Monday, December 26, 2022

checking the alignment of the table saw fence.


It is important to make certain the table saw fence is in alignment with the miter gauge slots. If the fence is out of alignment it can cause burning on some woods like cherry, or cause a rougher cut. In my new book, Designing Boxes, careful alignment of the fence will be the first step in making a table saw sled for box making.

Make, fix and create... assist others in learning lifewise.

Friday, December 23, 2022

boxes and more boxes

Yesterday I signed a contract with Taunton Press for my next book, my15th. I also spent a bit of time in the shop working on boxes.

I've begun reading parts of the Jan. 6th committee report on the insurrection. Every page is a barn burner, and I'm left wondering whether or how Republican members of congress will be held accountable for their efforts to subvert the  accurately measured will of the American people. 

The gears of justice grind slowly for the rich, the powerful and famous. Not so slow for the rest.

It is bitter cold this holiday season. I hope all my readers are safe and warm. We have two making days left before Christmas, or three to finish hand crafted gifts before the last day of Hanukah 2022.

The boxes shown are tiny maple pocket boxes and walnut bracelet boxes with cherry and maple inlay.The maple boxes have brass pin hinges and the walnut boxes use hinges made by Brusso.

Make, fix and create... Things that serve as lasting evidence of your growth.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

tiny boxes class photo

We had a great tiny box making class this last weekend at ESSA with each student making several small boxes available for Christmas giving. Each tiny box is evidence of learning. Among the boxes we made are bandsaw boxes, bentwood boxes, mitered boxes, and super tiny boxes in which the interior space is hollowed out by the saw.

We have only four making days before Christmas. My  tiny boxes book is available as a Kindle edition just in case you are running out of time.

Make,  fix and create... Assist others in learning lifewise.

learning while drawing.

Even if you are doing your drawings on the computer, your hands will be engaged. This short video on the importance of drawing should be viewed by every educator, even those involved in history, social studies and literature. 

All drawing, as it involves visual and spatial skills, provides enhancement for science and math. Please share.

Make, fix and create... We've only 4 making days left before Christmas. Don't know what to make? has several of my books to choose from. Select $40 worth to get free shipping.

Monday, December 19, 2022

today I rest (and put away)

I had a very successful 3 day class at ESSA, making tiny boxes. Six students made an average of about 8 boxes each of four different kinds. We started out making tiny tiner (Norwegian bentwood boxes of a very small size. Then we made bandsawn boxes and mitered boxes from shaped moldings cut on the router table. We finished with very tiny boxes with hinged lids. 

Keeping the flow of materials and processes going kept me so busy I took no photos of the work as it progressed. I plan to take a slow, easy day to recover. The photo shows lid stock I made during the class for very tiny hinged lid boxes... waiting to be put away.

Make, fix and create... Assist others in learning lifewise.

Friday, December 16, 2022

tiny boxes

Today I start a three day class making Tiny Boxes with 6 students at ESSA. It promises to be a fun class. Nearly all the students in this class have been in my earlier classes, so it should be a great deal of fun... hanging out with friends and making stuff.

I'm grateful for the opportunity, and thank ESSA for providing it. We have 9 making days before Christmas.

Make, fix and create... 

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Satisfied with near perfect work...

Today I'm finishing the installation of Brusso hinges in boxes made for an article in Popular Woodworking magazine. To cut the mortises for the hinges to fit I demonstrated my "flipping story stick" technique on the router table. It is gratifying when it comes out perfect, as shown in the photo. Yes, it takes practice.

Do it a few times and you get better at it. The wood is ash. The hidden spline corners have contrasting walnut splines that are only visible when the box is opened. The splines, with grain running in the same direction as the grain in the sides provides a joint that can last centuries if the box is valued by its owners.

Make, fix and create... Assist others in learning likewise.

Raymond Tallis

A friend, Tim, brought a great book to my attention and sent me a youtube link to an interesting presentation by British author Raymond Tallis. His 2003 book, The Hands: A Philosophical Inquiry into Being Human was one I’d never read. The video is worth watching.

A point that should be made about my book, the Wisdom of Our Hands, is how it differs from previous explorations in the same field. 

Where books like Tallis’s (also Frank Wilson’s the Hand, and Sennett’s the Craftsman) explore from a philosophical and scientific angle, mine explores from a foundation of personal experience and thereby attempts to illustrate the same points from a more personal (and hopefully accessible) perspective. It attempts to show how a philosophy based on the hands can bring direct change for the better. 

In other words, Tallis is looking at the hands from the standpoint of a university professor. I’m looking from the other direction, where knowledge leads to action and people have the opportunity and encouragement to do something about what they know. The fields in which we take action, are within family, community, nation, human culture, and within ourselves and crafts are key.

I'm spending time with Rosie on the porch, making boxes in the wood shop, and preparing for a weekend class at ESSA, making Tiny Boxes based on my book of the same title.

