Great Lakes Woodshop Home

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

2015 Hobo Hobby

Every year I publish a list of where all my woodworking hobby money was spent.  This year saw purchases from three continents as well as the more mundane domestic suppliers.  Through Etsy I sourced some hardware and other supplies from folks in England, USA, and Indonesia.

I don't list everything purchased, but may add commentary including product, or experiences.

Acme tools  Picked up a Nova midi lathe; no idea what to do with it.  Amazon and the like may have instant ecommerce down to a science, but at Acme tools you can still talk to a real person, real quick.


Czeck edge  Love my carbide marking knife in olive wood.

Highland Woodworking  You may notice that neither Rockler, or Woodcraft are on the list this year.  Highland has taken the place of both in my purchasing habits.

Home Depot  Both my Porter Cable drill and driver quit within two weeks of each other after only 5 years of service.  I've decided to go with the Ridgid tool line due to their lifetime warranty.  Registering for the extended warranty is a mildly painful process; time will tell if it is worth it.

Shop woodworking An unfortunate name, but they have a lot of great stuff for woodworkers.

McMaster-Carr  I seem to be getting more hardware from them every year.

Horton Brasses

House of Antique Hardware


The Old Hardware Store  Picked up a pair of authentic Elizebethan pulls for a Steampunk bookcase that I'm building.  This is the most expensive piece I've ever built solely due to all the hardware that goes into it.  The wood itself was only like 40 bucks.

CU Woodshop

Blacksmith Bolt  I've known about them for a couple years, but my first order was only a month or so ago.


Lost Art Press  I just finished the Virtuoso Studley book; look for a review soon


MH Crafters

Lee Valley

Tools for Working wood  Picked up another set of holdfasts for a bench I'm building.

Peachtree woodworking

Bridge City Tool Works  Bridge city is not really a business in the traditional sense, but it works for them and I love my square.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Dutch Goes Digital

while ago, I built my first Dutch Tool Chest.  I have been working out of that chest ever since.  That may sound impressive, but two successive shoulder surgeries have REALLY curtailed my productivity over the past two years.

I even built a second Dutch chest since the first--look for a full write up some time in the future.  One thing I did not do was put the lid on the first Dutch chest.  I've had a panel glued up and painted since the the first chest was finished, but I never applied the hardware and hinges.  I couldn't stand putting a board on top of the otherwise completed chest any longer, so tonight I put the hardware on the darn thing--with a twist:

The rails to the left and right are battens.  I was going to put the battens in the usual place on the bottom, but at the very edge of the lid so they would act as a dust shield of sorts.  Unfortunately, I didn't leave enough room for comfort for the battens to do their job.  Putting the battens further inboard on the bottom would also impinge on my plan for that tool space.  So, I figured to dress them up and put them on top.

While working on the more eye friendly battens, an idea occurred to me to use the rest of the space for more than decoration.  Above you see the fruition of my idea.  I placed a ledge on the lid to hold books, papers, or my tablet.
I will put one on my second tool chest as well, I believe.

Here is a shot of the open lid:
I think the next big tool storage project will a Schwarz style Anarchist Tool Chest, but I'm in no hurry to build it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Handworks 2015: Where Rhetoric Fails must tell the tale.

One of the highlights of my year was attending Handworks 2015 in Amana, Iowa.  I'm late to the party as far as writing about Handworks is concerned.  If you have followed any other bloggers, then you know that they have all been unfailingly positive, even giddy, in their coverage of the event.  Well, I'm here to add, unnecessarily, that they are all correct in their praise.

The physical environment of the main exhibition venue is a real barn, replete with straw bales and, of course, no air conditioning.  The Barn combined with an excited press of humanity at every booth is a recipe for an electric atmosphere.  I tried to get pictures without the crowd in them, which in hindsight was silly, I guess, because the number and quality of pictures are low.

Again I will complain about my lack of a real camera and apologize for the quality of the photos.  There are a lot more pictures that didn't even make the cut of even my low standards for this post.

