A New Experience for a Worthy Cause

Rob Johnstone with GuitarIf you’re a regular follower of our blog, you have seen videos of our projects at the Craftsman Experience in Chicago and Rob’s video from last summer’s Guitars4Vets event (if not, you can view them here, here, and here).

We’re gearing up for another journey to the Craftsman Experience in the Windy City this week, but this event is a little bit different: we’ll be building a guitar in the span of three days. At the end of the build, the guitar will be presented to Guitars4Vets, who will then auction it off to benefit their organization.

Sounds like a daunting task, right? For such an undertaking, we’ve enlisted not one… not two… but THREE Woodworker’s Journal authors: editor in chief Rob Johnstone, field editor Chris Marshall, and regular contributor George Vondriska.

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Chris Marshall’s Projects at the Craftsman Experience

In late December, I had an opportunity to head to the Windy City to do a two-day project demonstration at Craftsman Experience. In case you are unfamiliar with it, Craftsman Experience is a fairly new venture for Sears. It’s a hand’s-on studio space in the heart of downtown Chicago for all sorts of DIY experiential learning (mechanics, woodworking, lawn and garden, garage projects, etc.). Guests like myself and Rob Johnstone are asked to come in, and the project construction is performed during a live-feed video broadcast over the internet. Then, after a healthy dose of editing to trim down the time and those inevitable flub-ups, the video segments are posted to YouTube.

Maybe you didn’t get a chance to catch my appearances during the pre-holiday frenzy, but they are viewable now by clicking below. Even though we’re past the holidays at this point, it sure couldn’t hurt to build the Safety Sign I demonstrated in one segment, or watch me build Luminarias in the other and put that on your project list for the 2011 holidays. My wife likes the Luminarias I made for her so much that she’s threatening to leave them up and burning all year. So, I guess that’s a true testimonial for you.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the video coverage! Rob and I will be headed back to Craftsman Experience in the coming months for future appearances, and we’ll be sure to keep you posted about those live-broadcast dates.

Catch you in the shop,

Chris Marshall, Field Editor

Family Woodworking

Bear ShelfMany woodworkers have someone in their family who was a woodworker as well. They might remember hanging out in the shop with their dad, or their grandfather – or these days, their mom or their grandma.

In my case, both my grandfathers were woodworkers. Admittedly, there were aspects of this I did not cherish as much as I should when I had the chance – college students, for example, do not appreciate Grandpa’s sense of humor in starting the band saw, located in the basement shop directly below the guest (aka my room!) bedroom, at 7 a.m.

These days, however, now that both of them have passed away, I do put a high value on the woodworking I have from them which still lives on in my home. It’s not monetary value – no one in my family was ever named Maloof, and my grandfathers, while good woodworkers, were both definitely hobbyists when it came to “straight-up” woodworking (although one did make a living as a carpenter for a while).

Lazy SusanNo, it’s the value of having things that I can see and touch, and that my daughter, who never knew either of my grandfathers, can see and touch as well, that passed through their hands and their shops. Somewhere, I once read something about how all the people that you have known connect you to both the past and the future. My grandfathers’ woodworking connects my daughter to a century of which she has no memories, and my grandfathers to a century which only one of them lived to see. It’s possible these shelves, cabinets, lazy Susans, boxes and so on, may even connect them all to the next century through my daughter. I think that’s pretty cool.

How about you – do you have anyone in your family whose woodworking you remember? Do you still have any of it in your home?

Joanna Takes
Senior Editor

Spice Cabinet

A Miter Saw Station for Many

Sometimes being Woodworker’s Journal’s “Field” Editor, I feel like I’m way, way out in some field. What I mean here is, I’m one step removed from the day-to-day feedback we receive in our home office from readers about what we publish. A lot of mail comes in, but generally I don’t get to see it. I work from home, which is several states away.

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The Errors of Our Ways

To err is human. Now there’s a bromide that could have been written by a woodworker—it’s certainly true in my shop.

And there are many others we’ve adopted. Did you see our recent bromide contest in the eZine, or the many responses that followed from it? It’s funny how many of them have to do with coping with those inevitable, frustrating and sometimes costly mistakes we all make at one time or another.

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Five Good Reasons to Get Framed

Now that our daughters are old enough to travel well, my family has spent several vacations in our national parks. (Our parks are extraordinary, by the way…well worth the road trip.) As mementos to those visits, we’ve been collecting a series of “woodcut” prints that don’t fit standard sized picture frames. Lately I’ve been building six matching frames to get our collection up on the wall. As you know, there’s a lot of repetitive work that goes on when you’re building a half dozen of anything, so I’ve had some shop time to think about the virtues of picture frames as projects. Continue reading

Taking Skids to a Whole New Level

I know, Teri, this is skid abuse... I should have my shop keys taken away from me for a week!

Last fall, I wrote a post to pick your brains about what you do, if anything, with skid lumber. You followed through with some really good ideas and funny commentary! Since then, we continue to get new followers that happen across that post and add their own comments. Much appreciated!

Well, just the other day Teri Kent posted what has to be the longest project list for skid lumber I’ve ever seen! It deserves downright accolades in my book, and when you read it, I think you’ll agree. Teri is the Zen Master of Clever Skiddery.

Here it is:

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Closer Look at Our Full-featured Miter Saw Station

Chris Marshall shows us around his Ultimate Miter Saw Station, featured in the June 2010 issue of Woodworker’s Journal magazine.

Matt Becker
Internet Production Coordinator

EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to the enormous amount of interest in this project, we have made the Ultimate Miter Saw Stand (including the plans for the entire project and the optional Scrap Bins, as well as the Cutting List) available as a Downloadable Plan in our online store. Click here to purchase and receive the plan immediately!

Good Woodworking for a Good Work

Earlier this week, Marc Spagnolo – AKA. The Wood Whisperer – contacted me and told me of an effort that he helped lead for charity.  He and 67 woodworkers, organized through the Woodworker’s Fighting Cancer charity, built and sold tables to benefit the American Cancer Society. The tables were just super to look at and the result of their effort was an amazing $8,000 donated to the American Cancer Society. As Marc asked me in his email, “How awesome is that?”  My answer: truly awesome indeed.

Fighting cancer is an effort that is near and dear to those of us at the Woodworker’s Journal. About one year ago, my wife of 30 years, Maggie Ward, passed away from a particularly aggressive form of cancer. It was eight months from diagnosis to her passing.  Sadly, and ironically, a year before that, our publisher Larry Stoiaken’s wife – Margaret Mary Carroll – had passed away from ovarian cancer. Both of them were gone too young and left behind a host of grieving family and friends.

So we heartily commend Marc and his fellow woodworkers for the excellent work that they did for a truly good cause. To see a goodwill effort like theirs succeed so well is a heartwarming event. Check out a video of some of the woodworkers and their tables by clicking here.

Rob Johnstone
Editor in Chief
Woodworker’s Journal

Maggie Ward

Woodworker's Journal Editor in Chief's wife, Maggie Ward, and her dog Cullen

Margaret Mary Carroll

Woodworker's Journal Publisher's wife, Margaret Mary Carroll

Gentlemen (and -women), Start Your Captions!

As we were digging through our archives putting together this year’s April Fool’s eZine, I ran across some photos from the past that just beg for our readers’ clever captioning (given the outpouring of quality submissions for this entry).

This one features Jeff Jacobson, our Senior Art Director and frequent contributor to the magazine.

We know you’ve got some ideas, so let’s hear them!

Matt Becker
Internet Production Coordinator

Our Art Director in a Go Cart