If you have an artisan or wannabe artisan in your life and would like to encourage them in their labors, my book the Wisdom of Our Hands would be a great gift. If you are an artisan and would like others to better understand you, The Wisdom of  Our Hands would be a great gift.

Make, fix and create... Assist others in learning likewise.

Monday, December 12, 2022

sand and finish inside first.

When working on several boxes, it makes sense to do a few things before the sides are mitered to form the corner joints. The photo shows material for several boxes  with grooves already cut for the bottoms to fit, surface sanded, a light chamfer along the inside bottom edge, and a Danish oil finish applied. Now the miters can be cut, easing and speeding what comes next.

We have 12 making days left before Christmas. If shopping for a loved one, think tools. They empower long after the holidays are over. Skills are transformational.

Want to buy stuff instead? Here's my etsy site:

Make, fix and create... Assist others in learning lifewise.

Sunday, December 11, 2022


An interesting alternative for the Swedish Sloyd knife can be found in the Japanese Kiridashi knife. Not only does it allow the woodshop culture to grow beyond its European roots, it has a single side grind that will present teachers less challenge in keeping the knives sharp. In fact older students could be taught to do it themselves.

One of the problems with many knives is that being ground on both sides requires them to be sharpened equally from both sides of the blade to maintain symmetry. The Kiridashi knife is ground only on one edge, and that edge alone requires sharpening attention. 

With the grind only on one side, the surface of the grind is broader presents a more stable face to the sharpening stone. Kiridashi knives are also less expensive than the traditional sloyd knife. This is one I found on

The photos shows but one example, and you can read about Kiridashi knives here:

Make, fix and create... Assist others in learning likewise.

Friday, December 09, 2022

FWW #301

I have two articles in this month's Fine Woodworking, #301, that arrived here today. I was surprised to find my own hands on the cover, so that was a special bonus. The two articles will be useful to readers trying to hone their box making skills.

My thanks to Fine Woodworking for featuring my work (and hands) in their great magazine.

Make, fix and create... Assist others in learning likewise.

kerf hinges

Several years ago I published books and articles featuring an easy way to hinge a wooden box using barbed or kerf hinges. I used a Bosch trim saw blade mounted in the router table to make the slots needed for the hinges to fit. Then the Bosch trim saw blade went out of production and I had to re-engineer my approach using a machine I made myself. This put the use of the hinges out of range of most casual woodworkers.

Yesterday I discovered a substitute for the Bosch trim saw blade that's shown in the photo.

The use of barbed or kerf hinges is one area of box making that has been of great interest to my students so it is good to once again offer a simple approach that will be accessible to more woodworkers and at a lower cost. The hinges are useful for small to medium size boxes and are very easy to install. But even with the return of the necessary cutter and assembly an investment of time will be required in setting up for its use. The cutter and assembly can be found here: For instructions for set up and use of kerf hinges refer to my book, Complete Illustrated Guide to Box Making.

Make, Fix and Create. You have 16 making days before Christmas.

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

today in the CSS woodshop

Today in the woodshop at the Clear Spring School, students made small boxes to hold the Froebel gift number 4 blocks they made last week.

Readers of Fine Woodworking should check their mail to see if the latest issue has arrived. It contains articles I wrote about box making.

Make, fix and create... Assist others in learning likewise.

black things

On Monday I made two beer bottle openers, a meat turner, and a practice piece of hardware for a rustic box. The pull for the lid of a box will take some additional refinement. It was easy to make under the guidance of an experienced blacksmith, and now that I've made one, I can make more. And as I practice, they'll get better and easier to make.

There's some speculation these days that the United States will return to the glory days of American manufacturing. The thing that leaders had failed to note in the past is that making beautiful and useful things, builds character in the maker as well as value in the product.

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning lifewise.

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

strike while the iron is hot

Yesterday in the iron studio at ESSA I had the privilege of making two beer bottle openers and a meat turner for the grill, all while learning basic blacksmithing skills. Dale Custer was our guide, and the important thing to learn was to strike while the iron is hot.

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning likewise.

Sunday, December 04, 2022

a small sliding book holder

I'm making some small walnut book holders to display a collection of small volumes printed by a good friend who is a letterpress artist. It will be a great place to display our growing collection of his works.

I had done similar sliding book racks years ago with my students at the Clear Spring School and for an article in Woodwork Magazine. Those, being for full sized books would have been way too large for these tiny printed volumes.

In the meantime, I'm working on the table of contents for a new book about designing boxes. That means also that a variety of new designs are floating through my mind.

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning likewise.

Friday, December 02, 2022

Making Classic Toys that Teach has copies of my book, Making Classic Toys that Teach in stock and ready to ship, even though Amazon only has it at a greatly inflated price.

To get free shipping from Lee Valley you'll need to buy one other small item to push you over their $35.00 threshold. I highly recommend this small whittling knife. It is exactly like the one I used in the book, and that I carried with me to Paris where I whittled spheres on a park bench in the Tuileries. 

