they're just not as likely to be found at your local home center. And they're intended more for retrofit than new construction, as there's really no point to using T12 lamps in new construction.

-Steve

Re: Handplane Primer: What's the difference between bench and block planes?


I think there may be a certain handplane manufacturer in Ottawa that would be surprised to hear that, "On bench planes, the bevel always faces down..."

See http://www.leevalley.com/US/wood/page.aspx?p=48944&cat=1,41182

-Steve

Re: Total garage shop makeover


There actually is something that you can do about engineered trusses: Replace them with new trusses that satisfy the load requirements but give you more head room. You can usually find off-the-shelf scissor trusses that will do the job. They leave you with a vaulted ceiling, but you can always install a suspended acoustic ceiling under the central peak, which is also a good way to install lighting fixtures. Or you can go to a truss manufacturer that will custom-design a truss that gives you the most headroom possible, but in that case it might end up being cheaper to raise the building side walls instead.

-Steve

Re: Start Woodworking: Build a Magnetic Wood Knife Holder


Rather than drilling individual holes for magnets, rout a long groove just over 1" wide, and glue in a piece of mild steel bar stock 1" wide by 1/8" thick (you can get some at Lowe's or Home Depot, etc.). Then stick the magnets to the bar (glue optional, but be sure that the magnets are all oriented in the same direction, so that they're not fighting each other). The now-magnetized bar will "smooth out" the magnetic force, so that it is more uniform across the face of the holder. That way, you can more easily accommodate knives and other tools of different sizes, without requiring that each tool be centered directly over a magnet.

-Steve

Re: Woodcarving Lilium


According to Google Translate, the original text is Slovak, and in English reads, "Lilium carving. carved from Topola. flower is in one piece. The list also straw in one piece. Then the flower is planted in the stem. Background Duba. The frame is maple. coat polyurethane coating, semi-gloss, velvet"

Obviously not a perfect translation, but not too bad, either. "Topola" might be tupelo. Regardless, the flower is very well done.

-Steve

Re: Weird Woodworking Tools


You can get a basic dissection kit from Edmund Scientific (http://www.scientificsonline.com/) for about $10. You can get fancier kits from Carolina Biological Supply (http://www.carolina.com/), but I think they may only sell to businesses and schools.

-Steve

Re: Trying on a Different Look


For me, the advantage of layers is that they work like "preset" configurations. Once I've set up my layers, I can control the visibility of hundreds or thousands of components with a couple of mouse clicks.

It's not a big deal if you're drawing up a single cabinet or a chair, for example, but it comes in handy when you're working on entire rooms full of cabinetry (or an entire house) at a time.

-Steve

Re: How to Win $1.5-Million: Lessons from the Tablesaw Lawsuit


@joe4liberty:

Do you happen to have a coffeemaker at home? If so, try this little experiment: Brew some coffee, and let it sit in the carafe on the machine's heater for a few minutes to equilibrate. Now measure the temperature.

What did you get? If your coffeemaker is in good order, you'll find that the temperature of the coffee is around 140-150ºF. That's what "hot coffee" means. That's also approximately the maximum temperature of liquid that you can put in your mouth without causing serious injury.

McDonald's held their coffee at 180-190ºF. Why? Because it takes longer for it to begin to taste stale when held at that temperature. (In other words, they did it to save money.)

McDonald's, as a matter of policy, served coffee that was much hotter than anyone else's coffee, with the full knowledge that it was far too hot to be drunk safely (or, for that matter, to be spilled safely). And they continued to do so even after receiving hundreds of complaints that their coffee was so hot as to be unsafe. It was specifically this "willful recklessness" that the judge cited when he ruled against them.

-Steve

Re: How to Win $1.5-Million: Lessons from the Tablesaw Lawsuit


@gsm627:

Let's say you go out and buy a tool, a circular saw. You bring it home, plug it in, and get ready to make your first cut. When you pull the trigger, the saw motor starts up, and at the same time you feel a jolt as the saw delivers an electric shock to your arm. Startled, you drop the saw on your foot, breaking two toes.

