Wednesday, June 21, 2023

another step

The photo shows the lift tabs for a variety of boxes after being fitted and shaped. I sketch the shape I want on the oversized lift tab that I've already fitted in the groove routed in the lid. Then I cut it using a scroll saw and sand its edges smooth. Compare this picture with one I posted yesterday and you'll see progress.

Make, fix and create.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

shaping lift tabs

To install lift tabs in box lids, I first rout a groove on the front edge of the lid with a 1/8 in router bit about 3/16 in. deep. I then saw stock to a thickness of 1/8 in. and about 3/4 in. wide which I then cut to the length of the grooves cut in the lids. I work in fitting one tab to a lid at a time due to possible variations. 

I use a piece of self-adhesive sand paper on a flat board to round the corners to fit the grooves. Can't fit a square peg in a round hole except by making it too small to fit.

What you see in the photo are lids with the lift tabs fitted but not yet shaped.

Make, fix and create...

Monday, June 19, 2023

the reason

Today I'm working on a bunch of boxes. I've cut slots where lift tabs will fit the lids, and I've done the first sanding of the cuts made when separating the lids from the bodies of the boxes. I sand them using a flat piece of 3/4 in. MDF covered with self-adhesive sandpaper to keep them absolutely flat where the surfaces meet.

Some of my readers know that I'm interested in history, and I've seen eyes glaze over when I mention the history of Friedrich Froebel's Kindergarten, or Educational Sloyd. 

It is good to know our history for two important reasons. Knowledge of history can help us avoid repeating things that we must not repeat. It can also inspire us to repeat things that should be repeated. With Kindergarten and the Educational Sloyd movements, here's to hoping for a repeat of movements as a basis for education renewal in the US.

I'm working on an article for Make Magazine about our giant Froebel blocks and wanted the editor to know more abut the kindergarten movement, so I sent him this link. You may enjoy it also. If you watch carefully, you'll find me in it.

As a special note, the hidden cost of all our cheap imported stuff is the loss of the character of our nation.

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

Friday, June 16, 2023

PW June 2023

The June 2023 issue of Popular Woodworking has an article of mine about making a coopered leg hall table, but what's more exciting is a review of our art and craft school, ESSA. In a 3 page spread, editor Logan Whitmer describes the wonders of our small school as well as the beauty of Eureka Springs.

I'm pleased to have yet another article in a national magazine, and also pleased to see ESSA receive the attention it deserves.

Make, fix and create. Enable others to do likewise.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

more spalted wood

This is another piece of spalted wood forming the lid of a box. I'll add a lift tab along the front edge before adding mite keys to strengthen the box corners. 

I'm lucky to have a few pieces of interesting wood hanging around waiting for their best use.

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

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

lift lid box

This is a new lift lid box. The lid is spalted maple and the body of the box is elm. Note the direction of the wood grain, and that the mitered corners are glued side grain to side grain, making it an easy box to make.

Make, fix and create...

Makers of Ukraine...

This box is unusual in that the grain runs vertically rather than around the box. Gluing edge grain to edge grain eliminates the need of other joinery techniques.

 In the meantime, as I'm working in my shop there are others whose purpose is more profound.

The makers of Ukraine... 

Make, fix and create...

Monday, June 12, 2023


 When we understand the role the hands play in human development, in the growth of character, intelligence and creativity, we also begin to grasp the importance of the arts in education and the necessity of bringing an increasing number of artists into schools and applying their hands (and minds) in the education of our children. Understanding the role of the hands in education also provides a clear rationale for woodworking education. Woodworking in schools is still important despite the concerted effort of many school administrators to do away with it.

An interesting point is made by American amateur woodworkers, when they call what they do in their woodshops “sawdust therapy.” We humbly note the beneficial psychological effects of our efforts toward the creation of useful beauty in our woodshops. We feel better when our hands, hearts and minds are fully engaged in doing real things… 


As American education is facing a post-covid internet age crisis of staggering proportions as children and teens attempt to manage their own mental health, I, as a woodworker, wonder what role the arts should play. Knowing the beneficial side effects on mental health from engagement in the arts, and the crushing need for means to assist children in finding ways to manage their own mental health, I suggest that the arts (including woodshop) take a commanding role in American education and to thereby reassert the arts as a means of personal and cultural advancement. How important are  reading and math scores when our children have not been provided the tools for getting along with each other and managing a sense of their own self worth?

In psychology, the term that applies is self-actualization... a term that describes having found purpose, meaning and depth in the real world.

Make, fix and create...

