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May 25, 2009


Father's Day is creeping closer every day and we need to continue our quest for proper gifts for Dear Ole Dad. In a previous post, we discussed the three kidegories and posited the proper gifts associated with Kidegory I. Now it is time to move up to Kidegory II and find the gifts related to that group.

Kidegory II ($50 to $250) If you are between high school and the end of graduate school, you fit in Kidegory II. Dad's either paying college costs or saving for college hoping your grades will get you in somewhere. He may have bought you a clunker to drive and he pays the insurance and gas bill. Maybe you are living in an apartment where Dad pays the rent and you don't even invite him to dinner. It's time to get with Mom and rustle up a little money and get something for Dad that he will appreciate. Time to grow up a little bit here. Here are the suggestions for this kidegory:

198503.jpgShop Sign with Saw Hanger — What a great idea! If Dad already has a shop, then think up a name (Dad's Shop?) and order one of these shop signs. He can hang it on the wall in the basement (Sawsations?), or over the garage door (Sawdust Village?). If he doesn't have a shop already, then maybe this is the incentive he needs to start building one. Plant a post at the spot where the shop will be built (The Woodwright's Shop? Oh, wait, that may be taken already) and then let him build the shop around the sign. This is a great gift.

block planeLie-Nielsen Plane — These guys make wonderful woodworking planes and anything with a hyphen in the name is pretty certain to be first class. Now when you look in the catalog, there will be so many different planes you will not know which one to buy for him. There are block planes, shoulder planes, jack planes, rabbet planes, and on and on. But here's the solution. Buy the standard block plane. This little plane is perfect for every small task around the shop. You can use it to put a rounded edge on the corner of that broken pediment tiger maple highboy that took sixteen months to build, or you can plane a little bit off a piece of raw wood at the mill to check for grain. Dad can carry it with him to the hardware store and other woodworkers will point it out to their kids and say, "Look, that guy is Kidegory II." You might have it engraved with his initials, or maybe your name and the date. (Just be sure to put the engraving on the side, not on the bottom.) He will keep this forever and when you are old and gray, you can put it on a shelf in your living room and let people ask questions and you can tell them it was a gift to Dad from when you were Kidegory II.

026446.jpgSharpening Waterstones — Go for the set of five waterstones running from 200 grit up to 8000 grit. He will know what those numbers mean. Rest assured these stones will cover the complete range of sharpening needs. He can sharpen anything from his straight razor up through the Lie-Nielsen plane blade above. Stones like these will last for a lifetime if properly cared for. You can use them in your shop when you inherit them. Waterstones are lubricated with water (hence the name) instead of oil, as in would you believe — oil stones. Even comes with a nagura stone which is used for flattening the higher grit stones and creating a slurry for polishing. Every shop needs a good set of sharpening stones.

We will continue next time with the ultimate Kidegory III. Some of the gifts in there are just extraordinary and if you are a III, you can be very proud.

Don't forget the Highland Woodworking Gift Certificate if you are still in doubt.

Print this out and leave it lying around the house. Maybe somebody will circle something on here.

May 12, 2009


fd.jpgFather's Day is coming up soon and in the spirit of the season, Highland Woodworking is here for your woodworking gift selections. All you sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters of woodworkers out there need to get on the stick (so to speak) and pick out something for the ole "Pater Familias", (that's "Father of the Family" in Latin for you non-woodworkers), preferably in the woodworking genre. Enough with the ties, the underwear, and the aftershave, let's get down to some real woodworking stuff that he really wants and will always remember that you gave to him.

We can make some good choices here by seeing what kind of kid or grandkid you turned out to be. There are three standard non-gender specific categories of offspring (hereafter called "kidegories") and each kidegory has some suggested woodworking gifts associated with it. We publish those kidegories and the gifts that go with them here for the first time as a guide for the uninitiated, similar to those guides to the proper gifts for each wedding anniversary for husbands who don't know any better. (You know the jewelry stores made those up don't you? Could be the same thing here.)

