Craftsmanship in a word is just a word. We envision the ensemble of things we understand it to mean when we hear it, or think of it. We know what it is when we see it, on it’s face, we recognize it, but it is more than just a few simple words.
Busting a 2×4 in half with a sledge hammer is not an example of craftsmanship, it is however an example of demolition. The important thing to understand, while many people are capable of performing demolition, far fewer are capable of performing craftsmanship, even though they have the ability to recognize it, or even purchase such things for themselves.
But we all have the capacity to learn and do if we apply ourselves.
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Woodworking is a field of endeavor filled with imagination. Wood has not stopped capturing our imagination for centuries.
Wood has been used to build bridges that carry trains and large wooden ships. We have shaped it into airplanes. It has been used for housing, barns, aircraft hangars, and other large buildings. We cut and shave it into veneers and small delicate pieces that form beautiful images, and screens. We dye it, stain it, paint it, weatherize it. We ask everything of wood from engineering to art, and it rarely disappoints.
Wood asks a few things of us in exchange for forming and shaping it as it yields to us and our requirements.
For best results, wood has taught us it’s best methods for working it through practice and observation. If we learn these ways, and pay attention to the details while we work things come together pretty nicely, most of the time.
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Helping You Saw Better
Like anything, there are many approches to any woodworking situation. Sometimes there are solutions in search of a problem, and we can fill our benches and storage with gizmo’s like that, or we can seek out tools that bring a lot of utility for the space they take.
I have heard from many woodworkers over the years, and many tell me that they like the tools that allow them to go to work as directly as possible on the task they want to accomplish, without a lot of fooling around. Most all of the tools we offer are focused on helping woodworkers get as much accuracy and productivity as possible from the tools they already have, and can help you perform several tasks really well.
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The 2014-2015 woodworking season is upon us, And we wanted to share a bit about what’s new here with everyone!
We have recently released a Sharpening Station System called the Magstrop™. It offers the ability to sharpen quickly and easily, using horse butt and suede leather strops, as well as glass platens for use with sandpaper’s from very coarse to microfine grits. The Magstrop sharpening system is expandable, and we have future plans for that but for now I’ll just say there is more coming soon.
We developed the Magstrop with several desires in mind…
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We have heard from many left handed clients, thanking us for our attention to left handed tooling. We have offered nearly every right handed tool we make in a left handed version since day one, as well as with the introduction of each new tool we offer, and for the same price, either hand.
Call it a mission statement if you like, but I personally like helping woodworkers create, while achieving their personal best levels of craftsmanship no matter which hand they favor. Our tools are designed to help create fine craftsmanship with either hand, no matter which side you favor. We make a number of woodworking tools and jigs that are purpose-made to help unlock the creative process, making the tools you may already have, work even better and more accurately, by giving both you and your tools as much capability as we can in the process. Continue Reading »
Accurate cuts right off the saw are always nice, but that isn’t always reality. Sometimes we don’t need accuracy, other times getting it will make a woodworker break out in a cold sweat. Never the less, when you really need that magic to happen, you need it. Sometimes the boards are special, rare boards, with amazing figure. Other times they are just barely large enough for the project, and every saw cut has to be right on the numbers or the last board could be too short. It’s times like that when every cut counts.
Imagine for a moment what some of those crucial cuts are about. Sawing drawer fronts in a matched flitch? Figured boards book-matched where waste isn’t an option? Need to saw dados on target? Accurate angles in face or edge grain? Thick bench legs that match? (That’s a big cut!) Tenons, Finger Joints, Dovetails?