It's your own fault, right? You should have known better than to operate a circular saw without wearing steel-toed shoes, right? You should have anticipated the electric shock and put on rubber gloves, right?

This scenario is much closer to the McDonald's case than is the Osorio case. The McDonald's case wasn't about personal responsibility; it was about normal expectations of the characteristics of a product. The McDonald's case wasn't about burning yourself with hot coffee; it was about coffee so hot that it caused full-thickness burns that required skin grafts to repair.

Note also that in the McDonald's case, the plaintiff asked for only $20,000; just enough to cover her medical bills.

-Steve

Re: How to Win $1.5-Million: Lessons from the Tablesaw Lawsuit


@bobwoodman: As long as juries are willing to succumb to emotional arguments and award large sums to plaintiffs with insubstantial cases, people will file lawsuits as often as they think they have a chance of winning. It's a basic principle of most human societies: If there's money to be made, someone will try to game the system to get more than their fair share.

@Leejames1953: While I agree that the judgment in this case was wrong, the McDonald's case has been widely misrepresented, and is, in my opinion, not at all comparable. In particular, McDonald's held their coffee at much higher temperatures than the industry norm, the plaintiff was NOT driving the car, and the car was NOT moving at the time of the accident.

See: http://www.lectlaw.com/files/cur78.htm

-Steve

Re: Do woodworkers hold the key to a quick clean-up of the gulf oil spill?


@Solnishko: You left out one important point: The cleanup attempts in Santa Barbara basically didn't work. Like in Alaska, they removed the visible, surface oil, but didn't do anything for the oil that had already been absorbed into the sand. It took years for fishery stocks to recover, and some shellfish populations still haven't.

I especially like a quote from the president of Union Oil at the time, "I don't like to call it a disaster, because there has been no loss of human life...I am amazed at the publicity for the loss of a few birds."

Sound disturbingly familiar?

Regarding the magnitude of the current spill, the TOTAL amount of oil released during the Santa Barbara spill is about equal to TWO DAYS worth of Deep Horizon leakage...

-Steve

Re: Garry Bennett Trestle Table for Charity: Buy a piece of woodworking history


All of the roach clips I ever saw (not that I ever saw one--in case anyone asks) were just ordinary electronic alligator clips (like you used to be able to get at Radio Shack before Radio Shack turned into...I'm not really sure what Radio Shack turned into).

If I recall correctly, #24, with Garry's nail cabinet, was the very first issue of FWW that I ever saw, on a newsstand in a B. Dalton at Quaker Bridge Mall in Lawrenceville NJ.

-Steve

Re: New Sliding Miter Saw from Bosch


@demouser:

I agree. It shouldn't be difficult to put together a setup that exerts a consistent lateral force on the handle (all it takes is a weight, a pulley, some string and some scrap wood).

I was having some difficulty getting consistent perpendicular cuts with my own miter saw. I finally figured out that the dust collection hose was exerting enough force to pull the head out of whack. I did some tests with a dial indicator, and just a light sideways force (I didn't measure it) was enough to move the front of the blade by 0.010", while the same amount of force moved the back of the blade only 0.002".

-Steve

Re: Who needs a saw? Just blow up the next tree you need to fell


@Ed,

Yeah, I noticed that, too. That was probably riskier than cutting the notch right next to the high explosive. The thing is, I can't figure out WHY he did it that way. The way I've always seen it (and the way I've done it myself--not that I've ever done it on an explosive-laden tree, mind you), is to make two cuts from the side.

-Steve

Re: Who needs a saw? Just blow up the next tree you need to fell


While I agree that using a chainsaw on a tree that already contains a high-explosive charge was probably not the smartest order of events, I think the risk of explosion was pretty low. The secondary high explosives that are used in demolition are actually pretty stable, and difficult to detonate. They need to be exposed to a high-velocity shock wave (such as one created by a primary detonator, or, say, a rifle bullet...) before they will go off.

