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December 25, 2008

A Christmas Greeting from a Highland Woodworking Customer

2008christmas.jpg Dear Woodworkers,

We recently received the following nice email from John Fitzgerald, a customer who orders from us via highlandwoodworking.com. John kindly gave us permission to share it here with our readership. We always appreciate receiving feedback from the people we do business with. We especially love hearing that our efforts to deliver on our promise of satisfaction have been successful.

Thank you, John. And thank you to everyone we have the pleasure of doing business with. We join John in wishing all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Here is John's email:

Hi, Folks:

I just received my order (number 113577) which I placed on December 18.

As I've come to expect from Highland Woodworking, it was very well packed, and very promptly shipped.

I was very pleased with the quality of the Anant spokeshaves and bench holdfasts I ordered (although, since I've purchased Anant planes from you, I'd guessed that I'd be happy with them).

I just wanted to take a moment out to tell you how much I enjoy doing business with you -- you put together a terrific catalog and have thoroughly mastered the intricacies of Internet marketing.

Most of all, you appear to be people of integrity who honestly describe the wares you have to offer, charge fair prices, and follow through beautifully on every order.

What a pleasure it is to buy from you!

From my house to all of your houses, and from my family to all of your families, have the Merriest of Christmases and a Wonderful New Year!

John Fitzgerald

December 24, 2008

Care and Sharpening of Router Bits

If router bits were hand tools we'd almost certainly handle them quite differently, but when it's the power company that's doing most of the work, it's easy to forget what makes cutting tools cut.

sharpening router bitsWhen working with hand planes or chisels, we take it for granted that we'll have to stop fairly often for a quick round of re-sharpening. Even though good-quality carbide can be expected to hold an edge perhaps twenty times longer than tool steel, it should be fairly clear that sharpening is going to have to be regular business. If a good chisel might need sharpening twenty times during the course of a week's hard work, then a carbide-tipped router bit doing the same work will have to be sharpened at least once a week. I don't know about you, but that sure isn't the way I used to treat my router bits. Even on a hard, brittle wood like oak, tearout can be greatly reduced with a sharp bit.

sharpening router bitsSharpening router bits is surprisingly easy to do. You don't need a sharpening jig, precision measuring instruments or complex machinery. All you need are a couple of diamond paddles (or diamond needle files for the smallest router bits), a good light source and a comfortable place to sit. You're only going to work on the flat radial face of each flute, so there's no fancy fingerwork required. (You don't want to work on the outside edge of the flute, of course, because that would alter its diameter or profile quite quickly.) It's fairly important to sharpen uniformly so the router bit will remain balanced and cut smoothly. Rather than working on one flute until it's sharp, and then doing who knows what to the other flute, you can insure an even job simply by giving one flute five or ten strokes, rotating the router bit and giving the next flute the same number of strokes, then back to the first, and so on. Lay the diamond paddle or needle file on the flat face of the flute, holding it lightly so you can feel it staying flat, and have at it. Your diamond abrasives can be used dry, but they'll resist clogging better and need cleaning less often if you keep them wet with water or light oil.  We usually hold the router bit in one hand and the sharpener in the other, but if it feels better to you, try securing the router bit in your router collet or drill chuck on your workbench.

sharpening router bitsTake a good close look at each flute as you work. What you're accomplishing will be unmistakably clear, and it will be obvious if you're doing the job the way you want to, or if you're putting more pressure in one place than another, or perhaps missing a spot entirely. By the way, don't be surprised to discover that the surface of the flute isn't flat as it comes from the factory.  It might take some extra work the first time out to lap each flute entirely flat so you can get on with the business of creating a sharp edge. We suggest that you work with fine (600 grit) or extra-fine (1200 grit) diamond abrasives; if a router bit needs more aggressive work than these can provide, it probably ought to be sent out for professional grinding. Coarse diamond abrasive wielded by hand will simply fracture brittle carbide edges. How do you know when the router bit is finally sharp? Just feel it and look at it.  If under a strong light you see no flecks of light along the edge, and if it feels good and sharp, then it is—you're done.

sharpening router bitsRegular cleaning is nearly as important as sharpening.  Baked-on crud around a cutting edge interferes with chip clearance, reduces relief behind the cutting edge and increases frictional heating just as if the edge were dull. We use our non-caustic Blade and Bit Cleaner instead. Remove ball bearing pilots before cleaning. Brush or spray a liberal coating of cleaner all over the cutting edges, let stand ten or fifteen minutes, then scrub clean with a toothbrush or brass stove brush under a stream of warm water. Dry the router bit thoroughly and go back to work. We recommend against oiling router bits to prevent corrosion, since it's friction that holds them in the router. Just dry them well and you should have no problem with rust.

