« February 2007 | Main | April 2007 »

March 30, 2007

Highland Woodworking Invited to The Home & Design Show

The Home & Design ShowThe national Home & Design Show, an event featuring remodeling, home improvement and decorating products and services, has invited Highland Woodworking to share our knowledge and passion about woodworking and fine furniture in their "Designs in Wood" booth.

There will be an interesting blend of work on display by Highland Woodworking employees, customers and friends, including Curtis Buchanan, Michael Gilmartin, Sean Headrick, Ken Mattie, Sabiha Mujtaba and Marion Smith. The eclectic mix of creations ranges from a reproduction of a late Colonial American table to pieces of contemporary "art furniture".

If you plan to be in the Atlanta area this weekend, come by the Cobb Galleria and enjoy the show. We’ll have our new spring catalog on hand featuring new products as well as upcoming classes and seminars. Be sure to check out future home and design events in other key markets near you such as Boston, San Diego, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Orlando, Vancouver and Toronto.

Atlanta Home & Design Show
Cobb Galleria
March 30 – April 1, 2007

March 28, 2007

A Review of Make Your Own Woodworking Tools by Mike Burton

Make Your Own Woodworking Tools by Mike BurtonThis book could also be titled "Metallurgy and Blacksmithing for Woodworkers". In no time, Burton will have you making chisels, knives and specialty tools with little more than a few files, a Mapp gas torch and a toaster oven. No, really. I’ve used the information is this book personally, and it works. I’ve made dovetail chisels, carving knives, scorps and countless other unique items necessary to finish tricky jobs. What a joy to create a tool you can envision but can’t find anywhere. The book has chapters on the different types of steel, equipment, safety, blacksmithing, heat-treating, sharpening, handles and projects. Although the information is specialized in nature, Burton’s homegrown style and humor will keep you from fighting the zzz monster. It is loaded with good quality, close-up color photography to highlight the text. If you want lots of charts, graphs, facts and figures, then go elsewhere. But if you want good practical folk knowledge from a lifetime of doing, then you’ll want this book near the bench.

Several books of this nature have sadly gone out of print. It is unfortunate because woodworkers in general are excellent problem solvers and researchers, given the right references. For the most part, we can jig up or improvise whatever we need to get a job done. Having books like Make Your Own Woodworking Tools: Metalwork Techniques to Create Customize, and Sharpen in the Home Workshop on the shelf is a true blessing. Typically when you want useful and concise information most resources barrage you with a ton of overly technical jargon, so that you quickly lose interest. You might even wind up with more questions than when you started. So there you have it, just enough how-to to bang out a few useful items without all the rigmarole.

Chris Black

March 27, 2007

New Red Hot Special!

New Red Hot Special!Don't miss the new Highland Woodworking Red Hot Special! Our popular Deluxe Router Bit Storage Box is featured at an unbeliveable price, but quantities are limited, so you'll have to act fast! Visit Highland Woodworking to order yours!

If you don't see the Red Hot Special icon on our homepage, that means we've sold out, so check back soon for our next item!

March 23, 2007

The Wixey Digital Angle Gauge Is Here!

The Wixey Digital Angle Gauge Is Here!Our first full shipment of Wixey Digital Angle Gauges (168321) arrived today. They’ll be featured on p. 7 of our new catalog, which should be hitting your mailboxes in the next week or so. We get sent a whole-metric-bucket-ton of stuff from manufacturers to evaluate, so we’re pretty jaded to all the gadgetry out there. Most of the stuff gets tossed in a box in our store’s attic, and at some point finds its way to our clearance table. We’re particularly weary of any product that has a laser or digital readout. The Wixey Digital Angle Gauge is different. For one, it actually works! You’d think a manufacturer or distributor that wanted one of his or her products in our catalog would make sure it worked before sending it to us. We get things all the time that either have no apparent purpose or that just plain don’t work.

Not too long ago, a client asked me to build a couple of Japanese style sconce lamps. Nothing terribly complicated except for a series of lengthwise miters that had to be ripped on the table saw. Since the angles weren’t common, I went through quite a bit of trial and error to make everything line up. Eventually, I got it right, but it’d been nice if I’d had one of these angle gauges to set the bevel on the blade from the protractor reading.

Visit Highland Woodworking for more information.

March 22, 2007

Chris Ramsay, Hat Turner

Turned Cowboy HatWhat a treat. At the Georgia Association of Woodturners March meeting here at the store, Chris Ramsay turned a cowboy hat out of sugar maple. Chris has been turning hats for years and “THE” George Bush has one of Chris’ hat. There was standing room only for Chris Ramsay's demonstration. Chris started with a 20” piece of sugar maple. He rounded it and started to cut it back so he could get a mirror frame, regular hat and a mini hat out of the same piece of wood. I took a lot of pictures so you could get an idea of how he turns it.

He uses a faceplate and a chuck and at first reverses several times before he starts to profile the outside of the hat. Once the brim is cut to less than 1/8" the crown is shaped. He leaves the top most attached to the faceplate and then reverses the hollow the inside so he can put it on a special chuck to finish the outside crown. The pictures don’t do justice to what the members got to see. Hope you enjoy the pictures and if you are ever in Atlanta on the third Thursday of the month, please drop by Highland Woodworking and join us for the woodturner's meeting. We always have a great demo. The meetings start at 6:30 PM, but you're welcome to come earlier to shop in our store.

