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Penland School of Crafts has been operating in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains for over 75 years. This book details how ten instructors – all experts in their fields – make some of the furniture for which they are best known. Each instructor is vastly different from the next, and the tips they detail are highly innovative yet understandable and useful to the amateur woodworker. The director of the school, Jean McLaughlin, says the aim of the book is threefold. “To give the reader insight into the creative and technical processes of leading woodworkers, to provide detailed, intermediate-level technical information, and to showcase a range of approaches to the material.” The book excels on all three levels. Even when Istrongly disliked the style of furniture being discussed, revelled in the unique approach the maker took to break new ground to complete the finished piece. If you would like to see how one-of-a-kind pieces of studio furniture are made, and start to add some new techniques to your arsenal, either take a trip to North Carolina or pick up this book.
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Watching all of these crafters for the past few weeks has not only been the highlight of my week, but it has inspired me to learn more about crafting and explore my own creativity through their different mediums. Inevitably, I fell down an internet rabbit hole of research and excitement (including Kristen McQuinn’s piece on Books About Traditional Crafts) and found myself enthralled by what I found on the craft of my childhood, woodworking.
I’ve seen antique cabinetmakers’ benches that are sixteen and seventeen feet long, more than three feet wide, and supported by a dozen drawers and doors—and that weigh as much as a felled oak tree. In contrast, jewelers’ cabinets seem to be on a dollhouse scale, with tiny tools to match. For most of us, however, space limitations preclude the biggest, and the smallest are just not big enough.
Put the upper panel of MDF on your glue-up surface, bottom side up. Put the bottom panel of MDF on your other surface, bottom side down. (The panel with the holes drilled in it is the bottom panel, and the side that has the your layout diagram on it is the bottom side.) Chuck up in your drill the appropriate driver bit for the screws your using. Make sure you have a freshly-charged battery, and crank the speed down and the torque way down. You don't want to over-tighten the screws, MDF strips easily.
As simple as its elements are, the workbench is more than a tabletop with legs, a well, and a few holes. Virtually everything in the workshop comes to rest on the bench at some point, even if only between operations at other stations. Planning and layout, cutting and shaping, assembling and finishing–all can be, and often are, performed on the benchtop. The better the design, and the better suited its size and configuration to your labors, the more efficient a tool it will be.
Big Book of Scroll Saw Woodworking. This book is jammed packed with scroll saw projects. Sixty projects to be exact. Topics include working with patterns, choosing materials, and blade selection. The projects are from many contributing experts on scroll saw woodworking. You’ll learn to make puzzles, boxes, toys, baskets, intarsia, portraits. Projects range from beginner to advanced.
This table top is also made from the hardest wood out of any manufacturer we reviewed: oak. In fairness, this can be both a blessing and a curse. The oak wood is extremely durable and noted for its lack of a porous nature. This means the top can withstand plenty of abuse from tool and workpieces. Moreover, you will not have to worry about liquids like lacquers and stains from being absorbed into the top. That said, the hard oak can also do a number on tool sharpness, dulling them prematurely if they are not carefully handled.