WWGOA’s Top 7 of 2018

As we near the end of 2018, WWGOA is looking back at what videos and articles our community has found most useful. We’ve rounded up our top 7 most popular videos and articles, picked by YOU. Read below to see the best of 2018.

1. Wood Joints: Which Woodworking Joints Should You Use?

There are a wide variety of woodworking joints to have in your arsenal. Some are better than others, depending on what you are building. That’s why we’ve put together a master lists of joints and how to use them!


2. 5 Expensive, But Worth Every Penny Woodworking Tools

Woodworking can be an expensive hobby, and it can be difficult to decide what tools you want to invest in. WWGOA contributor Seth Keller has put forth his top 5 list of expensive, but “worth it” tools to help inform your decision making. Every woodworker has different needs, but there’s a place for these tools in every shop.


3. The Difference Between a Jointer and Planer

Beginning woodworkers all ask this basic question; what is the difference between a jointer and a planer? The answer is simple, a lot! And is there such a thing as a jointer planer. No! Read this article to understand each tool, and how to use them.


4. 7 Ways to Upcycle Your Sawdust

Sawdust. We all have it, and we all have to deal with it. That’s why we’ve put together a list of ways to upcycle your sawdust, so you can get some extra value out of it!


5. Router Woodworking Basics: How to Use a Router

Routers are an extremely useful tool and can be used for so much! But if you’ve never used one, they can be a bit intimidating. There are different types of routers, and different uses for them. Check out this guide to understand which router is best for you, and how to use it.


6. Hand Nailing with No Hammer Kisses

If you’re not using a pneumatic nailer and find yourself hand nailing something, you might end up hitting your project instead of the nail. It happens to the best of us. Hammer kisses aren’t very attractive on a finished product, so we’ve got a simple, cheap way to avoid marring your projects.


7. Make an Instant Drawer

Make a rock solid drawer the quick and easy way! All you need is a router table, a slot cutting router bit, and a little practice. Soon, you’ll find yourself churning out perfect drawers in no time.


What was your favorite video or article from WWGOA this year? Let us know in the comments below!

Our favorite articles and videos of 2018–Part 1

Article Image

How do you cap off a great year of woodworking articles and videos? Well, we decided to collect our favorites in two posts (part two coming soon).  Each editor was asked to submit two selections. Of course, Anissa, Barry, and Jon Binzen weren’t able to whittle it down that far and submitted between 5 and 10.

As Anissa said:

“Oh man, Ben, this is hard. I’m looking through the folder of articles I worked on this year ( I know it was open to anything, but this just seemed less daunting), and I want to choose all of them! What we get to do for work is so cool!”

Well said Anissa!

What were your favorite articles and videos in Fine Woodworking this year? Let us know in the comments section!

Video Workshop: Machine setup

Article Image

Tom McKenna
Editorial Director
“Machines scare me sometimes. Not using them,
but fixing and tuning them up. I’m not a mechanic
or machinist, so I fear that I’ll mess up something.
But this video workshop takes all the fear away.
In it North Bennet Street School instructors Matt Wajda
and Ellen Kaspern give a soup-to-nuts description of how
to tune up essential shop machinery.”

Composing: A Flexible Design Process

Article Image

Mike Pekovich
Creative Director
“Tim outlines a solid step-by-step design routine that
obviously works based on how beautiful his furniture is.
The biggest insight the article offers is that the design
process doesn’t stop at the drawing board. Tim
strategically leaves himself wiggle room when building
that allows him to refine the design as he goes.”

How to create custom moldings with handplanes

Article Image

Jon Binzen
Deputy Editor
“I’d seen hollows and rounds in many shops don’t have
any myself and didn’t really grasp how they worked. It
seemed to me a skill lost in the misty past. But Bickford’s
article made the way they work clear and remarkably
approachable and made their benefits seem compelling.
Now that I have the theory down, I may have to rise from
my armchair and give them a try.

Dave Fisher carves a greenwood bowl in 3 minutes

John Tetreault
Deputy Art Director
“This is the kind of video that makes you want to stop
what you’re doing and go make something. Watching
this brings out that joyful feeling you get when creating
anything with your hands. This just happens to be working
green wood, chipping little chips and making precise, tiny
shavings with a few strange tools and lots of skill.”