For a long time, I have wanted to develop a sawing fixture that offered great ergonomics, and high miter box like accuracy. I also wanted it to be widely capable of handling many sawing situations and allow the use of any saw, so that the right saw for the job could be utilized. First we developed the East / West Bench Hook, which allows the sawyer to do their best work, and then we developed a magnetic saw guide that helps maintain high sawing accuracy over a wide range of sawing situations, and as an added bonus, it also helps develop good sawing posture and muscle memory. Continue Reading »
We’ve all used them; the venerable old Bench Hook for sawing. They do the job, sure, but they also have limitations for many situations. Plastic miter boxes too can have their limitations. Height is one and guide wear is another. The pivoting miter box with saw is a cool looking gizmo, and some work well.
The down side of good miter boxes that come with a pivoting saw is that the best ones came down the pike a century ago, and even then they were not all created equal. Many create as many conundrums as they were meant to resolve, the good ones take a lot of effort to find, and there is one saw for cutting everything with them. One saw for all crosscuts does not work well for all situations.
I’ve wanted to develop a Bench Hook that would be a good companion to our shooting boards for some time now, and quite a few of our customers have expressed a want for one as well. My criteria for such a tool was all about the capabilities. I wanted more flexibility, and to remove some of the limitations of the common mitering fixtures and improve the ergonomics of sawing for the woodworker. This required that I take a different approach than the traditional route, and to a degree the sawyers skill is a bit more in play, but I feel the overall gains were worth it! Continue Reading »
Several years back, PBS, Public Broadcasting, began showing a few videos that have been produced about the life of Richard L “Dick” Proenneke. (1916-2003) The titles of these videos are: “Alone in the Wilderness”, “Alaska, Silence and Solitude”, and “The Frozen North”. Most people who have seen any of these, have more than likely seen Alone in the Wilderness. This video is of footage shot mostly by Dick himself, with his 16 mm Bolex camera, and the narration is writings from his journals in the book, “One Man’s Wilderness”.
Richard L. Proenneke Photo
For most of us, this was our introduction to Dick, and his life. It is one of the only films ever made that shows the process of making a cabin in the wilderness, using only hand tools. It is a real gift.
Dick was a man whose life took him to a lot of places and exposed him to a lot of things, and those things may have been instrumental in helping shape his abilities for life in the wilderness. Born and raised in Iowa, he joined the US Navy and was a Navy carpenter, a rancher, diesel mechanic and heavy equipment operator.
He originally went to Alaska to start a cattle ranch, and wound up commercial salmon fishing and working as a mechanic. He spent the final years of his working career in and around Kodiak Alaska at the naval base there, until a work accident nearly cost him his eyesight. His life in the ranching business probably helped him understand nature and wildlife on an intuitive level, and his life as a carpenter and mechanic probably prepared him with the self-sufficiency needed for the next phase of his life. He retired at age 51 to Twin Lakes, living as a naturalist, nature cinematographer, and scientific observer in the remote Alaska wilderness. Continue Reading »
Bet you were thinking I was going to associate woodworking with left hemisphere brain functions. Well, depending on how you think of it, woodworking is probably a craft that uses both sides of the brain, so possibly, maybe.
But actually, I was going to touch on some thoughts and problem solving on the left side of the blade. Table saw that is. It really is the unaddressed side of the machine.
I am a hand tool user, and advocate. Heck, I even make hand tools, but I am also a blended woodworker. For those unfamiliar with the term, a “Blended Woodworker” is a woodworker who espouses both the finesse of hand tools, and the production of power tools and shop machines.
I make no bones about it, as each of us should follow the woodworking path that makes us feel content. Whether you are a power tool woodworker, a blended, woodworker, a hand tool woodworker, and even perhaps a collector, it’s all woodworking and that is a good thing! Whichever way you are doing it, your doing it right for you. That is all that matters.
Many with table saws are faced with various challenges. Cut quality and safe practices are always ones that weigh heavily on the mind, maybe even the left-brain. Those who have the space and desire, enjoy a large cabinet saw with a 60 inch fence set up, maybe an outfeed table that will accommodate full sheets of plywood. The rest of us may not need a saw that takes that much space, and so we opt for saws with a 30 inch fence system, or maybe even less. Continue Reading »