Sticks, Stones and More

Sticks, Stones and More

Tropical American Tree Farms

“I really enjoyed reading your interview with Steve Brunner of Tropical American Tree Farms. Thank you for bringing this venture to the notice of more woodworkers, both as an investment opportunity, and as a possible source of beautiful young wood. In their most recent newsletter, Steve and Sherry mention that the immature wood of some species, such as goncalo alves and the teak mentioned in your column is quite different, and in some cases even more beautiful, than wood from the mature timber that reaches the international markets. If more woodworkers became aware of the possibilities of using the wood from early thinnings, and requested their local suppliers to find some, it might create a new market with prices that reflected the increased value of the young wood. It would be a win both for the investors in tropical tree plantations, and for furniture makers and wood turners who would have new woods to explore. And it would be an excellent ‘green’ marketing choice as well, since none of these trees are harvested from existing natural rainforests. Again, thanks for the article!” – Lea Montaire

Take it For Granite

In the Tool Preview in our last issue, we mentioned that Steel City showed a new, granite-topped table saw at AWFS, which inspired this anonymous question. – Editor

“How does the new granite top on the 10″ table saw from Steel City affect the depth of cut? It looks to me that the granite top is thicker than a cast-iron top and that it would limit the depth of cut more than the cast-iron table.”

We contacted Scott Box, Vice President, General Manager and one of the founding partners of Steel City to find out. Here’s what he told us. – Editor

“At first glance, the nearly two-inch-thick table appears to reduce depth of cut. Actually, we made allowances and design changes to the arbor support bracket to give us a full 3-1/4″ depth of cut at 90 degrees. We could do that because the top is not webbed like a traditional cast-iron top; it is solid except for some clearance machining for the insert and the arbor.”

Typo or Rara Avis?

A couple of you pointed out that smelt, which we poked fun at as an antiquated usage of the past participle of smell, is in fact still in use. One unsigned letter maintained that it is common in Britain and in the area around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The one below defended its validity because it shows up in dictionaries and quite correctly concluded thusly. – Editor

“While smelt is more commonly thought of in relation to ore and fish, it really wasn’t a typo at all.” – Rich Metcalf

Words of Wonder

“Regarding the use of obscure words, I follow a simple rule: eschew obfuscation.” – Steve Nelson

“Being a relative newcomer to woodworking, I constantly come across woodworking terms whose meanings I don’t know, such as ‘proud’ and ‘caul’. Is there a woodworker’s dictionary?” – Robert J Ingram

There is a printed woodworker’s dictionary and an online woodworker’s dictionary, as well as an extensive glossary of woodworking terms in the book The Collins Complete Woodworker, which defines the two words you asked about as: “Caul: A piece of material, often scrap wood, placed between clamp and workpiece to provide even clamping pressure and prevent marring of the surface.” “Proud: Protruding slightly above the wood’s surface.” It’s common in joinery to end up with one board slightly proud of the other instead of being flush, even when flush was what you were shooting for. Using a caul during clamping both protects wood from metal clamp faces and helps keep adjacent boards in flat alignment so that one side of the joint does not end up proud. – Editor 


An online thread advised someone against using MDF in areas of the kitchen that would frequently be wet, but thought MDO might work. This writer chimed in with his experiences. – Editor

“I have been in the sign business for more than 55 years and thought you would like to know that MDO plywood has been used as the background material for outdoor billboards with painted graphics. MDO plywood is easy to paint, has a smooth finish and will stand up in the outdoors when painted.” – Al Higger

Typo Corner

“I have been a woodworker for 35 years and loved every minuet.”

That sounds like either a cambium pas de deux or an homage to that “Kevin Kerfner” movie “Dancing with Woods.”  – Editor

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