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October 27, 2008

New Fall Woodworking Class Schedule and Tool Catalog


Our big new Fall 2008 woodworking tool catalog is at the printer and will be mailing out in just a few days. It's loaded with a huge selection of woodworking tools and supplies, and also contains a listing of the dozens of upcoming woodworking classes and workshops held at our retail store in Atlanta, Georgia. We invite you take an online look at our woodworking class schedule.

October 16, 2008

Woodworking Q & A: Desperately Seeking a Truly Stainable Wood Putty

Dear Highland Woodworking:

I have not been able to find a good stainable wood filler (or putty). Minwax indicates that their putty is, but it really isn't. It does fill the nail holes, but I can never seem to get the colors right even when I buy the wax pencils to try to assist. Normally I use Minwax Provincial Stain on my baseboard, pine doors and trim. Could you please help? I'll bet I'm not the only one with this kind of issue.

Thanks, Peter B.

Dear Peter,

Many of us struggle with the imperfect science of matching wood with putty. Despite the multitude of manufacturers and the wide array of colors they offer, finding an off-the-shelf product to match your wood and accept your stain exactly is a very tall order. It is really a process of getting the putty as close as possible to the color of the surrounding wood, and then further enhancing the repair through the coloring and finishing process.

As you know, putty and wood are different in many ways. Wood has side grain and end grain. Putty does not. Wood is wood, while putty is a mixture of many different organic and inorganic products. Furthermore, the density of wood is dissimilar from species to species as well as to wood putty. This is complicated by the fact that no two manufacturers' products are the same. As a result, finding an off-the-shelf putty to match your exact needs is very tricky.

So, what should we do? It is important to get as close a match as possible with either the wood, or if staining, with the final color of the piece. Then you can do your best to "make the repair disappear" through the staining or dyeing process and the finish coat (tinted or not). You will very likely have better luck disguising the repair by applying colored topcoats of finish, or by simply painting the area with artist colors. (Be sure to paint in grain lines to match the surrounding area.)

Several years ago, a trade magazine explained how large furniture manufacturers color match their products. As no two pieces of cherry or walnut are exactly the same color (and it is important to make them be the same color as the rest of the dining room suite), the process of coloring the furniture is actually a process of coloring the finish -- and multiple layers of finish at that. This allows a uniform color regardless of the underlying wood and any defects that are present. It is a little like repainting an old car, but you get the idea.

I hope this helps answer your question. We all struggle with this problem from time to time. For further reading, check out Bob Flexner's book entitled Understanding Wood Finishing. It is a super book that covers most aspects of finishing wood.

Sam Rieder
Highland Woodworking

October 15, 2008

A New Woodworking Season Begins

0927leaves.jpgAs autumn leaves brighten in color, woodworkers are inevitably making their way back to the woodworking shop in their basement, garage or outbuilding to resume the work they love: making practical and beautiful things out of wood.

In these troubled economic times more than ever, possessing woodworking skills and the tools necessary to exercise them can help enrich and enliven a woodworker's life. Besides the joy and satisfaction that comes from creating something by hand, the opportunity exists to supplement your income by concentrating on practical projects that your local marketplace needs. Tables, chairs, shelving units and cabinets never go out of style and everyone needs them. Woodturning projects make excellent gifts, and everyone will be looking for unique gifts to give this holiday season. Woodcarving is great for this too.

We welcome your suggestions for specific project ideas that your fellow woodworkers around the country might use to generate income locally or save money on gifts that would otherwise need to be purchased. If you have some project ideas to share, please describe it by posting a reply to this blog entry.

The latest issue of Wood News Online, our monthly woodworking magazine, features an excellent article by Doug Bittinger that kicks off a series on taking the plunge into full-time professional woodworking. Whether woodworking is a hobby, a part-time moneymaker, or full-time occupation for you, Doug has some thoughtful ideas that are worth considering.

Here is a link to the full October issue of Wood News Online. An excerpt from Doug's article follows below:

Taking the Plunge into Professional Woodworking
by Douglas Bittinger

I cannot say that I know anyone who was going through life with no woodworking experience and simply said to themselves "I think I'll become a professional woodworker," signed up for some courses to learn what they needed to know, and then went looking for a job as a woodworker. Not to say it doesn't happen. I just don't know any.