Only 23 making days before Christmas, and what could be a better gift to give a small child than one of Frobel's gifts that you made yourself?

Make, fix and create.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

sawing la-de-da style

Sometimes you just have to be cute, especially if you are a part of the rainbow group at the Clear Spring School. To clarify,  I'd just instructed the students in my Kindergarten class to take an easier approach to sawing by allowing the saw to do the work. One must pay attention to getting the saw started on the right line and with attention to one's own body and its smooth motion, the saw does the work. 

Done right, there's time to be cute, even when there are several cuts to be made.

We were making Froebel block sets number 4.


Make, fix and create

Monday, November 28, 2022

a shortage of stuff....

 I found it interesting to read in the New York Times that dumpster diving has become such a big deal. Companies like CVS and Walgreens have so much returned merchandise that gets thrown away each day, that folks go dumpster diving out back to get free stuff, or to illustrate the wastefulness of American consumer culture.

In the meantime, China's strict clampdown on Covid-19 and the protests against their authoritarian rule will likely cause supply chain issues, meaning we'll likely have less stuff. Perhaps in a world overwhelmed with stuff, it will be OK to have less of it.

This is the season for buying lots and lots of stuff. Some of it we buy thinking that it would be great for holiday giving, and then we give it hoping to impress folks who will likely remain unimpressed by receiving stuff for which they have little use.

How about making things instead? Don't be shy about it. When you make presents for people, and even when they're left scratching their heads in disbelief, you will have harvested the personal growth that comes from making beautiful and useful things. We've 27 making days between now and Christmas.

Just in case you are having difficulties knowing where to start or what to make, I've a number of books to recommend. Beginners might try Rustic Furniture Basics. Young parents or grandparents wanting to get their children growing in the real world beyond iPhones and the like might try Making Classic Toys that Teach. The Guide to Woodworking with Kids is an excellent guide for the young or young at heart. The latter two books suggest a path forward for our nation's schools. And of course my most recent book, The Wisdom of Our Hands: Crafting, A Life  is a good way to explain the value of making for those who have never made anything before in their lives.

My friend Bill, told me the other day that he'd purchased a copy of the Wisdom of Our Hands for a friend of his in Little Rock who read it through cover to cover, hardly able to put it down. He then bought two copies to give his sons. As a lifelong craftsman he knew that my book would help explain a few things that needed explanation to a new generation.

You might of course, worry about making more stuff in a world overwhelmed with stuff. But the things a craftsman makes are more than just stuff. Otto Salomon had explained, that the value of the carpenter's work is in the object the carpenter makes, but the value of the student's work is in the student. When you give what you've learned to make you are giving evidence of your own growth to those who would care deeply about such things.

We have 27 days left.

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning likewise.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Roy Reed, 1972

In 1972 Roy Reed wrote an article for the New York Times that should be read by others today.
Hippies and Gerald L. K. Smith Make Eureka Springs a Model of Co-existence. It concerns the coexistence in our dear little town between the emerging class of hippies and longhairs, and the national cult leader known by many to be "the minister of hate". I was re-interested in Gerald L. K. Smith by listening to Rachel Maddow's podcast Ultra which explores an earlier time of extremism, authoritarianism and insurrection. Roy Reed suggested that our town should be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

I moved here in 1975 and I owe a great deal to this lovely place.

In my woodshop I've built a new workbench to hold tools and in my sleep at night I'm visualizing new box designs.

The photo shows tiny boxes that had been started while I was writing my book, Tiny Boxes. I'm finishing them as part of my clearing and clean up operation and will be teaching a class at ESSA on Tiny Boxes, December 16-18, and there are openings for two students in this class.

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning likewise.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Designing boxes

I'm about to sign a contract with Taunton Press for my 15th book. This one is tentatively titled "Designing Boxes," and will explore box making as a means of fulfillment, artistic creativity and personal growth. To prepare, I'm working on an outline and table of contents, as well as doing some reorganization in the wood shop.

In the meantime I'm also thinking about Otto Salomon's Educational Sloyd and the impact it once had. 

When Salomon set up his school in Nääs, and to which thousands of teachers traveled from around the world to learn the ins and outs of the Sloyd method for teaching crafts to kids, part of his plan was to provide teachers with a philosophical and psychological basis for their teaching experience. He did this trough lectures presented in Swedish, English, German and French.

Ask teachers these days whether they've heard of Comenius, Pestalozzi, Cygnaeus, or Rousseau, and you'll find that most had not heard these names before. To become a teacher these days, is more about management of kids, and principals are hired for their management of teachers, and the ways we actually learn are generally ignored. Salomon sought to instill in his students at Nääs, a firm foundation in the philosophy and psychology of education.

Fortunately, learning is something we have all done and can reflect upon first hand if we are willing to do so. There is a risk involved... that by examining how we learn, we come face to face with how we were taught, and the inefficiencies and inequities of modern education.