Kidegory I ($20 to $50) -- This is the Base Kid group. You are between birth and high school. Tiger Cubs, Pre-K, Band Camp, no car, still living at home, video games, Miley Cyrus, that sort of thing. Only money you will have is money from your Mom to buy your Dad something. Normally wait until the last minute and rush out to get something on Saturday night. If you are this age, you cost a lot of money and time and because of you, Dad doesn't have a lot of tools (guilt trip!!) and is just getting started in making sawdust. You owe him already, so buy good stuff that is timeless and will last a lifetime. Here are a few suggestions:

201603.jpg "The Woodwright's Guide" by Roy Underhill. This is the latest in Roy's series of seven books and it is just marvelous. Roy writes so well and the book is a doorway to woodworking with very few tools. Since Roy is working 200 years ago, his information is timeless. This is the book your Dad will spend Father's Day afternoon reading between naps on the sofa after he has run you out of the house. Why don't you offer your absence for the afternoon on a note to him stuck in the front of the book as part of the gift. I mean you made Mom breakfast in bed, didn't you? And oh yes, sign (your name, not Roy Underhill's - (unless you are Roy)) and date it on the inside front cover. Add some appropriate sentiment, something that includes words like world and best and Dad. He will keep it forever.

173660a.jpg Eight Oz. Trim Hammer -- This is not one of those cheap forged framing hammers they sell at the corner hardware store. This is a beautiful polished head hardwood hammer that you would use to put the last nail in a piece of work you spent months making. The face is polished and the handle is curved and it is a joy to just pick it up, much less using it for driving a nail or a dowel or a wedge. These hammers have been used on appreciation plaques presented to major corporations in Atlanta - they are that pretty. You should know this information because he appreciates hammers like you appreciate Hannah Montana. Sign the handle with a Sharpie and he will think of you every time he uses it. Plus all his woodworker friends will be so envious that he may have a hard time holding on to it. Do not try to borrow it and do not do it the indignity of using it to hang a picture - that would be like hitching a race horse to a plow. This is a keeper.

126440-4.jpgSilky Bigboy Folding Saw - This is a lovely Japanese style saw which cuts on the pull stroke, opposite the way most American saws cut. It folds up so you can stick it in your hip pocket and take it to the lumber yard, or you can walk around in the garden and prune a limb off that tree hanging over the fence and shading the tomatoes. It cuts very aggressively and pull type saws are very easy to use. This is one of those things he doesn't know he needs until you get it for him, but once he uses it, you can bet he will use it and keep it a long, long time. And he will think of you every time he sees it.

gc.jpgAnd if none of these works for you, you can always get the famous Highland Gift Certificate, which actually comes printed on a piece of wood. How can you beat that? Plus all the clerks at the store are woodworkers of long experience and will be happy to help you if you get stuck. Most of them were kids at one time and some of them are Dads by now.

Next time, we will move up to Kidegory II and Kidegory III. Save this information for future reference. You may want to print it out and leave it in conspicuous places around the house with big red circles on the things you like.

May 8, 2009

Tormek T-7 Grinder Purchase Now Earns a Gransfors Bruks Axe Delivered to your Door at no Additional Cost


The folks at Tormek in Sweden have come up with a great opportunity for woodworkers to elevate their sharpening expertise while also acquiring a premium Gransfors Bruks Swedish-made hand axe at no additional cost. The Tormek T-7 Grinder Sharpening System delivers astoundingly sharp edges to every edge tool in a woodworker's shop in a matter of minutes. The beautiful Gransfors Bruks axe is a handy addition to any woodworker's tool chest, and will be a source of pride that is handed down to future generations.

Highland Woodworking is making the Tormek Grinder available to its customers with no additional shipping charge within the 48 contiguous U.S. The Gransfors Bruks hand axe will be delivered to the customer after the Tormek Grinder purchase is registered with the manufacturer so long as the Tormek T-7 Grinder is purchased between May 1 and July 31, 2009.

A video demonstration of the Tormek Grinder in action demonstrating its exceptional versatility is on the Highland Woodworking website. The Highland website also provides additional information on sharpening using a Tormek Grinder.