Festool Partners with TOH

Festool Partners with TOH

Festool has just announced a new media and content partnership with This Old House (TOH), America’s leading multimedia home-enthusiast brand. Begun July 1, the co-branded, multi-platform partnership will include PBS television underwriting spots, video content creation and distribution, events, category exclusivity on the New Yankee Workshop channel and participation by the leading This Old House talent.

The partnership will debut during the third quarter of this year and will target consumers, hobbyists, contractors and retailers.

The development now makes Festool the exclusive tool sponsor of the New Yankee Workshop (NYW) channel on thisoldhouse.com. Launched online April 30th of this year, NYW videos provide hobbyists with a robust and significant increase to the TOH video library, while simplifying access to the best information available.

“We have been fans and friends of the This Old House team for many years and we’re excited to expand our relationship,” says Jim Maner, vice president of business development for Festool USA. “’This Old House’ is such a highly respected brand and with their expertise, have a successfully long history with craftsmen. They are an ideal partner.”

Eric Thorkilsen, chief executive offer of This Old House Ventures, LLC, says, “We’re thrilled to have Festool joining us as a media and content partner. This Old House is in the ‘Do It Right’ business — an outcome that’s not only about the craftsman but also about the tools. Festool’s leading attention to quality, innovation, and performance meets and exceeds that standard.”

Founded in Germany in 1925, Festool is known for its innovative, precision-engineered power tool solutions. Based in Lebanon, Indiana, Festool USA offers a comprehensive lineup of power tools and system accessories, designed to boost productivity through efficiency and high performance.

Cutting Stool’s Angled Shoulders?

Cutting Stool’s Angled Shoulders?

I’m building the “Classic Five-board Step Stool” in your free online plans. The stool’s legs tilt away from the top 8 degrees, and they require a pair of notches near the top to receive a stretcher on both sides. The shoulder cuts for these notches must be angled, but how do I do that? On a table saw, I can set the (blade) angle only on one side. I’ll appreciate it if anyone can tell me how to resolve this issue. – Solomon Bhaskaria

Tim Inman: Flip the board over, or reset the guide for the “off side” cuts.

Chris Marshall: Solomon, here’s an easy way to clear up your quandary: don’t tilt the blade. Instead, you need to swivel your miter gauge 8 degrees in one direction off of 0/90 degrees, cut the appropriate shoulder with the leg workpiece standing on edge, and then swivel the miter gauge 8 degrees in the opposite direction from 0/90 degrees. Now flip the leg workpiece over to cut the second shoulder. Mark the shoulder cuts carefully first, so you can keep the cutting angle clear when determining which shoulder to cut with each of the two miter gauge settings.

In the photo for this cutting step (shown below), it’s difficult to distinguish that the long scrap fence attached to the author’s two miter gauges is actually swiveled and not square to the blade. (An 8-degree swivel is a visual subtlety that’s difficult to capture on camera.) We apologize for the confusion, and I hope my explanation here helps clear up the procedure for you.

Drill Press Table with a Twist

Drill Press Table with a Twist

A pair of Magswitch MagJig Magnetic Clamps provide great holding power for the drill press table accessory you see here. I made mine from a piece of 3/4″ scrap plywood, and I cut a dado across the middle of it to fit a 2-1/2″-wide, replaceable drilling surface (mine is 1/4″-thick scrap). I screwed a fence to the table, too. By sliding the table one way or the other, you can adjust the fence’s distance from the chuck as needed. It’s easy to set and lock the table to your drill press’s metal table underneath by just twisting the magnets to activate them, and you won’t need extra clamps to secure it. Very handy!

– Pat Keefer
Manning, South Carolina

Cyclone Dust Collector Trio

Cyclone Dust Collector Trio

Grizzly Industrial is now taking orders for three new compact dust collectors that will ship in October. The trio offers effective two-stage dust separation and includes a 20-gallon steel collection drum with quick-release handle, swivel casters, powder-coated paint and a wireless remote. A pleated filter with paddle cleaner captures the fine dust in a secondary collection bag.

Model G0860 features a 1.5hp, single-phase motor that’s pre-wired for 110-volt operation. It develops 868 CFM (9.7-in. of maximum static pressure in a water column). The machine has a 6-in. main inlet, and a wye fitting is provided that will accept two 4-in. dust ports.