One of my own realizations is that regardless of how hard a teacher might work to bring various student attentions to a singular point of focus, the needs of the mind to connect prior experience to what is already known and understood in various students' minds would place students all over the map in terms of how they might absorb and react to what they're being taught. 

Diesterweg's guidance for curriculum development was to start with the interests of the child, then move from the known to the unknown, from the easy to the more difficult, from the simple to the complex and from the concrete to the abstract. 

Of course various students would not have the same interests, nor would they have identical starting knowledge or be able to embrace the same level of difficulty due to each having had different prior experiences.  Otto Salomon challenged the notion that there's such a thing as a class while planting an understanding that each child is unique and deserving of the teacher's attention. And he designed the teaching experience to bridge toward that goal, from the known to unknown, from easy to more difficult, from the simple to the complex and from the concrete to the abstract.

I may be guilty here of projecting onto Salomon what my own observations of education and learning have led me to understand, but I suspect that Salomon would agree with me that in order for education to be psychologically sound, students need to be doing real things, like the activities that wood shop can provide.

What was clearly different between Educational Sloyd and its rival, The Russian System, was that Educational Sloyd was interested in the development of the whole child, while the Russian System was designed to feed workers into the newly emergent industrial economy.

Make, fix and create....

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

cross-cut/miter sled

I used my new design cross-cut/miter sled on Saturday with a class in Wichita, and it worked great. In fact, I used making it as a demonstration for the class.

Having only one runner allows it to be moved from one miter gauge track to the other and so as a quick introduction to the use of a sled it seems to be a winner. 

I would still opt for the reliability of a two runner sled for my regular shop work, but this will be something to demonstrate to get box makers started. The adjustable sled runner that I had featured on the FineWoodworking website was a help.

Making the sled less deep front to back allowed me to use an adjustable stop to control movement of the sled on the saw top. And the stops can be placed both front and back of the sled to prevent a thing I've witnessed while teaching where the novice pulls the sled back so far that it tips. 

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning likewise.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

mr. Doug Stowe

Youtube has a policy on monetization from advertising that requires 4,000 hours of watching before payments are made to the contents creator. My own channel statistics are well under that minimum, so the advertising dollars are made by youtube and not by me. 

Please help me to cross the threshold by watching my videos and sharing them with others. The videos include woodworking with kids as well as the full contents of my three DVD's, Rustic Furniture Basics, Basic Box Making, and Building Small Cabinets. If you are a woodworker, watch. If you know a woodworker, share. Ten minutes here or ten minutes there can add up and your time will not be wasted.

Make, fix and create.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

I had a great day yesterday with the Sunflower Woodworker's Guild in Wichita, Kansas. Using the GoCreate facility on the Wichita State University Campus, I made boxes while club members watched attentively, and were kind enough to listen to me as I offered woodworking tips and talked about how we learn.

If you want to join a community within your community that shares a life-long love of learning, please look for your local woodworking club and join up. Woodworkers across the board are kind and generous. They usually have public service projects to benefit their communities, and love sharing their passions and ideas with each other.

I want to thank the Sunflower Woodworking Guild http://www.sunflowerwoodworkers.orgfor making me feel welcome.

Make, fix and create.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Froebel blocks

Today my Kindergarten students (our rainbow group) made boxes to hold the sets of Froebel blocks that they made last week. They have been using Froebel blocks that my older students made in their classroom so these blocks will be ones that they can take home.

If you want to know more about Froebel blocks and how they were used to enhance learning, please check out my book, "Making Classic Toys that Teach."

Make, fix and create... Assist others in learning likewise.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Maple Wood Shops

Maplewood Shop is helping schools adopt woodworking in schools and is featured in this video from CBS in NYC. A great demonstration of its value.

In the meantime I'm getting things ready to teach box making with the Sunflower Woodworker's Guild in Wichita on Saturday and a presentation on Friday night.

Make, fix and create.

Monday, November 14, 2022


Yesterday I finished a 3 day class with North Arkansas Community College, and lots of beautiful boxes were made. Each student went home with 3, all made with Arkansas hardwoods. Lots of learning took place. 

Make, fix and create.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

day 3

I'm ready for day three of box making with seven students from North Arkansas Community College with the class being held at our Eureka Springs School of the Arts. Students have 3 boxes in the works to be completed today. Student ages range from twenty up to as old as I am.

make, fix and create. Assist others in learning likewise.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

operant conditioning.

This interesting article from the New York Times describes how our participation in social media (and computer gaming also), are distorting us one quick tweet at a time. The principle is called operant conditioning and it's distorting and poisoning everything from politics to our relationships with each other.

This weekend I'm teaching a class on box making for students from North Arkansas Community College. The class is being held at ESSA and is part of our on-going effort to expand the reach of what our school offers to the community at large. Last week we had faculty and administration from the college attending for lessons in art welding.