-Steve

Re: Do woodworkers hold the key to a quick clean-up of the gulf oil spill?


@Doug,

I have been involved in environmental activism for twenty-five years. I've served on boards of local and state organizations, I've spoken up at town halls, I've worked to provide elementary school teachers with materials so that they can include environmental education programs in their curricula, I've helped draft legislation to protect wetlands. Over those twenty-five years, I've donated thousands of hours, and tens of thousands of dollars, to efforts to try to prevent these kinds of disasters from happening in the first place.

So no, I'm not "idly" doing anything. I'm in this for the long haul. It sickens me to think about what's going on right now in the Gulf. But it sickens me far more to know that a few years from now, many of those same voices who are currently crying, "Off with their heads!" will be screaming that the cost of gasoline is too high.

It's not a lack of technological expertise that has created this disaster. Whether it's a blowout a mile deep in the Gulf, a lethal explosion in a coal mine in West Virginia, or even the meltdown of the financial system, the root causes are purely political and economic, not technical. They're all the result of inadequate risk assessment, and most importantly, inadequate (and sometimes nonexistent) risk mitigation.

The enormity of the devastation in the Gulf should--but probably won't--teach us that shortsightedness is what gets us into these messes, and the only practical way to deal with catastrophes of this magnitude is to prevent them from happening in the first place.

-Steve

Re: Do woodworkers hold the key to a quick clean-up of the gulf oil spill?


"No matter how improbable a solution might be, you'll never know if it will work until you try."

Aside from being hopelessly naïve, that's also demonstrably false. Unless you make some effort to understand the problem you're trying to solve, you're just flailing around in the dark. (It's why the US Patent Office still receives a steady stream of applications concerning perpetual motion machines.)

Case in point: BP has received countless proposals for pushing/dumping/dropping items into the wellhead in order to plug the leak. With only a handful of exceptions, none of those proposals have taken into account the fact that the oil is spewing out at a pressure of around 20,000 psi (meaning, of course, that nearly anything you try to put inside the pipe is going to come right back out).

Quick: How much oil will a pound of sawdust absorb? How many pounds of sawdust are generated each day in the US? How quickly can you get that sawdust down to the Gulf coast? If you haven't done at least some back-of-the-envelope calculations to see if any of those numbers are even remotely in the ballpark of where they need to be, fooling around with jars of seawater is pointless. In a way, it's like cleaning oiled seabirds: It might make you feel better, but the birds are almost certainly going to die anyway.

If you REALLY want to do something to help out, volunteer to do coastal clean-up. If you can't do that, send money to the groups that are organizing those who can. For example: http://www.nature.org/multimedia/features/art31637.html

For the long term, take efforts to reduce your energy footprint (the less oil we need to extract, the smaller the chances of a spill). And write your elected representatives to ensure that this kind of thing can't happen again. (Yes, it means that oil would be more expensive. Deal with it--it's about time that we paid the true costs for the energy that we consume.)

-Steve

Re: Do woodworkers hold the key to a quick clean-up of the gulf oil spill?


This sounds like the brilliant "hair booms" idea. (see http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/06/09/1672436_p2/bp-weighing-hundreds-of-oil-options.html for more.)

The stuff that's spewing out of the well isn't "oil" in the ordinary sense of the word. It has the consistency of the Cosmoline that's used to prevent steel from rusting while in storage (and it's about as difficult to remove--see http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gqLO-UjoQLFOS-5CaTDScSUnB46wD9G7SOF02 for a first-hand account). If you spread sawdust on it, the sawdust will certainly absorb the oil...over the course of a few years or more.

Why do people so often put forth "solutions" without bothering to understand the actual problem?

-Steve

Re: Seth Rolland: Slicing Maestro


I have to disagree with those who want to see "how to" instructions for Seth Rolland's designs. At best, they would allow you to create copies of his work. But what's the point of that? Taking the time to examine great works--and to develop the skills required to generate ideas of your own from them--is a major part of finding your own "voice" in woodworking (or any other creative activity, for that matter). This isn't nuts and bolts stuff--how to cut a mortise and tenon, or anything like that. This is pure INSPIRATION.

