Wednesday, August 30, 2023

turning leaves

Today at the Clear Spring School, I assisted with the Kindergarten woodworking class. I helped to set up the project and guided our new teacher, Thomas, in preparing stock. I also delivered two books that I think will be helpful (in addition to Making Classic Toys that Teach, and the Guide to Woodworking with Kids). The books are From Truths to Tools by Jim Tolpin and George Walker, and Framing Square Math by my friend Joe Youcha. Both are important in developing a hand-centric means of teaching math. Framing Square Math could be used as a step by step classroom curriculum. And I hope it will be.

Teachers tend to teach the ways we were taught, and if we observe the numbers of kids who are turned off by math, we might arrive at the  understanding that the ways we teach math are wrong, a thing made obvious by the fact that only a few develop an excitement for it. 

The problem is that those who catch the math bug and love it, are often ill-equipped to teach it, for teaching (to be most effective) requires a different, hands-on approach. Framing Square Math offers an alternative. And the wood shop is the perfect place for starting out in math, even at the Kindergarten level, which we did today by introducing the square for marking wood. Do the Kindergarten kids need to know they're doing math? Perhaps not yet.

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

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Making small lift tabs and drawer pulls

A simple jig allows making symmetrical shapes using the bandsaw. Some sanding is required. I’m making these for use as drawer pulls on a large jewelry box and for lift tabs for boxes in my new book Designing Boxes that will come out in the spring 2024, published by Taunton Press. Much of the fun of designing boxes starts with designing the jigs that make them possible. Following the bandsaw, the same jig can be used with a disc sander.

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

Monday, August 21, 2023

Boxes on sale


I've placed some boxes on sale on my Etsy site, offering 40% off for a limited time.

These are offered in white oak, cherry or walnut. The sides are mitered with the grain matching at the corners and strengthened with contrasting keys. The top panels are aluminum bonded to mdf, and the inside of the lid is veneered in a contrasting color. The bottom of the box is lined,

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

Sunday, August 20, 2023

A new sharpening system that works.

Yesterday Mike Taylor from Taylor Tool Company demonstrated their new sharpening system for Megan and I at ESSA. The system works and is far simpler than other systems. It breaks through the assumptions that keeping hand tools sharp is difficult. It does require a special kind of 3M Cubitron™sanding disks, a drill press and a shop made jig. I made three jigs in advance of Mike's arrival, as I wanted one for use at ESSA, one for use in the Clear Spring School workshop and one for my own shop.

Making the jig might be the hard part for many woodworkers, but clear plans are included.You can watch the system at work here:

The system may seem too simple and inexpensive to be true, but it really does work.

Make, fix and create...

Saturday, August 19, 2023

two squares

I received these gifts today, made by Mike Taylor of Taylor Tool Company, Are they too lovely to use? Or are they too lovely to not use.

While visiting Mike demonstrated their new sharpening system using an interesting shop made jig, a drill press and unique sanding disks. I'll publish more about that later. While many woodworkers are nervous to sharpening their tools, Taylor Tools new method should put them at ease.

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

Thursday, August 17, 2023

this morning

This morning I deliver a box to the Walton Art Center in Fayetteville for an art show that will feature works by Northwest Arkansas Artist. 

The box they selected for the show is made of maple with a lid made of spalted maple. The keys at the corners are walnut. The lid opens without hinges.

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

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

color and line

This small lift lid box is intended to illustrate how color can be used to create a sense of unity within a box. The black lines of spalted sycamore invited the use of a black shaker knob on top and black stained dowels to interlock the mitered corners. These three things were purposely related to each other in my process of design.

Note also how the darker grain of the ash box mirrors similar tones to be found in the lid. Note also how the chamfer on the top edge of the box captures and reflects more light, framing the lid in light.

A sense of unity in a box is created by an interplay of design elements. Color and line are powerful forces in design. An interesting thing about the chamfer used along the top edge of this box. A roundover bit in the router creates a rounded edge, and a rounded edge disperses light in all directions, whereas a chamfer, forming a wider plane is more directional and distinct. That is why I use so many routed flat planes in my box making.

Make, fix and create...

Tuesday, August 15, 2023


Heather Cox Richardson in her daily newsletter, Letters from an American noted a significant court finding in Montana, concerning the violation of the state's constitution by the state's continued and continuing support for the fossil fuel industries. In 1972 the state of Montana adopted an amendment stating,"  “[t]he state and each person shall maintain and improve a clean and healthful environment in Montana for present and future generations," and thus commanding the state legislature to make rules protecting the environment. 

In a rare court case on behalf of the children of Montana, a federal judge, as described by Richardson, agreed with the children that "the state’s support for coal, oil, and gas violated their constitutional rights because it created the pollution fueling climate change, thus depriving them of their right to a healthy environment. They pointed to a Montana law forbidding the state and its agents from taking the impact of greenhouse gas emissions or climate change into consideration in their environmental reviews, as well as the state’s fossil fuel–based state energy policy." 

This, is a sign of hope. We've been lied to about the reality of man's role in climate change, and have been denied the opportunity to address the degradation of our natural environment by those in government who adhere to power through obfuscation and denial.  Perhaps their time is coming to an end. 

We each have a responsibility to the earth and the protection of all things in the natural world, for the sake of those who walk behind us.

Make, fix and create...

Saturday, August 12, 2023

my Arrowmont box

This is a box that I made while teaching at Arrowmont in 2002. I wanted to suggest to my students the incorporation of found objects, so we took a brief walk across campus to see what we could find. The piece of weathered wood on top is one that I found and decided to incorporate unaltered in my own box. 

The body of the box and the lid, are made with sycamore displaying its typical lacewood pattern found when it is quarter sawn. I used the hidden spline joint in the corners, and brass pins to elevate the piece of found wood on top.

This box is  out in the world someplace unknown, as are most of the boxes I've made.

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

Tuesday, August 08, 2023

 It is difficult to know if my articles about Soyd in Woodwork Magazine and my blog have had any effect on developments like this:

In any case, it is true that woodworking can have profound effects on child development. And it is truly time for all schools to recognize it. Sloyd, until a few years ago when I began writing about it, was a forgotten movement in American education. My writing about it, has, I think, had some effect. If you want to know more, please go to the Wikipedia Educational Sloyd article that I wrote or use Educational Sloyd as your search term in the box at upper left.

Make, fix and create...

Friday, August 04, 2023

tiny shaker knobs

Years ago I'd purchased some tiny shaker knobs from a major supplier. I found them again on Ebay. To accentuate the black lines formed in the spalted sycamore, I stained them black with a magic marker. Just a bit of design fun.

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

it's not a good thing

 It's not a good thing when your lawyers claim that they need to delay the case in order to review the tremendous amount of evidence they have against you.

Wednesday, August 02, 2023

child's rocker

This is a walnut rocking chair I made about 30+ years ago for my daughter Lucy, who is expecting our first grandchild in early October. I retrieved it from the attic and gave it a fresh coat of Danish oil. Good as new and ready for another 30+ years. On the news today they were telling that some of the local landfills are overflowing. When something is made of wood...  is useful and lovely,  it won't become part of that problem. 

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