American Elm

Recently, we shot a video where I turned a small canister from green wood. (The video will be distributed in the middle of October.) To get a few big chunks of green hardwood for the video, I haunted some yard waste drop-off centers and pounced when I spied four approximately 15-in.-diameter log sections. Their cross section revealed a creamy colored sapwood and a dark heartwood. It turned out to be American elm, a common tree in my neck of the woods.

Now, I’d used sticked-up elm lumber before and found it stringy with a tendency to twist — although it had a very pleasing grain pattern. This was my first attempt at turning elm, and I have to say that I found it to be excellent. The figure was pleasing to look at, and as a green wood it turned easily. I can’t wait to get back and make a few other things from it.

So, it got me to thinking: are there other common but nontypical hardwoods that folks find better for turning than for flat woodworking? That is the question I put to you … I await your feedback!

Rob Johnstone, Woodworker’s Journal

You Can Help TSC Plant Trees

You Can Help TSC Plant Trees

If you’re shopping for a new Husqvarna chainsaw this fall, Tractor Supply stores can help you turn that purchase into a tree-planting contribution, too. Earlier this month, Tractor Supply Company® (TSC) announced a new partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation® that will directly benefit the Foundation’s hurricane reforestation efforts. For every Husqvarna chainsaw purchase made in Tractor Supply stores nationwide or on its website, five trees will be planted within a forest of need in areas that were severely affected by last year’s hurricanes, including Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico.

Tractor Supply has committed to donating up to 50,000 trees. The hurricane recovery initiative will run through Oct. 28, 2018. It comes approximately one year after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria left lasting damage in parts of the southeastern U.S., Texas and Puerto Rico.

“The havoc of last year’s hurricane season is still evident in many ways, including in the natural landscapes of affected communities, and we as a company are committed to ongoing recovery efforts through our Stewardship Program, which is the company’s environmental sustainability initiative,” said Ben Parrish, executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary at Tractor Supply. “It is a privilege for us to support the Arbor Day Foundation’s efforts to help make our communities and our world cleaner and greener.”

Regarding the impacts of the recent Hurricane Florence to areas of the southeastern U.S., Parrish says Tractor Supply and the Arbor Day Foundation established the framework of its new partnership prior to those developments. At the time, the Arbor Day Foundation identified a number of areas that are still dealing with the severe damage of 2017’s hurricanes and in need of new trees in order to help with recovery.

“Tractor Supply committed its support and funding to those areas, which is where it will remain for this current campaign,” Parrish says. “However, we are also taking part in Hurricane Florence recovery efforts by providing donations to local pet and animal organizations in communities that have been affected by Florence.”

The Arbor Day Foundation has committed to supplying five million trees to the reforestation efforts in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico. The Foundation will work with local forestry experts who can assess the best time to replant trees and help distribute them to affected homeowners. Long-term reforestation benefits for the impacted communities include improved air quality, support of local wildlife habitats, better flood control and cleaner water, among others.

Founded in 1972, the Arbor Day Foundation has grown to become the largest nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees, with more than one million members, supporters and valued partners. Their vision is to help others understand and use trees as a solution to many of the global issues we face today, including air quality, water quality, climate change, deforestation, poverty and hunger. As one of the world’s largest operating conservation foundations, the Arbor Day Foundation, through its members, partners, and programs, educates and engages stakeholders and communities across the globe to involve themselves in its mission of planting, nurturing and celebrating trees.

“Replanting trees in areas that experienced such devastation is no small task, but it is certainly a critical one,” said Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation. “The support of Tractor Supply will help us bring beauty and hope back to the communities that so desperately need both.”

Tractor Supply customers can purchase Husqvarna chainsaws now through Oct. 28 to help fund reforestation efforts. The company offers six models of Husqvarna chainsaws and accompanying accessories in stores, with a larger selection available online at The trees funded by Tractor Supply’s Husqvarna hurricane recovery initiative will be planted in early 2019.

For more information on Tractor Supply’s Stewardship Program, visit You can read more about the Arbor Day Foundation and its hurricane tree recovery efforts by visiting

DeWALT 23-gauge Pin Nailer

DeWALT 23-gauge Pin Nailer

DEWALT’s new 23-gauge Pin Nailer drives 5/8- up to 2-in. headless pin nails, and it’s designed to put an end to a couple of common user frustrations with pin nailers. For one, it’s the first pinner to include a tool-free jam release mechanism, to help minimize downtime. It also has a tool-free depth adjustment, so you can drive nails to your desired depth. The tool’s low-nail lockout feature alerts you when it’s time to reload, preventing dry-firing or unnecessary marks on the work surface. Or, you can bypass the mechanism to drive the remaining nails in the magazine.

The nailer weighs 2.5 lbs., and its magazine holds 135 pins. It has a dual-style trigger (one acts as a safety and the other fires nails), and it operates at 70 to 100 PSI. A durable, oil-free motor helps to keep work surfaces free of oil stains, and the nailer’s reversible belt hook offers a variety of carrying options.