Grizzly’s G0861 has a 2hp single-phase motor that operates on 220-volts. It develops 1,023 CFM (10.9-in. of maximum static pressure in a water column), and you can connect up to three 4-in. hoses to the adapter on its 6-in. inlet.

Or consider model G0862: it moves 1,941 cubic feet of air per minute (11.0-in. of maximum static pressure in a water column), thanks to a 3hp single-stage, 220-volt motor. Like the G0861, it has a triple-port, 4-in. hose adapter.

The G0860 sells for $699; model G0861 is priced at $975 and the G0862 is available for $1,295. All three machines are covered by Grizzly’s one-year warranty.


Biscuits and Butt Joints

Biscuits and Butt Joints

In the last issue, Rob tried to debunk a couple of woodworking myths about butt joints. Some readers agreed that biscuits adding strength to butt joints was a myth – with a caveat. – Editor

“I agree with you. Also, people believe screws are necessary for strength and corner biscuits help strength.  I believe the glue people and my experience.  The glue joint is stronger than the wood.  [When a good glue joint fails], the wood splits, not the joint.” – Phil Zoeller

“One other thing about biscuit joints: if you don’t put enough glue into the biscuit slots, you can, over time, start seeing low spots in your panel where the biscuits are. This is because of the unbalanced absorption of the glue into the wood. I noticed, when I first started using biscuits, that they would show up about 1 to 2 months after you complete your glue-up. Make sure the slots and the biscuits are coated with glue. You’re right that they don’t add strength, but they sure make it easier to line up long boards. If a person can afford a Domino machine, those will add significant strength as well as help with alignment.  Required functionality of the glued-up panel will determine whether I use biscuits or Dominos.  For a tabletop, I will use Dominos. For a panel for a cabinet, I will use biscuits.” – Don Thomson

And some readers responded to the teaser he included about a forthcoming debate battle among Woodworker’s Journal staff on the proper way to drill pilot holes. – Editor

“Thanks to Rob for exploding two common woodworking myths about glued butt joints. I look forward to the discussion of pilot holes. Let me say that I do not use traditional wood screws; I don’t want to drill one size of pilot hole for the shank and another for the threads. I usevproduction type screws or common sheet metal screws, which work perfectly well in wood.” – Moh Clark

“’In an upcoming Woodworker’s Journal print magazine, I instruct my recalcitrant staff in the proper way to make pilot holes.’ Oh, have you stepped in it now. The ‘PROPER’ way? Do you really use gimlets for your pilot holes?” – Riley Grotts

Editor’s Note: The pilot hole smackdown will be included in the September/October issue of Woodworker’s Journal magazine.

Applying Oil Finishes and Varnishes on Wood

Applying Oil Finishes and Varnishes on Wood

Oil finishes are an ideal match for wood. They are incredibly easy to apply, very beautiful, and some of them are extremely eco-friendly. As finishes, they divide into two large categories — pure oil and oil/resin varnishes. We’ll start with pure oil.

Drying vs. Non-drying

Unlike drying oils (left), a non-drying oil, like mineral oil (right), will stay wet and come off on whatever comes in contact with the wood.

There are two types of oils — drying oils and non-drying oils. In my mind, drying oils are the only valid finishing oils. They start out as liquids, but they cure to a solid film. To me, that’s the definition of a finish.

Typically, nut oils are drying oils, and the most common ones we use are linseed, tung and walnut. These drying oils cure by taking oxygen from the air and crosslinking the oil molecules into much larger molecules. Once the new molecules get big enough, the resulting matrix they form becomes a solid instead of a liquid, forming a film either in the wood or on the wood.

The most common is boiled linseed oil (BLO), which, in spite of its name, is neither boiled nor heated. Instead, it contains metallic drier that speeds up the cure time. A coat of raw linseed oil will take over a week to dry; one of BLO will often dry overnight. Tung oil dries quickly by itself, so it generally does not need driers added to it. Unmodified walnut oil dries even more slowly than raw linseed oil, which is why I avoid it.

