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June 23, 2009

Stop by the Store for a Visit

woodworking toolsHave you been to the store lately? I mean, have you visited Highland Woodworking lately? I realize many of you who might be reading this live far away and may have to buy a plane ticket to get to Atlanta, but come on, do you really like woodworking tools or not? I happen to live near Atlanta and I go by now and then just for the pure pleasure of it.

plug cutter I was in last week and I can tell you, it is quite an experience. First of all, it is truly a community of woodworkers. While I was waiting to check out, a lady came in and asked for a "bung hole cutter". Now I happen to know what that is, particularly as it applies to wine barrels, but what was really neat was that two clerks immediately took off to go get one for her. How many stores do you know of where you could walk in and announce you need a bung hole cutter and not get blank stares all around. I mean I was in the grocery store last week and they could not find the bouillon cubes.

You need to see the new displays around the store. For instance, there is a whole wall of hand made axes imported from Sweden. When have you ever seen that? There are also video monitors hanging from the ceiling all over the store running tool demos plus some of the various videos available for sale.

Another lady was checking out and mentioned she wanted to learn to carve a bird. Try telling that to someone in the big box store -- you would certainly get some strange looks, if indeed you ever got the courage to announce such a thing. The bung hole cutter customer went immediately and pulled a magazine off the shelf and turned to an article about bird carving and the customer bought the magazine on the spot. A Highland clerk suggested that he had just gotten back from a class at the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina and she might want to call them for a class schedule. Someone else in line suggested she look up John C. Campbell Folk School, also in North Carolina about two hours north of Atlanta, and see what classes they have. I got the feeling she left very satisfied and is probably carving that bird already.

The point of all this is that Highland Woodworking is not just a trade name, it is a community of woodworkers who love what they do and go to huge efforts to make your woodworking more enjoyable. Stop by the store and you will see what I mean.


June 8, 2009

Woodworking Blogs on the Web

woodworking toolsThe Internet is filled with woodworking videos, blogs and websites which offer a plethora of information and entertainment. If you're not aware of very many of these, here is a little help.

"Blogs" (shorthand for "Web Logs") are one of the most popular items. A blog is a diary of sorts set up online so everyone can see it. Bloggers usually post information and articles several times a week on topics they think are of interest to like-minded people. One can simply navigate to a blog of interest and read what is available. Many times there are links to other blogs included and simply by clicking on those links, you can navigate to other sites on the web to dig deeper into a subject or find other things which interest you.

Here are three very good blog websites:

The first is produced by Kari Hultman, who calls her blog (and herself ) The Village Carpenter, and her approach and style make her one of the best bloggers around on woodworking. Kari is a graphic artist in real life and it shows in the blog. She has a beautiful shop and does excellent woodwork and then writes about all of it several times a week. Last week she posted a video of her shop, and you need to turn your speakers on so you can hear the perfect music for a shop tour. (By the way, do you recognize the shop sign at the beginning of the video? Scroll down to Kidegory I below to order yours.) Note the comments section at the end of each entry. Kari gets lots of comments on her entries.

fd.jpgLost Art Press at blog.lostartpress.com is written by Christopher Schwarz, who also publishes Woodworking Magazine. Chris writes very well and his topics are usually about hand tools and hand tool methods, plus his musings on woodworking as a craft. Very well done.

Stephen Shepherd produces the Full Chisel Blog. He is an old fashioned woodworker who spends a lot of time in research on old methods and tools. Right now he is working on the repair of an antique spinning wheel and blogs about it as he goes through the process. In his day job he works in history parks and museums as a docent and the way he does things is fascinating. He just published a book on hide glue that should answer all your questions on that subject. You will enjoy this blog.

Links to other sites are often listed in all these blogs, so you can spend hours and hours chasing blogs all over the Web. You can also send comments to all these sites or ask questions about the topics being discussed. Join in, it's fun.

June 1, 2009


Kidegory III ($250 and up) is the ultimate Kidegory and the gifts are fitting. Now that you are out of graduate school and the big wedding is done and you are settled into that big job with the investment firm, it is time to come across with the good stuff.