DeWALT’s 23-gauge Pin Nailer (model DWFP2350K; $149) comes in a kit that includes a 1/4-in. air fitting, carrying case and two no-mar tips. The company backs your purchase with a seven-year limited warranty, one-year free service contract and 90-day money-back guarantee.

Rockler Ceiling Track Starter Kit

Rockler Ceiling Track Starter Kit

This Starter Kit is a convenient way to start enjoying the benefits of the Rockler’s new Ceiling Track System. It includes all of the key components, providing a base from which you can easily expand. You get a 4-ft. length of ceiling track with mounting hardware that accepts the kit’s two rolling trolleys — one that rolls but can be locked in place, and one that rolls freely. A ring hook and 2-1/2-in. J-hook attach to either trolley. Two track end stops are included to capture the trolleys inside.

The pair of hooks keep your power cords and a vacuum hose off the ground or workbench, but trolleys enable them to roll freely along the track so you can sand, saw and rout without fighting with them. The hooks can also be used to hang tools and utility lights or cabinet and other small doors for finishing. Made of PVC, the track will hold up to 60 lbs. of total weight, and each of the hooks has a 20-lb. load capacity.

The track’s length is sufficient to span most workbenches, and that might be all you need. Individual components are also available and sold separately if you want to expand the system further.

Rockler’s Ceiling Track Starter Kit (item 56867) sells for $69.97.

Cutting Impossibly Hard Hardwood?

Cutting Impossibly Hard Hardwood?

I’m working with an exotic hardwood that’s so tough my band saw will not cut it. The blade just burns through the cut. My table saw and circular saw don’t do much better, and my jigsaw only did so-so. My chainsaw will cut through it, but that’s about it. What kind of band saw blade do I need to cut this wood? I broke the first blade and, by the way, these are brand-new blades. – William Bunting

Tim Inman: I’m not sure what wood you are working with, so I will just address typical hardwoods that are unusually hard. As a turner, a special elite group of liveried tradesmen of yore included a sub-class known as “hardwood and ivory” turners. Colloquially, they called themselves “bone grubbers.” These were the craftspeople who made things from bone, ivory, amber, African blackwood, ebony and the like. Their woods were not just scientifically classified as hardwoods but also equally difficult — hard — to cut. African blackwood (see photo, below) is the wood typically used to turn clarinets and bagpipe pieces. It is hard as glass and heavy. I think many black piano keys were actually blackwood instead of the commonly associated “ebony.” Regardless, they all share some similar cutting characteristics.

I like to turn ironwood (sometimes known as lignum vitae), Osage orange or “beau d’arc” or hedge, and boxwood. They not only are hard but also often contain mineral deposits inside the wood cells that are abrasive to the cutting tools. In all cases, I find that a slower cutting speed is very helpful. If I can slow down the rpm on the lathe or the feet-per-second rate (fps) on my saw blades, I get better cutting and longer blade life. Sawyers often use a liquid cutting fluid when they saw green logs into lumber. I have never tried this with my cabinetmaker’s saws, nor will I. The effect of a liquid in the saw kerf might cause the wood to bind the blade and cause accidents.

Slower speeds have almost always been my friend. So, if you can slow down the saw blade with belting adjustments, that would be one way. Another way to slow down the cutting speed on a circular saw is to use a smaller diameter blade. Circular saw cutting speeds are measured in fps, not rpm. So the distance around an 8-in. blade is much less than the distance around a 12-inch blade, given that they are turning at the same rpm frequency.

Counterintuitively, don’t go gently when you make the cuts. Don’t let the saw tooth just rub and polish against the wood. Be judiciously forceful and make the cut in a determined way. Let the saw tooth bite into the lumber. Don’t be a bully and force the cut, but don’t just let the abrasive wood wear away at the blade either. Carbide cutting edges would be my only option. Anything else is just a frustration in the making. Be sure the wood is not closing at the cut and pinching the blades, too. You might need to add something to the cut to keep the kerf open while you’re in process.

The reason the turners had a special liveried division for hardwood and ivory work is that it is very difficult to do, and it requires an advanced degree of skill and specialization. Take heed, but do try! Good luck.

Chris Marshall: Following Tim’s advice about carbide, here’s a bit of band saw blade information that might help your cutting situation now, William, or maybe at a future time. Laguna Tools sells C4 carbide-tipped band saw blades that are designed primarily for resawing (see top photo). A quick check of their site reveals that the company’s Resaw King blades are manufactured in several widths down to 1/2-in., at 3 to 4 variable teeth per inch. While that wouldn’t be an ideal choice for cutting curves, it should work fine for basic ripping and crosscutting your hardest stock, plus it will take care of your general resawing needs. Laguna offers many blade lengths, so surely there’s a size to match your machine. But brace yourself for some sticker shock — carbide-tipped band saw blades don’t come cheap.

What Do You Want in Your Shop?

What Do You Want in Your Shop?