Non-drying oils are usually vegetable (peanut, olive, corn, coconut, rapeseed) or mineral oil, which is extracted from petroleum. Orange and lemon oil, typically mineral oil with citrus scent added, are also in this group.

These do not form a film but stay wet indefinitely. They can come off onto whatever comes in contact with the oiled wood, and they will soon wash off with soap and water.

Thus, putting vegetable or mineral oil on wood is not a finish, but a wood treatment, and a temporary one at that.

Important Safety Note!

Drying oils are spontaneously combustible. Take all rags and wipes containing drying oils and lay them out one layer thick until they are dry and crusty, at which point they can be safely added to your household trash.

VOCs vs. Solids

Pure drying oil is eco-friendly and efficient, with no VOC-laden solvents or added resins.

Concerned about VOCs? Those are the finish solvents, restricted by the EPA, that can cause dangerous ozone buildup in the presence of sunlight. Pure oil has none whatsoever, because it has no solvent in it. Thus, it is a 100% solids finish. Solids are whatever stays on the wood, after the solvent, to become the film. Clearly, this is a very eco-friendly finish; it comes from plants and contains no solvents, harmful or otherwise.

Where’s the Film?

One coat will look woody, but add enough coats of oil and you can build a shiny film reminiscent of varnish.

In many woods, the first coat of oil penetrates and is almost entirely absorbed by the wood, so it does not look like a film was formed. It’s there, but it is in the wood, not atop it. The oil cures in the outer layers of wood fibers. But even if you add no more than one coat, cured oil will still help the wood shed water, oils, dirt and some, but not all, of the things that stain wood. Add more and you get more protection. Multiple coats can eventually build up a gloss film.

Applying Oil

You’ll get your best results using boiled linseed oil straight, without adding thinner.

Do not add solvent to pure oil. It will not, as some believe, increase absorption, and will only reduce the amount of protective film per coat while contributing to environmental problems.

Flood oil onto the wood liberally, keeping it wet for at least 10 minutes. If areas of the wood absorb all the oil in under 10 minutes, add more, keeping the whole surface fully wet. When it stops absorbing oil, wipe all the oil off the surface. You’ll have a uniform, dustfree coat with almost no effort.

If you notice the oil absorbing faster in some areas, add more oil, keeping all the wood wet until it can’t absorb any more.

Want more build? Do the same thing the next day, and the next, adding one flooded on/wiped off coat per day until you get the look you want. One coat will look woody and natural, while 12 coats (over 12 days) will look like traditional varnish.

Sanding oil onto the wood surface with wet/dry paper helps fill pores with the swarf/oil slurry you create, and it can result in a smoother finish.

To speed the process, or create a slurry to help fill open pores, sand the oil into the wood with fine wet/dry paper.

Oil Varnish

Where oil has only one ingredient, varnish contains resin and solvent. Traditional spar varnish, for instance, contains tung oil, phenolic resin and mineral spirits or naphtha. The most common varnish resins, alkyd and polyurethane, can be made by chemically modifying linseed oil.

In spite of their names, Danish oil and teak oil are not oils, but thin varnishes. Manufacturers call them “oil” because they are designed to be applied just like oil. The truth is that you can apply any oil varnish the same way you apply pure oil: flood it on, wipe it all off, and repeat with one coat per day until you get the build you want.

Forget the Solvent

Scrub unreduced polyurethane varnish liberally onto the wood with a fine nylon abrasive pad, then wipe off the excess.

Whether it’s Danish oil or polyurethane varnish, there’s no need to thin it for this type of application: any solvent only acts as a diluent and does not effect how well the finish penetrates the wood.

With thicker varnish, a nylon pad (such as ScotchBrite®) works best to scrub the varnish on before wiping it off. Of course, should you prefer to spray or brush thick varnish, you’ll likely have to thin it for workability.


Oils and oil varnish won’t always cure over Dalbergias (rosewoods). Solve the problem by sealing it first with dewaxed shellac.

There are a few woods over which oils will not cure properly. Notable among them are most Dalbergias (rosewoods) and some aromatic cedars.

Remember how oil and oil varnish cure by using oxygen from the air to crosslink the molecules? Such “problem” woods contain antioxidants that prevent oxygen cure.

The solution? Seal them first with a thin coat of dewaxed shellac, after which you can switch to oil varnish.