The purpose of art is to make you think. And pieces like Rolland's REALLY make you think! Work like his inspires me, not to imitate him, but to strive to become better, to be able to do more than what I am capable of doing now. That's exactly the way it should be. And since it's not practical for me to see every piece I'd want to in person, I'd like to see more, more, more photos, examining every detail, every nook and cranny, of work like his.

And yes, I do wish that _Home Furniture_ were still being published...

-Steve

Re: How to Use Bamboo for Fine Furniture


The sustainability of bamboo products seems to depend more on who you buy it from than anything else.

Here are a couple of vendors that have good information on their websites:

EcoTimber

http://www.ecotimber.com/pledgeOverview.php

http://www.ecotimber.com/guide/eco-friendly-flooring.html

Smith & Fong

http://www.plyboo.com/plyboo-fsc-certified-bamboo-plywood-and-flooring-products.html

-Steve

Re: Homemade Horizontal Router Table


@Jessen,

You can find more about the WoodRat at http://www.woodrat.com/. In the US, you can order directly from the manufacturer, or from Lee Valley Tools.

-Steve

Re: How to Glue-Up Joints: Tips on gluing


Regarding the longevity of ancient glue joints: Remember that you have a strongly biased sample: You're never going to see the stuff that fell apart a hundred years ago and was relegated to the dumpster at that time. So I think the take-home lesson is that it's POSSIBLE to create a strong, long-lived glue joint with hide glue, but without knowing how many glue joints were made that didn't survive through the years, we can't even say that it's PROBABLE that a joint made with hide glue will last a long time.

From my own gluing experiences, I think that how well the joint fits before the glue is applied, along with proper glue application technique, are both likely to affect the long-term strength of the joint much more than the kind of glue that was used.

-Steve

Re: How to Glue-Up Joints: Different Woods Need Different Clamping Pressure


What's missing from this discussion (and from the original article) is how strength varies with clamping pressure and other joint conditions. For example, let's say I clamp a sugar maple edge joint at 300 psi, just 1/4 of the recommended pressure. Is the joint going to be only 50% as strong? If so, then that might be pretty significant, especially if it means that the strength of the glue line falls below the strength of the wood itself. But if my less-than-ideal joint turns out to have 95% of the strength of a joint clamped at the ideal pressure, then who cares?

Likewise, how perfect does the mating between the two surfaces have to be? If my glue line varies in thickness between 0.005" and 0.015", how much strength am I giving up?

The information in the article is just a starting point. What we need to see is investigations with this level of rigor, but into the strength of joints produced under "real world" conditions. (There have been articles in FWW addressing real-world strength of joints, but most have been all but completely lacking in scientific rigor. I remember one particularly egregious example from some years ago, where the authors concluded, in effect, "Well, the biscuit joint tested significantly stronger than the mortise-and-tenon, but we still think the mortise-and-tenon is better.")

-Steve

Re: Overcoming a Quirk in SketchUp


@Dave,

That's true if it's a simple through-hole. My mental image as I was writing that was something with a countersink or counterbore or other complexity, where you'd want to draw as much of it as you could before copying.

-Steve

Re: Overcoming a Quirk in SketchUp


I've found that a hole that doesn't go all of the way through a piece doesn't suffer from this quirk, so that's the way I usually handle it: I draw the partial-depth hole, copy it as needed, and then repeatedly use the push/pull tool (taking advantage of the double-click behavior) to penetrate the rest of the way.

-Steve

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

I shaved my head, just like Matt, and he STILL gets all the women. What am I doing wrong? It's the beard, isn't it? I look too much like Mark McGwire...

Re: Handcut Dovetails....in SketchUp


I dunno, Dave. Those look an awful lot like machine-cut dovetails to me. How can I be sure you didn't use a jig? ;-)

-Steve

Re: Need a bandsaw? Make it!


