When folks find out that I review woodworking tools for a living, one of the first questions they usually ask is, “Do you get to keep them?” Especially those good-natured freight truck drivers who bring this stuff to my shop. Many of them are woodworkers. They really want to know.
Here’s the honest answer: usually, no, I don’t get to keep the tools.
Lately, my third-grade daughter’s pencil drawings are making me wonder if woodworking could be a genetic trait.
Here’s a tip of my hat to McFeely’s for coming up with a better woodworking screw. Well, actually, a whole bunch of better fasteners, but there’s one type I particularly like: the #8 Promax® 1-3/8″ black oxide flathead.
You read that right—1 and 3/8. Not 1-1/4″, 1-1/2″ or 1-5/8″ … the usual home-center suspects.
Here’s why I like the 1-3/8″.
I can’t smell the roses anymore…and I don’t mean that figuratively.
I’ve literally lost my ability to pick up their aroma, for some reason. My wife likes to tease me about it, especially since I find that loss a bit alarming. But, thank goodness I can still smell wood.
A couple years ago, I invested in a popular loose-tenon joinery system to see how that would work for me. As a tool reviewer, I’m always anxious to try a new gizmo on for size, and this tool was getting a lot of buzz. Heck, a faster, easier way to make mortise-and-tenon joinery. Sounded good to me!
Well, the product came, and I put it to work on my next few projects. It did the job swimmingly, chomping mortise after mortise in good time. The cuts were clean, the setup was pretty easy and those loose tenons dropped right into place. Really, there was no part of the operation I could complain about.
But as time went on, that new tool got less use than it first did. I ended up switching back to making M&Ts the way I’ve always done them: mortising on the drill press, followed by tenon-cutting on the table saw.
In the current issue our eZine, I’m reporting on a really cool woodworking design competition that took place last month at the AWFS trade show in Las Vegas
Up until recently, I’ve never really given much thought to sandpaper…where it comes from, how it’s made or what tidbits of interesting history might be behind it. Sandpaper has always been one of those “means-to-an-end” products for me. And, well, it’s associated with sanding. I try not to spend more time than I really need to thinking about sanding…
But, the nitty gritty details about grits became a lot more interesting earlier this spring when I had the opportunity to tour Ali Industries, a sandpaper manufacturing plant just a couple hours west of my home.
Now in its third biennial year with AWFS, this competition highlights outstanding construction and design achievements by students in high school and post-secondary woodworking programs in North America.
Okay, 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?