WWGOA 2018 Blogger Awards Winner: Marc Spagnuolo

Meet Marc Spagnuolo, winner of the “Best Furniture Making Blog” category in the 2018 WWGOA Blogger Awards! In June 2018, WWGOA hosted a competition dedicated to finding the best of the best woodworking blogs on the web. We asked you to nominate and vote for your favorite bloggers, and now we’re thrilled to be able to announce the winners!


Marc’s blog, The Wood Whisperer, is a great resource for plans, projects, live shows, and tutorials of all kinds!


Marc also hosts podcast called WoodTalk which also has it’s own forum, so be sure to check it out!


Learn more about Marc and his woodworking story below!


Q: When did you first begin woodworking?


I was never afraid to build stuff as a kid, from reptile enclosures to speaker boxes for my truck. But I began woodworking in earnest in 2004 after buying my first home. We bought a fixer-upper and I picked up a few tools to help me with DIY projects. Once those were done, I had the tools and a desire to build something with my hands after a long commute to/from a job I really didn’t enjoy. And just like that my love for woodworking was born.


Q: Who taught you how to woodwork?


My biggest influence is David Marks. I had the good fortune of working with him directly in an apprenticeship-style role and I was a huge fan of his TV show Woodworks. I was also a big fan of Norm from the New Yankee Workshop. While I learned a lot from both of those guys, the majority of my learning came from books, magazines, DVDs and forums.


Q: What was your first project?


My first project ever was a speaker box for my truck, back in the day when I was trying to lose my hearing. It was a simple plywood affair with some holes in it for speakers, a couple of simple electronic components, and a coating of the finest paint my high school budget could afford at the time.



Q: What are you currently working on?


A cherry executive desk project featuring built-in power, ventilation fans for gear, and cable management.


Q: What is your favorite type of project to make in the shop?


I don’t have a favorite project. I love building furniture. Anything from chairs to casework to those fun little one-off things. It’s like the bumper sticker that says “a bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work.” Well, I’m a pretty busy guy and I do get stressed out by work, but in the end my job is more like fishing than work.


Q: What is your shop like?


It’s a 4-car attached garage. Concrete floors which I covered with rubber anti-fatigue tiles, 11 ft high ceilings, three windows, and thankfully, insulation behind the walls.




Q: What project have you been most proud of?


My Uncle’s memorial box. My Uncle passed away a few years ago and I was tasked with building a box for my Aunt that would hold some keepsakes as well as his ashes. I built the box in a day or two but it was one of those straight from the heart projects. I didn’t think too much during that build and the box that came out of it proved to be one of my favorite pieces I’ve ever made. No plans, not strategy, but wood and emotion.


Q: What woodworking tool could you not live without, and why?


The router. It’s one of the most versatile tools in the shop and the more you use it, the more you realize it’s capable of doing. It’s truly the shop workhorse.


Q: What’s your favorite species of wood to work with, and why?


Cherry. Because it’s a domestic species I don’t feel guilty about using it. It’s obviously gorgeous and it’s a wood that will never go out of style.


Q: What would you say to someone who is just beginning woodworking?


No! Stop! Don’t! OK just kidding. Outside of my wife and kids, woodworking is the best thing to happen to me. So jump in head first! These days, there are so many resources at our fingertips and it can actually be quite intimidating to a new woodworker. Paralysis by analysis is a very real thing so beware of that. Don’t let the fact that there are 15 woodworkers on YouTube with 15 different opinions stop you from jumping in and trying something out. Just get in there and get some sawdust under your fingernails. Also, trim your fingernails.


Q: What’s your favorite thing about woodworking?


It may sound a little ironic as a guy who bases most of his career around the community of woodworkers and spends nearly all of his time filming himself so he can share the content with thousands of woodworkers around the world, but my favorite part of woodworking is being alone. I have two kids, ages 6 and 2, two dogs, a never-ending sea of emails, private messages, comments, and questions all vying for my attention every day. I cherish the simplicity, calm, and serenity of a shop day. Having that time alone energizes me for all of my other communal and family responsibilities.


