Gentlemen and Ladies Weigh in On Woodworking

Gentlemen and Ladies Weigh in On Woodworking

Jake Cress

“I just had to write and let you know that I enjoyed this particular story immensely. It is a great story and the ‘gentleman’ sounds like he loves life in general and especially what he is doing with his own. I would love to read more stories of this nature.” – Nancy Gibson

“I really enjoyed the article about Jake Cress and photos of his work. Artistic talent comes in many forms, and I found myself ‘awl’fully amused with his ability to transform ordinary furniture into provocative art. There’s nothing ‘plane’ about his work or vision. ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ by Bill Watterson is my favorite cartoon, and Jake Cress will be my favorite craftsman. I find both of them ‘plumb’ hilarious. Wish I had the talent to view things on their ‘level.’ Great article!” – Rober F. Collins

“The article on Jake Cress was great! I am amazed at the things that he is able to do in wood. He truly has remarkable talent. Does he have a web site where we can see more of his work? Thank you for all of the great articles and useful information that you provide. I have been receiving your Internet magazine for some time, and have saved all of the issues to a CD disc.” – Charles Hess

Jake’s web site, linked in the 4th paragraph of the article about him, is – Editor 


“It is hard for me to wear a face mask because every time I put one on, my glasses fog up.” – Robert Peters

One of the features that intrigued us about Moldex masks is that some have an exhaust valve, which helps reduce exactly the problem you described. – Editor

Scarf Joints

“You are right when you say that scarf joints are often found in boat-building, and that the angle of the joint is acute, but 30 degrees is actually not nearly acute enough for scarfing strakes (planks). For that, you need a ratio of 8 to 1, unless the joint rests on a frame or is supported by a backing plate.” – Jim Norman

That was a very acute, and astute, observation. – Editor

Spalted Wood

“Just a note of caution regarding spalted wood. The spalting is caused by fungus growing in the wood. The spores from the fungus, if they become airborne as with sanding or sawing, can cause some very nasty lung infections. Moreover, they will also induce very strong allergies. If it is important to use the wood, precautions of using a very good mask or respirator, good dust collection and keeping a very clean shop is critical. I am aware that for these reasons some of the woodworking schools will not allow students to bring in spalted wood.” – David Herzig

Copyright Infringement

“I recently came across a project article in a magazine that really impressed me. I would like to produce this piece for resale. Am I ‘infringing’ upon the magazine copyright in this case?” Gary J. Greco

If you are talking about the piece of furniture, then you are OK. As long as you do not go into huge manufacturing production runs of a piece, magazines expect some of their readers to build and sell the projects they have built from the plans. On the other hand, if you are talking about reselling the article and the plans themselves, yes, you would be infringing on the copyright, and you would be in big trouble. – Editor


A message board thread on Polyshades in the last issue had people both damning and defending it, and a few suggesting ways to make it work better. Here’s one more, for the record. – Editor 

“Penetrol thins it nicely and gives you a longer wet edge time, and longer working time. Spraying works well. In my opinion, it’s good for small pieces.” – Bill Padgett

Potassium Dichromate

As is always the case, any discussion of a material that is somewhat hazardous generates comments and strong opinions on both sides. So it was when we broached the subject of potassium dichromate, used to color tannin-based woods. Even lye, mentioned in passing, got into the act. Here are some additional comments. – Editor

“Let me weigh in on the dichromate issue. I am a practicing chemist with 30 years industrial experience. Potassium dichromate is a strong oxidizer. It contains the chromium (VI) ion, a known carcinogen. However, it is only a carcinogen by inhalation. It is dissolved in water, after which it is no longer an inhalation hazard. Once applied to wood, it is itself reduced so that it is no longer chromium (VI) ion, and therefore any dust produced at this point should not be carcinogenic by virtue of the dichromate. Wear gloves and goggles and be careful. All chemicals should be handled with care, but this one is quite useful and, like many things, its danger is somewhat over-hyped. It really makes for some knockout stain for curly maple.” – Sam Whitley

This, of course, assumes that 100% of the dichromate reacted with the tannin. In our opinion, you are wiser to assume that the dried residual dust from sanding may also contain unreacted chemical, and you should wear a respirator as well as goggles and gloves when sanding the dried, treated wood. – Editor

“Potassium dichromate should be no problem if used properly. Use gloves and safety goggles and be careful not to splatter or spill. Don’t mix it with anything combustible because it’s a very strong oxidizer, and in the right circumstances, it will actually cause a fire, such as if it were mixed with moist sawdust. To dispose of it properly, call your local hazardous waste facility. Drain cleaner (lye) is mostly sodium hydroxide, not potassium. Drain cleaner makers try to maximize their profits, and sodium hydroxide is much cheaper than potassium. At any rate, both sodium and potassium hydroxide are similar in their action on wood. They are also similar in their hazards to humans and animals. You must be very careful not to let it contact skin or especially eyes.” – Craig Erickson

Typo Corner

Our typo corner highlights some of the entertaining glitches that ensue when one’s mind goes one direction while one’s words go another. – Editor

“The chair back has a radius of 15 degrees.”

Let’s see; that would make the diameter a full 30 degrees, right? – Editor

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