Becksvoort’s Shaker Noir

Article Image

Anissa Kapsales
Associate Editor
“It’s a beautiful, timeless design, and he is always
so efficient in his methods. And I had a ton of fun
shooting it, remember the Becksvoort playing
the spindles video?”

Designer’s Notebook: A Finer Side of Pine

Article Image

Barry Dima
Associate Editor
“Pine’s the best wood. Prove me wrong.
Spoiler alert: You can’t.”


The Polisher – Lynn McMurray

Ben Strano
Digital Brand

“I met Lynn on a tour of Lie-Nielsen’s factory
during their open house, and I immediately knew that I
wanted to tell her story. Easiest video to make ever. Point a
camera at Lynn and the rest just pours out of her. I hope
everyone finds something to be as passionate about as Lynn
is about her job!”


Sign up for eletters today and get the latest techniques and how-to from Fine Woodworking, plus special offers.

Get woodworking tips, expert advice and special offers in your inbox


STL179: Barry’s Insane For The Scrub Plane

Question 1:

From Tony:

We hear so much talk about  Lie Nielsen, Veritas, and Stanley hand planes but, I have a Millers Falls No. 8 that i picked up from an Antique store, that works really well. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the Millers Falls Name be mentioned on the Podcast, so I am wondering if they’re any good? They seem to have been in contention with Stanley and they are American made from New England no less, since 1868!

Question 2:

From Matt:

I have been wanting to do a project using drawbore mortise and tenon joints. Is it a bad idea to attempt this type of joint in a softer woods like cherry or walnut, rather than oak.

Segment: Smooth Move

  • Mike – Forgetting that someone commissioned something from him, not those he looks up to
  • Barry – Making a mistake on a piece, remaking the piece, then accidentally using the mistake on the final piece
  • Ben – Trying to get away with not making a proper sled and accidentally dropping a piece on the tablesaw blade

Question 3:

From Bob:

Can someone explain the difference between a scrub plane and a smooth plane? They seem similar in size and construction.

Question 4:

From Phillip:

I am looking to build a dining room table to a friend of mine, and am wondering what type of wood would be best to use. I have narrowed it down to White Oak, Cherry, and Walnut. The friend that I am making this for is a military man, and so gets stationed at different bases around the country every few years. My main concern is the table warping or splitting due to the drastic location and environmental changes that he will come across. Obviously, being a dining room table it also must be sturdy and not be too prone to scratches, dings, etc. White Oak is very wear resistant, but has a medium-high shrinkage value. Cherry is pretty stable once dried, but is softer and may get more dings. Walnut seems to be the middle road, being harder and less susceptible to scratches than Cherry but less likely to shrink/warp than White Oak.

What type of wood would you suggest that is going to be resistant to scratches and dings, yet won’t warp or split in drastic climate changes?


Barry – Dedicated Shop Shoes
Ben – Chris Thile’s Thank You, New York”
Mike – Tom Waits’ album Swordfish Trombones


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.

Sign up for eletters today and get the latest techniques and how-to from Fine Woodworking, plus special offers.

Get woodworking tips, expert advice and special offers in your inbox


Scrapwood Project: Plane Shaving Ornaments

Article Image

This project is a great way to share your passion for woodworking with the whole family. I have also used this project in my classroom as a way to grow students confidence in their abilities to adjust their handplanes. It’s as simple as using a bench plane and carefully controlling the chip breaker and mouth opening to produce curls that get glued together to create intricate designs. Once the plane is dialed in, everyone can give it a try and create an ornament which will grace the family tree for generations.

Start with the right stock

In my experience, this technique works best with Scots Pine or Sitka or Norway Spruce commonly know as White deal, though I have gotten good results from common radiata pine, a domestic wood available from the big box stores in abundance. Walnut and poplar also lend themselves well to the curls and can be used to bring contrast to your designs.

I start by milling my clear stock to my desired thickness.The thicker the timber the more of the blade is in contact, and given the fact that we are taking a thick cut, can make it difficult to plane. I usually mill up the stock to 3/4-in. (19mm) at lengths of 7-in (180mm) to 9-in (230mm).Feel free to experiment, even combining different thicknesses in a single ornament.

