Three years ago, I had the privilege of participating in the inaugural Three Month Furniture Making Intensive work-shop offered by the North Bennet Street School in Boston. In addition to increased knowledge of the craft, wonderful experiences with the instructors, and new friends, I came away with an elegant Federal-style writing desk (see photo). Making Read More →

In my home, bookcases show up in every room, serving not only as places to store our growing collection of books, but also as places to display art and other items of interest. This butternut-and-maple bookcase is a versatile piece, big enough to hold a good number of books and/or collectibles while small enough to Read More →

A common saying among woodworkers is, “You can never have too many clamps.” Turns out, it might be more accurate to say that you can never apply too much force. Most woodworkers have only the vaguest idea of how much clamping force to apply when gluing boards. Even those perfec-tionists who rely on dial calipers Read More →

Clean-cut dovetails Q: I’m a novice at cutting dovetails and can get them only to the point of a rough fit. My problem is in cutting away the waste between both the tails and the pins. How do I do that to make the fit clean and sharp? A: START BY DEFINING THE TAILS AND Read More →

Cutting thin strips on the tablesaw Sooner or later, we all need to cut thin strips on the tablesaw. The normal procedure is to set the rip fence to the width of the strip, but this creates a situation where the strip could be captured and thrown back at you, or scarred by teeth at Read More →

How to build a steambox Q: Great article by Michael Fortune on steam-bending. Now, how do I make that wooden steambox? A: MAKE THE BOX from 3⁄4-in. exterior plywood. Unlike interior ply, it will withstand the steam and last for years. Don’t paint or line the wood, or dampness will lie against the surface, promot-ing Read More →

When I left the staff of Fine Woodworking and headed south a few years ago, my wife and I bought a ’50s ranch just east of downtown Nashville. I set up shop in the flat-roofed, one-car garage out back while we figured out if I could make a living building furniture and writing about the Read More →

After 25 years in a cramped, one-car garage workspace, the time finally arrived to construct a shop with some real elbow room. In addition to all the usual design considerations — work flow, machine locations, electrical-outlet placement, dust collection, and the like — I wanted to incorporate passive solar heating. Using energy from the sun Read More →

Sturdy, simple lumber rack When I began thinking about a lumber-storage rack for my commercial shop, I was poised to purchase some of those huge, free-standing, cantilevered I-beam things that would cost $750 or more. The rack I built cost about a third of that in materials, plus a few hours of labor—and it is Read More →

Buying lumber a bit at a time Q: I am considering building a classic highboy for my wife out of cherry, maple, or walnut. What impact would it have on the piece if, due to the cost, I bought the wood at various times throughout the project, rather than all at once? A: IF YOU Read More →

No matter how careful you are when working with veneer, you’ll need to make the occasional repair. Veneers get chipped, scratched, dented, or blistered, and to be good at veneering, you also must be good at veneer repair. Not to worry. Just ask yourself the philosophical question: If you execute an invisible repair, did the Read More →

I make mostly Shaker furniture, so a number of my pieces have Shaker-style knobs — commonly called mushroom knobs—mounted to the doors and drawers. Although you can buy them, I prefer to make them. Commercial versions come in limited sizes. Plus, some of them don’t quite have the graceful curves that are the hallmark of Read More →

When I decided to build a piece for my wife and I, to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, I had two important goals. I wanted it to be on an intimate scale — something smaller than a sideboard or dining table — and I wanted a piece that could be personalized. This spice box seemed Read More →

The switch from using surfaced lumber to milling your own boards from rough stock is a watershed for most woodworkers. It saves you money, unchains you from the standard thicknesses available in surfaced lumber, and gives you greater control over the accuracy of your work and the look of your boards. But this business of Read More →

I expect a lot from a tabletop edge. On one hand, I need it to be tough, able to endure a life full of bumps and bruises, even spills. Yet I want the edge to be attractive, with lines that are in keeping with the overall piece and with a profile that is pleasant to Read More →