A simple remedy for the poison that's destroying us is to join together in doing real things.

make, fix and create. Assist others in learning likewise.

Thursday, November 10, 2022


Yesterday with my Kindergarten students (our Rainbow Group) we began making Froebel block sets. Lots of sawing was involved. I started with a lesson on the use of a square to mark straight lines across wood, and as is usual, getting the kids to understand that the body of the square has to be tight to the wood in order for the blade of the wood to be square and the line being drawn to be "square," was a challenge. Fortunately the project will be forgiving, of both poorly marked lines and off-square cuts.

Each time a student would finish a cut they would proclaim, "I did it!" or they would tell the number, like, "I've cut five!"

Mastery of the saw requires mastery of your own body... Developing a smooth arm motion as well as developing a posture appropriate to the work.

Next week we will make the boxes in which (we hope) the blocks will fit

The video shows all.

Make, fix and create. 

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

putting things in perspective

I read Heather Cox Richardson's Letters from an American daily to put current events into a historic context. There are always changes afoot, but not all things under the sun are new. Human nature changes at a geologic pace.

Today in her post she noted the large number of young persons mobilized to vote. "If there is an obvious story from today with results still unknown, it is this: a new generation is picking up the torch of our democracy." It's a very good thing. One in which I find consolation.

You can find her initial comments on the election here:

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning likewise.

Tuesday, November 08, 2022


My sister Mary's first father-in-law had retired from working for Fruehauf, and though I'd only met Mr. Lange a couple times, it was obvious that he had been proud of his work. And why not? You could not drive the interstate highways in the US without following a few. Fruehauf moved its manufacturing overseas, closing the Omaha production facility which was then taken over by another company, so the tradition of building trailers for the trucking industry continues, and later Fruehauf returned to manufacturing in the US. But that's a long story. And not one that diminishes the pride my sister's father-in-law felt about his work.

Can you get it? The labors of hand and the labors of mind are essential to each other, and whichever ways we try to split the two is destructive of the whole. This is not a new point, but one that's been raised for generations.

That's why we need to re-invigorate education at all levels by bringing the hands into play. It ought to be a no brainer. We learn best when the hands are engaged in learning. When we learn through the hands we learn to a deeper and longer lasting effect. It may just be a matter of real estate in the brain. When all the senses are fully engaged, sight, hearing, touch, and the full weight of the body in relation to the earth, many more centers in the brain are actively recording the event.

Meta (Facebook) is having a difficult time selling its virtual reality devices that are supposed to revolutionize our relationships to all things. What a bunch of BS those things are. What about living in the real world for a change? What could be more precious? I'm sitting on the front porch. My dog Rosie is sniffing for squirrels nearby. The sounds I hear are of real things from the world that surrounds me.

Make, fix and create. Assist others in living likewise.

Monday, November 07, 2022


I have an article in this month's Quercus Magazine from the UK and I received a copy in today's mail.

The article is about students from Clear Spring School having built a survival structure from bamboo and discusses the group work that takes place under such circumstances.

Subscribers should receive copies this week.

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning likewise.

a nice note

I got a nice note this morning from a PhD student in the UK thanking me for my book The Wisdom of Our Hands. He said the following.

"I hope you do not mind me emailing you, but I am writing to you to firstly say hello and also thank you! 
You see, I have recently finished a paper on the philosophy of work, trying to unite what I see as the opposing view of 'manual' (such as the trades) vs 'intellectual' forms of work that sadly I see as common in society. both here and in the U.S. I wish to try and increase understanding between different professions and to fight stereotypes. Your work, especially your recent book 'The Wisdom of Our Hands' really helped and I have quoted and referenced the book in the paper. 
It really was a great read and I agree with your views about the philosophical and social value of the trades, even as a non-craftsman myself. 
I just wanted to let you know that your work is definitely having an effect!"

Of course my book is only one of many that point to the value of manual work. But observing and acknowledging the value of labor can have value. For instance, in the Minneapolis airport, I noticed one of the custodians pushing a cart stacked high with garbage up a long ramp as I was passing downhill in the other direction. With my mask on he could hardly see my smile, but he smiled in return, just to have been noticed. Acknowledgement is what human beings do for each other.

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning likewise.

Sunday, November 06, 2022

Standing on a firm foundation

I'm home from Minneapolis and earned a bad cold in my travels. The stress of travel can take a toll. The ISACS conference was great. I got great feedback from several who attended my three presentations. To be with thousands of dedicated teachers is a remarkable experience.

And yet, education in America seems in a state of disarray. I explained to those in my presentations that as a beginning teacher, I knew very little of what I was doing, and was lucky enough to seek help. I did so by attending the first organizational meeting of the New England Association of Woodworking Teachers in the fall of 2001. 

While on my trip to New England, I visited North Benet St. School in Boston, and Buckingham, Brown and Nichols School in Cambridge. At both places I heard the word Sloyd mentioned, and so when I came home, I began research into a form of woodworking education that offered me a firm philosophical foundation that could be of value across education, from early childhood into our adult years. Shall I bore you with repetition? 