All of the professional woodworkers I know discovered a talent and desire for woodworking and nurtured it. Some discovered it while young, some not so young, but they found it. Some got into it out of necessity: they wanted things they couldn't afford to buy and decided to make them. For others it started as a relaxing hobby. At some point they said, "You know, it would be great if I could make my living doing this instead of [whatever]."

If this thought has breached in your brain, let me issue a caution: When you take a hobby and turn it into your occupation, is ceases to be a hobby. Along with this change come responsibilities that weren't there before. Your hobby becomes your JOB.

If you possess certain capabilities and resources, it can indeed be a rewarding and fulfilling job, leading to a more pleasant life style. If not, it can turn into a stress filled nightmare. What are these capabilities?

October 10, 2008

Taking an informed look at Dust Masks & Respirators

Fine Woodworking's Jeff Miller, a professional woodworker and writer, just completed and evaluation of dust masks including reusable masks with replaceable filters and powered respirators. Jeff highlights the convenience and economy features of the North CFR-1 reusable mask as a good alternative to disposable masks. For serious task, when the chips are flying he reviewed powered respirator offerings. Among top brands tested, Triton's Powered Respirator and Trend's Airshield and Airshield Pro earned high marks. Jeff weighed a number of factors in his evaluation and selected Trend Airshield and Airshield Pro as the favorites, "The Trend Airshield and Airshield Pro distinguished themselves for comfort, clarity of vision, and overall user-friendliness".

117003.jpgNorth CFR11 Dust Mask nicely fills the gap between flimsy disposable dust masks and more serious respiratory protection like the Dustfoe 88. Replaceable filters (NIOSH rating N95) offer excellent dust protection. The low-profile mask body is made of very soft rubber, and is held in place with a double elastic strap. An exhalation valve vents the warm, moist air you exhale downward—helping the filter medium last longer and leaving safety glasses unfogged. All masks are size medium. Also available as a mask with 21 filters kit.

Trend Airshield, Fine Woodworking says is "...distinguished for comfort, clarity of vision and overall user friendliness".

The more we learn about long term exposure to airborne wood dust, the more important powered respirators become. Even with the best dust collection setups, certain operations create unrecoverable dust, which gets into the air and eventually ends up in your lungs. The Trend Airshield helps protect you by providing 4 hours of respiratory protection (to BS EN 146 THP2) with a 4.9 to 6.3 cfm flow of freshly filtered air passing through 2 filters, which you experience as a cool breeze. It's light weight (1.6 lbs) and has room for a second battery to bring run time up to 8 hours with a full charge. The respirator's face shield is rated to withstand low-energy impacts, and replaceable overlays protect it from scratches. The Airshield suspension system changes sizes in place with the twist of a single knob.

301311.jpgA great defense against this nuisance dust is Trend's Airshield Pro personal dust filtration respirator. Its dual filters provide a 98% efficiency factor and a flow 5.6 cfm to 7 cfm of freshly-filtered air. A comfortable face seal cradles the sides of your face and beneath your chin to seal out dust. The on board battery and motor sit further back on your head than in the original Airshield model, providing for greater balance and comfort as you work all day on a the 8 hour run-time battery. A clear plastic face shield provides low impact protection (ANSI Z87.1 rated) and replaceable visor overlays keep the view clear. Accepts optional clip-on hearing protectors. Headband adjusts from 20-1/2" to 24-1/2". Low battery audible alarm. Includes battery charger, 1 NI-MH battery, 1 visor overlay and carrying bag. Weight 2.2 lbs

October 8, 2008

Don't Miss Highland Woodworking's Fall One Day Sale

Highland Woodworking Fall Sale

Saturday, October 18th
1045 N. Highland Ave. NE
Atlanta, GA 30306

Don't miss our Fall Sale! We'll have one-day specials throughout the store! There's plenty of shops and eateries in the area for the entire family to enjoy, so bring the whole clan and come on down!

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