Festool cordless drill

Festool T12+3 Drill Set
Saying "FESTOOL" is like saying "BENTLEY" or "ROLEX". Festool has just moved it up about two notches and this new little drill set is a fine addition to the Festool line. Most woodworkers have built up a collection of drills and accessories over the years,. They get a new drill for Christmas, or they buy a little up-scale drill for a special project, and subsequently have three to five drills in the shop. Each one does a specific task and Dad knows which one is best for each use. Now comes the Festool T12+3 drill. On most drills found at the big box stores, this "12" would define the drill's rated voltage. With the Festool drill, however, I think the "12" must stand for the nuclear reactor model number. Thanks to the efficiency of its one-of-a-kind brushless motor, the Festool T12+3 drill produces greater torque than either Makita or DeWalt drills rated at 14.4 volts. (Its big brother, the T15+3, out torques their 18 volt drills!) All this while being so ergonomically balanced that you hardly know you're holding it in your hand.

Besides its regular chuck, it also comes with three other specialty chucks that attach or detach in about 3 seconds so you can, for instance, drill at a right angle in a tight spot, or offset the bit to drill right up close to a corner. Another neat little quick-attach chuck allows you to change a bit or driver in 2 seconds flat, and it's included too. The whole set comes in its own sturdy toolbox, and until the end of July, you even get an ADDITIONAL toolbox filled with neat little removable boxes for keeping your screws and bits organized. You know the story about the guy who paid ten cows for a new wife when everybody else was paying as cheap as they could at two cows. You can bet his wife stood tall in that village. This is a ten cow drill.


Fein Multimaster Top
You may already seen this in a TV infomercial. Usually infomercials sell overpriced hoopla. In this case however, you have stumbled upon a solid performer. The FEIN MultiMaster powers a variety of different blades which oscillate at a ridiculous rate (up to 20,000 times a minute!) and will cut through (or sand or polish) many different materials at an astounding pace. It does those annoying little tasks around the house and the shop that you really can't get another tool to do. For instance, if you are cutting off the bottom of a door jamb to set some new flooring, this is the best and easiest way to do it. Takes ten seconds. Sand up in the corner of a drawer to get some glue out; cut the grout from between tiles in the bathroom; trim some molding to fit another piece into place; and dozens of other similar tasks. This is a top quality tool, solidly made and well worth the price. Come on here people, I mean he did pay for the honeymoon, didn't he?

Tormek T-7.jpg

Tormek T-7 Sharpener
You know how in the movie "Independence Day" when Will Smith flies the alien space ship for the first time and he says "Man, I got to get me one of these"? Well that is the Tormek. Now every woodworker knows about the Tormek. You see, sharpening is a skill best learned over many sessions, easily lost, and maintained only by regular and constant practice. There are people who can tell you all about secondary micro-bevels, and whether 28 degrees is better than 24 degrees for end grain, and polish the back of the chisel enough so the evil Queen can find out about Snow White. But very few people really enjoy it and are good at it. Most consider it a necessary evil. In comes the Tormek. This thing will sharpen almost anything quickly and easily, and can be set so that whatever angle you find that works for the task at hand can be precisely reproduced. The stone is constantly bathed in water so the tools don't overheat, but it is made so that the water doesn't splash all over the place. And oh, yes, the kitchen knives which need sharpening to keep peace in the family since you moved out -- Dad will sharpen those for funsies. And by the way, for the next couple of months, it even comes with an AXE. That's right, you get a free axe. Don't tell Dad about the axe part and keep it for yourself. (Would you really do that? Do you know how many times he changed your diaper?)

Oneway lathe

Oneway Lathe
This is the biggest baddest boy on the block. This is Father of the Year stuff. This is new grandbaby, job is working out just beautiful, spouse is going back to work soon, new car came in yesterday stuff. In fact, if you want to do this right, take Dad with you to Highland Woodworking and the guys over there will help you and him pick out the right one. Just bring the checkbook.

Oneway makes beautiful lathes which are the standard in the field and Highland has the complete range. (There is even one where you can sit down in a chair or a wheelchair and the lathe folds forward into your lap.) Each lathe has a four digit label — the first two digits indicate the diameter you can turn and the last two indicate the length of spindle you can turn. For instance, there is the 2436 model upon which you can make a 24 inch diameter bowl or a 36 inch long spindle. The 2436 is likely too big for most people unless you're doing heavy commercial work. Model 1640 is an excellent all-purpose machine that will serve most people for the rest of their lives. While you are there, sign Dad up for a class on woodturning from Highland and let him start doing it correctly from the beginning. Pretty soon you should start getting handmade signed bowls from him which will be a joy forever.

There is joy and peace and pleasure in woodturning, and isn't that the best gift of all for Father's Day?

Happy Father's Day! Give your Dad a great big hug.