Who am I? Why am I here?

I've been a professional woodworker for over a decade, the past few years of which I've spent as Cabinetmaker at Fernbank Science Center in Atlanta, Georgia. I also teach woodworking classes, mostly at Highland Woodworking.


I'm writing this blog to try and show what can be done with very basic tools in limited space. I have a huge shop with big machines at work, it's true, but for my own personal projects I work in borrowed space: half of a two-car garage.


I also hope to write occasional posts about why I'm a woodworker: the pleasures of working and the beauty of the material.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Stocking Stuffers for Woodworkers



Once in a while someone asks me for advice on what to give their woodworking loved one for Christmas. In the past, my standard advice has been to get a nice honing jig, or better yet, a class on sharpening. Those remain very good gifts, because sharpening is fundamental to enjoyable working, and neglected by a large percentage of us working at all levels.

About a year ago, though, I decided that one of these might help

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Handplane Jig for Ladderback Chair Leg Tapering



Here's another hand tool jig. This one is more specific than the dovetail paring jig I showed in the last entry, because it's built to help with one particular step in one particular project. I use it to turn tapered square chair leg blanks into tapered octagons when I make the ladderback chair developed by J. Alexander and Drew Langsner. The dovetail jig can be used for joints of different thicknesses and widths, and I can even picture myself using it to fair up tenon shoulders. But this leg-tapering jig is so specific that I doubt it will ever be used for anything but this project.

First I'll show about making and using the jig, and then I'll explain my thinking a little bit.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Robert Ingham's Dovetail Paring Jig

I've been thinking lately about hand tool jigs for very specific operations. If you've used hand tools much, you've learned about the value of jigs for often-performed, generalized operations like making a square end on a board with a bench hook and/or shooting board. I'm thinking about more specialized jigs that don't get used for every single project, but come in handy for guiding a tool along a carefully limited path to produce consistent, accurate results. This baseline paring jig for dovetails is a perfect example.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Buying an Old Unisaw


If you're getting into woodworking because you want to build cabinets and built-ins for your house, your version of the thousand-dollar shop could be centered around the tablesaw. I have danced around this topic for a while because although I do have a tablesaw, it isn't one I would recommend for cabinet work: it's underpowered and has a very small table which tilts to make angled cuts, so is not safe for breaking down big sheets of plywood.

The saw as I found it when I visited the pre-auction inspection. There was no play in the arbor bearings, no major rust, and the inside was not caked with old sawdust: all good signs.



Recently that changed, when I had the chance to get an old Delta Unisaw for an excellent price.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Make a Chopping Block for Green Woodworking




If you want to get started in woodworking on the lowest possible budget, I recommend what's called “green woodworking” or sometimes “greenwoodworking”. I've talked a little about this already, in this entry about the chairmaking class I took at Country Workshops last summer, and this entry about gathering some ash for my next chair.

One thing you will find handy if you want to start carving spoons and/or bowls from green wood is a chopping block, so you'll have a stable surface for shaping with an axe.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Hock Kitchen Knife Kits

I just put the first coat of finish on this guy:
If you've done much messing around with hand planes, you'll probably recognize the logo. If not, finish reading this and I'll try to start you down the path to enlightenment.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Planing Small Irregular Pieces of Wood

Just a quick post about using two-sided tape in a pinch.




The workpieces in question are a pair of scales for a kitchen knife I'm giving to my son. They're oddly shaped, so my bench vise couldn't hold them, and too thin to hold that way anyway. The ends have been cut off too far from square to use my Time Warp bench dogs; the force of planing would rotate them away from behind the dog and they'd just slide across the bench.