This is starting to sound like ShopNotes magazine...

-Steve

Re: How to Make Outdoor Furniture

@Thoronymous: I think you're supposed to take a cue from Michael Fortune's philosophy: "I'm not big on copying..." and "You'll need to draw a full-size side view to work out the arm curve." -Steve

Re: Miracle Shield Blocks Kickback


The idea of a "Crotch Block" reminds me of a photo I saw at the Warther Museum in Dover OH. It shows Mooney Warther as a young man working in a steel mill, wearing a sort of chain-mail apron of his own invention. He wore it to protect himself from the shrapnel that would sometimes come shooting out of the punch presses.

Re: A Quick Look at Bezier.rb


Regarding the audio, people realize that they need to set the volume in both their computer's main audio properties AND in the video player, too, right?

-Steve

Re: In awe of ancient trees


Depending on how you look at it, aspens may be the longest-lived trees. While a single aspen bole lives only a couple of hundred years, all of the boles in a grove comprise a single organism, arising from a single germination event, and remaining connected underground through their roots.

Some quaking aspen groves in the Western US are estimated to be tens of thousands of years old.

Re: Plywood for Fine Furniture


That which makes furniture "fine" has almost nothing to do with what materials are used, and everything to do with how they are used.

Re: Q&A with Period Furniture Maker Philip C. Lowe


@Gezdog,

Doesn't clicking the X in the upper right corner of the ad popup make it go away? It does for me.

I agree, however, that the ads are intrusive. Other web sites will display a "commercial" at the beginning, and then show the video without interruption. I much prefer that approach.

-Steve

Re: How to Make Leaded Glass Windows


@Eric,

A wet saw designed for tile and such wouldn't be a good choice for glass, because of the different consistencies of the materials. You're likely to get a lot of chipping along the cut edge.

They do make saws for glass: They're called "ring saws," and you can find them at the web site that Mike mentions.

-Steve

Re: Monticello's Universal Table

Tage Frid had an article on a table using this style of extension way back in FWW #9:

http://www.finewoodworking.com/FWNPDF/011009034.pdf

In the article, he calls it a "Dutch pull-out."

-Steve

Re: Cool Accessory for Festool Dust Extractors

Yes, I can confirm that the Festool antistatic hoses fit the Dust Deputy port. It's a friction fit on the INSIDE of the Festool hose end (the Festool hose seats on the outside when plugged into the vac). The Dust Deputy is made of a slick polypropylene, so the hose tends to eventually work itself loose over time.

-Steve

Re: Finally, a Project I Really Want to Build


Hey, with a laptop, you can learn SketchUp _while_ you're in a warm pub!

Multitasking, you know.

-Steve

Re: Are CNC machines ready for Fine Woodworking?


@TKReischl:

It was actually David Pye who introduced the concepts of "[work]manship of risk" vs. "[work]manship of certainty," in _The Nature and Art of Workmanship_.

-Steve

Re: A Fern Stand: Demonstrating My Drawing Process


I just emailed Dave with the solution to the mystery: The camera has to be set to perspective projection in order to be able to rotate into the interior of a component. If the camera is set to parallel projection, it is effectively positioned at infinity, making it impossible to get "inside" anything.

-Steve

Re: A Fern Stand: Demonstrating My Drawing Process


I'm seeing a similar thing (in 7.1.6087), and I'm wondering if there's been a change in the code, because I know I've been able to orbit and zoom inside a solid before. Now, it looks like no matter how close I get, when I orbit I'm still beyond the "near end" of the model.

-Steve

Re: Free Plan: Arts-and-Crafts Inspired Chair


I've created a SketchUp model of the chair. You can download it from:

http://www.dendroica.com/SketchUpModels/rexAlexanderChair.skp

There's a discrepancy between the drawings and the photos: The drawings show the tops of the seat rails flush with the tops of the front legs, whereas the photos show them moved downward about 3/8". In the model, I followed the photos.