In the last issue, Rob wondered what you might be planning to add to your shop in the near future. Here are a few items on woodworker’s wish lists. – Editor

“I’ve just completed a cross-country move and, as of today, unloaded the final container — the one with my tools — and found that my old RYOBI oscillating sander was damaged beyond repair. I bought it when it was a deeplydiscounted closeout, and it has served me well. My use was within its expected capabilities. Now that it has died, what do I do? How much should I spend? And do I even need to replace it? I can’t afford or justify what I really want, so to finally answer your question:  I’m going to spend the next few weeks “agonizing” over which product to buy, but there is a new benchtop oscillating sander in my future.” -Mitchell D. Garnett

“My shop is in the basement. There are two areas: the shop and what started out as a den, but is now shop storage. There is no room in the shop for another screwdriver. I got a great deal on a 22/44 belt sander and that’s
outside the shop. If I had a wish, it would be for a bigger shop.” – Barry Saltsberg

“I want a ton of stuff for my shop, now that I really have one. Meanwhile, I’ve been having fun with SketchUp designing miter saw stations, workbenches, outfeed tables and a tool wall.  We’ll see when I get down there in two weeks what I really end up doing.” – Rolf Peterson

Whereas some other woodworkers have already granted their own shop wishes. – Editor

“Interesting that you should pose this question.  I just added a Makita 10-inch chop saw, and I’m in the process of building a mobile base for it. The saw was purchased to ease my project of replacing all the trim in my house with oak. Currently it’s pine that was stained dark. That soft wood was easily dinged, and the white wood shows with every one. The oak will be much tougher and more beautiful. I’ve been wanting to add a chop saw to the mix anyway, and this was a good excuse. Every major project deserves a new tool.” – Lee Ohmart

“After nearly 50 years, I have given up riding a motorcycle. Consequently, I sold my ride. Coincidentally, the school where I have been attending woodworking classes is coming to the point where I will no longer be able to take classes (no repeats allowed). When that happens, I will no longer have access to the machinery that has been available to me. Imagine:  a dozen SawStops, a wide belt sander that will take an entire tabletop, multiple router tables, chop/miter saws, oscillating spindle and belt sanders, a sliding table saw that takes 4X8 sheets, a Striebig panel saw, CNC routers (multi-axis), rooms with multiple workbenches, walls of clamps and cabinets full of hand and power tools (electric and air), a central dust collection system and air compressor.  I’ve probably left stuff out, but you get the idea.

“This is all going to end, for me, in the not too distant future. So, I have slowly been buying power tools so I can continue to enjoy woodworking. My ‘shop’ is my two-car garage where there is housed the hot water system, the laundry machinery and a freezer. The rest of the space was taken up by a stack of lumber from the tree I had removed from my front yard (once upon a time it was over 450 board feet), two motorcycles, my 1973 vintage radial arm saw and workbench. Over time, I’ve accumulated a contractor fold-up table saw, a planer, a router table, a band saw and a benchtop drill press. This year, with some cash proceeds from the sale of my bike, I chose to beat the tariffs and purchased a RIKON hollow chisel mortiser, a Cutech 8″ jointer, and a Wen oscillating spindle/belt sander.  My summer has been spent making mobile stands for the new acquisitions.” – Ralph Lombardo

“I really am stocked up on the machines I need and even want; well, almost.  I live in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area, and summers can get pretty hot and humid and of late the winters have been brutal, by our standards. The spring and fall good times in the shop also coincide with the outdoor gardening seasons and leaf raking. So, I decided that I was going to turn my shop, attached oversize garage, into a climate-controlled shop. I had a mini-split HVAC unit installed.  I insulated my garage doors and I now have a year-round shop that I can work in whenever I want. Best machine in my shop.” – Keith Wales, Sr.

Maker Spotlight: Ashley Harwood, Chris Salomone and Zachary Herberholz

Maker Spotlight: Ashley Harwood, Chris Salomone and Zachary Herberholz

Ashley Harwood is an accomplished woodturner who teaches classes at her studio in Charleston, South Carolina, as well as at schools throughout the world. Ashley turns a wide variety of bowls and jewelry, but her best known work is her sea urchin ornament.

She’s even produced a full-length DVD for sale that features step-by-step instructions for how she makes this beautiful ornament and includes tool sharpening and spindle turning technique instructions. You can find a list of her upcoming classes on her website, and the best place to see what she’s working on now is her Instagram page, @ashleyharwoodturning.

Chris Salomone is a furniture designer and builder in Los Angeles, California, who posts project build videos and plans under the moniker of Four Eyes Furniture. Besides the quality of the designs and interesting woodworking video content, our favorite aspect of his videos is the narrative that he carries throughout each video.

The measured pacing and bits of humor he injects into each episode makes them interesting and unique from other woodworking videos you’ll find online. The best places to find Chris’ latest work are on his YouTube channel,, and on Instagram, @foureyesfurniture. He is also one of the hosts of The Modern Maker Podcast,

Zach Herberholz designs and builds projects from a variety of materials, but he favors various forms of metals as the main structural material and wood is often used as a secondary material. Zach’s videos feature a combination of commissioned pieces and personal projects. They often include demonstrations of several different metalworking and woodworking skills.

For example, his modern industrial stool features a welded steel base and a power-carved walnut seat and turned segmented decorative cone under the seat. The best place to check out Zachs’s latest work is on his YouTube channel,, and on his Instagram page @zhfabrications.