One of the luxuries of being a woodworking magazine editor is that I get my hands on “good” wood on a pretty regular basis. Clear, straight cherry and maple are often “on deck” for projects in our magazine. Recently, I built a couple of Arts & Crafts bookcases from some nice quartersawn white oak for our first “Small Shop Journal” project (February 2013 print issue). And, without spilling the beans prematurely, I just finished a project that I built from some extraordinary ribbon stripe mahogany for our June issue. It was too wide to fit my jointer … what a problem to have, right?!
Last fall, when I needed a few 2x4s for a home improvement project I was working on, I went to Lowe’s to pick them up. There, at the top of the pile, were a few of the clearest, straightest 2x4s I’ve ever seen. Some were even quartersawn — and for a woodworker that’s pretty mind-blowing when you consider how absolutely green, checked and awful so much of the construction lumber seems to be these days. It’s a wonder it even passes inspection on the way to market. Continue reading →
The other day I was routing a little nameplate plaque for my daughter’s bedroom. It’s fussy and slow-paced work. I first cut the letters following a paper template, then pull the template off and rout them even deeper. Not a job you can rush, and it’s one that definitely takes a sharp eye.
I was using a RIDGID R2401 trim router for the job. Aside from its compact size, which I really like, it’s got an LED light underneath to brighten up the area you’re routing. In this particular project, that feature was flat-out indispensable.
Maybe it’s my mid-40s vision starting to go … I’m resisting that sinking feeling that bifocals are finally unavoidable. Or maybe my shop just plain doesn’t have enough light these days. Whatever the reason is, I’m appreciating tools with built-in worklights now more than ever.
As print readers of the Woodworker’s Journal know, we design a good number of the projects that are featured in our pages. And that is especially true of our shop projects. For example, in the April 2012 issue of the Woodworker’s Journal (on newsstands soon), we present a downdraft sanding cart. If I must say so myself, it is a very nice and truly functional project. How do I know that? Well, because I’ve tried it, of course. But, you might ask, how did we know it would work properly before we built it? Good question. How can we be sure our projects, specifically ones like this, whose primary feature must be functionality, are all we want them to be? It is a short answer, really: we build prototypes. We test out the ideas that we have with knocked-together mock-ups made from MDF, plywood or whatever we have lying around the shop.
Our new issue is on its way to subscribers and newsstands everywhere.
If you don’t have your copy yet and you’d like to know what we’ve packed into the issue this time out, this video from Field Editor Chris Marshall and Editor in Chief Rob Johnstone will bring you up to speed.
Even though we’re just days away from Christmas, our staff has propelled “full speed ahead” into 2011 to bring you lots of fine content for the February print issue. It’s due to arrive in your mailbox very soon. But Matt Becker, our Internet Coordinator, says I can share some details about the articles you’ll be reading at your leisure shortly. And so I will…let’s get a jump on the new year straight away!
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.
Calling all flooring guys out there! I’ve got a flooring conundrum to share with you. Care to offer some advice?
Here’s the deal: I’ve had a hardwood flooring project on my to-do list for a long time. It’s my shop floor, actually. A couple of years ago, I got a great deal on 900 square feet of hard maple “shorts.” Tongue and groove, beautiful stuff. My plan has been to lay it over the current flooring in my shop, which is plywood subfloor. Not that I mind plywood, but it gets banged up pretty easily and doesn’t look as nice as a hardwood floor. At $1 per square foot, it was a deal too good to pass up.
It’s ironic (and embarrassing) how I push things down my “to do” list, especially when it comes to shop improvements. Case in point: three years ago I bought a window air conditioner to get through those steamy summer days. I don’t mind sweat equity when working hard on a project, but I really don’t like to drip sweat on cast-iron tools or into a wet finish. That, and my boss was coming into town for a big photoshoot. I wanted the shop to be nice and cool. My version of a red carpet, I suppose.
Anyway, I installed the air conditioner in a south-facing window because it was the best option. We got through our photoshoot in cool comfort. Then, a week or so later the rains started. Continue reading →
If you're looking for a quick project this Memorial Day weekend, or any other for that matter, here's a low-cost bench option for you.
A couple weeks ago, I reported on my trusty old, cosmetically challenged workbench. The goal, really, was to support those of you out there who are more concerned with utility in your shop fixtures than high style. In other words, you build sturdy workaday shop fixtures so you can get on with more important projects. And, that’s okay in my book; I do it, too.
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.