Sunday, April 30, 2023

a new jig

Table saws are ill equipped to rip cut 30° joints required for a triangular box because the blade will only tilt to 45°. The solution is to cut with the wood standing up alongside the fence with the blade set at a 60° angle but that's not ideal because as the cut is made there's nothing left to support the wood and it falls down into the blade. 

This new jig allows the woodworker to clamp the box part in place so it is carefully carried through the cut. The results are shown in a practice box.

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

Friday, April 28, 2023

fitting pulls

I've made the walnut pulls for the small chests of drawers, and am pleased (as I hope you are) with only having pulls on the top three drawers. Having a pull on each drawer would have looked normal and unsurprising.

With finger access to the bottom drawer by simply touching underneath, the fourth pull would have been unnecessary.

You are welcome to comment if you think I'm wrong (or right for that matter). The pulls will be glued in place after sanding is complete.

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

subtle design change

Designing a box often involves small changes along the way as we observe step by step what we've done. Please compare this photo with the one I posted yesterday as it shows a very small but significant change.

By reshaping the underside of the bottom drawer, I've taken a boring, straight line and made the whole chest more interesting. Also, I've created a finger space for opening the drawer so that only the top three drawers will require pulls.

This morning I'll be making a presentation to the Holiday Island Rotary about the Wisdom of Our Hands. Nine to 10 AM at Grace Lutheran Church.

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

Thursday, April 27, 2023

jewelry chests

In my woodshop I've been working on small chests of drawers that are made with hand-cut dovetails holding the carcasses together. The dovetails are intended to stand proud, accentuating craftsmanship and making it very clear to the viewer, how it's made. Walnut pulls will be added to the drawers. 

The carcasses are made from Cherry, Ash and Walnut and the drawers are made from Cherry, and Ash with maple drawer sides.

Subscribers of Popular Woodworking will find an article I wrote for the magazine in the current issued, illustrating how to make a coopered leg hall table.

Let's reshape American education so that its first priority will be to provide students of all ages means to support better mental health. Crafts and the arts are the means through which students will develop coping skills that must come before all else.

Make, fix and create. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

boats and teepees...

Today at the Clear Spring School my kindergarten students and I made sailboats as you can see. 

Then after class I joined them in the new Clear Spring School teepee for a quick story time. The teepee is amazingly large on the inside, spacious enough for a class to gather. If you live in Eureka Springs, stop by and look inside. It's lovely.

Make, fix and create...

Sunday, April 23, 2023

would works, episode 3

Lee Valley has released a third episode of their Would Works series highlighting the role of woodworking in combating homelessness and building lives.,6YVA,12UXB3,Z977,1

In the meantime, I'm working on a new box design as shown.

Make, fix and create...

Sunday, April 16, 2023


I have another day of box making with students at the Windgate Center for Art and Design at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock. It is a beautiful facility with wood working being at the center of it all. 

In the  meantime, this lovely state has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the US with a death rate of young mothers 10 times that of California. What an unbelievable shame that is!

Our governor is more concerned about drag shows, the ease of getting guns and positioning herself for higher office than about the death of mothers. Go figure, please. Gun violence has become the highest cause of the death of children in the US. So between the death of mothers and of kids, we have a great deal of work to do and it appears that typical Republicans are not interested.

Can crafts play a role in bringing needed change? It is widely known that participation in the arts is healing of mind, body and spirit.

The photo shows a piece of sculpture by noted artist and philanthropist Robyn Horn at the entry of the Windgate Center for Art and Design. It is made of wood. I am grateful to be here.

Make, fix and create...

Saturday, April 15, 2023

At the Windgate Art and Design Center, UALR

I had a very nice time last night making a presentation to an audience of hand enthusiasts at the Windgate Center for Art and Design in Little Rock. I think there may have been as many as fifty in the audience... not bad on a Friday night when there are thousands of other things to do. 

At one point, I asked the audience whether they thought that providing means of maintaining mental health should be a primary mission of American education. And of course that should be the case, and the audience agreed. We know there's a significant link between the development of hand skills, and a sense of well being. Woodworkers may call what we do, "sawdust therapy" knowing that what we do with wood make us feel better. And all other craftsmen in every other field of creative endeavor, regardless of the material involved will assert the same.

And so I ask you all a simple question. If schools have a primary purpose of providing means through which students attain and maintain better mental health, why are schools and curricula designed to alienate us from each other along a trades vs. academic divide? Why are the hands not made central to all learning? Perhaps it is easier to simply go through the motions of teaching and providing content than to become concerned about students learning and living healthy lives.