If you're working in pine or other resinous woods, it might be necessary to clean your router bits every day. It might take a while to get used to that idea, but the payoff will be pretty convincing. Dri-Cote, a spray-on coating available from Highland Woodworking, does an effective job of slowing resin accumulation on router bits and helping them run cooler.

The time you spend cleaning, sharpening and using your router bits gently almost surely costs less than replacing a router bit when it dies before its time. It's certainly worth a fair amount of work to avoid the nuisance of feeling a router bit has gone defective on you, sending it back where you bought it and then waiting for a replacement. And if your work turns out a little better because your router bits are always in like-new condition, call it a bonus—you'll have earned it.

December 22, 2008

Roy Underhill chooses our Hoffman and Hammer woodworking workbenches for his new woodworking school

woodworking workbenchOur good friend, Roy Underhill of Woodwright's Shop television fame, has chosen our Hoffman and Hammer large German workbenches for students to use in the new woodworking school he is opening in Pittsboro, NC (about 30 miles west of Raleigh) sometime in 2009. This 7-foot long, 286 pound, 2-1/4" thick solid beech workbench meets all of Roy's requirements for the traditional style of hands-on woodworking he will be teaching.

A full container of new premium woodworking workbenches has just arrived in Atlanta from Germany. Twelve of the larger size workbenches are headed to North Carolina to outfit the bench room in Roy's new school. We're very excited that Roy will be using workbenches from Highland Woodworking in his new woodworking school. Details on the school's opening will be announced soon. Check back in early 2009 for more information.

woodworking workbench

Hoffman and Hammer premium large German woodworking workbench, model 114103

December 21, 2008

Steel City 40615G 6" longbed jointer now available from Highland Woodworking

Steel City Tools 40615G 6 We are pleased to announce the addition of Steel City Tools model 40615G 6" jointer to the Highland Woodworking product line for nationwide distribution.

We are extremely impressed with the Steel City Tools 40615G 6" longbed jointer. (Click image for close-up view). It is a solid, professional quality machine that Highland Woodworking is pleased to offer our customers at the unusually low price of $599.99 because we are at the end of its 2008 model year.

The 40615G jointer's oversized cast iron infeed and outfeed tables (measuring 68" total length) provide extra support and control, great for jointing long, heavy stock. Each is mounted on sturdy dovetailed ways providing stability and long life.

The Steel City Tools 40165G's signature oversized center-mounted solid granite fence provides maximum support throughout the entire cut, allowing unsurpassed accuracy when edge jointing. The granite fence will never warp, twist or rust. It tilts 45 degrees in and out, and has positive stops at 45 and 90 degrees in and out.

The Steel City Tools 40615G jointer's 3-knife cutterhead is driven by a powerful 1.5 HP TEFC induction motor, and rotates at 5000 rpm, producing 15,000 cuts per minute. An ergonomic paddle type electric switch is positioned high above the table for greater visibility and quick operator access.

Weighing 317 lbs. net, the Steel City Tools 40615G jointer's enormous mass provides a solid base for serious work, while it's cleverly-integrated sturdy mobile base allows easy repositioning of the machine whenever necessary even in tight quarters at no added expense.

Maximum depth of cut is 1/2". Rabbeting capacity is 1/2". Maximum width is 6-1/8". An easy to read depth of cut scale is right up front and features a positive 1/8" stop.

Our offer includes the sturdy enclosed steel stand with mobile base, a comprehensive FIVE-YEAR Steel City Tools factory warranty, a set of 3 HSS knives, a 4 inch dust port, push blocks, wrenches, and the Steel City Tools 40615G jointer User Manual with complete parts breakdown.

Highland Woodworking has in stock a limited supply of the Steel City Tools 40615G jointers available for the special price of $599.99, which considering the unit's massive size and excellent features and benefits is indisputably an outstanding bargain. Previously the unit sold for $879. While our limited supply of the 40615G jointer's 2008 model lasts, we can ship the machine to destinations within the 48 contiguous U.S. states for a freight charge of $125. Price for both the 40615G machine and its shipping charges are current as of 12/21/08, and are subject to change.

December 20, 2008

Steel City 50100G 14" Bandsaw now available from Highland Woodworking

50100g.jpgWe are proud to announce that we have added Steel City's model 50100G 14" Enclosed Stand Bandsaw to the Highland Woodworking product line for nationwide distribution.

