Friday, September 10, 2010


My choice to find a balance in the work that I do is a choice that was born in the inner most part of me. The struggle to resist the temptations of modern technology to produce the best work I can isn't really a struggle at all. Its been labeled as such. For me the true struggle is for one to limit oneself saying,"Well I only use these kinds of tools" or, "Power tools aren't for fine work". Now I will say that I don't use power tools for my joinery because I feel like that joints cut by hand are better,stronger, and more accurate. The essence of woodworking is to take carefully selected planks and shape them into something that looks like it was cut from the same tree. The fact that many can do fine joinery using only power tools is apparent everywhere. Just look in any woodworking magazine, and see the books dedicated to working only with table saws. I've seen makers cutting dovetail joinery with one of these beastly machines. My personal conviction on power tools is in line with something I read in the writings of James Krenov. The lesson here was why expend all of your precious energy in mill work, and then have nothing left for the finer things such as the joinery, or taking the time to read the grain and expose the best parts of each plank. In my own shop I've begun to separate things. I have a "machine room" which is the basement of my home. This is the place where Ive worked for years. I've done fine work in this space, but always felt intimidated by the crudeness of this space. Its perfect for the dirty mill work. In a completely separate but adjoining room I've set up my bench, and my growing collection of fine hand tools. This is the place where the "magic" takes place. The walls are painted a nice dark tan, and the window trim brown. There is a large brick hearth and log burning fireplace as well. This is a refuge, and where the dirt and grime of mill work is not allowed. This is a place where the rough sawn planks ascend into fine pieces ready for joints to be hand cut, and assembled. The lesson I've learned here, is that a balance of modern tools, vs the ancient tools can be combined and one can truly excel in the kind of work they do. There are no boundaries, but then again there are personal standards that are followed strictly. I do own a table saw, and have owned this machine for years. It cuts true, and fast, but the edges are all perfectly straight and square. A sharp blade leaves minimal marking, but this is hardly the surface of the fine work I want to leave behind.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Leg Up

This mystery wood Im guessing some type of pine was some of the most strangest wood Ive worked. Most of us enjoy the smell of freshly cut wood, or the feel and sound of chisel snapping the grain. Other than very heavy(good for my bench) this stuff was stringy, and smells pungent. Anyway, here are the legs, chopped, cut, beaten, and squared.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Alot has been said, and written about the getting the right bench top just for you. I've tried all the test of measuring from the floor to my pinky knuckle, and one where you keep your arms by your side, but extend you hands outwards as if pushing something down. My benchtop of 32" fell in between those too. I understand that a lower bench is nice for a planing bench, more leg muscles involded. Layouts, and hand saw cuts, even with the work elevated in my vise was too short below 32". So hopefully this meets the two sound bench heights somewhere in the middle of the road. My benchtop should finish somewhere around 32" high. Will the old Disston make it through, or better yet, make it true? So far so good as I take my time and a break to write this.

These massive mystery timbers will form the legs to my monster bench. Now remember Im not entering any how "pretty is your bench contest", just a straight flat accurate bench that provide, multiple quick holding operations is what I seek. If I make something and it ends up looking cool along the way, well thats just a bonus. Bonus number 1, My left thumb narrowly escaped death when it became wedged between the two massize unknowns! A quick crushing sensation, just a flesh wound, so Ill be on figthing.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

4th Down and time to punt

I decided that there was no reason to continue on with the bench top I was working on in "The Glue Dance" post. I didn't like the feel of that bench, and not to mention the glue up didn't go as planned. This time, Ive selected some Mahogany that sat outside for a unknown amount of time, and its now "Sun Dried Mahogany" if you will. Today I moved planks around and ended up with a very cool looking book match on one end that Ive determined to be my face vise side. I cut out dog holes about 6" on center and have made arrangements with the first few planks to accept a European style tail vise. I will post pics after this section is flat, and just before the next stage of glue up. One thing I should have known but didn't do is its best to glue up the top in sections, rather than trying to wrestle a bunch of planks and the race against strong quick setting adhesives! All is well, and the other bench top will serve somewhere maybe a new glue up table.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Glue Dance Day 1

Everything is all ready for glue up. This is always much more fun with a friend, but I have my Lab who provides my much needed supervision. So here is all of the stock Ive got, and remember it was free so my “Kitchen Sink” bench top will be mostly cherry, with a little maple and walnut for added flavor.

I used every clamp I could find that of course was big enough. My battens were 2×4 wrapped in wax paper to keep everything as flat as possible.