My first stop was to see Chris Vesper.  I've been teasing him via email for several months to make an infill aluminum square--he has no intentions as of Handworks 2015 of indulging my request.  I say 'tease', but I really do want one and would buy an aluminum infill square in a heartbeat.

I spent some time with Jeff Miller both days of the event.  Jeff really likes sharing what he knows.  He has a lot of insight into all major aspects of woodworking:  power tools, hand tools, and the all important business side.  If you are not acquainted with Jeff, I highly encourage you to look into what he has to offer.

Next to the little guy from down under (Chris Vesper) was Blue Spruce Toolworks.  They really have a lot of nice looking stuff.  By all accounts I've heard/read, it is very high quality, too.  I only own one of their tools so I can't really comment from a personal perspective.

In a different exhibit hall--the name escapes me--was Mary May, renowned wood carver, and Mike Siemsen's School of Woodworking.  I've gushed about Mary May before, so I won't repeat myself here.

Mike Siemsen's school is about 8 hours away by car from me so theoretically, I can take a class there some day.  They have a lot to offer, but so far the funding has not been present to take formal woodworking classes. Sigh.  They were doing a 'live' build of a Nicholson workbench over the two days.  I took a bunch of pictures of it, but for some reason they all were washed out.  Here are the three photos that came out well:

I missed an opportunity when I stopped by the Philly Planes booth.  The Kilted Woodworker, Ethan Sincox, was staffing the table at the time.  I only recently made the connection when I read his account of Handworks.  I've been toiling away at woodworking alone for years now.  It is about time I reach out to other woodworkers to expand my horizons.  A cold call email is a tough way to break the ice.  Oh well, there will be other opportunities to end the isolation, I'm sure.

I will be doing dedicated posts to other aspects of Handworks.  I'll have a lot of time on my hands starting in August after I go under the knife for my shoulder again.  My hope is that I'll be able to catch up on all the draft blog posts in the queue.

Monday, April 6, 2015

First Visit to The Wood Working Shows

In January I attended my first ever The Wood Working Shows in Indianapolis, Indiana (USA).  Before now my woodworking show experience has been confined to Woodworking in America (WIA).  Even though every WIA I have attended has been great, I made a conscious effort to evaluate the Indianapolis show on it's own merits.

My first impression of the show was "interesting".  I was not delighted, nor disappointed, but I was interested.  Exhibitors of The Wood Working Shows run the gamut from shysters, to preeminent names in woodworking.  I'm not going to name examples; if you have been there, you know what I'm talking about, if you are a future attendee, it is a sure thing that you can figure it out.

However, there were several stand out experiences to share.  The first is from the gang at the new mixed media periodical 360 Woodworking.  Bob Lang has since moved on from 360 Woodworking, but he was still on board back in January.  So, Bob Lang, Chuck Bender, and Glen Huey put on several demonstrations during the day.  Basically, they were getting their name and product out there and giving away some woodworking arcana in exchange for eyeballs.  Chuck and Glen showed how to taper a leg and then shape a tenon for that leg.  The mortise was already present for brevity sake.  I'm not going to repeat how to do that here; much better craftsmen than I have littered the Internet with the various methods of tenoning.  What I wish I could post here is the hilarious repartee between all three of them during the presentations.

Here are a series of pictures from the 360 Woodworking demonstration, in no particular order.

The other stand out exhibitor for me was Veritas/Lee Valley.  They had their custom planes on display and ran workshops all day on their use and options.  They really have put a lot of thought and engineering into this line of products and are definitely worth taking a look at.  Here are a Jack and Smoother plane from the custom line:

The last picture is a half hearted apology to the Micro Fence guy.  While he was setting up for a demonstration, I was manipulating the ellipse jig they sell.  I would have asked for help, but like I said, the guy was setting up for the next demonstration.  He was quite perturbed to find me helping myself.  My first reaction was "then why bring it to the show?", but I should have respected him and his wares more.  here is a picture of the display.  The abused jig in question is on the far left:

I was seriously considering buying it, but I inadvertently burned that bridge.  Oh well, guess I'll have to learn to make one at some point.  The Micro Fence jig really is a sweet piece of engineering.