Aug 31 2015

Logging in the Redwoods – 1946

As woodworkers, we are always using our tools in ensemble to overcome challenges. What we need to make and the materials we seek to make things from are part and parcel of the challenge, but we must acquire the skill to wield our tools and we must learn the ways of wood.

For many woodworkers, it has been beneficial to go back in time and reacquire the skills and tradecraft knowledge that previous generations evolved, learning that both the tools and methods from the hands and eyes, which make for deeper craftsman skill still retain all the quality, productivity and capability they always had in today’s small shop.

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Jun 26 2015

On Developing Mastery

The development of mastery has a language. While every different thing we may hope to master in a lifetime may have many specifics that are unique to each, there is a path to all of it, and the path itself isn’t so unlike the others.

The reason we read what others have to say about woodworking, is because we are hoping to learn tips tricks and methods that we can employ for our own development. It can be about tools, methods, style, materials, joinery, etc. We need to develop a well rounded knowledge of all these things to develop our understanding of the entirety of it. Practice is the part where we develop the ensemble of all this, as we make the things we make.

I would like to present an analogy to you for this discussion, because I think it will help us understand the parts, and the whole of it a lot better. I would like to present some ideas about woodworking mastery, using music and the playing of music as a musician to you as an example of how mastery develops, and becomes our piece of kit, in us.

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Jun 12 2015

The Ethos of Woodworking Precision and Accuracy

There are a lot of different opinions floated out about accuracy and precision in woodworking, and further, about how it applies in handtool woodworking. I’d like to take a few moments and help add some additional perspective from a toolmaker, and from someone who has also had a long career as a journeyman tradesman. This read is a little long, but I feel the perspectives will be helpful to us as we develop our craftsman skills.

I don’t want to overstate what others I’ve read are saying, but cumulatively I read a lot of woodworkers who write say things like: “wood has too much movement for a need to work accurately”. “Measuring is unnecessary, just match things up so that they are good enough”. I could go on, but I am sure we are all aware of what I am referring to.

On it’s face, sometimes these statements may be true, maybe only true for those who state them, but they can be precarious things to say in a context where the reason why is not well prefaced. Let me explain.

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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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Aug 01 2014

Ben’s Mill. A documentary on many levels.

Published by under Documentary,Thoughts & Musings

Ben’s Mill is the story of a mill that had been used by generations, for generations- having evolved to meet the needs of a local marketplace and community.

Ben’s Mill is a story about a community that relied on a water powered wood processing mill, blacksmith and odd jobs shop to help them with things they needed to help them live their lives better, and easier.

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Jul 16 2014

Sustenance Woodworking – A Year in the Taiga

Published by under Documentary,Thoughts & Musings

Happy People: A Year in the Taiga is a 90 minute documentary film produced in 2010 by Werner Herzog and Dmitry Vasyukov. It follows the life of some trappers and villagers from the village of Bakhtia, along the Yenisei River, in the Siberian Taiga.

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Siberia is a land mass that composes most of eastern Russia, and is larger than the size of the United States. It is largely forested, and life in much of the area has not changed much in over a hundred years. Many of the ways they sustain their lives is very similar to the ways we saw Dick Proenneke live in the documentary about his life, Alone in the Wilderness.

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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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Dec 01 2011

Sewing Machine Oil. An Excellent Woodshop Lubricant.

Published by under Hand Tools,Power Tools

Over the course of time I have had opportunity to observe how many oils and lubricants perform in the woodshop, and the trades. My Father and Grandfather used 3 in 1 oil in their shops, along with other brands of light machine oils available at the time.

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They also often used non-detergent 30-weight oil, but it’s terribly messy and doesn’t perform well on a lot of woodworking equipment where exposure to cold temps and sawdust are concerned. In light of what my ancestors did, I found myself thinking about, and wanting better lubricants.
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Nov 11 2011

Tip: Work to a line.

Work to a line. Cut on the waste side of the line and leave the line on the work.

Supporting Tip: Mark which side of the line will be the waste side. The waste side is the part you don’t intend to keep.

This isn’t about measuring as much as it is about marking. Marking exactly that which we want to keep is the best way to assure things fit when we assemble our project’s parts. If we don’t observe this however, it can render our careful measurements powerless. The fitment of our work is what we honor the most. Continue Reading »

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Jun 05 2011

Where High Quality Matters.

Woodworkers often ponder what matters to produce the highest quality outcomes in woodworking. Defining quality is the key. It is a combination of tooling and technique to be sure. There are times we can save money; there are times we should invest for the long haul from the beginning. It isn’t always about money as much as it is about how far we want to take our outcomes.

Here are some considerations for bringing high quality to woodworking. Continue Reading »

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