Popular Woodworking’s New Look

I received the latest issue of Popular Woodworking today. As soon as I saw the cover, I knew things had changed big time with the magazine. I read on Lost Art Press blog a few weeks ago that Chris Schwarz will no longer write articles for them. That, and the fact that since a lot of the old contributors like Megan Fitzpatrick, Bob Lang, and Glen Huey are long gone, the magazine is a complete a new rag.

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The new look just looks like a typical run of the mill woodworking magazine that appeals to the masses. Something like a Woodworker’s Journal or American Woodworker. It definitely lost its old hand tool feel charm. As far as the projects inside, don’t get me started. I asked my wife about the projects in it (basically two of them) and she said “who builds this shit? Why don’t they put furniture in there that people want to make?” It’s been an ongoing conversation with us for years about why I subscribe to woodworking magazines with uninspiring projects in it.

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The new look has a lot of photo boxes where they describe what’s going on in the picture. Not a bad idea as it’s kind of the same idea of how I write this blog, but the layout seems a bit impersonal. On the plus side, they did have an article about welding. I’ve always thought that woodworking magazines should focus more on mixed mediums. Plus, Peter Follansbee’s Arts and Mysteries and George Walker’s Design Matters are still there.

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I also noticed there are a lot of ads in the magazine for people who are old. From hearing aids, to walk in tubs, to a plethora of ads for medications. Don’t get me wrong, I actually don’t mind ads. If anything I learn from the good ones, but damn, don’t make me feel like I need to go get my dentures fitted.

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Did you get your copy? If so, what do you think? Am I being too harsh? Are the days of the old Popular Woodworking concentrating on hand tools techniques long gone? It’s frustrating because Popular Woodworking was my favorite magazine. I guess I’ll have to start subscribing to Mortise and Tenon instead.

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Hillbilly Tool Stand

My wife hates this thing. She hates the noise it makes as well as the little wire bristles that fly off the wheel and land onto the floor only to be stepped on with bare feet. Can’t say I blame her as I too have had the fun of pulling a wire out of my foot from time to time. So, it’s been delegated to the garage from now on. The problem was when I used the thing in the garage, I had to step on the end of it with my foot so it wouldn’t spin away, and then bend over to clean my tool parts. Not exactly ideal working conditions.

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I was going to buy a tool stand from Harbor Freight for $40 but, I was too cheap to buy one. Seems like the money was never available since it’s been tight around here for awhile. I kept thinking of what else I could use as a tool stand when it dawned on me to use one of my old sawhorses.

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I simply took three 3/4″ boards that were 6″ wide to lift the buffer to a comfortable height, and laminated them together. Then took two more to straddle the side of the sawhorse and bolted the buffer onto a base. So simple it’s stupid, but it works.

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I guess if I worked for a woodworking magazine, I’d make this fixture out of nice cabinet grade maple plywood and stainless steel woodworking screws, but since I don’t, I just whipped it up with some scrap wood and drywall screws. Terrible I know. If you want, you could probably submit this tip to a magazine and win a cordless jigsaw. haha. You can thank me later.

10 Signs You Might be a Woodworking Snob

10. When your friend tells you about his awesome CNC machine, you walk away.

9. You think all the employees at Woodcraft are idiots.

8. You use liquid hide glue on everything.

7. You claim to be a hand tool only purist, yet you stream all your favorite TV shows on Netflix.

6. You think using Kreg pocket screws are beneath you.

5. You use the word “bespoke” because “custom” is too pedestrian.

4. You haven’t been inspired by an article in a woodworking magazine since 1996.

3. Your workbench is nicer than your dining room table.

2. You think smelling like walnut sawdust is a good thing.

1. You own every title from Lost Art Press even though you have no idea where Estonia is.

Cheers!

Happy Easter.

Mike

Wood Movement

Over the past few months, I’ve been making these Ohio signs and selling them in my wife’s booth. They’re a simple thing to make. Just cut the wood in the shape of Ohio, then glue and staple the pieces to a plywood back. Originally I used old pallet wood to make the signs, but the past few batches I made them with old fence boards.

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Last week, when I was helping my wife move things around in her booth, she told me that some of the signs had warped. Worried, I grabbed a few of the signs to look at them. Because we had such a hard cold spell, the antique store was kicking up heat to stay warm. Apparently, the dry heat sucked all the moisture from the signs making them bend up. Even the top of an old bench my wife was selling warped.

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When examining the sign, I realized I made two rookie mistakes. The first mistake I made was that I painted the wrong side of the fence board. I should have fastened the wood crown-down so that the board wouldn’t warp upward. The second mistake I made was that when I fastened the boards on the plywood, I spread glue all over the plywood back making the wood unable to expand and contract. Embarrassing to admit I know. When I first made these signs, I made them from old pallet wood that was a lot narrower than the wide fence board I used here. I thought my wood was dry enough to make them in the same process, but I was sorely mistaken.