Day 2-
I was did the right thing here and waited a full 24 hours for the glue to cure, and evaporate. Now based on the next photo you can see Ill be busy for quite some time. Cheers!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

One Saw Bench or Two

My first attempt at recording my thoughts, hopes and wishes on a work bench have changed and today Ive begun to bring forth my ideas into my shop. One of the things about woodworking as you may have found out for yourself, is sometimes in order to accomplish one goal, along the way your faced with sub tasks if you will that must be completed before the main goal can be reached. For me that was a saw bench. You may wonder why I need a saw bench to build my work bench and the answer is this. My power tools continue to collect dust the old fashion way, and my band saw is the only one that has survived my journey into hand tools. The band saw is like a big hand tool with a cord anyway. That cant be applied to the tablesaw, or router etc. The bandsaw has its purpose in my hand tool shop. The saw bench is for crosscutting all of the large stock that will go into my bench. I followed the design for a saw bench found on Christooher Swartz Lost Art Press. I changed some things such as the 10 degree splay is at the back of the bench rather than all four legs. That way the legs shouldnt interfere with my saws downward motion. I also added the rip notch at the front of the bench,goes along with the 90 degree legs to tell me or someone else which side is the front.
I did read in the Lost Art plans about having two benches stored on top of each other. I will more than likely make another. I liek this one pretty good, but I made it in a hour, and there are some things I would do differently. Not big things, but I like pretty, and this thing is kind of ugly. Maybe in about 5 years Ill like how it looks.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Changing Directions

Over the last couple of years my approach to woodworking has changed a bit. Like many, I grew up on power tools. As a member of I recently posted a forum topic about a injury I sustained using my table saw. The post does has some pics of my injury, so be warned. Some folks dont like blood. One thing that happened to me over this incident was the beginning of interest in hand tools. I had no idea of how truly remarkable a hand tool could be used to elevate ones work so. It took about one month to get over the injury, mentally atleast. The hand surgeon told me to wait 6 months for healing! If woodworking was a hobby, I can see waiting that long, but how was I too feed my kids like that? So I knuckled up, and started working. Recently I made the decision to rid myself of some power tools for several reasons. One I dont enjoy them at all. Im not against them, or a hand tool purist, but for me hand tools have provided a unequaled amount of satisfaction in my work. The tools are beautiful, a joy to use, and yes expensive! I would encourage any woodworker to look closely at hand tools, just to see how very accurate they can be. There is so much information to be found on how to set up, properly care for, and use hand tools. Some great books Ive picked up are, "Choosing and using Hand Tools" written by Andy Rae. I've recently ordered Tom Fidgen's "Made by Hand". All of James Krenov's books are of course a must for your library. Finally anything written by Christopher Schwarz is also a must have. My final comment for now would be to consider hand tools for how clean they are. The dust made by hand saws isnt anything like that from the table saw. Your ears will thank you, but your power company won't!

Monday, June 28, 2010

My 21st Century Work Bench

Alot of work benches I’ve studied closely either look to top heavy, with flimsy legs, or too light to handle the rigors of heavy hand planing. I’ve found many designs that incorporated a huge slab top, with massive timbers for legs. The Roubo design as presented by Christopher Schwarz stands out as one designed to do what a work bench should, securely hold work for hand tools. This design I’ve taken many aspects of various benches and blended them together to form one I think will work for me. The center tool well will allow a chair or small table to be on the bench top without the worry of the piece tipping into a more traditional well that is positioned on the edge of the top. The legs are dovetailed into the top, with the natural locking abilities of dovetails, and the top mortised into the leg, I can’t see how this bench would ever rack. Not to mention multiple dog holes, and hold fasts for every clamping operation I could think of. I haven’t yet added the deadman, but that will come later.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Andy Glantz Zenith-Design

Not alot of good common sense applies to small businesses that promote others of the same, or similar field. I personally think that rule may apply to some professions, but not here, and not me. Ive collected and made friends with several Makers who I respect as individuals, and as true artists.

Today I want to comment on the work of Andy Glantz,

Mr. Glantz recently published a very informative article in the annually published Woodwork Magagzine. The article was titled, "Cultivating your clients." This article was so profound to me in my early career as a maker that I was compelled to contact Mr. Glantz and express my appreciation for his knowledge.

As a artist Mr. Glantz works diligently to create sculptural furniture that breaks away from common boundaries. My words can only introduce those of you who have never seen his work. Viewing his work even from the online format speaks much louder than I could ever.

Monday, May 24, 2010

My Review of 7" Groz Front Vise Hardware

How fast can it sink?

By Thomas Woodworker from Greenville, Sc on 5/24/2010


1out of 5

Cons: Difficult To Use, Poor Grip, Flimsy

Best Uses: In The Yard

Describe Yourself: Professional

Primary use: Business

Difficult to install, a hollow flimsy handle, and the racking, My God the racking.....


Thursday, May 20, 2010

New Logos!

Brand spankin' new logos from

very cool, and a delight to work with!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Slide Show Addition

This was one of the most difficult things to do, Ive ever done. Now its here.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"Focal Point?"

After a long break away from the unmatched joys of inhaling sawdust, I'm glad to be back and present my latest. This piece is from my world of self motivated woodworking, and features many different species of wood. The original design was very art deco, but as one can see it leans much more toward Asian aesthetic. The end result is a conversation piece that tends toward more appearance rather than function. Although the interior is lined in Spanish Cedar providing a pleasing aroma to the lucky one who opens it.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Rosewood Humidor

This humidor features Rosewood veneer directly over Spanish Cedar. The inlay seen close to the bottom is a band of Karliean Birch veneer, accompied by two strings of Ebony inlay. The corners, and edges are completed by strings of solid Burmese Blackwood. The engraving centered on the lid completes this custom commission displaying my clients name.