One of my all time favorite inlay designs, and the focal point of my federal style tables, is the compass rose inlay. It is a striking geometric design that looks to the eye extremely complex when it is in actuality a very straightforward pattern to make. All you need are a few simple tools and the right procedure for putting all the pieces together. The alternating dark/light pattern helps hide minor flaws, so don’t be afraid to dive into making one of these inlays as it is a great starting project for the beginner. Read on to learn how I went about crafting the compass rose inlays on my award-winning federal oval tables. Continue reading
Veneering is one of those techniques that has gotten a bad reputation over the last few decades. I think this is to do with production cabinetry and laminates on factory made particle board furniture. Don’t be put off by the naysayers who chant “give me solid wood or give me nothing” in every forum and club meeting, because they are just missing out. Veneered furniture has been around for hundreds of years, and some of the most amazing pieces of furniture ever made were done with the thin stuff. If you decide to take the plunge into this very rewarding woodworking discipline, an array of different species and figures will be available to paint your pieces. Veneers are available in figures that are scarcely found in regular dimensional lumber and at a much better price point. You don’t need a lot of expensive tools to do some pretty fancy work, either. I used hot hide glue and a home made veneer hammer to do all the veneer work on my tables. Here is how I did it… Continue reading
The Legs on my Federal Oval Table stand in stark contrast to the curves of the top and skirt and – competitively speaking – give the table a strong set of legs to stand on. The tapered legs add a formality to the overall design that really set the style firmly in the Federal period.
The heart of my Federal Table is definitely the oval top and matching curved skirt. I chose an oval because the shape really stands out to me as a distinctive characteristic from the Federal period, and, to be honest, I enjoyed the challenge posed by this tricky geometry. Sure, there are lots of common practices for drawing an oval, but they can be difficult to get the right size and shape without a lot of trial and error. Duplicating your first perfectly drawn oval to make the pair is a chore by itself, and after all that work you still need to actually cut the shapes out perfectly, so the whole process can become a test of your technique, process, and patience.
To draw and cut out my top and to lay out the curves for the skirt I chose to use the Infinity Oval and Circle Cutter with Vacuum Base. Using this jig was immensely helpful because it took away a good deal of the guess work when laying out the design, and the results were repeatable for making multiple items. Continue reading
One of my favorite styles of furniture originated in America between 1780 – 1830 and is known as the Federal style. For the first time in the U.S. we see the emergence of the heavy use of exotic wood veneer, intricate inlay patterns, and a trend toward a more formal styling. Some of my favorite tables ever built came from this period. Striking straight lines paired with formal curves, and veneer work that goes against the grain (pun intended). All of these details really set off the style of the newly founded nation excited to create its own identity. It truly was an exciting time for both politics and furniture. Continue reading
Even at the best of times, the Lock Miter is a tricky joint to master, and I often get requests for tricks to help improve cut quality when using lock miter bits on difficult species of wood or finicky end grain. The Lock Miter bit was originally designed to create box beams, posts, and other long grain projects. However with such a lovely and strong joint the bit has been adopted for many applications beyond it’s original intent. Trial and error is always going to be a factor when working with the lock miter joint, but there are some tricks that can lead to a finished joint more quickly, even in the most difficult pieces. Continue reading
Some may be aware that the earliest known hand planes originated in Ancient Greece during the bronze age, but many don’t know that the Greeks were the early inventors of the disk sander! For the first Olympics a woodworker is reported to have donated the disk from his sander for use in the track and field discus event …ok, that my not be entirely accurate but the disk sander is an extremely helpful tool that has its place in every shop. The Greeks called it a discus sander. Continue reading
Let’s get two facts straight; dust control is the biggest battle we fight in the wood shop and your lungs are NOT dust filters. It doesn’t matter if your shop is a one car garage or a 10,000 square foot professional cabinet shop, you need good dust protection every time you turn on a machine. Fortunately, Rikon have a couple dust weapons that really suck – to help you win the battle over dust. Continue reading
Hock tools has an awesome Chef’s Knife Kit that allows you to make your own custom handled 5″ long kitchen knife. Anyone with some basic tools can tackle this project and the end result will really amaze you. In just a few hours you’ll make a custom high quality knife while finally using those small pieces of scrap stock you’ve been collecting for just this occasion. Did we mention this knife kit also makes one of the best gifts for anyone that enjoys cooking?
One of the inescapable truths while woodworking is that there is always debris and dust, neither of which are good for you. Most of the time it’s small particulate you breathe in but sometimes it’s also part of the tool you are using to do the cutting. That’s why it’s always wise to wear your safety equipment, the more protective, the better. The Dust Bee Gone Mask and our Polycarbonate Face Shields are exciting new safety products we think every woodworker should have (and use) in their shop. Not only do they offer impressive safety credentials, they’re the most comfortable safety accessories we’ve ever worn while woodworking.