SketchUp Video: A Few Tricks

The latest issue of Fine Woodworking Magazine showed up in my mailbox the other day and during a bit of downtime, I took a few minutes to model Nancy Hiller’s Architectural Wall Cabinet as a little SketchUp practice. As it happened, there were a few places in the modeling process that utilized some features of SketchUp that newer users might not be familiar with. The video shows a few of those operations. All of these were done with the native tools and can be done in SketchUp Make and Web as well as Pro.

Dave

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STL170: Biscuit Joiner vs. Dowel Jigs

This episode of is sponsored by Varathane:
From furniture and cabinets to floors and crafts, professionals and DIYers alike have trusted the ultimate color and protection of Varathane since 1958. Varathane Wood Stain gives rich, true color in one coat. And Varathane Triple Thick Polyurethane has the durability of three coats in one. Visit varathanemasters.com for details.

If you have questions you’d like us to answer on the show, send them in to shoptalk@taunton.com. You can also use the voice memo app on your phone and email us a 30 second audio recording, or if you’re old-school you can leave a voicemail by calling 203-304-3456. 

reclaimed barn wood map of the world
John Tetreault’s barn wood map of the world–sans Hawaii.

Question 1:

Recently, I’ve seen a lot of arts and craft projects assembled with biscuits. I don’t have a biscuit joiner, and given the $200 price tag, I’m wondering if I’d be better off going with a high-quality dowel jig. Clearly, the speed of adjustment favors the biscuit joiner. I would very much like a domino, but I don’t think that’s in the budget, especially after a recent table saw upgrade. -Tom

Question 2:

How do you ensure a square glue-up with a leg that tapers just below the apron? Are you relying completely on the shoulder of the tenon being square? -Aaron

Segment: All Time Favorite Technique of All Time… for this week

John –  A simple wooden mallet

Mike – A sharp tool

Ben – New hand tool rack with magnets inlayed to hold tools

 

Question 3:

My question is about dust collection. Before getting into this, I had no idea people put so much effort into dust collection. I started woodworking with my Dad years ago, and we just rolled the table saw out into the driveway. These days, I have a shop vac hooked up to a cyclone that I use for whatever I can, but my dust collection isn’t great. I end up wearing a respirator most of the time, except when i’m doing something that doesn’t produce dust, like hand planing.

How much importance do you place on having good dust collection, and is there ever a point at which your dust collection is so good that you don’t feel the need to wear a respirator? If not, what activities do you put a respirator on for? -Andy

Recommendations:

John – Don’t freak out when you make a mistake, just Tetreault it!

 

 


Every two weeks, a team of Fine Woodworking staffers answers questions from readers on Shop Talk Live, Fine Woodworking‘s biweekly podcast. Send your woodworking questions to shoptalk@taunton.com for consideration in the regular broadcast! Our continued existence relies upon listener support. So if you enjoy the show, be sure to leave us a five-star rating and maybe even a nice comment on our iTunes page.

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Kerf Bending Plywood

Editor’s note: From time to time I wander around various woodworking forums looking for fresh ideas and perspectives in the woodworking community. A few months ago, on the woodworking sub-reddit I came across this post from Eric Thompson, which led me to his post on Imgur, a website I thought was dedicated to memes—I have so much to learn. I reached out to Eric and asked if we could republish his gif-ladden Imgur post and he agreed. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a way of coding the post with his animated gifs as elegantly as I’d like. So, if you’re curious head over to his original post and check out his write-up the way it was intended to be displayed. 

My in laws got a new couch and it came with a bunch of ottomans (ottomen?), which meant there was no longer any  room for a coffee table. That sucks, especially for a family who plays a lot of board games. So, I set out to make a removable cover that would convert them into usable table. An additional insert makes two of them butted up to one another a contiguous flat surface.

I know bent lamination is preferred for strength, for skill building and just for sexiness. But I wanted to ease into things so kerf bending seemed most approachable. I’ll get to bent lamination soon!

