On Willow, Plans, Books and Alcohol

On Willow, Plans, Books and Alcohol


“Thanks for your great eZine. It makes my day each time it comes. Although I am primarily a miniaturist, I find the tips and techniques valuable and the plans often work well when scaled down to mini size. Keep them coming.” – David Brazelton

Tweet Willow

“Willow makes the best willow whistles. I have never seen one but my mom, born about 1914, said all the boys at school used their pocketknives to make them.” – Jim Ware

“I remember that polo balls were made of willow. I don’t know if they still are.” – Robert Tatem

Workstation Plans

“I see that you are offering the workstation plans again. This is a great project. It is the centerpiece of the half of the basement where I pretend to be a woodworker. I also use it for woodcarving, and the ability to move the table is fantastic. I did not do the laminated top, but used sealed and waxed particleboard. I still haven’t installed a vise, but did mount a hold-down. I purchased the casters, big three-inch locking monsters, at the WoodWorks show.” – Tom Fink

A “Berry” Good Suggestion?

After a thread on using sawdust appeared in the last issue, this helpful reader sent an interesting suggestion, made more interesting by a tiny but humorous typo. – Editor

“The best and currant use I have for all of my sawdust is to mix it with wood glue and make my own wood putty. It forms and sands nicely and works as a filler for the occasional knothole.” – Kevin Johnson

We’re sure Kevin meant current and not currant, though perhaps he spelled it that way because he likes to “jam” it into knotholes. – Editor

A Love Hate Relationship

“Loved your review of the boat building books. I’ve been wanting to build one for years.” – Chris Gawarecki

“The piece on Culler’s boat building was fun. However, after two paragraphs of positive, ‘buy this book’ kudos you wrote ‘I can’t recommend this book too highly.’ Now, which was it? Is it that you can’t recommend it highly enough, or you don’t highly recommend it?” – George Cowan

You are absolutely right. That conclusion statement could be interpreted in two very different ways. It rather reminded us of that old Groucho Marx line, “Thank you, I had a wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.” In this case, though, it was a positive recommendation, the rather unfortunate choice of phrase notwithstanding. – Editor


Our Q&A section talked about using alcohol to thin shellac, causing this concerned, and obviously Canadian, reader to raise an alarm. – Editor

“The alcohol used should not be methyl hydrates as this is a very dangerous product. It can be absorbed through breathing the fumes, through skin contact, and by ingesting it.” – Merv Graham

What Canadians call methyl hydrates is called methanol here in the U.S. While his information about the dangers of methanol are true, it is difficult to buy methanol in the U.S. outside of a chemical supply house. When you go to the paint or home store and ask for alcohol, you will be given denatured alcohol, which is almost entirely ethanol or, as it is called in Canada, ethyl alcohol. That’s the same alcohol that shows up in beer, wine and liquor and is, in limited amounts, quite tolerable. “Denatured” means it has a tiny percentage of some non-potable added to it so as to avoid the liquor consumption tax placed on all libations in the U.S. So, while his warning was quite correct, there is little chance you could accidentally get methanol down here. However, we do hope our Canadian readers take note and stay safe by using ethyl rather than methyl alcohol. – Editor

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