April Issue Uncovered

Despite the snowy prospects here in Minnesota, it’s time to think spring. To that end, we’re happy to announce that the April print issue of Woodworker’s Journal is headed to your mailbox and should be arriving shortly. With any luck, it will bring us all warmer weather and longer days! Here’s a quick look at some of the great new content you’ll find inside:

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February Issue Sneak Peek

SHARPENINGCARTIn case you’re taking the week off between Christmas and New Year’s, you’re in luck! The February print issue of Woodworker’s Journal is on its way and should arrive while you’re enjoying the holiday respite. We’ll help fill that free time with some fresh woodworking goodness! Here’s the inside scoop on what we think is a great new issue.

Four Solid Projects: Ian Kirby presents a stylish Dinette Set that should fit neatly into a smaller kitchen or breakfast nook. He’s keeping the lumber budget affordable here, using longleaf pine instead of more costly hardwood alternatives. Butt joints, glue and screws will keep this project straightforward to build, as well. Or, you can work off some of those holiday calories building Frank Grant’s Sharpening Cart—a clever unit for sharpening all of your turning tools. It features a three-drawer cabinet, metal worksurface and two tip-out racks for keeping those gouges and chisels within easy reach. And, Kenneth Minnaert builds a handsome Weekend Tambour Gift Box from contrasting wood scraps. It presents itself as well as any gift you’ll hide inside it! All three projects include measured drawings and step-by-steps to help you along.

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Turning Back to Old Friends

A new version of an old friend. This jig is modeled after one that Rob used as a young man in his dad's shop.

A new version of an old friend. This jig is modeled after one that Rob used as a young man in his dad's shop.

Regardless of the situation, when the going gets tough there is nothing like a tried-and-true friend to get you where you want to go.  Recently, I was building a pretty basic piece of woodworking for the print magazine. Building a project for a magazine is a little different than building for yourself in a couple of ways.  First, rather than simply coming up with the simplest and fastest way to get the job done, I try to include techniques and tools that our readers will find interesting and useful.  Secondly, when you are done with the project, about a quarter million people will have a chance to check out your work (and often share their opinion of said work).  So, when it came to deciding just how to plow the dadoes for the Modular Bookcases in the December 2009 issue, I went back to basics and built a copy of a jig that hung on the wall of my dad’s cabinet shop “back in the day.”

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Guide Bushing Lockdown

SPRING WASHER1Do you ever run across one of those super-simple woodworking products that makes you wonder why you didn’t think of it yourself? A lot of folks are feeling that way about Rockler’s new Bench Cookies. Here’s a link if you haven’t seen them already:

http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=21496&filter=bench%20cookie

But, I ran across another smart idea the other day while testing a bunch of cool dovetail jigs. (You’ll read more about that in our December print issue, so stay tuned!) One of these jigs requires several guide bushings, and they came with a little gift from router heaven: a spring-steel washer.

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December Issue Sneak Peek

BENCH DOG

Bill Hylton surveys two full-featured router tables in Today's Shop.

There’s a December issue of Woodworker’s Journal headed to your mailbox soon, and this issue is dedicated to one of our all-time favorite tools: the router. Here’s the inside scoop on what you’ll find.


Whiz-bang Router Tables: Bill Hylton takes a close look at two of the industry’s “top-shelf” router tables in “Today’s Shop,” and he discusses how installing a router in a table can help you take new “routes” in your woodworking projects. If you’d rather build your own router table, Sandor Nagyszalanczy has designed a versatile horizontal router table, and we’ll provide the measured drawings and step-by-steps so you can build one for your shop.

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In Defense of An Old Friend

Sometimes the first tool you reach for points out an instinctive favorite. One of mine is Porter-Cable's 690 router.

Sometimes the first tool you reach for is a personal favorite. One of mine is Porter-Cable's 690 fixed-base router.

Lately I’ve been churning out a lot of router dovetails, and that, of course, means choosing a router. I’ll be honest with you: I’ve got several different routers on the shelf. But what did I reach for first? My good old Porter-Cable 690LRVS with a fixed base.

And that got me thinking about favorite tools.

Now, you’ll notice that Porter-Cable isn’t sponsoring this blog post. They don’t even know I’m writing it. It was just me, alone in the shop as usual on a Monday morning, and the thought process was about this simple: “Gotta rout dovetails this week…need a router…grab the 690.” My gut drove the decision.

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Angling Without the Snags

Sutherland Tools Bevel Boss takes all the guesswork out of setting accurate cutting angles.

Sutherland Tools Bevel Boss takes all the guesswork out of setting accurate cutting angles.

About six years ago, I was building some outdoor furniture with lots of angles to them, and the closest thing I had to an angle-setting device was my speed square. No offense to you hard-core carpenters out there, but frankly, a speed square seems better suited to rafter tails than woodworking.

I always felt like I was plus or minus a few degrees on my cuts, which just wasn’t cutting it, so to speak. I needed something more accurate that I could really trust.

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Dovetail Confessions

dovetailsOkay, true confession time: I’ve never cut dovetails by hand. There, I said it.

It’s probably not a big thing to admit, really … lots of us woodworkers don’t cut and chop pins and tails the “old school” way. Sure, I can steer my router through a dovetailing jig with the best of them, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But for me, a woodworking editor for gosh sakes, I feel like I’m admitting some deep, dark secret. I’m supposed to know this stuff to be a card-carrying shop writer, right?

Well, wrong.

It’s just that cutting dovetails by hand is one of those “I’d really like to learn that and someday I’ve gotta get to it” kinda things. Who doesn’t want to make sweet-looking dovetails in any shape or configuration you please? A well-made dovetail joint separates a darn-good drawer from one you want to carry around and show off, like a picture of your kids. And, when you can stand back and say that you did the job without ever reaching for a guide bushing or spending three hours dialing in the bit depth…well, you’ve arrived, right? At least that’s what that little voice inside my head tells me.

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