Look Mom … I’m on TV!

Handcrafted America - 300x145Well not yet, but coming next spring. A new show premiering on the INSP network will be featuring three artisans each episode, with a focus on making things  by hand. Some great artisans are in the line up and I am privileged to be among them. Not sure yet when my segment will air, but you may want to start following the show when it premiers on March 1, 2016. More about the show, finding in your local lineup, and updates on schedules available here.

Box Legs

I have been asked a few times about making the legs that I use on a few of my boxes. Here is a brief description of the process along with a link to an attachment with a few dimensions and templates.

leg closeup


I start with a length or two of 7/8″ square stock. 16″ will yield 4 legs (assuming no “oops”).  With a flat top blade in the table saw, I set the fence to between 3/16″ and 1/4″ from the blade, and set the blade height the same. Run a test piece or 2 until you can make two passes over the blade to result in a right angled piece with a clean inside corner. (see the linked drawing).

Now cut the piece into the finished length for each leg.

Next, mark, on the inside of the piece, the widest point of the leg, also shown on the template. Then connect the top and bottom inside of the side, to the wide point. (Shown in red on the linked drawing). Using a handsaw, bandsaw or disk sander, cut away the excess to create the tapered sides.

Finally, I take each leg to the spindle sander, (could also do with the scroll saw or coping saw), and create the curved top section of each side as shown on the linked drawing with the dotted line.

Hope this is understandable!

And now….for something a bit different!

My 9 year old grandson Jeremy has always been interested in tools, and making/fixing things. This year his birthday present was a woodworking class with Grandpa. Each Tuesday we get together and work on projects. His first was an adjustable book holder.  At the same time, we started working on building him a workbench. Last week we just about finished that. Every project is a team effort. Grandpa does some work with the large power tools. Jeremy is a wiz at the drill press, doing glue ups, and using a centering rule, tape measure, clamps and his own tri-square. He also used the portable electric drill to drill for and drive the screws for the lower bench shelf. Next project is a tool tote box.

Louis Cube Lidded Box

Sat in on a class at the Milwaukee Woodworking Show presented by Marc Adams. He showed a number of veneering techniques, including Louis cubes, so I had to give it a try. Not perfect, but lots of fun. Something he recommended, which I have not yet tried, is to replace regular veneer tape for the face surface, with ShurTape CP-28. Supposedly, it is “tender” enough to withstand the pressure of the glue up process and will remove easily with out leaving a residue. This would eliminate introducing water into a veneer assembly which can be problematic. He did say that it was hard to find in small quantities. I called the manufacturer, and they were of little help. Then I found it, where else, on Amazon. So I will be trying that on my next project and see how it works.

louis cube closed louis cube open louis cube top

Profiled Sides Technique for Jewelry Boxes

Many jewelry boxes have multiple levels….incorporating one or more trays or other inserts. Often these are supported by additional pieces glued into the box sides to provide a rail, or rail pieces inserted into dados along the sides. I never liked those approaches for many reasons. If the box is made of 3/4″ stock, then at typical dimensions, it is way too “bulky” at the joint between the top and bottom of the box. So then one must plane down the stock, but then turn around and add more in to create the rails. Instead, I cut profiles into the box sides which creates integral rails, thins out the stock for better esthetics at the joint, and results is a very solid construction. In the typical box I shoot for a stock thickness at the top-bottom joint of between 1/2″ and 5/8″ depending upon the overall size of the box. The profiled rails are approximately 1/8″ each. If you are interested in some representative dimensions for profiles on different types of boxes, check the downloadable pdf files in the download section of this blog.


profiled sides doc

Can’t live without my Incra Gauge(s)

Forget the stackable brass bars, forget the digital gauges with batteries that always die at the wrong time, this little tool that has been around for over 20 years, runs circles around them all! I have two in my shop, and one in fact is at least 15 years old. Nothing to wear out, no batteries to die. I am still finding new ways to use them as well. Check it out. Here’s a brief write up with pics that I did on this great tool.

A technique for making ring bars

Sometimes it can’t be avoided…..you need to add ring bars, those fabric covered foam strips between which rings are wedged into a jewelry box. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could use the same high quality fabric, in the same color as you used for the rest of the box lining? I’ve tried many techniques I’ve seen illustrated in the past, and none really worked well. So I came up with my own. Still not fun, but the end result delivers on what I need. If you are interested in checking it out, I’ve put together an illustrated pdf guide here.   Making ring bars.  Check it out.

A short-lived Box

Talk about going from elated to deflated. This box was a custom order that really worked out well….until I shipped it!  It didn’t survive the trip. I posted the box on Lumberjocks when it was done, and it made the most viewed and commented on for that day. Great feedback, so the email from my customer telling me what it looked like when he opened the box was a real let down to say the least.

round 3 maple and ebony closed 2 round 3 maple and ebony open 1 BOX 1a_DSC0188 - Copy

A Short Lived Box — Chapter 2

Obviously, I had to build a replacement box for the one that was demolished in shipment. Of course, I don’t typically have a lot of ebony laying around, so had to go back to Bell Forest Products for more of that. Happily, the new piece worked out, and this time survived shipping!round 2 maple and ebony open 2 round 2 maple and ebony top view.

A Short-Lived Box…Chapter 3

The customer returned the “pieces” of the original box. Basically, the case was worthless, but the 4 drawers were still ok, as was the zebrawood panel in the lid. Should I try?  Are you kidding?  But I did. Whereas one always wants to build the case first, then fit the drawers, I had to do the exact opposite. Compounding the challenge was the fact that due to an math error, the runners for the drawers on the original were not evenly spaced, so each drawer had a dado for the runner in a different location on the sides. MADE IT!  It all went together and fit! If I had been off anything more than about a 32nd of an inch, it would have been firewood. Great feeling but I don’t really want to do it again.round 2 maple and ebony closed 3 round 2 maple and ebony open 1