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Wanting to fix the sign, I ripped apart the plywood back and removed all the staples from the wood.

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After cleaning the back of the pieces, I saw how the widest board on the sign was warping in conjunction with the others.

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I decided to shave off the high spot in the middle with my scrub plane so the warping wouldn’t be as noticeable when I remade the sign.

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Then, instead of spreading glue all over the plywood back, I laid a bead of glue down the center of each piece of wood so the wood could move. I then attached the plywood back to the pieces with 1/4″ crown 5/8″ long staples.

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With everything back together, I was happy how the sign laid flat again. I really don’t mind if the boards warp a little bit. After all, the sign is supposed to look old and rustic. I just don’t want the whole thing to curl.

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Enlarging an Image

Over the past few months, I’ve been making and selling these Ohio signs in our booths in the antique malls we rent space in. They’re super simple to make. Just old scrap wood I have lying around, painted and stained to make it look like old barn wood. Then I cut the wood out from a pattern and attach the pieces to a plywood back.

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They’ve been so popular, I decided to make a Kentucky one as well since Cincinnati is near the Kentucky border. The Ohio signs are about 15″ x 16″ so I knew I wanted the Kentucky one to be about 24″ long. The problem was that I didn’t have a map of Kentucky that was 24″ large. I decided to Google image a map of Kentucky and print it out on my printer. That left me with a map that was 10 1/2″ long, but I didn’t have a scaling ruler that would work for that size.

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I decided to make a scaling ruler where 10 1/2″ equals 24″ in scale. I grabbed a piece of plywood and ran a line down the board 10 1/2″ wide. I then took my ruler and put the end of the ruler on the line and angled it so that the 12″ mark would be at the other end of the board. I then made a mark on every 1/2″ increment giving me 24 equal units for the 10 1/2″ length.

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I then drew the lines down the board, grabbed a scrap stick and transferred those increments to the board creating my scaled ruler. The units didn’t have to be perfect. I was just trying to get an approximate measurement.

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I then used that scaled ruler and marked lines on both the horizontal and vertical axis of the map creating a grid.

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I then drew 1″ grids on the piece of plywood and drew the pattern of the map onto the wood carefully transferring the image of each little box to the corresponding box on the plywood. This is very similar to games I played as a kid where you would have to create a picture based off random shaded box patterns.

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Once the pattern was transferred, I cut it out on the band saw. The template ended up being 24″ long by 12″ tall.

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Here’s the finished Kentucky sign. I shared this image on Instagram and someone wants me to make him one. The work is already paying off. Merry Christmas!

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A Once in a Lifetime Deal

Every few years I get a deal of a lifetime when buying tools. Many years ago, I bought my 15″ Powermatic planer from a company going out of business for $700. I bought my Contractor SawStop table saw from SawStop corporate through Pop Wood for $1000, and yesterday, I bought a six piece Porter Cable combo kit for $25.00.

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As you may know, I’m a sales rep for Oldcastle selling patio block, mulch and soon composite decking to Lowe’s and Home Depot. While visiting one of my stores yesterday, I walked in the back of the store by receiving to talk to the RTM clerk to see if there were any credits I needed to give for broken patio block. While back there, I saw a Porter Cable tool bag full of tools lying on the floor and asked the RTM clerk what they were doing there. She told me that it was a return that the customer said the batteries wouldn’t hold a charge. Knowing that Lowe’s will take back anything no questions asked, the first thing that came to my mind was a customer buying a tool, using it to do a job, then returning it to get his money back.

She told me she had to get rid of it somehow and asked if I wanted to buy it, so I said “sure”. She asked what I would give for them so I told her $20.00. She then told me she would have to call the manager to see if that would be okay. I told her before I buy them, I wanted to make sure that my current batteries from my Porter Cable set would work on the tools. I’ve been using the same drill and jigsaw from the same set for a few years now, so I was hopeful my batteries would be compatible. I went to my car to grab my tool bag while she called the manager to make the deal happen. When I returned, she said “what about $25.00”. I said fine and hooked up my battery to the all the tools to make sure they all functioned. I took the bag of tools and walked up to customer service to buy them. I couldn’t believe it. I just bought a $300 combo set for $25.00. I didn’t care that the tools were a little beaten up and used. Almost all of my hand tools I buy are used. Many from a hundred years ago.

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When I got home, I laid the tools on my bench to see what I got. A drill, an impact drill, a sawsall, circular saw, multi tool, flashlight, and a battery power checker with USB ports. I took the battery it came with and charged it up. It works perfectly.

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Why the customer returned the tools is anybody’s guess. There is only one battery for the set, so it may be the guy wanted a free battery so he simply didn’t put the extra one back in the bag when he returned it. I don’t care. I’m just glad as hell I got the deal of the year. Happy Thanksgiving!