It’s a Woodworking Christmas

This year, just about everything I got for christmas was woodworking-related, which is wonderful. After a couple of years of mucking with my tools and making a couple of small projects, I’m ready to move on to projects that are still small, but are made of real wood, instead of plywood or 2×4 lumber.

I received two excellent DVDs. David Charlesworth on Planing Techniques, and another on Sharpening Planes. Both very good. There’s no old wiseman in my life, like a woodworking grampa or something to show me how these things are done, so it does wonders for a newbie like me to see someone use a plane (for one example) who you know *knows* how to use a plane properly. David Charlesworth, therefore, is sort of an adopted grampa. :-)

To go with the sharpening DVD, I also received (from my saint of a wife) a set of Arkansas sharpening stones. It’s the Woodcraft boxed set. The only thing it didn’t come with was any indication of the grit for each stone, which I must say is pretty annoying. In addition, I can’t find any indication on the woodcraft site – so if anyone knows the grit of the three stones, it would help me figure out how to use them most effectively.

I also received a set of card scrapers. Can you tell I hate sanding? :-) I dislike it for a number of reasons, but the biggest one is dust. I can’t stand the dust that sanding creates. I also don’t like the idea of coming to the end of a project, getting to where I need to sand things out, and then realizing I have no sandpaper and having to run out to get some. Card scrapers and planes are always around. They aren’t really “consumables” like sandpaper. You can resharpen them (with your wonderful new stones) and get back to work.

Finally, I got two books that I had read glowing reviews about. One is a book about nothing but how to build beds, and the other is about how to build nothing but tables. It’ll take some time before I’m ready to take on the risk of building a bed (the risk is that you buy a good bit of expensive wood and then mess up something critical… and big), but I’m confident enough to go for a small nightstand, which, as it turns out, I need. We only have one right now.

Another thing I’m thinking is that there might be people who need some small project built, but don’t have a woodshop and don’t want to buy particleboard. I wonder if I couldn’t get those people to buy the wood, and I’d then build it for free or, if the project requires stuff I don’t have, a small fee just to subsidize (not completely pay for) the missing bit. This would work for me, because, while I can’t take the risk of buying top-notch wood to build a bed, I *can* afford to replace one or two boards in the project if I mess it up, and I get experience from it, and someone else gets something useful from it, for the cost of the wood.

My current projects are the medicine cabinet from the New Yankee Workshop book and the desk organizer from a great book called “Furniture you can build”. Get this book if you’ve mucked around but haven’t built anything worthy of leaving the shop yet. So far, it’s fantastic. I can’t praise it enough.

Actually, those project are sort of not my real projects. Sure, I’m gluing up panels for the desk organizers, and I’m squaring up stock and cutting a few boards to length for the medicine cabinet, but the real projects right now are building the jigs I’ll need to complete these and other projects. I’m about 3/4 the way through building a crosscut sled for my table saw, and I need to find decent plans for a box-joint jig for a router. I’ve sketched out an idea of my own, but I’m sure someone could come up with a more clever plan that would create one that is adjustable for the size of the fingers, for example.

As always, the biggest challenge is finding the time to spend in the shop at a time when noise won’t shake the house awake. You just can’t wrap up some time and shove it in a stocking :-)

Happy holidays.

  • Gye Greene

    Good stuff! I got a Japanese wooden mallet (for driving chisels) and an old crosscut hand saw (I think 10 TPI, IIRC).

    For the hand-tools side of thing, I highly recommend the Old Tools e-mail list, to fill in your ”lack of local mentors”. A wonderful range of experience levels on the list. You can check out the online archives, and decide whether it’ll be sufficiently useful to you to subscribe.

    –GG