Note 7/2009: Woodwork magazine was sold to the publisher of American Woodworker. They published one issue of Woodwork. But it now appears to be defunct.

My favorite woodworking magazine is called Woodwork. Here is a short item I wrote that appeared in the Tips & Techniques section of the August 2007 edition (No. 106):

I spent years shuffling a stack of Tupperware containers that held my waterstones. But they were clumsy and took up too much space in my very small shop. So I came up with this idea to store my three stones vertically in pieces of plastic pipe. I found a length of 4-inch PVC pipe at my local salvage yard. I bought three end caps to fit. I cut the pipe into three pieces, each about 1-1/2 to 2 inches longer than my longest stone. Using PVC pipe cement, I glued a cap to one end of each piece, so that they held water without leaking. Then I made three little crosses from scraps of oak, using a half-lap joint. The pieces of oak are about 1/2” by 3/4” and just long enough to fit snugly inside the pipe. You need to be able to push the assembled cross down to the bottom of the pipe to rest on the end cap. But it has to be snug enough so it won’t float to the surface when you fill the pipe with with water. The purpose of the cross is simply to prop the stone 3/4” or so above the end cap, to keep the stone out of the gunk that will settle on the bottom. Then I built a cradle to hold the three pipes, and hung it from the wall next to my sharpening station. Make this cradle as simple or elaborate as you want. I made wedges to hold the pipes firmly in place. And I put on hinged lids to keep dust out of the water. One final piece of advice: Put the stone in the pipe first; then fill it with water. You might be surprised by the amount of displacement, and the whole thing will overflow if you fill the pipe first and then drop the stone in.

Update: Display shelf

April 28, 2008

All the woodworking is finished. Putting on the finish now — couple more coats to go. We’ll be wrapped up by the end of the week!

Update: Display shelf

April 20, 2008

Drawers in. Just a few details to wrap up before putting the finish on: Gluing in the pulls. Putting the bottoms into the drawers. Light at the end of the tunnel now.

On making time

April 17, 2008

Recently my former woodworking teacher, Gary Rogowski, wrote on his blog about how life often overwhelms our ability to find quality shop time (see it here).

This is something I’ve been thinking about since my wife and I had a baby in 2006. Before the baby, I used to say that it took an hour, after walking into the shop for the day, just to sweep up, figure out what I was doing, decide on the next step and get back to work on whatever I had going. It took three or four hours before I really had momentum.

Those days are long gone. I never walk into the shop “for the day.” We have a toddler, now, and I still have a day job in addition to my furniture-making. My shop time comes in one- or two-hour blocks — mostly in the early morning, when my wife and child are asleep. I get up at 5:30 or 6, eat a banana, make a cup of coffee and go to the shop. Do not check the e-mail. Do not see if the paper is here. Directly to the shop.

This gives me about an hour and a half, maybe two, before I need to get ready for my job. And I now realize that my earlier notion about taking an hour to get rolling was true only because I made it be true.

I recall reading about a novelist — I think it might have been Hemingway — who said he always quit writing for the day when he knew what the next sentence would say. If he was stumped when he quit, it was difficult to start the next time he set to work. The idea works for me. As I’m nearing the last few minutes in the shop for the day, I decide exactly what I need to do next. When I come in the following morning, I find this makes it easy to get going immediately.

My corollary to this rule is that I now try to avoid setting a goal of how much I want to get done by the end of my daily shop time — partly because I often miss the goal, and partly because it causes me to rush or compromise. I just walk in, try to work steadily until my time is up and then stop. I think this is not a natural or easy state of mind in a culture like ours. But it helps keep me focused on building the best piece I can, as opposed to “getting it done.”

Yes, this means my clients have to be patient. I very much appreciate them for it.

Update: Display shelf

April 13, 2008

Been shaping the drawer pulls and sanding all of the drawer parts. Now ready to glue up and fit the drawers.