Phil Colson

Watch Chris turn a hat in the video slideshow below!

March 21, 2007

The Great Hydrocote Brushing Controversy

The Great Hydrocote Brushing ControversyHydrocote products have been Highland Woodworking’s primary water-based finish for many years. Professionals and enthusiasts have come to rely on Hydrocote’s overall quality, durability and broad choice of supporting products. They make a polyurethane for floors and tables, a lacquer for general cabinet work and an exterior urethane for outdoor projects.

In Fine Woodworking’s Dec. 2006 issue (#187), Chris Minick wrote an excellent article on water-based finishes. A lot has changed with these finishes over the years, and they’ve done nothing but get better. In the article, the author applied all the test products with a brush and concluded that Hydrocote’s Resisthane was the best value. We’ve always said Resisthane makes a good choice for professionals because it’s inexpensive, extremely durable, dries very fast and doesn’t require a large investment in spray booth equipment.

The controversy began with a letter to the editor of Fine Woodworking in the April 2007 issue (#190). In the letter, a customer came to our store to purchase some Hydrocote Resisthane based on the review in the article in issue #187. On the can of Resisthane the customer read a warning not to apply the product with a brush because of the fast drying time. Chris Minick then replied that one could certainly brush waterborne finishes as long as you didn’t overwork the wet finish and allow it to flow out. We certainly agree with this assessment. The reason Hydrocote and Highland recommend spraying Resisthane is that it does dry fast. We have found over the years of taking technical calls and talking to end users that most folks who are new to water-based finishes don’t follow the instructions completely and tend to overwork the finish. Perhaps they are used to slower drying oil based finishes that require a bit of tipping off with the brush. Thus, they get poor results with water-based finishes. Consequently, we now carry a line of water-based finishes by Ceramithane that doesn’t dry as fast and flows out better when brushed on. Can you brush Resisthane? Of course, you can, but if you’re the type of person that likes to mess around with the finish after it’s on, then consider the slower drying Ceramithane.

Chris Black

March 20, 2007

A Little Note About Our Products and Some News About Blue Chip Chisels

Irwin Blue Chip ChiselsAlmost all of us who work here, including myself, are avid woodworkers. Needless to say, we love our tools. We take an active interest in making sure the stuff we sell works. If it’s expensive, we want the best. If it sells for less, we make sure it’s a good value. The bottom line is we want our friends, our customers, to be happy and enjoy our tools. So, we have things like a tech line and a fairly liberal return policy to make sure you get what you want. Another thing we do is we test our products. Product testing has been a tradition at Highland since day one. You’ve read our ad that says, “Our catalog gives you more than just manufacturer’s specs…” We really do take this stuff home, give it a go in our own shops and try to be as honest as possible with the copy in our catalog/web site.

A while ago, Irwin bought Marples, the maker of the famous Blue Chip Chisel. The Blue Chip has been a favorite at Highland for as long as anyone can remember. I still have my original set I bought as a carpenter’s apprentice. Blue Chips have always been what we consider a good value, fairly inexpensive tools for better than average quality. I have never broken a handle, though I’ll admit to occasionally bashing one with a framing hammer. There, no one saw. Irwin recently moved manufacture of the Blue Chips from Sheffield, England to China. Our current catalog went to print before we found out, so it still says "Made in Sheffield". We actually found out today (March 20, 2007), when a new batch arrived on our loading dock. As a result, I’ll take a set home, and once again give ’em a go. I just finished sharpening the set, and so far they still take a fine edge. Over the next week or so, I’ll see how they hold up and let you know. Thanks.

Chris Black

March 19, 2007

Two Simple Table Saw Improvements

Two Simple Table Saw Improvements by Richard McCandlessThe following article, detailing steps one can take to improve table saw functionality, was submitted to us by Richard McCandless of Akron, Ohio. He writes:

"In the last five years I’ve become more serious about my woodworking for fun and in preparation for retirement. I started by taking a few classes and replacing my ancient little table saw. I found myself going out of my way to visit good sources, including Highland Hardware, which is quite a hike from my home in Ohio. Now I’ve progressed to Windsor chairs and another generation of bigger, sharper and more powerful tools. The sense of fulfillment keeps growing."

Two Simple Table Saw Improvements by Richard McCandless

Table saws are everywhere. Most of us start woodworking with a table saw. Nevertheless, most of my homeowner friends haven't made even the simplest improvements to their saws. Nobody told them how.

Here are two simple steps you can take to improve your table saw. They're virtually free. You can do them in minutes. Believe me, they're worth it.

Visit Highland Woodworking for the full article.

March 17, 2007

Saturday Mornings at Highland a Great Success!

Saturday Mornings at Highland a Great Success

On February 17, 2007, we began our Saturday Mornings at Highland educational program, a series of free woodworking demonstrations every Saturday morning here in our retail store. So far the response has been tremendous.