I started off with 4’x4′ sheets of birch plywood, not Baltic birch sadly. If anyone knows where to find some in the Baltimore/DC area, let me know! Until then, I’m a slave to the big box store inventory.

I ripped two 16-in. sections to create two of these ottoman tables. I measured the ottoman tops and marked off where the corners needed to be. There are kerf spacing calculators out there but I just used some scrap plywood with the same thickness and did some trial and error. Probably best to test the output of the calculator anyway, as I’m sure the type of wood you try this with has some effect on the bendiness. It ended up that I needed 7 cuts spaced 1/4-in. apart at a depth of 5/8 in.

Now the scary part! Too shallow and the piece won’t bend or it’ll crack, too deep and the blade will peek through. I made sure I was a good depth by running some larger scraps through, but honestly, it’s such a high-pressure cut that I’d advise against using this technique for something like this if you’re using expensive wood and require success on the first go around.

Even though they’ve been mostly replaced by sliding chop saws, it makes me wish I had a radial arm saw. It’d be the perfect tool to make quick work of this.

After a quick test bend, it looked good, thankfully!

I couldn’t really find much literature on what kind of adhesive to use or how to ensure that the curve would remain rigid after a glue-up. I reckon it’s because this is more of a technique used for structural purposes and those pieces are secured by more than just glue. In any event. I figured some splines would give the curve and glue something to grab onto, but I didn’t want to do through-splines.

Editor’s note: A batten clamped across the layout line would add to the safety of this plunge cut by giving you a stop to pivot on, as well as make the kerfs more consistent.

Setting the circular saw to not cut all the way through the plywood allowed me to rock the saw down onto the kerfs to create another kerf for the splines to seat into.

Now to create the splines. I ripped some scrap hardwood down to the thickness of the circular saw kerf and then did some trial and error on the shape of the spline. It might be a neat mathematical problem to say what an arc will look like when you take a circular arc and then bend the plane it’s sitting on by 90°.

Again, it wasn’t apparent what kind of glue would be best in this application. It was GLOBBED in there so I wasn’t sure if maybe some construction adhesive might be appropriate, but in the end I just went with some good old fashioned Titebond II.

After applying the glue to the kerfs and shoving in the hidden splines, I allowed a week sitting near the furnace for everything to dry. I also glued up some of my test plywood without the splines, and after the same week of dry time, it was pretty damn strong with just the wood glue, so I’m confident the splines plus glue make this a pretty reliable method.

Wrapping a piece of sandpaper to an old Ikea desk leg left me with a good tool for sanding things down smooth. I filled in all the gaps with some wood filler and sanded it smooth one more time. Since it wasn’t Baltic birch, there were some voids in the “end grain” that I also filled in with the wood filler. Sanding it all down smooth and they were looking pretty!

Since I made two of these, I figured I’d toy with a way to connect them. This way, you’d be able to butt the two ottomans together and have a nice, wide, flat surface akin to a proper coffee table. The end caps were made of the same plywood as the tables themselves. I held them in place, flush with the top of the ottoman surfaces, and traced the interior curve. I cut out the waste at the bandsaw and rounded the corners on the disk sander. The long center section was also created from the same plywood as the tables. There was probably a better way to get a long piece that would fit EXACTLY in the void, but cutting the piece with a 15° angle on each side let it sit in there just fine.

A WORD ON SAFETY: I made this center piece extra long so that I could cut the 15° angles without putting the entire piece through the tablesaw, which would’ve put my fingers at risk, even with a push stick. I ran enough of the piece through to get me the length I needed, killed the tablesaw and withdrew the piece, THEN cut it to final length.

I figured I’d leave these blond rather than stain them. I added a bunch of coats of polyurethane to withstand lots of use, and I’ll tell you what, they looked gorgeous immediately after the first coat. A nice golden color with some shimmer to them; whatever veneer they used really took the poly well! To help these slide on and off the ottomans easier, I added some self-adhesive dry-erase contact paper (found next to the drawer paper in the home center) and trimmed it to the edge with a razor blade. Honestly, probably a better solution exists out there, but I anticipate these will probably live on their respective ottoman for most of the time (rather than being taken off and on a lot) so I don’t think it’s much of a concern.