Grain orientation

The straight-grained edge of this rift-sawn board will yield the perfect shavings we’re looking for

What’s important here is to take note of the stock’s grain orientation. Look at the end grain, here you should find the annual rings running into the planing edge at 90 degrees, this is the radial face. Planing the radial face is often times far more consistent than tangential. We’ll always want to have as much radial edge facing our plane’s sole as possible. This can create short grain but that helps add to the curl of the shaving.

Start shaving

You’ve done this a thousand times, now let the kids do it!

Next consideration is the chip breaker and frog adjustment. Different species and planes will require different settings. Too often, my own students are afraid to adjust their plane for fear they might irrevocably change it and never get it back to fine gossamer shavings. The more comfortable you become changing the setting on a handplane, the easier it becomes to get the settings you need next time.

In general, you will find that backing off the chip breaker allows one to take a heavier shaving. However, this will only work when in conjunction with the frog moved back as thicker shavings will clog the mouth opening. Take time here to explore various settings.

Once you have a perfect shaving–around 1/64-in. to 1/32-in. (0.3-0.6mm) in thickness seems to work best–you’re away for slates!

Time to get creative

Now that you’ve got your curly handplane shavings, it’s as simple as creating patterns by gluing the shavings together. The cheapest, most effective clamps for this task are simple hair clips that can be bought in beauty supply store, and it’s best to use a quick setting glue like Titebond Quick and Thick. After a short time, you can start combining your shavings into larger ornaments. Finally, you can decorate them with some ribbon, glitter, string, and paint before you hang them on the tree.

–Seán Breen is professional woodworker and teacher in Galway, Ireland

Sign up for eletters today and get the latest techniques and how-to from Fine Woodworking, plus special offers.

Get woodworking tips, expert advice and special offers in your inbox


SketchUp: Modeling A Queen Anne Back Slat

Article Image

I’ve reproduced an historic Queen Anne Side Chair, circa 1720-1740, in walnut. Every component of this chair is shaped in many directions, and it is difficult to find a 90 degree angle. The Queen Anne designers in the 18th C. were motivated to create a more comfortable seating experience, and this resulted in more shaping, particularly the rear legs and the Back Splat. And indeed, they achieved better comfort and improved lower back support.

In the following illustrations and video, I will show the process used to create the serpentine shaped Back Slat in SketchUp. But first here is the final assembly model of the side chair – one view is rotated 90 degrees to highlight the side view of the Back Legs and the Back Slat.


I started the SketchUp modeling after importing a scanned sketch found in Wallace Nutting’s “Furniture Treasury”. You can see my traced-over shapes in grayish-blue and white over the top of the face of the scanned image. There are both front and side views to capture on this image. In the side views, note the serpentine shape of the legs and Back Splat.


On the left, you can see where I used the Push/Pull Tool to create two solids, a “front” and a “side” and positioned them to intersect. Then with SketchUp’s Intersect function, the result is a component shown on the right which is a 3D model of the Back Slat. This component is about 1/2-in. in thickness.


In the next step I added the tongues or tenons on the top and bottom edges. These are 1/4-in. thick – the top fits into a socket in the Crest Rail, and the bottom tongue fits into the chair’s Shoe.


The next stage in SketchUp was to add detailed dimensions and create a Scene with the views needed in the shop. The grayish-blue rectangle behind the side view of the Back Slat shows that 1-in. thick lumber can be used to bandsaw the serpentine shape.


A very powerful feature of having the SketchUp model is the production of full size templates for shop work. In this case, I created three templates – one for the serpentine shape (shown above) and a second front view based on its orthographic projection. The third template was a “flattened” front view, so that it can be held down into the band-sawed face. This is slightly longer and allows a more accurate tracing over the scroll shape of the Slat’s side edges. I did use a Plug-in for SketchUp that quickly creates the “flattened” shape and length.


The Back Slat has a 3/8-in. chamfer on the back edge. This was an original embellishment to make the Slat appear extremely thin.  This is a beautiful artistic enhancement. I used the Follow Me Tool to create this detail. I turned on X-ray Style so the chamfer is visible in the background.