Our first Saturday featured our own Phil Colson turning toy tops. The crowd quickly overflowed to the second floor with folks watching over the balcony. Phil engaged the crowd with his easygoing manner, answering questions and then going back to the lathe. After teaching turning techniques, Phil switched over to decorating the tops with various pens, inks and finishes. A bunch of kids, young and old, left with some sample tops and having had a great time.

Visit Highland Woodworking for the full article.

March 16, 2007

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Woodworking But Were Afraid to Ask

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Woodworking But Were Afraid to Ask Quite often we receive questions from customers prefaced by "Please don't tell anyone I asked you this, but..." or "I'm embarrassed to admit I don't know this, but..." or "I've been woodworking since high school shop class, but I don't know..."

So we've decided to address several of those nagging little questions that you just can't bring yourself to ask your woodworking buddies.

What exactly is a board foot and how do I determine the number of board feet in a piece of wood?

What is the difference between Flat Top, ATB, and Combination tooth saw blades and which kind should I use?

I know what a dovetail joint is, but what is a half-blind or blind dovetail?

What is the "Golden Ratio"? Why is it referred to so much in woodworking and furniture design?

Almost every article I read about sharpening refers to "Scary Sharp"? What the heck does that mean?

What finish should I use on children's toys?

Visit Highland Woodworking for more questions AND the answers.

March 15, 2007

Irwin Quick-Grip XP Bar Clamp & Spreader

165701.jpgThe Irwin Quick-Grip XP Bar Clamp & Spreader is a super heavy-duty version of Irwin’s famous one-handed Quick-Grip Clamp. They’ve replaced the standard bar with a thicker/wider steel I-beam that definitely resists bending, bowing and racking. The jaws of the XP toe in like a good bench vise, so clamping pressure stays exactly where you want it. Irwin claims the XP can achieve 900 lbs of clamping force when using two hands. Of course we just had to take it apart to see why it’s able to exert so much more force than standard one-hand clamps. Pulling the metal plate off the trigger housing, we noticed two sets of massive clutch plates that give you a fantastic mechanical advantage. The first set moves the jaws for clamping/spreading while the trigger release operates the second set. The trigger provides enough leverage to free the clamp even at maximum pressure without pinching your hand or shooting the bar back at you.

Like all current issue Quick-Grips, the XP’s fixed head reverses with a pull of a clip for spreading operations. If you’ve ever tried to repair a chair or tighten tongue and groove flooring, then you know how handy this feature is. Oh, and don’t worry about losing the retaining clip, it’s permanently attached. Irwin also seems to have eliminated the annoying habit of pads popping off the jaws. The bottom line is that these are some impressive clamps that should hold up and perform well in real world conditions.

Visit Highland Woodworking for more information.

March 14, 2007

Cupran Special Hand Cleaner/Paint Remover

188323.jpg3M Paint Buster Hand Cleaner was one of our favorite products. So, we were very disappointed when they discontinued it. While searching for a replacement, we were surprised to find a product that is better and cheaper. Check out Cupran Special Hand Cleaner. We think that you'll love it!

Visit Highland Woodworking for more information.

Curtis Buchanan Windsor Chair Class Video

Peek in on Curtis Buchanan's week-long "Build a Windsor Chair" class held at Highland Woodworking in April 2006!

March 13, 2007

Don't Miss Highland Woodworking's Spring One Day Sale!

Highland Woodworking Spring One Day SaleSaturday, May 5th
1045 N. Highland Ave. NE
Atlanta, GA 30306

Come spend the day at Highland Woodworking for our Spring One Day Sale! We'll have free woodworking demonstrations throughout the day, free refreshments, door prizes and special in-store pricing on hundreds of items.

The shops and eateries here in Virginia-Highlands will keep your family fed and busy all day, so bring the whole clan and come on down! We won't have a tent, so there will be parking available in our lot.

Directions to Our Store

March 12, 2007

Adjustable Torque Screwdriver with 28 Bits

Adjustable Torque Screwdriver with 28 BitsHere's a truly unique screwdriver that stands out in a crowd - an Adjustable Torque Screwdriver with 28 Bits! With a turn of a wrist, the spring loaded slip clutch goes from 2-36 in/lb of torque with an accuracy of ±6%. When you've reached the desired torque, the clutch disengages. A built-in scale indicates your setting.

If you're looking for a gift, they can't possibly have one of these yet. Comes with 26 hex bits with 1/4" shanks, a 2" extension, and a 1/4" drive adapter for sockets, all in a fitted plastic case.

Visit Highland Woodworking for more information.

Small Shop Dust Collection Simplified

Small Shop Dust Collectionby Chris Black

Dust collection is one of those topics you could write a book about and several people have. The book Woodshop Dust Control, Revised by Sandor Nagyszalanczy is probably the best one out there. Dust control is something you know you should do, but where do you start and how do you proceed? You've probably asked yourself questions like, do I need a central system, what about grounding and how much is this going to cost?

For most small general woodworking shops, dust control is simple and affordable. Learn a few basic concepts up front that you can apply to most situations, and the specifics will take care of themselves.

Visit Highland Woodworking for the full article.