The Steel City Tools 50100G 14" Bandsaw is a step up from other 14" bandsaws in nearly every respect. Its precision-balanced cast iron wheels provide enormous mass and inertia for smooth, steady performance, and are driven by a powerful 1-1/2 HP, single phase 115/230V TEFC motor. The Steel City Tools 50100G's two-speed drive system enables you to set the speed and torque of the blade to suit your particular application and density of material.

The Steel City Tools 50100G bandsaw's eccentric-adjustable ball bearing guide system maintains exceptional control of the blade, and the smooth rack & pinion adjustment mechanism for the guides allows the user to reset thickness of cut quickly and easily up to a 6-1/4" maximum. The 50100G bandsaw also features Steel City Tools' signature solid granite table, which will never rust, twist or warp.

More than half our bandsaw customers install the optional cast iron height adapter which in the case of the the Steel City Tools 50100G increases the bandsaw's maximum depth of cut from its standard 6-1/4" up to a full 12". In tandem with our legendary optional WOOD SLICER precision resawing blade, phenomenal versatility becomes possible for producing wide, thin boards (or even your own veneers) from thicker stock with minimal waste of material.

A quick release lever makes it easy to instantly apply appropriate tension to the blade. The Steel City Tools 50100G band saw comes equipped with an ergonomic on/off safety switch and integral dust port, and a sturdy mobility kit is built into the heavy steel stand.

Our offer includes Steel City Tools comprehensive FIVE-YEAR factory warranty. A sturdy rip fence with removable resawing pivot bar, fence rails, wrenches, built-in magnetic light, the mobility kit and the Steel City Tools 50100G Bandsaw User Manual with complete parts breakdown are all included as standard equipment.

Highland Woodworking has in stock a limited supply of the Steel City Tools 50100G bandsaw available for the special price of $599.99, which considering the unit's features and benefits is indisputably an outstanding bargain. Previously the unit sold for $899. While our limited supply lasts, we can ship the 50100G bandsaw to U.S. destinations east of the Mississippi River for a $100 freight charge. For delivery to contiguous U.S. states west of the Mississippi, the freight charge is $225. Price for both the 50100G machine and its shipping charges are current as of 12/20/08, and are subject to change.

Additional Steel City Tools 50100G Band Saw Specs:
Height under guide: 6-1/4"
Max Rip Left of Blade w/Rip Fence: 11-3/4"
Max Rip Right of Blade w/Rip Fence: 7-1/2"
Blade: Length: 93-1/2" (105" with optional riser kit)
Max. Blade Width: 3/4" (we recommend a practical maximum of 1/2" blade width)
Min. Blade Width: 1/8"
2 Speeds: 1500/3000 surface feet/minute
Table: Size: 16" x 16" granite
Tilt: 48 degrees Right and 10 degrees Left
Miter Slot: 3/4" x3/8" (Miter guide is optional)
Overall bandsaw dimensions: 68" H, 38" W, 24" D.
Weighs 271 lbs. including motor and stand

December 18, 2008

FREE DEMO 12/27/08: Inside the Acoustic Guitar with Billy Rhoton

guitar3.jpgFREE Saturday morning demonstration at Highland Woodworking Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008, 10 AM - 12 PM

Inside the Acoustic Guitar with Billy Rhoton

The acoustic guitar is an iconic symbol of American music. Few people, however, have ever had the opportunity to look inside of one, at least until now.

You are invited to join Billy Rhoton at 10 AM on Saturday, December 27 at Highland Woodworking's Atlanta retail store for a rare visual tour inside one of his handcrafted instruments. He will discuss bracing patterns and carving techniques and their relationship to tone. He will also discuss the necessary woodworking tools and traditional construction methods. The demonstration is free, and no advance registration is necessary. Highland Woodworking is located at 1045 N. Highland Ave, NE in Atlanta.

Using his talents as an instrument maker, Billy is able to combine his passion for both music and woodworking. A student of master instrument maker Ivon Schmukler, he has studied guitarmaking at the Leeds Guitarmakers School in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Having worked as a cabinetmaker since 2001, Billy founded W.R. Rhoton Guitarworks in 2008. As a musician he has toured regionally and nationally in various bluegrass and American bands, and is currently a member of the Athens, GA-based rock band, Lake City. He also gives technical assistance to woodworking tool customers at Highland Woodworking 4 days a week.

MAP/Directions to Highland Woodworking in Atlanta

Billy has a guitarmaking website under construction at www.rhotonguitars.com.


