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.