For a couple of reasons, the upcoming 2008 season of The New Yankee Workshop is a special one for everyone involved. First, it’s our 20th anniversary, and we’re especially proud of that milestone. Second, a good part of our entire sea-son—nine episodes—will be devoted to showing our viewers how to build a custom dream kitchen. Read More →

What is it about woodworkers? Baseball players loosen up their arms and take batting practice before a game. Violinists rosin their bows and tune their instruments before a concert. Artists draw big circles on their pads before drawing a portrait. Everyone seems to warm up before starting work except woodworkers. What hubris tricks us into Read More →

Swinging rack adds wall space to garage The double-car garage door severely limits wall space in my garage/woodworking shop. So I created a 4-ft. by 5-ft. swinging tool rack for hanging hand tools, clamps, and accessories. Mounted in the corner of the front of my garage, it can stay against the garage door until I Read More →

Over the top panel shaping Q: I recently acquired a 5-hp, 1¼-in. spindle shaper. I intend to make a set of raised panels on it using a very large cutting head, and I am concerned about safety. Is it acceptable to mount the cutter so that the head is above the work and lowered down Read More →

In 1776, my great-great-great-grand-father (great-grandfather of the Ant-arctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton) started the Anna Liffey flour mill on the banks of the river Liffey near dublin, Ire-land. After I emigrated to Vermont in 1981 and started a handmade furniture business, I enjoyed returning to visit relatives who still lived in the old mill house. Read More →

One of the challenges when working with curved parts is how to cut joinery on them. When tapering solid stock, it’s best to cut the joinery before cutting the taper, but this is not possible with laminated work, such as the bent, tapered laminations described in the previous article. A few years back, I created Read More →

Incorporating tapered, curved laminations in your furniture opens up an incredible range of designs. However, tapering the component after it has been laminated has two disadvantages. If too many gluelines are broken, then the part will begin to straighten. Also, the severed gluelines are likely to show as a series of ugly lines. A better Read More →

I’ve been making boxes for over 30 years. Indeed, I’ve made thousands of them and I hope to make a few thousand more in the years to come. I can’t cover decades of box-making knowledge in a single article, but I can share some of the things I consider when designing a box—wood, corner joints, Read More →

A crisp molding lends the same touch of elegance to a well-made cabinet that a silk tie bestows on a sharp-dressed man. But in order for their magic to work, neckties and moldings both must be treated with care. A molding with torn-out grain or fuzzy edges will spoil the effect—like a soup stain in Read More →

Years ago, while researching American Arts and Crafts designs, I took an immediate liking to gustav Stickley’s No. 74 book rack. It’s shorter than most bookcases, with slats that form a V-shaped trough to hold books spine up. Its D-shaped handholds make it easy to move. I’ve made a dozen racks based on that design, Read More →

Telling new woodworkers about the combination square is a little like being the announcer in those old commercials for the Ronco Veg-O-Matic. No, the square won’t slice and it won’t dice, but it will excel at so many woodworking jobs that it’s tempting to say “But wait! There’s more!” A good combination square can serve Read More →

The tip of a plane iron or blade is beveled on only one face, and handplanes can be classified based on whether the blade is mounted with the bevel facing up or down. Until recently, bevel-down planes were the rule. Only small block planes were bevel-up. Now, a variety of bench planes have this bevel-up Read More →

Backer block handles all cross-grain routing This router-table push block, or backer block as I like to call it, stabilizes the workpiece and reduces tearout. It is handy for backing up the cut across the grain, such as when profiling a panel, but it’s especially useful for milling the ends of narrow stock, such as Read More →

About 20 years ago, I received a commission to build a 6-ft.-long dining table with an elliptical glass top. The glass was quite heavy and required a solid base. To challenge myself, I decided to come up with a design that ventured away from the predictable four-legged footprint. After drawing a number of sketches, I Read More →

Prevention is best cure for glue squeeze-out Q: When making mortise-and-tenon joints, glue squeeze-out gives me trouble. If I wipe it off with a wet sponge, some of the glue gets into the wood pores and shows up under a finish. If I wait until the squeeze-out dries and scrape it off, I damage the Read More →