Archive for the 'Skill Development' Category

Jan 21 2015

Shooting Board Questions and Answers Volume One

I get questions about our shooting boards from time to time, so I thought I’d help out by sharing the Q&A stream with you.

Q: Why do we use shooting boards?

A: Shooting boards have been pretty common in woodworking for the last 200 years and were widely taught for use in Educational Sloyd. Shooting devices certainly predate 200 years ago, but were less common when furniture was less complex. They are tools that help reduce the workmanship of risk, reduce the complexity of difficult work such as specific needs for straightness and angles, and help enhance woodworker safety, particularly on small parts.

Making anything from wood means working to the lines and begins with layout lines on accurate boards. Lines are then sawn closely on the waste side and finished to the line, smooth with planes to remove the saw marks. When the need for a line is to fit parts precisely with other parts, that line is planed with a shooting board. The shooting board and a sharp plane can improve upon any sawn line whether it was cut by hand or machine, removing all the tearout and leaving a crisp edge and smooth surface. It also reduces risk to work the further a project progresses. Shooting boards offer a great deal of surety in the work.

Q: Why offer Shooting Boards as a tool, Don’t people make those from scraps around the shop?

A: A shooting board is a device that can offer accuracy to woodworkers that rivals machinist accuracy. This is really handy for fine work in woodworking. Historically, as the woodworker has acquired tooling of higher precision, the appearance of their work has reflected it. To make a tool capable of this precision with repeatability in accuracy and durability requires a specialized manufacturing process. The shooting board has to be more accurate than the things it will be used to make.

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Dec 28 2014

Helping You Saw Better

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.

Guided Sawing

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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Sep 13 2014

On Sharpening Better – Part 3

Using materials in the sharpening process that cut fast, while retaining a flat sharpening surface is good criteria. This is why powered sharpening gear uses a platen beneath the abrasives, otherwise we would have no reference for our work, and desired results would be difficult to achieve with repeatability. While messy aspects of sharpening can not be completely eliminated, what if we could minimize them?

The mess and clutter of the ensemble that is sharpening gear, along with the associated set up and clean up of the process, so it works well is also in the equation. There is only so much space to begin with, and the mess becomes part of the inertia that causes us to wait longer than we should to sharpen in the first place.

Or we have precious little space to begin with, so we would have to stop and set a process aside in order to make space for sharpening, then do that, clean up and stow before resuming the woodworking process.

It isn’t any wonder why we avoid sharpening until the last minute, even as that makes the task as difficult to accomplish as any can be.

I don’t think it really has to be that way. I’ve developed some different ways of thinking about the sharpening process and some tools that help fit them. They reduce sharpening effort with no cost to edge quality.

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Aug 28 2014

Recent New Tool Releases for Fall 2014

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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Aug 20 2014

On Sharpening Better.

If we read and follow what is written on sharpening, we learn there have been debates. It’s all good, we all understand what we understand. It’s a developed perception, and those perceptions reflect what we understand at the point we’re at.

I am not here to debate. But I am here to share some thoughts I feel are worth considering if we want to become better at sharpening.

Depending on where one finds themselves on the sharpening learning curve, our current place on that curve is influential to our thinking on the matter. True, no matter if we are novice, proficient or between.

People are different. Some roll with the first thing that works for them and settle in. At the other end of the spectrum, are the adventurous who push the envelope, always. There is value in both types, and both can offer valuable advice and opinion. I’ve learned it is good to understand that there is always a mix, it is good to be willing to adapt, and more we can learn if we keep an open beginner’s mind.

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Jul 05 2014

Woodworking Squarely

Recently we have had some emails from woodworkers who have been having challenges with building their projects and having them come out square.

The biggest thing we need to realize about squareness is that we take it for granted, but when we really have to make something square, it is something that begins with wood selection, and evolves from meticulous prep work.

Our layout lines have to be drawn on stock that is already “right” in terms of squareness and dimension.

The joinery we cut and form into those boards must be as accurate as the stock itself.

Fitment will tell the tale. Errors when we make any become cumulative, and sometimes the only trick that works is to be right.

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Dec 01 2012

Shooting Boards. Why Shoot?

It’s one of those questions I get asked quite often, and interestingly, the answer is pretty succinct. Precision, safety and accuracy. But the reasons behind why we may want to shoot come from a lot of different woodworking situations, and these situations can usually be improved by using an accurate shooting board.

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Having a shooting board can be a solution to many woodworking’s problems. What a shooting board does in it’s most basic form is create a chute for a hand plane to slide squarely (side to side, and front to back) to the work, and position a fence to hold the work at a specifically given angle, such as 90 or 45 degrees, so that the end grain of the work can be planed square and smooth. The finish result desired is the smooth finish and squareness front to back, top to bottom. Continue Reading »

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Oct 12 2012

Woodworking Tools for the Left Handed Woodworker. (Righties Too!)

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 »

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Sep 14 2012

Golden Ratio Calculator for Woodworkers

One of the most important tools in a woodworkers design arsenal is the Golden Ratio. It is the ratio that balances the long sides of rectangles, with the short side of rectangles, and as a ratio it can be used for either interchangeably as long as one leg length is known.

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The Golden Ratio , or Phi as it is commonly called is a ratio that is described as:
Phi= 1 + the square root of 5 over 2. (approximately the ratio of 1 : 1.618)

It has been used in design work going back some 2,400 years. It is still commonly used today for design in Architecture, Engineering, Furniture, Art, Publishing, even Web Design. It has even been found in Nature. If you would like to know more, the Wikipedia Article on the Golden Ratio is very good. A search engine will turn up even more information. Continue Reading »

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May 31 2012

Help For Accurate Hand Saw Cuts

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?

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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 »

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