When I was in Portland we drove past a small homeless encampment and my guides mentioned the relationship between homelessness and drug use. Our first home is that which we establish in our own beings in the relationship between our heads, hands and hearts. I propose a simple idea. If we are preoccupied with discovering our own joy of creativity will we have an interest in destroying our own capacity to create? To create a proper environment for human creativity we start by empowering parents and grandparents to know this important relationship of hand/brain/heart and then we insist that education become empowered to sustain that balance.

Make, fix and create.

Friday, April 14, 2023

today in Little Rock

I'll be in little Rock for the next three days at UA Little Rock’s School of Art and Design leading a lecture and a workshop as part of the artWORKs series. 

Made possible through the Windgate Foundation, the UA Little Rock artWORKs Series brings renowned artists to the UA Little Rock campus where they can collaborate and craft a community that values learning and the visual arts. 

Details, times and locations can be found in this link:

Make, fix and create...

Wednesday, April 12, 2023


Today in the Clear Spring School wood shop the Kindergarten students and I made dinosaurs. Last week when I asked the students what they would like to make next, one student immediately responded "dinosaurs!" And education at its best adheres closely to "the interest of the child," whatever the age of the "child" might be. That's a thing just as true for my adult students.

This week I'll go to Little Rock where as a guest at UALR I'll make a Friday night presentation on the Wisdom of Our Hands, and then follow up on Saturday and Sunday with classes in box making. The details can be found in this link:

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

Saturday, April 08, 2023

the nose knows...

The nose knows. This morning Rosie discovered the bat house we made at school last year and that we hung on our barn. After adding anti-rodent devices under the hoods of our truck and car, she's stopped obsessing about squirrels in the engine compartment and turned her attention to bats.

Don't we wish our politicians could be so smart? The lot of them appear to be missing common sense and the ability to gain an accurate view of themselves.... some think that they can take gifts from rich and powerful friends and that no one will see there are strings attached. Some think that expelling two black legislators while thinking they will not be immediately recognized as racist. How in the world can folks be so self-delusional? Brace yourself. With artificial intelligence, the real wisdom acquired by people doing real things will be in short supply and dogs like Rosie will be smarter than most folks.

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

Wednesday, April 05, 2023

dovetailed chest of drawers

My small dovetailed jewelry chests are ready now to sand and assemble prior to making the drawers. One is walnut, one is cherry and one is being made from ash. I never make anything this complex and challenging without making a few mistakes. But that's part of being human, isn't it?

The walnut stretcher near the bottom of the box is intended to do the job of holding the sides and top square, while also being hidden from view by the bottom drawer.

Make, fix, forgive and create. 

Monday, April 03, 2023

This bowl was the best of 6 I made in a one day pottery class at ESSA. I left it to be sold in a fund raising auction, or as a gift to our director... her choice. The others, having turned out not quite so nice have been passed along as dog bowls. You get to a point in life when enough is enough, but we never outlast our need to create.

I made this simple illustration of the scaffolding required for a revolution.

Make, fix and create....

Would works

 This video from Lee Valley is wonderful.

Sunday, April 02, 2023

National Woodworking Month

April has been named National Woodworking Month, so if you've not done it, now's the great time to start. In celebration I've been hand-cutting dovetails, and in just under two weeks will teach box making classes at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock. 

Put April 17-19 on your calendars. April 17 I'll do an evening presentation on the Wisdom of our hands, a subject that affects us all, whether celebrants of National Woodworking Month or not. On Saturday I'll teach a box making class open to drop-ins or full day participants. It will be demonstration only. On Sunday, a few students will join me for a hands-on class. For that, registration is required.

The photo shows a walnut jewelry box in the making. It also shows that hand cut dovetails can be messy in the making. There are simpler ways to cut this joint than cutting by hand, but this is National Woodworking Month, and woodworking is not just about stuff. It's also about training the hand and mind for other things.

Yesterday we attended Hands-On ESSA, an annual event at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts. Money was raised through an on-site/online auction and folks of all ages got introductions to various crafts.

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

Saturday, April 01, 2023

pins first

Today in the wood shop I've finished cutting the pins for small dovetailed jewelry chests and am ready to transfer the marks to the sides from the tops, so that the tails can be cut. 

These are mitered dovetails so that on the front and back edges of  the chests, the joints will appear cleaner. To accentuate the dovetails, they'll stand proud of the surfaces by 1/8 in. to offer a decorative effect.

It's been a couple years or more since I last made hand cut dovetail joints. But the skills come back.

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