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Donald J. Trump Presidential Library

I propose the location for The new Donald J. Trump Presidential Library to be 935 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C.

It is fittingly designed in the "Brutalist" architectural style, resembling many of the buildings Trump has had built on his own behalf. As the  J. Edgar Hoover building it currently serves as headquarters for the FBI. It well fits a 4 year presidency marked by an unprecedented degree of graft, lying and corruption. Larger than most presidential libraries, it's eleven stories will be needed for the vast amount of evidence that must be preserved.

I'm relaxing today after 5 days of class in which I was blessed with great students who helped each other and took great joy in learning. Three of my students wanted to make mitered finger joints, a complicated exercise, and they did it together, making sure that each gained lasting expertise.

Make, fix and create...

Friday, June 09, 2023

Finished with box class

I finished my 5 day box making class at ESSA and each student made about 4 boxes of different designs, using different corner joinery techniques. The box shown with keyed miter joints was a design that each of my students made before branching out and exploring their own design ideas.

My books, The Box Maker's Guitar Book and Making Classic Toys that Teach have been re-released on Amazon and other sites. 

The box is made from ash, spalted sycamore and walnut. With my teaching done for a while, I'll return my attention to my book about designing boxes.

Make, fix and create...

Wednesday, June 07, 2023

job one.

The first job of education, job one, should be to enable students to achieve and support their own mental health. We see the failings of American education in the dramatic rise in teen anxiety, depression and suicide. The fact that so much gun violence is directed toward  schools, might also be telling us something important. 

While a primary purpose of Froebel's Kindergarten was to give children an understanding of their interconnectedness with nature and community, our increasing pressure on test scores and academic competitiveness leaves children estranged from the very fabric of real life.

To restore education to its rightful place in the scheme of things requires a massive reorientation toward the arts. Quite a few years ago, David Henry Feldman, known for his work with gifted and talented kids, wrote an award winning essay, the Child as Craftsman. It acknowledge that every child is compelled from within to achieve some form of excellence that allows them to feel right in relation to their peers, to measure their own progress and to feel a level of normal actualization associated with the maintenance of mental health. This does not mean that all kids should be doing the same things, but that children in schools need opportunities to excel in a variety of tasks, thereby learning their own likes, inclinations, and abilities, developing skills to fit within the larger framework of life. 

It is quite concerning to me that educational administrators and policy makers are so off base and reluctant to bring real change. When under pressure they cut what's most important in our children's educations... the means through which they find individualized means to achieve excellence. The arts.

I have my third day of box making class at ESSA today. Yesterday I was reminded of bringing a class of high school students out to ESSA to use the black smithing studio to harden knives in the forge. As we drove up and students observed the wonder of the place, one student asked, "Where have you been all my life?" He wondered why all schools weren't like ESSA where you do real things. There's a reason for that. Educational policy makers are as stupid as all get out and communities refuse to acknowledge the importance of the arts. In the meantime, our children suffer from depression, anxiety, suicide and disconnection from the fabric of life.

Saturday, June 03, 2023

Fixing it.

Our economy is largely based on the consumption of stuff. Back when I first moved to Eureka Springs, I observed that even in my own town, with so many artists, people were buying and selling stuff and making very little for themselves. And it seems to be getting worse with each passing year.. is a website dedicated to giving folks the power to fix rather than dispose of the things we own that may be broken or not quite working right. When we fix something we own, we may extend its useful life, delaying the replacement cycle by up to 75% or more. If we've delayed the replacement/consuption cycle, we've reduced the damage we do to the planet. The other thing we discover as we fix things is our own power.

We live in a world where folks are depressed and anxious as things spin out of our control, so in the tagline of my blog, I suggest, make, fix and create. By making things and fixing things we discover our creative power. When we discover our creative power, many of the reasons we may have felt depressed or anxious fade.

This article from NPR may help steer us back on the right track.

Make, fix and create...

Friday, June 02, 2023

veneered lids

I've been putting walnut borders around veneered lid for unhinged boxes. The process involves cutting thin strips, mitering them on the table saw to fit around the edges and then gluing them  in place. By using masking tape to hold pieces in place as they are fitted, it's relatively easy to build a tight fitting border. 

After all the parts are cut to exact length and fitted, I peel up the tape from one side, part by part, roll the piece back so glue can be applied and then tape it back where it was. The tape on the back side assures that it will be restored to its previous position. By gluing one side at a time, the fit and position of the other parts will not be disturbed.

I'm preparing for a 5 day box making class at ESSA and there's still an opening in the class for one student. Join us if you can. 479-253-5484.

Make, fix and create..