But What About Nut Allergies?

Once they cure, drying oils, which are usually nut oils, form a solid, inert matrix that will not come off on your hands or in your mouth. Thus, the odds of a negative reaction should be substantially less than with wet oil.

Anything can happen, but in more than 45 years in this field, I’ve never seen an allergic reaction to a cured film of linseed oil.

Running with the Bull

Woodworking myths abound, as is true with nearly any craft or occupation. Two of my favorites, and by that I mean common misbeliefs that I try to correct, have to do with gluing up panels of solid wood.

The first is that adding biscuits adds to the strength of a well-made butt joint. It is simply not true. I do use biscuits to help align long butt joints (longer than, say, 30 inches) — which reduces frustration and improves my efficiency — but the joint is no stronger.

Second, when butt gluing flatsawn boards, there is no true advantage to alternating the growth ring orientation of the end grain … the “smile, frown, smile frown” orientation often suggested in woodworking magazines. If you like the grain pattern it provides as you compose the panel, great. But, with kiln-dried lumber, I have never personally seen the panel distortion that supposedly occurs if all the boards are aligned alike.

So there are a couple of myths busted … at least in my mind.

I am on something of a mission here: in an upcoming Woodworker’s Journal print magazine I instruct my recalcitrant staff in the proper way to make pilot holes. Now there is a slugfest you will not want to miss!

Rob Johnstone, Woodworker’s Journal

Steve Gabriel: Woods, Farms and Mutual Benefits

Steve Gabriel: Woods, Farms and Mutual Benefits

Woodworkers’ interaction with wood often starts with a piece that has already been harvested and is just waiting to be purchased at the lumberyard. Steve Gabriel’s relationship with wood is a little different: as a specialist in topics like agroforestry and silvopasture, Steve’s encounters with wood are when it’s “on the hoof,” so to speak.

That’s not an accidental turn of phrase: as an agroforestry extension specialist for the Cornell Small Farm Program at Cornell University in New York, Steve primarily interacts with existing or would-be farmers. Some of them own existing woodlots. Some are interested in planting trees in conjunction with raising animals or crops. Almost all of them are interested in finding ways to increase their income – and that just might be where the relevance to woodworkers comes in.

For example, Steve noted that, although maple syrup producers obviously have a vested interest in keeping their trees alive to continue producing the maple sap, eventually all trees’ lives come to an end. In this case, portions of that wood could be what’s known as taphole maple: a spalted design created when the tree receives the puncture wound from the tapping, as well as remnant holes in the wood from the taps themselves. Many farmers, however, don’t realize there’s a value in that wood, Steve said. “The perception is, ‘The only value is wood that’s clear, clean, veneer quality.’”

There’s potential, Steve noted, “for farmers to expand more of what they cultivate for the wood products world.”

So, what is agroforestry? And silvopasture (other than the title of Steve’s new book, Silvopasture, ISBN 1603587314, published by Chelsea Green)?

Agroforestry, Steve said, is the name for the practice “that has been really how humans have existed on most of the earth for the longest time, where the production of food or medicine or other products that we associate with farming is mixed with forestry.” Those farming products might be tree saps or syrups; fruits and nuts; mushrooms; or medicinals. Ginseng, for example, would be an agroforestry crop grown in a certain type of forest.

The type of agroforestry in which crops are grown under the canopy of an existing forest is called “forest farming” (the subject of Steve’s previous book, Farming the Woods, ISBN 1603585079 coauthored with Ken Mudge and also published by Chelsea Green). Agroforestry can also include practices like alley cropping, in which trees are planted in rows – straight or contoured – with farmed crops planted between the rows, which can then act as windbreaks.

For example, the University of Missouri’s agroforestry efforts include encouraging the planting of black walnut trees, mingled with corn crops. Farmers maintain their corn yield for a time, with windbreak protection from the trees. Eventually, more mature trees will shade out the corn – at which time the black walnuts will be producing nuts which can also serve as a cash crop.

Silvopasture, in turn, refers to the practice of integrating forestry management with grazing animals.

