Podcast #39: Building Drawers Using Drawer Joint Bits

§ by on April 3rd, 2009

Phil Huber, a senior editor for ShopNotes magazine details in this seminar all the steps necessary for building a sturdy set of drawers on a router table.

First, he’ll demonstrate how to build drawers using a specialized drawer joint bit in just two simple steps. Then, for those of us who choose not to buy the special bit, Phil will take us through the steps of building drawers with an ordinary 1/4″-dia. straight bit.

Get the Seminar Guide here: Building Drawers Using Drawer Joint Bits

Woodsmith Woodworking Seminar Podcasts

§ by on February 17th, 2009

It’s time I finally addressed this topic. The seminar podcasts are NOT being discontinued.

As you know, August Home Publishing has branched out into television. The Woodsmith Shop just started its second season, which means our video production crew has been extremely busy taping and editing the shows that you’re now watching. Unfortunately, this means that podcast video production has been put on the back-burner.

We have been taping the seminars at the Woodsmith Store though and as soon as we get caught up, the podcasts will begin again. Thanks for your interest in the podcasts and I apologize for not keeping everyone up-to-date on our progress. Look for a new Woodsmith Seminar Podcast within the next few weeks.

20th Anniversary of the Woodsmith Store

§ by on September 17th, 2007

WSS FRONT PHOTO_compressed.jpg

We talk a lot around here about the Woodsmith Store. For a little over fifteen years, it was a small, out-of-the-way haven for woodworkers tucked into the Beaverdale neighborhood of Des Moines. Then in 2003 everything changed.

That was when the old Payless Cashways building in Clive was remodeled and Des Moines became home to one of the largest independently-owned woodworking stores in the country. It is truly a regional destination store for woodworkers from all over the Midwest. The store, now over 20,000 square feet in size, is filled with woodworking supplies, tools, machinery and hardwoods. Think Cabella’s, Bass Pro Shops, or L.L. Bean.

This coming weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday (September 21st, 22nd and 23rd), the Woodsmith Store will celebrate its 20th Anniversary with a Fall Fair event. There will be a lot going on, not only in the woodworking departments, but in the painting and gardening departments as well. I just thought it deserved a shameless plug here. Hope you can stop by.

Phil Lowe Seminar Review — Part 2

§ by on February 28th, 2007

A few editors from Woodsmith magazine had the good fortune to attend an all-day seminar presented by Phil Lowe. The event was sponsored by the Des Moines Woodworkers Association and held at the Woodsmith Store. (You can read Vince Ancona’s comments here.)

Here’s what Phil Huber, Associate Editor of Woodsmith had to say about Phil’s presentation:

“First, it was amazing just how much he did with just a small assortment of tools — quite the opposite of what you see pitched in catalogs and, unfortunately, in woodworking magazines. When he did the shaping of the (rough cut) legs with just a rasp, file, and card scraper, it was inspiring. The big lesson here is picking the right set of tools for the types of projects you build. After seeing him work, I think a small router plane would come in really handy!

“Another quality of Phil’s work that made an impression was his methodical and efficient working habits. He’s made a well-practiced routine of some basic steps. Applying those skills to a variety of projects saves time and a lot Wenzloff and Sons Saw Makersof head scratching. When I spend time in my shop, I’d like to put in some ‘practice time’ with my hand saw, chisels, and smoothing plane and build those basic skills. Besides, building that set of skills is part of what makes woodworking enjoyable to me.

“Along with that, Phil showed a level of confidence that I’d like to have in my woodworking. For example, when the table saw wasn’t cutting up to snuff, he just calmly crosscut a part at the band saw and squared it up with a plane in a short time. The same with making the dovetail sockets for the legs. No one-time-use router jig, just nuts and bolts saw and chisel work. (The photo shows a small joinery saw made by Wenzloff and Sons.)  I spend too much time worrying about getting something perfect or not trying a technique because I’m not sure how it will turn out. The fact is, I just need to do it.”

Phil Lowe Seminar Review — Part 1

§ by on February 27th, 2007

A few editors from Woodsmith magazine had the good fortune to attend an all-day seminar presented by Phil Lowe. The event was sponsored by the Des Moines Woodworkers Association and held at the Woodsmith Store. Here’s what Vince Ancona, Managing Editor of Woodsmith had to say about Phil’s presentation:

“I don’t know if I can sum it up in a couple of paragraphs… most of what I gleaned were random tidbits of information. In general, Phil seems like a very knowledgeable, down-to-earth woodworker. He impressed me as a no-nonsense New England Yankee, who approaches every task at hand in a practical and methodical way. I was as impressed with the way he worked as much as the end result of his efforts.

