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January 25, 2009

Steel City Tools Exhibited at Atlanta Woodworking Show

sam2.jpg Steel City Tools representative Andrew Bondi was on hand working with Highland staff members demonstrating our Steel City Tools bandsaw, jointer, tablesaw, dust collectors and air cleaner at the recent Atlanta Woodworking Show. (Pictured above is Highland Woodworking Asst. Manager Sam Rieder talking tablesaw with one of our customers.)

The performance of our premium Wood Slicer resawing bandsaw blade running on the Steel City Tools 14" bandsaw showed woodworkers what could be achieved milling lumber to custom sizes in their own woodworking shops for a modest investment.

Steel City Tools are on display every day in our retail store showroom at 1045 N. Highland Avenue in Atlanta, and more new models of Steel City Tools featuring solid granite fences and tables are on their way.

January 18, 2009

Steel City Tools to be Demonstrated at the Atlanta Woodworking Show, Jan. 23-25, 2009

501000.jpgHighland Woodworking will demonstrate its most popular Steel City Tools machines at the Atlanta Woodworking Show being held January 23-25, 2009 at the Georgia International Convention Center.

Steel City Tools factory personnel as well as members of the Highland Woodworking staff will be on hand to assist customers. The Steel City Tools model 50100 14" bandsaw's superb resawing capabilities will be demonstrated using Highland Woodworking's exclusive Wood Slicer Resawing Blade, named by Fine Woodworking magazine as the "Best All-Round Performer" in their independent test for speed, flatness and smoothness.

Unique to Steel City Tools is their innovative use of solid granite tables and fences for many of their machines rather than the traditional cast iron. Granite absorbs vibration better, will never rust, spring, twist or warp, resists scratches and stains, provides a seamless, continuous work surface and is harder even than stainless steel.

Also on display will be the Steel City Tools granite 40615G 6" jointer, Steel City Tools 10" table saw, and 13" planer. The exhibit will also include the Steel City Tools model 20520 17" drill press, model 25200 bench mortiser, Steel City Tools dust collectors and model 65120 3-speed air cleaner.

Show hours are Friday 12-6, Saturday 10-6, Sunday 10-4.

The Georgia International Convention Center is located at 2000 Convention Center Concourse, College Park, GA 30337, near the Atlanta Airport.

January 16, 2009

A Look Inside an Outstanding Book about the Woodworking Workbench

theworkbench.jpgOur thanks to Taunton Press for giving us permission to reprint in Wood News, our monthly online magazine, Lon Schleining's introduction to his excellent book, The Workbench: A Complete Guide to Creating Your Perfect Bench, NOW ON SALE FOR 25% OFF.


In its simplest form, a woodworking bench is nothing more than some sort of raised platform so you can work standing up. Even a piece of plywood on sawhorses would fit this definition. Such a bench would certainly be inexpensive, fast to build, and very portable. If it got rained on, or stained by spilled coffee, no big deal. Though less than ideal, this may be all the bench some woodworkers would really need. But what they really yearn for is another matter entirely.

Woodworkers' notions of the ultimate bench are as diverse as their activities. What's ideal for one woodworker is wholly impractical for another. A great bench for a furniture maker may not work for a carver and vise versa. A boatbuilder's bench is utterly different from a violin maker's, yet they all work wood and they all need benches.

Much as woodworking pundits might like to say their particular workbench is the only proper configuration, many of the choices in design are simply a combination of familiarity and personal taste. If there is a common thread, it's a tendency to think the bench you learned on is the best bench. A shoulder vise, for example, is a device some woodworkers simply could not get along without. For others, it's a somewhat fragile appendage of little use in a modern wood shop. Such is the subjective and very personal nature of the workbench.

The "classic" workbench originated centuries before the invention of the equipment modern woodworkers take for granted. These days, rare indeed is the woodworker who does not use an electric drill or surface planer. A perfectly suitable bench for the type of work people did 300 or 400 years ago may not be the best one today.

Some things haven't changed. Virtually every woodworking tool, power or otherwise, requires two hands to operate safely. Holding the board securely is, if anything, more important with power tools than with hand tools since the consequences of a slip could be more serious. Woodworkers who think a traditional bench has no place in a modern shop need only consider how difficult it is to hold a furniture part with one hand while belt sanding it with the other.

Woodworkers of today do work differently. We often work with large panels and sheet goods and so need to clamp our work somewhat differently. We have access to hardware that can speed construction. Modern materials like Melamine and laminates are better than solid wood for some applications. Vacuum pressing makes building large torsion boxes easier. Throughout this book, I have tried to point out how modern methods and materials can be applied to workbench design and construction.