The final product:

I think kerf bending is mainly used for things like speaker boxes—projects where they’ll be covered up, and the curve will be held in place by side supports (rather than glue in the kerfs). I wanted to see if I could avoid the bent lamination craze, but in retrospect, bent lamination makes way more sense for applications like this. In any event, I’m pleased with how they turned out. They’re solid and they look great, and best of all, they make the ottomans into usable space.

You can see more of Eric’s work at his YouTube channel and on Instagram. I’d especially like to recommend this fantastic video:

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The Florida School of Woodwork Announces Two Scholarships

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The Florida School of Woodwork, in Tampa, is offering two scholarships to be awarded in 2019.

The Makers Hand Scholarship will be awarded to a young person between the age of 14 and 25 years. The goal of the scholarship is to encourage the next generation of woodworkers and support them in their learning. Applicants must have a desire to engage in craft and have a creative mind.

The goal of the Helpers Hand Scholarship is to support the love of woodworking and to recognize the people in our communities who help make the world a better place. Applicants must be at least 18 years old and can only be nominated to the scholarship by someone recognizing their contribution to society. Nominated individuals must have helped someone in a time of trouble, rendered aid in an emergency, put themselves in danger to ensure the safety of others, or provided knowledge, time or guidance unstintingly.

To read full scholarship descriptions and requirements click here.

Applications for both scholarships are due by December 31, 2018.

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STL 169.5: Bonus Episode – Maplewoodshop Interview

As schools focus on college readiness and standardized tests, kids today are left with programs where there is no time or money allocated for shop class. Many children might not know that they have an interest in, or talent for woodworking—or making things with their hands for that matter. Our  sister-publication, Fine Home Building started the Keep Craft Alive campaign, doing their part to help close the skills gap by raising awareness and just as importantly, starting a scholarship program to send young adults to trade schools across the country. Still, it is important for children to learn that picking up a tool is not only productive, it’s fun!

The Maplewoodshop tool case is stocked with the tools kids need to do some serious learning

Mike Schloff, of the Maplewoodshop, saw this need, and decided that he was going to do his part to spread the gospel of woodworking to a generation left behind by our need for the newest technology. Mike knew that alone, he could only get tools into the hands of so many kids. Instead he realized that it was far more productive to teach the teachers. With Mike’s program, he is going into schools and camps—in person or virtually—and teaching a new generation of shop teachers.

It’s easy to see that these teachers are excited to incorporate woodworking into their curriculum

A few weeks ago Mike came into the podcast studio where he and I discussed his program, and more importantly, how you can help get a woodworking into your favorite little one’s school or camp program. We were going to include an excerpt in episode 169, but in the end, we decided that The Maplewoodshop deserved your full undivided attention.

For more information on The Maplewoodshop program: https://www.maplewoodshop.com/

Find The Maplewoodshop on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/maplewoodshopNJ and on Instagram: http://instagram.com/maplewoodshop



If you have questions you’d like us to answer on the show, send them in to shoptalk@taunton.com. You can also use the voice memo app on your phone and email us a 30 second audio recording, or if you’re old-school you can leave a voicemail by calling 203-304-3456. 

Every two weeks, a team of Fine Woodworking staffers answers questions from readers on Shop Talk Live, Fine Woodworking‘s biweekly podcast. Send your woodworking questions to shoptalk@taunton.com for consideration in the regular broadcast! Our continued existence relies upon listener support. So if you enjoy the show, be sure to leave us a five-star rating and maybe even a nice comment on our iTunes page.

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STL 169: Bandsawn Surface vs. Tablesawn Surface

If you have questions you’d like us to answer on the show, send them in to shoptalk@taunton.com. You can also use the voice memo app on your phone and email us a 30 second audio recording, or if you’re old-school you can leave a voicemail by calling 203-304-3456. 

