Magnetic Stop Block

§ by on February 15th, 2008

20080207ws.jpgYou can sharpen your woodworking skills with helpful tips and techniques from the editors of Woodsmith and ShopNotes magazines. Get a FREE tip sent to your email address each week! Go to and sign up today.

Here’s last week’s tip from Woodsmith online editor Ted Raife:

When cross-cutting short pieces to the same length, I like to clamp a stop block to the rip fence of my table saw. This block provides clearance between the rip fence and the saw blade so the cut-off pieces don’t get trapped (and kick back).20080207ws.gif But recently, I came up with an idea that avoids the hassle of fiddling around with clamps. Instead I use a magnetic stop block. It’s just a hardwood block with a pair of small magnetic catches inserted into one edge, see drawing. Note: If the face of your rip fence is wood or aluminum, simply put the magnetic catches in the bottom face of the stop block.

The magnets hold the stop block securely against the fence. And when I’m done, I simply store the block out of the way on the side of the saw cabinet.

Good Woodworking,

Ted Raife
Online Editor, Woodsmith

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Finishing Shelves

§ by on February 1st, 2008


You can sharpen your woodworking skills with helpful tips and techniques from the editors of Woodsmith and ShopNotes magazines. Get a FREE tip sent to your email address each week! Go to and sign up today.

Here’s last week’s tip from Woodsmith online editor Ted Raife:

Finishing shelves can be a time-consuming chore. After applying finish to one side, you often have a long wait before the finish is dry and the shelf can be turned to work on the other side. When each side needs several coats of finish, the whole process can really drag on.

Impatience finally spurred me to figure out a way to streamline the job. If I could safely stand the shelves on edge, both sides could be finished at the same time. Support feet attached to the back edge of the shelf to keep it upright were the answer.

As you can see in the drawing, the feet are simply thin strips of wood that are screwed to the back edge of the shelf — one at each end. When the job is done, I simply remove the feet and no one is the wiser. Except maybe me, I’ve cut the finishing time in half.

Good Woodworking,

Ted Raife
Online Editor, Woodsmith

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2200 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50312

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Going Nationwide: The Woodsmith Shop TV Show

§ by on November 29th, 2007

If you’re a subscriber to Woodsmith or ShopNotes magazine, or live in the state of Iowa, you probably already know that we’ve been busy around here. We’ve been working hard on a new TV show that has been airing on public television (PBS) stations in Iowa and will soon be available nationally in December.

The Woodsmith Shop is unlike any other woodworking show you’ve seen. It’s the first one to be filmed and produced (by Iowa Public Television) in High Definition. That means the picture quality is unsurpassed. You’ll see all the details of the tips and techniques we talk about on the show.

Second, The Woodsmith Shop isn’t a project-based show. What I mean is we’ll spend an entire episode talking about a particular woodworking joint, tool, or technique instead of building a project. That means you’ll get more detail about woodworking than you’ll find on any other show. And you’ll have the opportunity to download project plans and articles from our web site that are related to the show’s content.

We’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback so far from those that have seen the show. And a lot of folks nationwide are anxious to take a look. Now is the time to take a minute to email or call your local public television station and tell them you heard about The Woodsmith Shop and want to see it in your area. This link will take you to the show’s web site where you can find out if the show is airing in your area. You’ll also get a list of PBS stations in your area and a contact link for each station.

Let us know what you think of the show.

Fall 2007 Woodworking Seminars

§ by on September 20th, 2007

Every fall for the last 15 years or so, the Woodsmith Store has ended the month of September with two events — the annual Fall Fair and the start of the woodworking seminar season. This year is no exception with one small difference. This will be the first year that several of the presenters at the seminars will also be cast members on America’s newest woodworking TV show — The Woodsmith Shop on public television.

As many of you know by now, the first episode of The Woodsmith Shop will air on Iowa Public Television at 6:30pm on Friday, October 5th. And hopefully, by the end of the year when the feed will be available to the rest of the country, the show will be picked up by stations around the U.S. (For more information, go to Randy Maxey will also post more about the show soon.)

The same tradition is being carried on every week during the woodworking seminars at the Woodsmith Store in Clive, Ia. They’re held each Thursday evening (from September through April) in a 200-seat auditorium with a fully-equipped shop. Seminar topics for this fall range from “Top 5 Shop-Built Router Jigs” to “Tips for Working with Plywood.” Season and single tickets are on sale now at the store. Plus, this year the one-hour seminars will be supplemented by two 4-hour hands-on workshops held in December. Space is limited to six for these sessions though, so sign up soon.

Woodworkers Forums Are a Huge Resource

§ by on May 3rd, 2007

Any day of the week, and at almost any time of the day, you can find a couple of hundred people comparing notes, exchanging ideas, swapping tall-tales and generally sharing their love of woodworking with each other on the WoodNet Forums.