Here is the final component. Note the apparent thinness due to the back chamfer.




Sign up for eletters today and get the latest techniques and how-to from Fine Woodworking, plus special offers.

Get woodworking tips, expert advice and special offers in your inbox


STL 178: To Glue One Edge or Two?

To enter to win Bob Van Dyke’s sharpening box from issue #254:

  1. Leave a comment below
  2. Head over to the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking site and sign up for their email list

We’ll pick a winner December 21, 2018.

Question 1:

From Amy:
I’ve been using a piece of vegetable tanned leather with green waxy honing compound as a strop. I start by rubbing compound onto the shiny side of the leather. However, when I go to strop my carving knives, the pressure from my blade compresses the compound and it flakes off. Is there something wrong with my compound, or am I doing something wrong?

Question 2:

From Matt:
I have some 10-in. wide 8/4 African Mahogany that I have been resawing into thinner boards.  I start by jointing one face then one edge and then resawing, usually down the middle. There is a good amount of tension in the boards, so after resawing they have a decent twist.  Do I need to let the boards re-acclimate before I re-joint and plane them, or can I do that immediately? Also, would I be better off not jointing the face and resawing to a center-line rather than using the bandsaw fence. It seems like a waste of time getting that face flat just so I can use the bandsaw fence.


Segment: Technique

Bob: Fixing a mistake and perfectly matching both the face grain and end grain. 

Ben: Using a sawbench to support the ramps when moving machinery off the back of a pickup truck

Mike: Using a bird-mouth joint to create dividers


Question 3:

From Matt (in Australia):
I see many of the worlds best woodworkers only apply glue to one mating surface of a joint not both as advocated by Hoadley. When is it acceptable to only apply glue to one surface of a mating joint?

Question 4:

From Anthony:
Last couple years I’ve been on the hunt for an 8” jointer and just recently I was able to secure a CL purchase on a 12” jointer that I’m pretty excited about. It’s a Bridgewood 12” 5hp that I picked up a few hours away from a now retired door maker. As with most home woodworkers, my jointing experience has been on a six inch jointer. What are the potential areas of concern with a larger jointer? In general, with a jointer, what leads up to an accident? Is it simply being unaware of your hands and proper use?


Ben – David Johnson’s Instagram Page
Bob – His own Instagram page
Mike – Go buy a fresh bottle of glue

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.

Sign up for eletters today and get the latest techniques and how-to from Fine Woodworking, plus special offers.

Get woodworking tips, expert advice and special offers in your inbox


George Nakashima–A Tree in the Chair Shop

Article Image

Synopsis: Jonathan Yarnall has been working at George Nakashima Woodworkers since 1974. Here, he shares some memories of working for, and with, a legend.

While I was away at college my father moved his one-man architecture office from Philadelphia out to rural Doylestown, Pa. And one time when I came home for vacation, he took me with him to George Nakashima’s place in nearby New Hope. I remember George from that encounter as very quiet, and I felt a certain peacefulness on the property. After college I came back to Pennsylvania and knocked on the door to see about a job; George said I could start in two weeks. There was no formal apprenticeship in furniture making; I just began to work.

I started in the finishing department, and then to my great good fortune in 1974 the last building George would build on the property was about to commence, and I had the privilege of working on it alongside Robert Lovett, a consummate craftsman. It took us two and a half years. George would come out several times a day to see how we were doing. There were no time constraints and there was no master plan; no drawings, per se. When we couldn’t go any further he would do some freehand sketches.

I remember noting the way George carried himself; his walk conveyed a dignity that was remarkable. It was something you don’t often see in our culture these days: a person with poise—a perfect balance between one’s outward life and inward life. I considered it an honor to work for a man of that caliber.

But shortly before we finished the building I told George that when it was done I would be leaving. There were economic pressures, and I had agreed when a friend asked me to start a construction business with him.

As I thought more about it, though, I realized I wanted to stay. So then I had the difficult task of approaching George and informing him that I had changed my mind; asking if it would be possible to stay. When I did he was very cold. He didn’t appreciate the wavering. He said he’d let me know. Days went by.