Start with the interests of the child (and sustain them). Move from the known to the unknown, From the easy to more difficult, from the simple to the complex and from the concrete to the abstract. Theses simple principles offer a firm foundation in all subject areas.

When Otto Salomon founded his teacher training academy in Sweden, it was to offer both experience in woodworking and a firm foundation in progressive educational thought. Salomon lectured to the students at Nääs in four languages, Swedish, English, German and French, to make certain the teachers training to teach woodworking  were fluent also in the philosophy of learning that was built by such notables as Rousseau, Comenius, Pestalozzi, and Froebel.

Yesterday we had a great art show at Suzanne Reed's studio. It is always a pleasure to see folks gathered for art, and I was pleased to see friends both old and new and to sell a few boxes and books.

Make, fix, and create. Assist others in learning likewise.

Thursday, November 03, 2022


I leave this afternoon for Minneapolis/St. Paul where I'll present at the ISACS annual conference and then fly home tomorrow night. It's a quick trip as on Saturday afternoon I'll be selling my work at a show at Suzanne Reed's studio/gallery.

I'm a bit less nervous about my trip, realizing that time passes and that I'll be glad that I went.

Join me at Suzanne's. You'll find original glasswork by Suzanne, photography by Megan Kirk and pottery by Pat Sullivan in addition to my boxes and books.

It will be a lovely afternoon event.

Make, fix and create.... Assist others in learning likewise.

Tuesday, November 01, 2022


I'm getting ready to do two presentations at the annual ISACS conference, this year to be held in Minneapolis/St. Paul. ISACS stands for the Independent Schools Association of the Central States, and it is the membership organization through which the Clear Spring School receives its accreditation. 

One of my presentations is about the Wisdom of our hands, and how the strategic use of the hand benefits learning at all ages. The other presentation is about woodworking with kids. Both of these subjects are well known to me, but that doesn't relieve me of the nervousness about making these presentations.

I'm in the midst of organizing my thoughts and wish I'd started months ago.

Yesterday I received pdfs of two articles I've written for Fine Woodworking magazine, issue 301. One is an 11 page article about making boxes, and the other is 3 pages about installing hinges. I'm to review for refinement and to check for errors. In the article I made 3 boxes as shown in the photo.

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning likewise.

Monday, October 31, 2022

How we fill our homes and with what.

The New York Times has an interesting article about the pandemic buying of cheap furniture to fill homes and the quick return of all that cheap stuff to fill our landfills. 'Fast Furniture is Cheap and Americans are Throwing it out in the Trash.' 

We have choices. We can make what we need while harvesting the benefits of our own growth. We can simply live without so much stuff and lean toward simplicity in our lives. And we can do both.

Today for me is a day of rest and reorganization, as I put away the various tools and materials used in my weekend class, and savor having watched my student's growth.

The photo shows a few of my veneered boxes made a few years back. Where they are now, I have no way of knowing.

Make, fix and create.  Assist others in learning likewise.

Sunday, October 30, 2022

veneered boxes

I just finished a three day class at ESSA with my students making lovely veneered boxes. It was a great group of  students including old friends. It was a delightful way to spend a three day weekend. All the students ended up with first class, beautiful boxes and some parts to take home to make more.

My thanks to all and to ESSA for a good time.

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning likewise.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

witnessing the growth of skill

In the early days of manual arts training, students were not to decorate their work, as the underlying skill in the use of tools and techniques in the development of form were to be emphasized. 

For the younger kids, however, the application of color to what they've made or assembled provides a sense of pride and agency. 

Some children will work on the development of patterns, while others emphasize broad and rich strokes appearing random to an adult mind. Each can spend a great bit of time, doing so. 

For the woodworking teacher, the coloring of the work allows those students who are a bit slower in the assembly process to catch up.

Learning must start with and be maintained by the interest of the child, and this is as much true for adults as it is in Kindergarten.

Yesterday in the wood shop we continued making flip cars and tops.

Next week is fall break at the Clear Spring School. The kids have told me that they want to make toy boats next.

Make, fix and create... assist others in learning likewise.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

A table and two boxes

Yesterday and today I worked on two boxes and a table for articles in Popular Woodworking Magazine. I did the various set ups and operations, while editor Logan Wittmer took photos. It was challenging work for both of us. 

All the work will be finished in my own shop. The boxes are fitted out with a tray and compartments to hold ink, fountain pens and accessories.  

Make, fix and create... Assist others in learning lifewise. 

Friday, October 21, 2022

A way to support the arts

Our Eureka Springs School of the Arts is hosting it's annual fall fun raising Mad Hatter's Ball tonight. Many fine works of art are being sold at auction to benefit the school. You can view and bid through this link, knowing what you spend will support good work.

Among the items is a cabinet I made years ago that was donated by fellow founder Mary Springer. It was made of honey locust and oak in the 1990's.