Question 1:

I have a small jobsite tablesaw, and after your recommendations, I’ve invested in a bandsaw so that I can make that the primary tool for many of my cuts. I have a sharp 3tpi blade and have followed Michael Fortune’s articles on setting up my bandsaw, but I’m less than impressed with the cut quality I’m getting. I understand that there will always be some amount of cleaning up regardless the tool, but is there supposed to be such a difference in quality finish between a tablesaw and a bandsaw? Greg

Question 2:

I’m a 13 year veteran welding and auto mechanics teacher about to take on my first wood shop. What skills would you like students to exit a three year secondary program with? Also, what are the most important skills to teach a beginning woodworker? Erik

Segment: All Time Favorite Technique of All Time… for this week

Anissa – Cutting wedges with a sled, and Phillip Morley’s slick offcut shoot

 

Flush trimming on the table saw. #woodworking #customfurniture

A post shared by Phil Morley (@philipmorleyfurniture) on Mar 16, 2018 at 5:34pm PDT

Mike – Using a curved tapered chamfer to lighten a piece

 

Ben – Michael Robbin’s use of a metal ruler and a magnetic level to orient round pieces – as seen in his contemporary desk article in issue #270

 

Question 3:

I am not a very creative person, most of the things I make are from existing plans. Many times I see a design that I like, but the size is not right. What advice do you have for scaling a piece up or down without messing up the design? Bob

 

Listener Comments:

On Youtube:

WB Fine Woodworking on STL 167:
Another great podcast. Like Ben, until I got a planer all my work was 3/4” or whatever the thickness of the wood I could get at the hardwood dealer. It’s amazing how much that changed after I bought a planer. After listening to Mike I’m now going to start saving for some LieNielsen or Veritas chisels. Thanks guys.

Dan Letkeman:
I have used the PVA glue on the “field” and CA glue in key spots with accelerator on the opposite piece. It works well when you cannot clamp or don’t have the patients to wait for the PVA glue to dry but need more strength than CA glue provides.

On iTunes:

by SawdustInMyVeins
This podcast is a welcome respite from the solitary pursuit of woodworking. Like having some buddies in the shop with sound advice, sage wisdom, and friendly banter. OK… occasional snarky remarks and jabs. Every episode adds to my knowledge and enjoyment of the craft.

Recommendations:

Ben ‐ Only buy groceries at the grocery store
Mike ‐ Kleenstrip brand denatured alcohol
Anissa ‐ Don’t cheap out on paint, haircuts, charcoal, shoes, and mattresses


Every two weeks, a team of Fine Woodworking staffers answers questions from readers on Shop Talk Live, Fine Woodworking‘s biweekly podcast. Send your woodworking questions to shoptalk@taunton.com for consideration in the regular broadcast! Our continued existence relies upon listener support. So if you enjoy the show, be sure to leave us a five-star rating and maybe even a nice comment on our iTunes page.

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Rust Removal with Lemon Juice and Salt

Article Image

You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and you shouldn’t judge a hand tool by its exterior, either. Sometimes a great tool is hiding under a film of rust, and with a little elbow grease and a couple of household ingredients, it’s not too hard to get that old tool shining again. Even better, this recipe doesn’t use any harsh chemicals, so you can feel good about keeping the environment clean, too.

In this article I’ll be illustrating the process of cleaning up a set of Disston panel saws, but a similar process can be used on any rusty tool. All you’ll need are:

The acidity of lemon juice helps to loosen rust from the metal underneath, while the salt acts as a gentle abrasive that won’t leave scratches in the steel. Both are environmentally friendly and won’t damage your skin or lungs as you use them. If you have any small cuts on your hands, if your skin is particularly sensitive (the salt is quite gritty), or if you just want to avoid getting dirty, you can use gloves, but it’s certainly not necessary.

dissembling a rusty saw

Start by removing anything that’s removable. Rust can creep between surfaces and it’ll be easier to get into tight corners if they’re no longer corners.

