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Popular Woodworking

Popular Woodworking November 2015

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Whether it's a solo or group project, a home-improvement undertaking or a simple piece of art, Popular Woodworking lets you into the world of woodworking crafts. Each issue of Popular Woodworking features numerous projects for the expert craftsperson and the interested beginner.

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United States
Active Interest Media
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6 Issues

in this issue

2 min.
‘the urge to destroy is also a creative urge’

The headline above is a Pablo Picasso quotation. And while I acknowledge that beginning with a quote is among the laziest gambits in writing, darnit, I’m tired. The open space in the picture below? It was a 16'-long wall (and a floor/ceiling) from the top of a staircase to the front door that was added circa 1955. Right about where that bottom stud lands is what should be a 4' x 5' landing, then the steps should turn to descend to the entryway floor. The first bookcase I want to build? It’s going in the front hall to the left of the to-be-rebuilt landing and two lowermost stairs. Until I get the staircase done, I don’t know what size to make said bookcase. Before I can rebuild those stairs, I have to shift…

6 min.
ellipse or circle?

George Walker’s “Design Matters” column is always fascinating. His explanation in the August 2015 issue (#219) of how an arc can be made more graceful was very useful, but it brought up another question for me: When is a section of an ellipse or another asymmetric curve more appropriate than a section of a circle? Peter Perotti, Benicia, California Peter, There’s an entire design era known as Greek Revival (circa 1800-1840) that favored curves based on an ellipse over those based on a circle. The ancient Greeks employed the ellipse – unlike those knuckle-dragging Romans – who used sections of circles. On mouldings, elliptical curves will reflect light in a way that the transition zone between light and shadow is softer and more natural looking, while a regular curve will reflect in a way…

5 min.
the winner: carbide mini-scraper

A friend needed a small tool to clean out glue inside small places. So I made him a mini-scraper using an indexable blade from my planer, screwed to a turned handle. Each blade is about $3, plus the screw and scrap of wood turned for the long handle. The carbide cutter scrapes like a dream, and gives four sides of cutting. Travis Knapp, Morrisville, Vermont Adjustable Trammel I often need to draw a circle or arc that is larger than my largest compass can make. In the past, I’ve fashioned makeshift drawing tools as needed from scrap strips of wood and a nail. But finally, I decided to make the adjustable trammel (also known as a beam compass) shown here. The measuring bar is oak; 1/2" x 1/2" x 20", and holds a length of…

6 min.
bt&c hardware store saw

I’m not a fan of multi-tools. In my experience they are marketing gimmicks that do nothing particularly well. But the new Brooklyn Tool & Craft Hardware Store Saw is a huge exception to that rule. This short panel saw is the ideal toolbox saw. Thanks to its ingenious tooth pattern it rips and crosscuts quite well. Its deep tooth gullets refuse to clog with sawdust. And while the tote is unapologetically machine-made, it actually feels fantastic in use, even after you make more than a dozen cuts right in a row. And if that were all the saw offered, I’d still write a positive review. But the Hardware Store Saw is even more amazing because of its infomercial-like qualities: • It’s a try square! The front cheek of the hickory tote is 90°…

5 min.
the star chamfer

Just a week into my machinist apprenticeship I felt, for the first time, the wrath of Big Red. He was the head inspector in the tool room and got the nickname for his fiery temper. When angry, which was just about all the time, Red puffed up like a mad rooster that attacks with wings and spurs all aflutter. He took it personally when someone did sloppy work or made a mistake. Out of nowhere, he slammed a chunk of steel on my workbench and slapped down a blueprint, pointing his bony finger at the oil-stained paper and then at the end of my nose. I didn’t know who he was or what he was mad about, but out of his mouth erupted a storm of profanity with the words “jackass” and…

15 min.
knockdown english workbench

Many knockdown workbenches suffer from unfortunate compromises. Inexpensive commercial benches that can be knocked down for shipping use skimpy hardware and thin components to reduce shipping weight. The result is that the bench never feels sturdy. Plus, assembly usually takes a good hour. Custom knockdown benches, on the other hand, are generally sturdier, but they are usually too complex and take considerable time to set up. In other words, most knockdown workbenches are designed to be taken apart only when you move your household. When I designed this bench, I took pains to ensure it was as sturdy as a permanent bench, it could be assembled in about 10 minutes and you would need only one tool to do it. The design here is an English-style workbench that’s sized for an apartment or small…