-Steve

Re: Innovative Way to Carry Lumber in a Car


Gina,

Well, I was in Peru this past July, and it's back to South Africa next August. I don't know yet what's in store for 2011--maybe Brazil?

-Steve

Re: Innovative Way to Carry Lumber in a Car

I was in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, México just last week, and saw something similar: Picture bumper-to-bumper traffic weaving back and forth between narrow lanes, and a load of lumber precariously balanced sideways on the roof of a car, extending out about four feet on either side.

Re: Dovetailed drawers are overrated

Why does one choose any joint over any other? It's always a juggling act: fitness of purpose, aesthetics, etc. If you're a beginner, then skill certainly factors into the equation as well. And aesthetics do play a big role; if aesthetics weren't an issue, we'd all be making screwed-together butt joints for everything.

But dovetails are an excellent choice for drawers (and other four-sided boxes); they're strong in the direction they need to be strong in. Machine-cut dovetails are just as strong and very easy to make, but some people find them to be lacking in aesthetics.

I guess I just don't see the fetishism that you speak of. There is certainly a lot of hype surrounding dovetails, but that's more out of (misplaced) fear than fetishism: Hand-cut dovetails do require a fair bit of practice. But so do hand-cut mortise-and-tenon joints, hand-cut half-laps, etc. People aren't afraid of those other joints, though, because they can make them by machine and no one will be able to tell the difference. You can't fake a hand-cut dovetail, but a well-fitting hand-cut mortise-and-tenon is probably harder to accomplish.

The reason I say that the fear is misplaced is because dovetails really aren't that hard. In the time between my previous comment and this one I cut a three-tail joint; I posted some photos here: http://www.dendroica.com/Scratch/dovetails.jpg.

I didn't time myself, but apart from the initial stock squaring, which was already done, I spent somewhere around 45 minutes or so, including fitting the joint together (it's not glued) and planing the surfaces flush.

The joint isn't perfect--you can see a couple of divots here and there--but it's not too bad. And it's not like I'm some kind of dovetail expert, either. The total number of dovetail joints that I've cut, including practice pieces like this one, is somewhere in the low double digits.

The wood I used in the joint, by the way, is an unknown species, salvaged from a packing crate from Tanzania. It's pretty soft and compressible, with workability something like a medium-density pine. It's a mixed blessing as far as cutting dovetails is concerned; the compressibility means that fitting the joints isn't too arduous, but the softness means that it's easy to screw up, and paring end grain is an exercise in frustration.

Re: Dovetailed drawers are overrated

Of course, if you avoid them for too long, you'll never master them. ;-)

Hand-cutting dovetails on scraps has the same effect on your skills as hand-cutting dovetails on "real" pieces, except that the stress isn't there. Over time, you get better. Eventually, you gain enough confidence to use them on real pieces. Until then, you stick with other kinds of joints; hand-cut dovetails are just one in a range of joints that you'll want to master.

Whenever I'm milling up stock, I look for cutoffs that would be appropriate for use as "proxy drawer corners," and I set them aside for dovetail practice. Anything 2-4" wide and at least a couple of inches long will work; it helps to have a matching pair of pieces.

Re: Bench Cookie Giveaway

From a photo I took in South Africa last year.

Re: Poll: The Next FWW Tool Test

How about some real investigative journalism? Rather than Yet Another In-the-Shop Review, give it a little more oomph. Someone else mentioned air cleaners. Well, there has been some discussion, here on Knots and elsewhere, that the remote control on the Jet air cleaner is incompatible with fluorescent lights. That seems like a pretty signficant limitation to me. Do other air cleaners have the same limitation? What does Jet have to say on the matter? The FWW editorial staff ought to have enough clout to get the real scoop from the manufacturers. And if the manufacturers aren't willing to talk on the record, well, that's real news, too.

Re: The Faces of Woodworking

Seems to be okay now. It must have been a temporary glitch.

Re: The Faces of Woodworking

Something has gone wrong with the hyperlinks on the thumbnails next to the main photo--they don't go anywhere any more (not just on this post, but on the others as well).



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