Eventually he said, very abruptly, “You can stay. We’ll find something for you to do.” And then, “Go help Adam.”    

Adam Martini, a craftsman who was born in Yugoslavia, displaced during the war, and trained in Austria, ran the Nakashima chair shop. “Go help Adam.” That was 43 years ago, and those were my last instructions from George. I’ve been in the chair shop, happily, ever since. For the most part it was just Adam and me in that little shop for 25 years until he retired.

George designed a few new chairs after I started, but most of the chair designs were already established, so he didn’t have to be involved with every chair order the way he was with tables and cabinets. Still, he would come through the chair shop several times a day. I think since he wasn’t doing any benchwork—probably hadn’t since the mid-’50s—he got vicarious enjoyment seeing that we were enjoying ourselves at the bench. George was Samurai, and he had been pretty tough on the men who worked for him in the early years. But by this time he could rest a little easier. The big fight was over. He’d established himself, it was running, and he was mellowing a little bit.

Also, the three of us had something of a philosopher’s club. Adam was free-thinking and very much a seeker, as was George, of course. We would often discuss what we were reading, topics of the day, or philosophy, religion, politics. George enjoyed that there was some intellectual activity along with the handwork.

I think he had hopes for everyone who came here to work. As woodworkers, but also as to the yoga, the spiritual method that he was establishing. And I got it, but it took a while. When I realized what it was, and how fathomless it was, and that one lifetime wouldn’t nearly exhaust the potential here, then I dug in, and that question of finding another path was no more a question.

There was a personal part of my relationship with George, and an impersonal part. The personal part of it was friendly and cordial, though I wouldn’t say it was particularly warm. But it was the impersonal part that was most significant.

And that didn’t depend much on emotion. It went much deeper. It had to do with the yoga. Yoga being yoke, the union with the divine and with all creation. I’d say it was so deep you couldn’t even talk about it. I knew what he was trying to do; and that was what I wanted to do. Woodwork just happened to be the vehicle. He left me room to pursue it without much criticism, without much direction. You’re here, there’s work to be done. Adjust to the work, the schedule, the business; establish your relationship with the wood. Let the wood work on you while you work on the wood. Find the soul of the tree. Let the wood teach you how to forget yourself and connect with its soul.
I think George wanted to live and work like a tree. You’re rooted; your leaves are in the heavens; bloom—if you can, flower, bear fruit. Join the earth and the celestial. Adjust to the seasons. Be stable; bend with the wind. Aspire; reach for the sun.

More on FineWoodworking.com:

Sign up for eletters today and get the latest techniques and how-to from Fine Woodworking, plus special offers.

Get woodworking tips, expert advice and special offers in your inbox


Last Chance to Win Fuji!

While the season may be one of giving, winning something never goes out of style. And if you’ve thought that you might really be able to do some great stuff with a top-notch spray gun, our Fuji Spray Giveaway sweepstakes is right up your alley. But here is the deal … it ends on December 19th — so don’t dilly-dally, or you are done!

I’ve used one of Fuji’s HVLP units, and I can say that it was a very nice product. And while I have spent many hours in a spray booth and have a lot of experience, I can say that, with their system, you don’t need to be an expert to get expert results.

So, if you can see yourself spraying away to finishing bliss … sign up and win!

Rob Johnstone, Woodworker’s Journal

P.S. We here at Woodworker’s Journal will be celebrating Christmas with our families in this next week, while also making sure that you continue to have top-notch woodworking content for the new year. Thanks for being with us in all seasons and, whatever you celebrate, have some happy holidays!

Brian Murphy: Chairs, Arts and Crafts and a Furniture Show

Brian Murphy: Chairs, Arts and Crafts and a Furniture Show

As we head into January, woodworker Brian Murphy is getting ready for the 10th iteration of a woodworking furniture show he founded to highlight the work being done in his region.

