Tag Archives: Woodworking Resources

The Sawdust Tour & The Woodworking Shows

I recently had the chance a couple of weeks ago to take a Friday off from work and take the couple hour drive out to West Springfield, MA for The Woodworking Shows stop at the Big E (aka the Eastern States Exposition). This was my first trip to one of the Woodworking Shows, so of course was interested in the vendor booths setup there, but I especially was interested in what education opportunities were going to be offered.

I found one such opportunity at The Woodworking Coach booth run by Andy Chidwick of The Chidwick School. Andy is travelling with the show in what’s called the Sawdust Tour – a “social media blitz” where Andy is teaching at the show, and in the process taking the opportunity to meet with other woodworkers along the way, including visiting folks’ shops if possible, such as Todd Clippenger and Matt Vanderlist.

Of course I checked out the vendor booths and caught parts of a few other seminars, but after attending Andy’s first seminar of the day, it was clear I was going back to hear more. Andy spoke about steam bending, picking out the best grain direction from a board, sculpting work – and the joinery that goes into a sculpted chair, and also encouraging us to think outside the typical woodworking publications – to become an observer anywhere and gain inspiration from something that could then be used in a project in the shop.

I had a chance to talk with Andy after the seminars. He’s a great guy, very knowledgeable, and clearly has a passion for the craft along with the desire to pass that along to others. Check out the site for the Woodworking Shows to see if one is near your area. I highly recommend going if you can and check out Andy’s seminars. You can learn quite a bit and they are highly motivating. Also check out The Chidwick School site as well. Andy offers classes in Montana, and soon will be offering an online curriculum as well.

So Andy, it was great to meet you, and thanks for the Sawdust Tour shirt!

Double Dose of Goodness

The months of November and December have been great ones here at the shop. Allow me to explain…

November – The Puja Table is complete!

The Puja Table, the project that I had been working on for the better part of the past year, was finished back in November and given to my friend who it was for. This was my second furniture piece, and my first commission. When I completed my son’s work table and posted it on Facebook, he approached me about building him the puja table. After discussing some design items, and what wood to use, he gave me a deposit to buy the materials.

One of the reasons I did not cover the project in too much detail before (one blog post and one video), is that by the time the project was really taking shape, it was also getting to be a while since he asked for it. I spent a good amount of time sweating the details. I must honestly say he was more than patient though, which I really appreciated. My focus however, especially between August and November, was to finish it up to deliver to him before Thanksgiving.

When it was delivered, he was more than happy with the result. My first commission ended with a happy customer!

I had a few things I set as woodworking goals for this project.

  • I had worked with walnut some when making some paddle cutting boards and really liked how it is to work with. I helped “steer” my friend toward walnut as the primary species, as I really like the look of it as well. When I showed him some pictures online of projects made with walnut, he readily agreed.
  • Attempt a new joinery technique. This was my first attempt at sliding dovetails, which I used to join the leg pieced into the top. This definitely proved to be a challenge, especially with some limited tooling. With some finessing though, I was happy with the result.
  • This was also my first experience with spraying finish. In this case lacquer. Once I got the hang of it, things went pretty well. I did have to correct some overspraying and drip marks initially though.

Some pictures of the final piece. Click each for a larger view and info.


December – The Wood Whisperer Guild for Life!

I’m no longer one of those folks who can say that I never win anything. The Wood Whisperer had their yearly Holiday online party a couple of weeks ago, and as usual part of the festivities were prize giveaways. The prizes ranged from tshirts, USB thumb drives, DVDs, to Guild memberships. This year, saving it for last, the granddaddy prize was a lifetime Wood Whisperer Guild membership. When I heard my name as the winner, I had to pick my jaw up from my desk! I was surprised and excited beyond belief. I was now a Wood Whisperer Guild member for life!

Now, if you don’t have any experience with the Guild, you can find out more and sign up here. I joined the Guild last year when Marc had a one night sale (after the 2011 Holiday party) of 50% off. I was able to sign up for the three month option, which I then renewed that next spring for one year. Since then the Guild has been restructured to have various levels of access. You can gain access to the “a la carte” version, where you pick which projects you want, or an option to gain access to all the currently existing projects. Again, check out the link. There is a section that explains all the levels available that goes into more detail than what I am here.

So now the next question… why join the Guild? After all, there is a reason why I renewed my membership before winning the lifetime membership. In short, because it’s a great resource – both in knowledge and the community. The level of detail that Marc goes into in the videos that accompany each project is incredible. There is also access to help for your project, and interviews with experts that are recorded and posted if you can’t make a live event. Even if you’re not in a position to build the particular project that is ongoing at the time, the insight that you can gain when watching the videos can be easily brought to whatever project you are working on. Having that level of education at your fingertips really makes it a no brainer in my opinion.

So am I excited I won the lifetime Wood Whisperer Guild membership? “Heck yeah” would be an understatement.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!

Is It October Yet?

Check out the trailer for “Rough Cut – Woodworking with Tommy Mac”, by clicking here, or the image below. Is it October yet?!

The True Value Of Free

I’m still what I would consider a novice woodworker, and ever since I’ve become interested in woodworking, I’ve been soaking up any information I can get. Books, magazines, DVD videos, and especially online content available for free.

As someone who wants to learn about all facets of woodworking – not just techniques, but also ideas from others on how to build one’s hobby, shop ideas, etc. – I very much value any information I can get for low cost or free. Let’s face it, I think most of us are on a budget; and I sometimes struggle with finding time and money to keep my modest hobby going consistently, especially since we’re currently a one income household with a young mildly austistic son.

And yet, there are some that would find fault with a few seconds of advertisement in one of these free online videos from The Wood Whisperer (Marc Spagnoulo). And to boot, it’s only the online embedded version of the video that has the ads. The iTunes podcast and downloadable versions of the videos don’t even include the ads! At first I couldn’t believe it, but remember that it takes all types, and that some people are just not happy unless they’re complaining about something.

What these folks, who provide their content for free, have invested in their craft cannot be measured – in their shops and in their own learning. What they then do is invest yet more: their cameras, microphones, editing software, computer hardware, writing ability, and TIME. Time to create the content, edit it, answer email questions, administer online forums, scour the internet to let us know of the upcoming deals, and the list goes on.

Some have made woodworking their full time career; guys like Marc Spagnoulo and Tommy MacDonald. Others have been doing it as their hobby, while maintaining their work and family life balance, such as Matt Vanderlist and Tom Iovino. Then there are the others I am continually discovering, such as Shannon Rogers, Kari Hultman, David Pruett, and so many others.  All these people who create content and share their knowledge and ideas, and those who offer their insight via sites like LumberJocks, other community forums, and their blogs, do so to the betterment of the entire woodworking community. Those that need to add a few advertisements or sponsorships to keep doing what they are doing is certainly more than understandable, it’s common sense.

Knowledge sharing in exchange for a few seconds of ads – I’ll take that any day…