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Excavating A Scallop Shell

Like many other types of carvings, you need to establish a topography by excavating the scallop shell. In other words, you’ve got to form the blank to a general shell shape before you can carve the details. I use bench chisels for the vast majority of this excavation, but you could certainly use larger, flatter-sweep[…]

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Carving Tool Cuts & How To Make Them

There are a handful of carving tool cuts every budding woodcarver needs to know. They’re essential because they help you remain in control during the cut, ensuring your carving turns out as planned. It’s all about control. Learning the fundamental cuts (push, pull, slice and chop) combined with an understanding grain direction puts you in[…]

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The Scallop Shell – Tools & Layout

Carving is one of those peripheral skills many woodworkers ignore, but you can add depth to your projects by including even a modest amount. In the video below, I walk you through scallop shell layout and the necessary tools to carve it. Honestly, carving a scallop shell is far simpler than it looks, and it’s[…]

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Wood Turning Basics: The Skew Part 2 & The Gouge

Getting a skew, or gouge, to cut is essential to cutting down the amount of sanding necessary to get a turning ready for finish.

Last week I introduced you to the skew, and this week I’m going to add the spindle gouge. Learning how to make both tools cut (as opposed to scraping) is essential if you want to produce the highest quality turned surfaces. Cutting with a skew and gouge is also faster than scraping. I know you[…]

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Wood Turning Basics: The Skew Part 1

The skew is one of the more difficult woodworking tools to master, but it’s definitely worth the effort. If you plan to do any amount of spindle turning for your furniture projects, you can save tons of time and effort with a skew. When used correctly, it leaves a near finish-ready surface. The key to[…]

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Cabinet Scrapers: How to Sharpen and Use

Cabinet scrapers are the bigger, badder, much more aggressive brother to the card scraper. When you have a large surface to clean up, the cabinet scraper can be your best friend. Because the tool is scraping and not slicing, grain direction is far less important than on a plane. That said, you can’t use a[…]

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Card Scrapers: How to Sharpen and Use

Card scrapers are great tools for surface prep, but there’s a bit of a learning curve. Many woodworkers often do more damage with a card scraper than good. The keys to getting great results are in an adequately sharpened edge and employing the correct technique when scraping. Neither the sharpening nor the technique is a[…]

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Jointing Tapered Legs

Adding tapered legs to your furniture projects is one way to give your pieces a lighter, more vertical appearance without complicating the design. You’ll find tapered legs showing up in furniture designs from the late 1700s through today. There are several key factors that need to be considered when designing furniture with tapered legs. And[…]

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Three Minute Crosscut Sled

A crosscut sled is an extremely versatile tool for any shop, and it only takes a few minutes to make one once you’ve gathered the materials. Having a single sled in your shop is like having a single chisel. You can get the job done, but it’s far easier if you’ve got more sizes available.[…]

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Foundational Finish Facts: A Case For Broken Corners

The foundation of any good finish is proper surface prep. One of the key elements of that preparation is breaking all the sharp edges. I know it sounds fairly obvious, but lots of woodworkers skip right over it and ruin their projects. I get it, you’ve spent days, week or even months working on your[…]

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String Inlay Tools

For the year or two before moving to Cincinnati, I ran a class at my school on veneer and inlay (I’m running one in 2019, click here and use the coupon code day3 for a 10% discount off the class – valid for 72 hours). As part of the class, I had the students make string[…]

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Furniture Details: Tambour Doors

Tambour doors have (now) been around for centuries. I believe they reached the height of their refinement during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. You find tambour door construction showing up in a variety of furniture forms. Although tambour construction got its start with traditional period styles, you can find doors and fronts using the[…]

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The Joinery of Wharton Esherick

Esherick's music stand has pocket screws holding the middle leg into the piece.

Wharton Esherick was a terrible joiner. He hated the joinery aspect of woodworking, and it shows. Even on his iconic pieces, Wharton spent more time on the form and how it looked rather than on how it was stuck together. So, like it or not, I’m going to pick apart the joinery of Wharton Esherick. I’m not bringing[…]

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Simple Scratch Beader

Beading is a great way to finish the edges of your furniture projects. This simple, shop-made scratch beader gets you there quick and easy. Whether you make traditional furniture or contemporary designs, softening the edges with some a bead is not only functional but decorative without being overbearing. There are typically three primary types of beads[…]

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Christmas Candlestick

The Christmas Candlestick is a video I did in the first season of No BS Woodworking (my old online show). I honestly had more fun filming this episode than nearly any other video I’ve done. And while the acting (particularly mine) was a bit cheesy, the project is a serious one. When I planned the first[…]

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South Windsor, Connecticut Highboy

I saw the South Windsor, Connecticut highboy on my first tour of Winterthur, and my initial thought was, “That looks like something out of Disney’s Fantasia. I hope I NEVER have to build one of those.” Sometimes things don’t work out the way you want. After including a picture of my version of the highboy[…]

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40 Years in Under 40 Feet

Last year, in preparation for the move back to Pennsylvania I hauled all my layout sticks, patterns, and jigs to storage. They made their way east late last year only to end up going back into storage (a few ended up inside the then far-from finished new shop). Forty years of accumulation, thousands of pieces[…]

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William Hogarth on Cabriole Legs

All good art, according to William Hogarth, includes the "S" shape (or, "line of beauty" found in cabriole legs.

Today, I’d like to talk about cabriole legs: Something of which I’ve made hundreds (at least), and haven’t thought much about in years.  While prepping for a recent carving class, I started looking at them again from the perspective of someone who hasn’t made many, if any at all. The first questions that come to mind[…]

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Layout Sticks Save Time & Money

Yesterday I wrote in Proper Planning about how important I think it is to have a plan for most any project. I know lots of folks are into SketchUp (and I find it a useful tool), but for working out the details of a job, there’s nothing like a full-sized drawing. That’s why, in yesterday’s[…]