Wood X, a Furniture Show,” will run from January 11 to February 1, 2019 at the Escondido Arts Partnership Municipal Gallery in Esconido, California. Also a founding member of the San Diego Fine Woodworkers Association, Brian started the Escondido show after wondering “what would happen if I had a show in January which didn’t conflict with the show in June?” Another motivation was his involvement in the Escondido Chamber of Commerce and his belief in its mission: “I truly believe that the chamber is the voice of business and the more that you promote your business within your community, the better it is for everyone. I’m a businessman working in my community, and I support businesses in my community.”

His own business is Murphy’s Fine Woodworking, which focuses on custom-built furniture, largely in the Arts and Crafts style. Previous business ventures have also included the proprietorship of woodworking retail stores The Cutting Edge, from 1980 to 1989, and American Furniture Design woodworking plans company, sold within the past few years to Lee Valley Tools.

He’d done some smaller woodworking projects before then, but became more involved and started building custom furniture while running The Cutting Edge. “I keep a diary, so every piece of furniture that I have made [is recorded]. The first one was ‘001,’ and it was done in 1982. It was a butcher block mobile kitchen unit, hard rock maple top, birch sides, inserts and walnut sliding doors with dovetails.” Piece number two was a grandfather clock in white oak with Carpathian elm burl inserts on the crown and base. Piece number 256 was a table that a customer picked up in December.

“The adventure of being a custom woodworker [is], unlike the big store manufacturers, when we build chairs and build furniture, we select the perfect board – not pieces, the board – to showcase the piece.” For example, the arms on a chair “are usually so stunning in grain pattern that they just kind of jump at you,” Brian said.

Chairs are a specialty of his. He’s working on two new ones, one for his own show in January and one as an entry for the San Diego Fine Woodworkers Show in June, but over the years, counting those he has made and those he has taught, Brian estimates “I have produced and influenced almost 100 chairs. That’s a lot of chairs.”

While most of his chairs are large, they are built to fit the person. “I had a gal who was extremely arthritic, and the chair had to be narrower and shorter for her to get in and out of the chair.” Stylistically, they owe a lot to the Arts and Crafts movement. “Some of that furniture was truly ultra-simple, so in my adventure with Arts and Crafts, it has been to modernize it just a bit, to make the chairs so comfortable that when you sit in them, you take a nap. In the original Stickley chairs, you can’t do that,” Brian said.

Still, he is fond of the Arts and Crafts styles. While he has produced “all kinds of furniture, from Queen Anne sideboards to rolltop desks – you name it, I have built it,” it’s the Arts and Crafts style that most appeals to him. “I fell in love with Gustav Stickley,” he explained. “I loved the turn-of-the-century Gustav Stickley, William Morris type concept.”

With the focus on mortise-and-tenon joinery in this type of furniture, Brian notes that his floor-mounted mortising machine has been a worthwhile tool investment, helping to ensure that the pieces he builds “will last for a very long time” (at least one client has the Murphy’s Fine Woodworking pieces they own included in a family trust for their children).

Brian notes that’s also “always developing new stuff, which is fun.” He’s known for a California West Greene and Greene chair which riffs off the influence of the Greene and Greene woodwork in Pasadena’s Gamble House. “It is Arts and Crafts, but it’s a softer look, and it’s truly a beautiful chair. Stickley is more square and rigid, and the Greene and Greene style is softer.”

In addition to building his own chairs, Brian has taught chairmaking at the now-defunct American Sycamore Retreat, as well as smaller tutorials in his own shop – including, through a school work-study program, to his grandson, Noah, who entered and sold the chair he built through that year’s furniture show. “Not everybody has that truly unique opportunity with your grandchildren,” Brian said. “It’s pretty special.”

And yes, the show is a for-sale show, with about 30 participants this year – up from six the first year. “And it’s only furniture. We don’t do anything else. And the pieces are just stunning,” Brian said.

Video: How to Make a Waterfall Corner Joint

Video: How to Make a Waterfall Corner Joint

Waterfall joints are used on cabinets or tables to feature continuous grain flow around the corner joint. A waterfall corner is a miter joint that is cut in the board to maintain the grain pattern around the outside corner of a cabinet or table. Rob Johnstone demonstrates how to cut and assemble a waterfall corner joint. You’ll also learn a great tip for how to use hide glue and clamping cauls to clamp this joint securely.