December 8, 2008

Woodworking fun: Erich Schatt's incredible wooden machine

Woodworking machine Is it a sculpture or a machine? For the past several years, woodworker Erich Schatt of Zurich, Switzerland has used his free time designing and building an exquisite machine built entirely of wood. What exactly does the machine do? Well, mainly it causes people's jaws to drop whenever they see Erich sitting in the driver's seat pedaling away on this amazing contraption, spinning the dozens of wooden gears whose movements are intricately intertwined using wooden chains (that resemble the drive chain on a bicycle). It even features wooden universal joints and a wooden transmission.

Woodworking machineWoodworking has been Erich's hobby and passion since he was a child. At a very young age, he was already scavenging through condemned houses salvaging timbers and flooring. Some of this beautiful wood he used in his own woodworking. The rest he sold to others to help fund the purchase of new woodworking tools for himself. Old-fashioned joinery and antique furniture continued to fascinate him as he began his woodworking career as a furniture maker and machinist. Eventually he made the restoration of antique furniture his specialty.

Woodworking machineFor the last several years, Erich has devoted about six hours of woodworking each Saturday building his machine. It had its genesis in 1998 when his interest in sprocket wheels and chains led him to successfully build a bicycle chain entirely out of wood, a process which required numerous complex calculations to get all the parts to fit together and function correctly. This led to the idea of building a wooden machine which eventually grew to occupy more than 400 cubic feet of space.

Woodworking machine

Using his considerable woodworking skills, he completed the machine in 2002 and successfully exhibited it at the annual convention of the Swiss Sawmill Association in Schaffhausen where it drew considerable interest from members of the timber industry. Since then he has continued showing and demonstrating the machine at European conventions and exhibitions.

Woodworking machineThis woodworking machine is of course not the only thing he has built out of wood. Besides furniture of every type, he has also built toys, games, lanterns, attache cases, a guinea pig stable and six-foot model of an American truck. He has turned down offers from people who want to buy the truck. Instead he hopes to complete a second trailer for the truck equipped with two chambers from which red and white wine can be dispensed at company celebrations.

Woodworking machineErich never lacks for ideas. He is already underway building a second machine, which though not as large as the first, will be considerably more intricate, featuring a planetary gear system nearly three feet in diameter. It is driven similar to the first machine using a wooden chain. The operator sits on a wooden saddle which slides backwards and forwards along "a swallowtail butterfly guide rail." He expects it will take another three years of woodworking before it is ready to exhibit.

More photos of Erich's woodworking "holzmaschine" can be viewed on his website www.holzmaschine.ch

Visit our free online woodworking magazine Wood News

December 1, 2008

Highland Woodworking's New Woodworking Class Schedule

Woodworking Class We're pleased to announce our schedule of woodworking classes for the first quarter of 2009. Woodworking classes are held in two classrooms at our store at 1045 N. Highland Ave, Atlanta, Georgia, and are open to the public. Space is limited, so it is important to register early to reserve a seat. Click on each woodworking class name for more information and registration information.
January 10, 2009: Beginning Turning

January 10-11, 2009: Woodworking for Women: The Basics

January 17, 2009: Introduction to Marquetry

January 17, 2009: Basic Bowl Turning

January 18, 2009: Intermediate Bowl Turning

January 20-21, 2009: Wood Turning With Mike Mahoney

January 24, 2009: Hand Cut Dovetails

January 25, 2009: Cutting Mortise & Tenon By Hand

January 28, 2009: French Polish Workshop

January 30, 2009: Bookcase Design

January 31, 2009: Make & Take a Bookcase

January 31, 2009: Pen Turning

February 7, 2009: Sharpening for Turners

February 7, 2009: Tablesaw Basics

February 8, 2009: Band Saw Basics

February 14, 2009: Hollow Vessel Turning

February 15, 2009: Basic Bowl Turning

February 21-22, 2009: Beginning Turning Workshop

February 21, 2009: Picture Framing

February 22, 2009: Picture Framing

February 25, 2009: Gilding and Gold Leafing

February 27, 2009: Exploring the Maloof Rocking Chair with Charles Brock

Feb. 28-March 1, 2009: Building a Maloof-Inspired Rocker with Charles Brock

February 28, 2009: Build a Durable Picture Frame

March 7, 2009: Wood Turning: Learning to Use the Skew

March 7-8, 2009: Cabinet Building Workshop

March 8, 2009: Make a Pepper Grinder

March 14, 2009: Woodworking Furniture Repair

March 14, 2009: Intro to Chip Carving

March 14-15, 2009: Turning Lamps & Candlesticks

March 18-22, 2009: Altar in Your Space

March 25, 2009: Quick Woodworking Finishes

March 28-29, 2009: Woodworking Hand Plane Clinic

March 28-29, 2009: From a Bowl to a Platter

September 20-26, 2009: Build a Continuous Arm Rocking Chair with Curtis Buchanan