scotchbrite pad, lemon juice, and salt

Next, mix equal parts salt and lemon juice in a small bowl. The exact ratio isn’t important, and it’s fine to add more lemon juice or more salt as you use one or the other faster. Use your abrasive pad to lift the mixture out of the bowl, and start applying it to rusty areas on your tool using small, circular motions until the entire surface is coated.

scrubbing rust off of saw

If the tool has been collecting dust for a long time, it may have an oily layer on the surface that will make the lemon juice mixture pool up into droplets instead of spreading out evenly. If you notice this, make sure to scrub until the oily areas have been penetrated and the lemon juice no longer forms droplets. This shouldn’t take more than a few seconds in any one area.

saw soaking in lemon juice

Let the lemon juice mixture sit on the tool for between 30 minutes and 2 hours. Don’t let it go too long (like overnight) because the water in the lemon juice will start forming new rust once it’s penetrated down to good steel. After soaking, use your abrasive pad in circular motions again to knock any loose rust free. You should be able to remove quite a bit of rust by applying some elbow grease here, but if any areas are being stubborn, rinse the tool off in the sink, dry it completely with some paper towel or a clean rag, and give it another round of lemon juice and salt, letting it soak for a couple hours again. Because my saws were so heavily rusted, I went through the entire soaking and scrubbing process 3-4 times per side.

dirty saw next to a cleaned up saw

When all the rust is gone, give the tool one last rinse in the sink, rub it down with paper towel and then let it dry completely. Once it’s dry, you might notice a thin orange sheen of new rust on the fresh steel. Using a new, clean abrasive pad, give the tool a once over until it’s shining right before applying your preferred rust protectant. Put the tool back together and you should be good to go.

Amy Costello is known for her delicate chip carving on turnings and small joinery projects. While she has built furniture in several industrial sized shops since starting in 2014, she currently does all of her woodworking on a 6-by-10-ft. platform in her bedroom, with a long curtain splitting the room. When she’s not in the shop, Amy enjoys writing, tending her cut flower garden, and enjoying her husband’s homemade artisan bread. Find her on Instagram @amy.makes.everything.

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Drilling Holes: Five Fast Facts

Drilling Holes: Five Fast Facts

Forming accurate holes can be a critical detail when building a chair, cabinet, wall shelf, cabinet door…well, you get the picture. Drill bits are key to creating those accurate holes. They come in many styles, materials and measurements to help you drill more accurately and effectively.

1. Standard, run-of-the-mill twist bits are OK, but do you know why so many woodworkers prefer brad point bits? Because they work better in wood. These bits are more expensive and a little harder to sharpen, but their effectiveness in wood and common sheet stock can’t be beat. They reduce tearout and are machined to extract wood waste more efficiently than twist bits designed for metal. The brad point also adds a degree of accuracy.

2. Tiny diameter drill bits break — all the time. Whether high quality or inexpensive, both options often snap. Solution? Buy 20 or 30 of each diameter. Don’t let a broken drill bit stop you from installing hinges or other hardware properly. This is one case where quantity is likely more important than quality: when you find a good deal on little bits, jump on it like a duck on a June bug.

3. Speed matters. Most woodworkers understand that there are optimum speeds for large diameter bits like Forstner and paddle bits. But did you know that, even with brad point and regular twist bits, you can slightly affect the diameter of the hole by changing the rpm you are using? If you spin the bit exceptionally fast in a drill press, the diameter will be slightly smaller than if you use a much slower speed.

4. Specialty bits like self-centering bits (such as Vix-Bits) or tapering drill bits with a countersink boring component (such as Insty-Bits®) are effective timesavers. An underutilized bit amoung woodworkers is the step bit. This cone-shaped bit with ever-increasing “stepped” diameter can be super handy in many situations. They come in a variety of sizes.

5. If you need to bore a clean, flat-bottomed hole in a larger diameter, a plunge router and an up-cut spiral router bit may be a better solution than a drill bit. You’ll need to accurately locate the router first, but the flat-bottomed hole the router bit cuts (no brad point or Forstner dimple in the center) is an excellent substitute for a drilled hole.