“I found the slide show to be very inspiring, particularly the photos of projects made by his students. It made me realize that even a seemingly intricate and complex piece of furniture is not so difficult if you just break it down into a series of smaller steps. It also made me realize that there is really no substitute to actually doing something. You can read and watch and listen all you want, but you have to actually get some hands-on practice if you want to master a skill. Phil made a comment about learning how to do something. He used carving rosettes as an example. He said that if you carve one rosette, you will prove to yourself how it is done, and that it can be done. But if you carve 10 rosettes, you will start to get good at it and learn how to do it better and faster.

Plane.jpg“I was impressed by how Phil synthesized the use of power tools and hand tools in a way that made complete sense and yielded top-notch results in his work. Again, a lot of this had to do with his no-nonsense approach. He seemed to pick the tool that would give him the best results in the quickest amount of time. Since he does this for a living, I imagine time is money for him, and he isn’t about to waste valuable time setting up a jig or power tool when a hand tool can do the job faster. Conversely, if he has a lot of repetitious work to do, he will invest the time to make a jig for a power tool.”

Young Homeowner Finds Workbench Magazine

§ by on February 15th, 2007

Chris Snider bought his first home in the spring of 2006 after living for several years in an apartment. Chris writes a blog for first-time homeowners on the Des Moines Register’s Juice website. Juice is a supplement of the daily newspaper geared toward singles in Des Moines.

He attended a woodworking seminar recently at the Woodsmith Store and liked what he saw. Now, he’s

become a fan of Workbench magazine. Read the rest of this article »

Woodsmith Woodworking Seminars

§ by on January 8th, 2007

Space-Saving Home Shop

Our latest slate of woodworking seminars at the Woodsmith Store starts in just 10 days with Jim Downing, a senior design editor for Workbench magazine, presenting “Tips for Setting Up a Great Home Shop.” Jim has given this seminar a couple of times before, but it’s always an interesting seminar because it’s constantly evolving. The last time Jim gave this seminar, he offered some great ideas for a space-saving home shop (see the photo above).

As it turns out, most of his ideas were featured on the cover (and inside) of the October 2006 Workbench magazine. The cool thing about his design for the shop is that it includes set up space for 5 major tool stations — in just 50 square feet!

The full schedule will be posted soon on the Woodsmith Store website. We’ve combined the schedule for both the Winter and Spring 2007 seminars in a single brochure. Plus, we’re offering 4 ways to pay for the seminars — single passes, Winter Season passes, Spring Season passes, and a new Gold pass — good for all 19 seminars. As usual, each paid $8 admission receives a $5 Sawbuck that can be used toward any purchase in the Woodsmith Store. If you’re planning on attending all the seminars, the Gold pass is the best deal because it saves you up to $27.

Scenes From the Shop

§ by on November 9th, 2006

Garry Smith

A few weeks ago, I put out an appeal to the readers of WoodworkingONLINE to send me project images that I could post to our gallery. Since then, I’ve received a response from just one woodworker — a gentleman named Garry Smith. Garry has a super shop that he likes to show off (and for good reason!). His beautiful headboard and footboard is made from cherry and curly yellow birch. To complement the headboard and footboard, Garry also incorporated this matching bench designed to set at the end of the bed.

Now, it’s possible that the quality of Garry’s work has kept people from sending in photos of their work, but I doubt it. I’ve seen some really nice stuff being built out there and I’d like to show if off here.

Yesterday, I received another email from Bill Hendrick of Ankeny, Iowa. Bill attends the weekly seminars at the Woodsmith Store, where we are constantly promoting our two woodworking blogs: WoodworkingONLINE.com and WoodworkingSeminars.com. He wanted to show off one of his projects — a screen door that he built for their summer home in Estes Park, Colorado. Bills says, “…it is a copy of a door my wife and I saw in Maine while we were on a tandem bicycle trip across the USA!”

Most of the projects that Bill has worked on so far are for outdoor use. This cupola is based on one Norm Abram did for the PBS television series, New Yankee Workshop. He fabricated the copper roof, but bought the “trout” wind vane from a local artist.

Bill also sent me some shots of the new dust collection system that he just finished installing. He’s new to woodworking and says he would like to get a look at other people’s shops. The images he sent me don’t fit into the furniture gallery that I have set up, but I’m looking into adding a “Shops” Gallery in the near future, so I’ll post them there when its complete.

If you’d like to show off your work (either projects or of your shop), please email them as attachments to Joel Hess (jhess(at)augusthome(dot)com) and I’ll get them added. Also, tell me a little about yourself and what you’re doing in the shop.

It’s time we got this gallery up and going!

Building a Woodsmith Hand Plane

§ by on October 9th, 2006

In a previous post, I talked about building the Woodsmith Chisel Plane. Now I want to talk about my experience building the Woodsmith Hand Plane. It’s a kit that you can order from the Woodsmith Store.

Woodsmith Hand Plane The kit comes with pre-cut front and back wood pieces, two predrilled brass side pieces, a Hock iron and cap iron, and the cap screw and washer used to assemble the iron into the finished plane.