This morning I meet editor Logan Wittmer from Popular Woodworking Magazine to work on two articles. I'll make a box and a table while he takes photos for the articles.

Make, fix and create... Assist others in living likewise.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Yesterday and today

Yesterday I visited with woodworking and trades students at North Arkansas Community College and did a book talk and signing in their library. The students were very attentive.

Today I taught our Clear Spring School kids how to make flip cars, a tradition at the Clear Spring School. The kids were very excited, and recognizing my age asked if it is OK to call me "Grandpa."

I think, being the age that I am, it's OK.

The photo is a silly one.

Make, fix, and create. Assist others in learning likewise.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Back to Kindergarten

I resumed my weekly  Kindergarten classes this morning and we made tops. I started the lesson with teaching the difference between clockwise and counter-clockwise, a bit of information essential to understanding the use of a hand crank drill for decorating the tops with colored pencil and markers. Turn the crank clockwise while holding the  chuck and the chuck tightens to hold the stem of the top. Turn the crank counter-clockwise while holding the chuck and the chuck loosens so the stem of the top can be removed. 

Is that too advanced a concept for Kindergarten students to understand? Not when it's called to their attention and they can observe it for themselves. If the concept is over their heads at this point in time, they'll have a chance for it to register later in life. 

It's too bad, however, that regular clocks are no longer in vogue. I offered my wrist watch for them to observe the difference between clockwise and counter-clockwise and the subject will come up again later in the year as my students make their own clocks. 

The hand crank drills mounted in the vise provided an opportunity for kids to work together... one turning the crank while the other colored their top. 

Each student made two tops.

Make, fix and create... assist others in learning likewise.

Monday, October 10, 2022

Material symmetry

Temple Grandin has an article in the Atlantic in which she challenges educators to spend far less time on Algebra and far more time making things.

The essay is adapted from her new book, Visual Thinking: The Hidden Gifts of People Who Think in Pictures, Patterns, and Abstractions.

Folks rationalize teaching algebra in that it is considered useful in development of higher thinking skills. The hauntingly abstract equal sign in which formulas on one side are to "equal" formulas on the other need, for which kids see no direct application needs to be preceded by the concrete application of a thing I'm calling "material symmetry. "One side of an object frames its opposite side. Boat building is an example, as are many of the techniques I demonstrate in box making. If you've developed a half model of a boat, it conveys all the information required for shaping both sides with the centerline being the exact location of the equal sign. If you've performed a certain function on one side of a box, it's easy to do the same thing on the other. The same thing applies if you are making a pattern for a dress, or a pair of shoes that fit left and right feet.

Material symmetry exercised through the crafts is useful to children of all ages. It is a building block that's neglected in the teaching of math and is, of course, useful throughout life. The abstraction of Algebra is useful only on being promoted through an educational experience, never to be used again.

Make, fix and create... assist others in living likewise.

Wednesday, October 05, 2022

adjustable sled runners.

Fine Woodworking has published a brief on-line article about making adjustable miter gauge runners. Their advantage is that you can adjust them to a perfect fit, even when there are stark changes in humidity in your wood shop.

I'm now testing negative for covid-19 and when my energy returns I'll be happy to go back to normal life.

Make, fix and create... Assist others in learning likewise.

Friday, September 30, 2022

stuck in Indiana

I'm in Indiana for a class in box making and came down with a case of covid-19 mid-week. Fortunately, by Wednesday, we'd proceeded far enough in the class that my students have been able to carry on without me.  

My assistants took on responsibility for oversight and remaining lessons. I am grateful for such help, but worried that if I've gotten covid-19, others from my class may also. Fortunately, and thanks to my vaccination status, my case is rather mild, requiring isolation and a few over-the-counter medications as well as isolation. I'll return home on Monday.

I stopped by school yesterday after class to pack up my things. A few students were still at work and insisted that even without me, the class has been one of their favorites at Marc Adams School of Woodworking. The reason, I think, is that once the techniques and tools are put in place, student creativity is unleashed. With each student making different boxes of their own design, they stimulate and inspire each other. Add to that shop supervisor Doug Dale and his expertise, and my assistant Jerry Forshee with whom I've worked for years, student success was guaranteed, even without me.

Photos attached. Make, fix and create.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Moving in circles...

I am in Franklin Indiana to teach at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking and am looking forward to a great week making boxes with friends, both new and old. 

While I'm here Marc Adams and his wife Suzie will be headed to Boston where he'll make an address to the American Society for Surgery to the Hand at their annual conference. 

While I'm here, my cousin Mary Lou will be visiting my wife in Eureka Springs. 

I'm reminded that things tend to move in fascinating ways, circles mostly.  I'm here, Mary Lou is there at home in my place. Her husband, Michael, my dear friend, is no longer with us, but had arranged with a friend of his, Rose Ann Reser, to translate for me, an essay by Alfredo Bosi, from Portuguese, Os Trabahos de Mao, The work of the hands. To send Marc thoughtfully on his way to the hand conference, I shared Bosi's thoughtful essay with him, for there is no more beautiful expression of what the hands do, and their importance than what I share now with you.