Around since 1993, the original WoodNet BBS was a way for Woodsmith magazine to further support their customer base. The BBS evolved into what is now and it not only includes the forums, but you’ll also find project plans, woodworking tools and kits, tool reviews, and tips and techniques that are sent direct to your email address each week. Read the rest of this article »

One Reader’s Interpretation of the Woodsmith Kitchen Table

§ by on March 31st, 2007

Woodsmith Kitchen Table.jpgKitchen Table & Stools.jpgAs an assistant editor of Woodsmith and ShopNotes magazines, I always enjoy seeing how our readers go about building the projects we write about. In Woodsmith No. 167, we featured a Tall Kitchen Table and Stools.

One of our readers made his version of the Tall Kitchen Table and Stools seen here on the right. I think the embellishment he did to the legs adds some interest. He used the Legacy Ornamental Mill to shape the legs. And for the joinery, he used the Leigh FMT Mortise and Tenon Jig. You can read more about how he built this project over on WoodNet and see his progress photos here.

Top 5 Most Influential Woodworkers

§ by on March 12th, 2007

Garrett French is at it again over at the blog. He’s compiled a list of the “5 Most Influential Woodworkers” based on input from folks at a couple of forums, including the WoodNet forum. Like any list, it may be more interesting for who was left off, than who was included. I’d like to mention a couple of people who weren’t on the list, but in my opinion, should be placed right near the top.

Don Peschke and Paul Roman.

If those two names aren’t so familiar to you, it’s because they’ve both worked more behind the scenes as the pioneering editors and publishers of Woodsmith and Fine Woodworking magazines, respectively. Each has probably influenced more people to get into the shop and actually build something than just about anyone else on Garrett’s list.

Neither Don nor Paul’s name is as familiar perhaps as Norm Abram, but to me their magazines were groundbreaking. Woodsmith, published by August Home Publishing (they also put out ShopNotes, Workbench, Garden Gate, and Cuisine at home), is unique in that it doesn’t just show you a pretty project, it helps you build the project with detailed step-by-step instructions and clear, concise drawings and photos. I remember the first time I picked up Woodsmith magazine, my very first thought was “I can do that!”

(As you may know, Don owns the company I work for, so this is not a completely unbiased post! But the fact is, I’ve been an editor for Woodsmith for 7 years, but I’ve been reading the magazine for over twenty-five years.)

Paul Roman, and his wife Jan, started Fine Woodworking in 1975 and it eventually expanded into a publishing empire that includes magazines for woodworking, home building, cooking, and gardening. Paul’s goal was to have a woodworking magazine that not only informed, but also inspired its readers. There’s no arguing with that, it’s an awesome magazine.

I suppose we’ll always be more influenced by TV personalities. And this is not a knock on Norm, but I’d rather read about woodworking and then go do it myself, than watch it being done on TV anyday.

If you’d like to subscribe to Woodsmith to find out exactly what I mean, click here.

Choosing and Using Glues

§ by on February 1st, 2007


I received an email this morning asking a very basic, open-ended question: “What is the best adhesive to bond hardboard to plywood?” My quick answer was to use a yellow woodworkers glue. I also mentioned polyurethane glue as a good option for bonding just about anything. Read the rest of this article »

Readers’ Gallery

§ by on December 26th, 2006

Bill Hendrick Jewelry Cabinet from Woodsmith magazine

Bill Hendrick of Ankeny, IA has sent more great photos of his work for our gallery. This is his first furniture project and it turned out great.

I’d love to post more photos of your projects to our Readers’ Gallery. Simply email them as attachments to me (Joel Hess) and I’ll make sure they’re posted.

The Day Woodsmith Almost Died!

§ by on December 8th, 2006

Yesterday, Joel posted his Top 10 Woodworking Tips to His first tip had to do with fire hazards, so I told him a story from the “good old days” of Woodsmith magazine, and he thought it would be good to share it on WoodworkingOnline. (Okay, as you will see, they weren’t always that “good!”) Anyway, this story took place in the late 1980s. The magazine wasn’t printed in color yet, each issue only had about 32 pages, and there were just a few of us working on it. We did everything from designing and building the projects, working on the drawings, researching and writing the articles, laying all of the artwork and text blocks on a page manually (long before the beginning of computerized page layout programs), and even occasionally boxing up and mailing back issues.

Since everyone did everything, a lot of us worked in the shop and we probably weren’t as careful as we might have been. One morning, Archie, our maintenance and mail guy, was the first person to arrive at work, about 6:30AM. He smelled something in the building that didn’t seem right. His nose followed the smell into the bottom floor, back end of the building: the shop. He was surprised to find that our full-sized plastic garbage can was now a melted puddle on the floor! Read the rest of this article »