For some people, building their own bench is almost a woodworking rite of passage. Their bench is an expression of the pride they take in their work, an opportunity to demonstrate their skills and to show off a little. These folks probably envision a solid-maple behemoth with intricately constructed vises, a gleaming finish, lots of accessories and cool hardware. Sure, it cost a bundle and took months to build. Yes, there may be just a bit of reluctance about actually using the bench for fear of getting that first scratch or dent. But for those bench builders, the satisfaction of having built it is justification enough.

Then there are the folks who sit down and do the math. They figure the cost of lumber and hardware, then estimate (or should I say underestimate) the time it wll take to build the bench. They compare their figures with the cost of having a finished bench shipped to their doorstep. It slowly sinks in that it's entirely irrational to build a bench from scratch. For these practical souls, the only logical choice is to buy a finished bench outright.

The bottom line is that however you get your hands on it, you need a good bench to do your work safely. You need some vises and holddowns for joinery, fitting pieces, and finish work like installing hinges. At the very least you need a true flat surface for gluing.

This book is intended as a guide for asking the right questions and then making the right decisions about what you really need and what you really want. A workbench is a very personal choice. Your opinions and personal preferences are the most important. Take your time pondering the questions. And remember, only you can provide the answers.

January 11, 2009

Free Demonstration of the CarveWright CNC Routing Machine at Highland Woodworking, Sat., Jan. 17

CW.jpg Experienced woodcarver Ben Arthur will give a free live demonstration of the CarveWright CNC routing machine at Highland Woodworking in Atlanta on Saturday, January 17, 2009 from 10 AM to noon.

Until recently, Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) routing machines were available only in large industrial models costing upwards of $100,000. The CarveWright is the first CNC machine available to purchase for less than $2000, making it available to small commercial woodworking shops as well as serious amateur woodworkers who wish to eliminate much of the laborious work required to reproduce 3-dimensional objects and designs.

The CarveWright's onboard computer and design software make it simple for even a novice to carve decorative reliefs, make signs or mill just about anything imaginable in wood, high density foam as well as some plastics. Although compact (just slightly larger than a benchtop planer), the CarveWright can handle work up to 5" thick, 14.5" wide and almost any length. Users have great latitude in their ability to manipulate designs from an extensive 3D pattern library, or can create their own designs. The CarveWright is compatible with both PC and Mac operating systems.

Ben Arthur has extensive experience in CNC production, and owns and operates an industrial model CNC machine in his own production shop in Atlanta.

Attendance at the demonstration is free to the public, and no advance registration is necessary.

January 10, 2009

Busy School Day at Highland Woodworking

jan10.jpgThere's usually a woodworking class or two going on in our Atlanta store on any given weekend. Today we had THREE events happening at the same time. Hal Simmons was teaching beginning turning to 8 guys in our woodworking seminar room upstairs. Sabiha Mujtaba was teaching power tool basics to 8 women in our woodworking demo shop, and Terry Chumbler was demonstrating the Tormek T-3 power sharpening system to an ongoing drop-in crowd at a workbench on our sales floor.

Next weekend, Frank Bowers will teach two bowl turning classes, Jane Burke will teach a Saturday class on marquetry, and Ben Arthur will give a lively FREE demonstration of the CarveWright benchtop CNC routing machine.

Sign up for any one of our woodworking classes at our website, or just drop in on the free Carvewright demo that runs 10 AM to 11:30 AM on Saturday.

January 9, 2009

My Unusually Small Workshop (by Dilo Marcio Fernandino)

workshop.jpgThe article briefly excerpted below (click to see the entire article) was submitted to us and published this week in our monthly online magazine, Wood News. Within a few hours, the author's email box was overflowing with heartfelt responses from kindred spirits everywhere. Dilo Fernandino's story is indeed an inspiring one, demonstrating how someone who is truly passionate about woodworking can "carve out" a remarkably satisfying pastime in a very small space.

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My Unusually Small Workshop
By Dilo Marcio Fernandino
Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil

My first workshop was the kitchen of my rented apartment. I purchased a small carving bench (23" x 23" top) and sharpened my few old chisels. My first adult-age project was a double bed with matching side tables. A few years later we moved into our own apartment where my wife granted me the exclusive use of a 7 ft x 6 ft service closet where I have now been working for over 30 years. Despite its lack of elbow room and my wife's prohibition against dust and noise, this space became my "paradise" where I have managed to build a few very nice pieces.

January 3, 2009

Fantastic Woodworking Workbench

mediumworkbench.jpgBelow is an unsolicited testimonial from a recent purchaser of our medium Hoffman & Hammer premium woodworking workbench (received 12/31/08):

"This workbench is fantastic, especially for the price. It was packed and shipped beautifully and I was able to assemble it in 15-20 minutes. The two vises close flush with the bench surface and the top is near perfect flatness. It had minor racking when used heavily, but I built a short cabinet underneath to triangulate the stretchers and legs... needless to say it is now a COMPLETELY solid bench. I have used an Ulmia bench for years and this bench fits right in."