“I think the oldest silvopasture system that we have documentation of is the dehesa [Spanish] or montado [Portugese],” some of which have been around for 400 or 500 years, Steve said. In these savannah-like systems, the Portugese tend to harvest cork from cork oak, while in Spain, Steve said, the trees are most often cultivated for their acorns, which are then fed to pigs to produce a high-value pork product.

In his own work in the U.S., Steve works both with farmers who own an existing woodlot and want to get into silvopasture, and with farmers who are planting trees in the pasture and can therefore select what species they favor. “When we do good managed grazing mixed with tree planting, that actually puts the most carbon in the soil,” Steve said. “It is really ranked among the best farming practices in terms of its impact on the climate.” Plus, he noted, as farmers choose their tree species, “That has the potential to provide good woodworking material.”

Right now, there is probably some good wood sitting on the ground from farmers who entered silvopasture with an existing timber stand on their property. “In most cases, you really have to thin the woodlot pretty heavily, like to 50 percent canopy cover, because you need to get enough light in there to establish some forage for the grazing animals,” Steve explained. “What that results in is a lot of thinning of lower canopy species, because we’re most just focused on trying to open up the understory.”

The wood that comes out of such projects is often not large enough to go to a mill to be converted into standardized lumber. Sometimes it gets taken to a nearby biomass plant to be used for fuel; sometimes someone buys some for firewood. “Maybe the farmer grabs a little bit of firewood for themselves, but there’s a lot of wood that just ends up being dragged off into the corner and kind of piled up because it doesn’t have an economic return and the so the farmer or the logger, whoever’s doing the work, doesn’t think it’s worth dragging out of the woods,” Steve said.

Connecting with woodworkers, he noted, “would be a huge benefit to being able to actually help us create silvopasture, because the trick is, how do we get all that thinning done in a way that it also pays for the labor or the machinery to do the work?”

When creating silvopasture through tree plantings, Steve said, “Almost any species can be used. It kind of depends on what the goals of the farm area. We’re really interested in planting a lot of trees mostly to shade the animals and also as a food source for them.”

Generally, this does mean farmers pursuing silvopasture are interested in faster-growing tree species as fodder for their cows, sheep and, sometimes, goats. Goats are more likely to eat woody vegetation, stripping bark, while sheep and cows “tend to be more into the leaves,” Steve said. Faster-growing trees are also an advantage because “we do have to keep the animals off of them for some given amount of time so that the tree can sort of establish itself and not succumb to, basically, getting beat up,” Steve said – noting that cattle, due to their weight, “just run things over.”

Some of Steve’s favorite tree species for silvopasture include black locust, poplar, mulberry, willow and basswood. “We’ve had locusts on the farm that, after three or four years, you can graze again,” he said – while noting that the timeframe for regrazing with a black walnut silvopasture, for example, might be 15 years.

Black walnut can, however, be used in silvopasture: most pasture grasses are tolerant of the toxins the tree releases, Steve said, and the toxicity doesn’t affect the animals. And black locust, on the other hand, does have a woodworking interest as well: it’s popular in the Northeast, Steve said, as wood for constructing rot-resistant posts.

He also made sure to mention a very old practice of silvopasture that has advantages both to the farmer and, potentially, to the woodworker. The practice of pollarding, he said, “is where you cut the tree at browse height, so like five or six feet off the ground, and allow the tree to resprout and regrow multiple shoots, and then you can actually harvest those shoots for the animals. You can actually store them just like hay.

“But what’s really cool about that is, to develop a really good pollard system, what you do is, the farmer manages the tree to create a burl on top of it. This is something that works for the farm, but eventually that burl could actually be harvested, which I know is another kind of woodworking interest for folks. That is a way to actually produce that kind of material and mix it in with a grazing system.”

Interested in learning more about agroforestry and/or silvopasture? It’s a relatively young effort in the U.S., Steve said, so while most states’ university extension offices might have some familiarity with the topic, they might not have a lot of resources. “There’s a lot more to learn and think about as we kind of adapt it to different regions,” he said. Some resources are available through Cornell’s Small Farm Program.

“The potential is there; there’s lots of opportunities,” Steve said. “Woodworkers should be encouraged to connect with farmers and folks practicing agroforestry because the demand that they create for the products they’re interested in could really help economically allow us to do more of this, and I think that that benefits everybody in the long term.”