The brass sides need some work before you can fasten them to the wood pieces. The holes need countersunk for the small brass screws. I used a countersink in my drill press, being careful not to drill too deep. You want the head of the screws to be just a little proud of the surface so you can file them flush later. Then following the detailed instructions included in the kit, I marked and predrilled pilot holes for the screws in the wood pieces. The most critical dimension here is the width of the mouth opening. You want a tight opening to be able to take fine shavings without tearout. The nice thing is, if the mouth ends up being too tight, you can file a little to open it up. But if it’s too big…well…let’s just say that it involves quite a bit more work.

I took a file to the brass sides to file the screw heads flush to the sides. Then I used sandpaper face-up on my bench to smooth the sides and make them flat. I started with 150-grit and worked my way up to 400-grit. That leaves a nice “brushed” finish. Then I rubbed the sides with a fine 3M Scotch-Brite pad. Then I went to work to form the radius on the back and front like you see in the photo. I used a rasp and sandpaper to do this while the plane was clamped in the tail vise of my workbench.

The next thing I did was flatten the sole. I followed the instructions and used sandpaper face-up on my table saw. I used the rip fence as a reference to keep the sole 90° to the sides. On my plane, the sole on the back piece was thicker than that on the front piece, so it took quite a bit of sanding to get the entire sole flat.

Finally, I was ready to fit the iron into the plane. The mouth was a little tight, so I ended up filing about 1/32″ from the front of the mouth. It’s important to keep the mouth square when filing. A little honing of the iron and I was ready to put it all together and give it a try.

I set the plane to take a very thin shaving and took a few swipes on the edge of some oak I had lying around the shop. I was able to get a full-width, “whisper thin” shaving the full length of the board. I was impressed. This is a comfortable, sweet little plane. The only downside that I could see is that the sole is wood. As comfortable and nice as this plane is to use, it’ll get a lot of use in my shop, but that means a lot of wear on the sole. Now, because it is wood, that means that I can flatten the sole anytime I need to with a few swipes across some sandpaper. But that also means risking widening of the mouth. But I suspect it’ll be quite some time before I need to worry about any of that.

A coat of boiled linseed oil and a couple coats of Briwax clear paste wax added the final “spit polish.” Then I couldn’t resist…I had to take a few more shavings.  Like I said — what a sweet little plane.

Building a Woodsmith Chisel Plane

§ by on October 8th, 2006

I spent some time on Saturday putting together a couple of hand plane kits from the Woodsmith Store.  The first one was the chisel plane. Chisel PlaneThe other was the small hand plane (more on that in another post). I love making my own tools and restoring old ones, so I was excited to get these home and get to work.

The first thing I noticed when I opened the package was the plane iron. Both planes use a 3/16″-thick x 1-1/2″-wide plane iron from Hock Tools. They’re branded “Woodsmith by Hock Tools.” These are quality irons that are almost worth the price of the kit. The hand plane kit also includes a nice cap iron.

The chisel plane was pretty simple to put together and finish. The wood sole and “cap” are pre-cut and pre-drilled. There’s a brass threaded insert that you need to press into the sole piece. Then all you need to do is form the radius on the back end to make the plane more comfortable to use. I put the two pieces together with the iron and clamped the assembly in my tail vise on my workbench. Then I used a rasp and sandpaper to form the radius. It went fairly quickly. The instructions also suggest making a “finger notch” in the cap to make the plane more comfortable to use. I used a round rasp to start this notch then finished up with a half-round rasp. I also took the time to lightly round over any sharp edges where my hands might come in contact with the body of the plane. I finished up the wood pieces with a coat of boiled linseed oil and a couple coats of Briwax clear paste wax. 

Then I turned my attention to the iron. A light honing and a couple of swipes to flatten the back on 400-grit wet/dry sandpaper were all it took to get a sharp edge. I assembled the iron into the plane (bevel down) using the included cap screw and washer. I then tried to adjust the depth of cut and realized there was a problem. The bevel of the blade matches the bed angle of the sole, meaning that the flat of the bevel was parallel to the sole of the plane! So the flat of the bevel just slid across the workpiece. I tried to shim the under the upper end of the iron with an old business card, but it didn’t seem to help angle the iron so its cutting edge would contact the workpiece. The only other solution I could think of was to slightly change the angle of the bed. I used 150-grit sandpaper face-up on my table saw for a flat surface. Then I went to work sanding the bed, concentrating the pressure on the “mouth” end of the bed. After quite a bit of sanding, I tried fitting the iron. It was a little better, but I ended up shimming the upper end anyway to get the plane to cut. Once everything was assembled, I gave it a try on some scrap lumber. It was a little tricky to get the exact depth of cut, but once that was done, it worked great. It’s good enough that I’ll keep it on my shelf of “users” for future projects. It’ll be great for getting into those corners to remove glue squeeze-out and general cleanup of a joint.