Os Trabaljos de Mao. The Works of the Hand--Alfredo Bosi 

 It seems to be a characteristic of the symbolic animal to make use of one part of its body to perform many different functions. The hand is an example. The hand pulls from the earth the root and the herb, gathers fruit from the tree, peels it and takes it to its mouth.

The hand catches the object, moves it, brings it into the body, throws it away. The hand pulls and pushes, gathers and scatters, squeezes and relaxes, contracts and distends, rolls up and unrolls; tightens and loosens, clears (as in clearing brush for planting), palpates, caresses, pinches, claws, squeezes, slaps, pummels; afterwards, massages the sore muscle.

The hand feels with the fingertips, palpates and presses with the flesh, scrapes, scratches, rakes (interestingly, in carpentry – the verb escarvar means “scarfs” – creates a joint to unite two pieces of lumber in one continuous piece) scarifies, picks with the fingernails.

With the knuckles, it hits. The hand opens the wound and dresses it. Ruffles the hair (or fur, animal’s coat) and smoothes it. Braids and unbraids the hair. Wrinkles and unwrinkles the paper and the cloth. Anoints and conjures, sprinkles (like baptizing?) and exorcises.

It accuses with the index, applauds with the palms, protects with the cupped hands (literally the “shell”). Allows life with a thumbs-up; and with thumbs-down, orders death. Measures length with the span of the hand (palmo) and weight with the palm (palma).

Signals with gestures the I, you, him, here, there, over there, today, yesterday, tomorrow, little, a lot, more or less, one, two, three, numbers up to ten and its multiples and fractions. No, never, nothing.

It is the voice of the mute, the voice of the deaf, and the reading of the blind. It directs the voice to rise, quiets the hubbub, imposes silence. Greets the friend, waving lightly beside the head, and in the same setting, stretches out the arm and says good-bye. Urges on, and orders a stop. Brings a child into the world and strangles the enemy.

Soaps clothing, scrubs, wrings, rinses, lays it out in the sun, gathers it from the line, smoothes the wrinkles, folds and puts it away.

The hand prepares the food. Grinds grain, peels the vegetable, picks the greens, scales fish, plucks the bird and bones it. It cleans. It squeezes to extract the juice. Pounds with clenched fist, cuts to size, mixes, kneads, flattens, rolls up, smoothes out, oils, covers up, flours, wraps, shapes, pulls apart, flours, garnishes, embellishes and serves. 

The hand throws the ball and catches, parries and strikes. Lifts it and lets it fall. The hand makes sound; beats on the leg and on the chest, marks the beat, strikes the drum and the tambourine, beats, snaps the castanets, plucks the strings of the harp and the guitar, fingers the keys of the harpsichord and the piano, grasps the bow of the violin and the cello, holds woodwinds and brass. The fingers close and open the path of the breath that comes out through the holes of the flute, the clarinet and the oboe. The hand directs the orchestra.

The hand, carrier of the sacred. Hands clasped pray, palm against palm or with laced fingers. With the hand, the faithful makes the sign of the cross. The hand, giver of the sacred. The hand mixes the salt and the water for baptism, and anoints the new Christian; the hand anoints with oil at confirmation, while the godfather’s right hand rests on the godson’s shoulder; the betrothed extend their hands to celebrate the sacrament of love and give each other rings to receive the ring of the alliance; the hand absolves the penitent from sin; the hands serve the eucharist bread to the communicants, hands consecrate the new priest; hands bring extreme unction to the dying one; and to the dead, the blessing and the prayer of peace. In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum. 

To perform so many actions, it takes only a small but flexible part of the anatomy; eight little bones in the wrist, five metacarpals, and the fingers with the lower, middle and fingertip phalanxes.

We could never describe all that the hand can do when it is extended and empowered by the tools that human ingenuity has invented in its contradance of needs and desires.

. . . In the Machine Age, has the hand perhaps lost its finest articulations with which it fitted the protuberances and recesses of the material? The workmanship, thus of necessity, diminishes or declines, and hands operate the assembly lines far away from their products. They push buttons, turn handles, connect and disconnect keys, pull and push levers, control panels, ceding to the machine tasks that they used to do. The machine, docile, and therefore violent, does exactly what the hands tell it to do, but if the operator’s muscle flinches, it also knows how to continue, demanding constant vigilance; if not, it cuts off inattentive fingers. There were 8 million work accidents in Brazil alone in 1975. 
Bosi, a poet of renown wrote this piece to urge reform in industry to protect workers from serious injuries... like those that hand surgeons are called to address. My thanks to Henrique for alerting me to Bosi, and to my cousin Michael for bringing Rose Ann into the circle of hands...
Make, fix and create...