Tag Archives: wood talk online

Fine Woodworking Live Logo

Fine Woodworking Live August 2-5 SUNY New Paltz

You know I’m a big fan of Woodworking in America, it is a great time away from the day job, focused on woodworking with other woodworkers. I’ve been to two of them so far with the first one was focused on skill building and making connections. Last year was about renewing those connections and getting some special tools. I had a blast and learned a lot. It was a great time.

This year Woodworking in America is splitting into two shows, the traditional venue in Cincinnati, and a new location in Pasadena California. At first, my reaction was mixed: I’ll miss the guys who attend the Cincinnati show when I’m in Pasadena, but I’m excited for a shorter and cheaper flight.

Now Fine Woodworking mixes up the whole situation again with their announcement of Fine Woodworking Live August 2-5 at SUNY New Paltz.

Fine Woodworking Live Logo

Fine Woodworking Live

Will I Be There

I’m not sure I’ll attend Fine Woodworking Live, but we do have friends in New York that are getting married – so we might be in that area anyway. If I’m in town, I’m attending. There isn’t a mention of a vendor area, but that wouldn’t stop me from attending anyway. However I’m currently planning to attend only one show: Woodworking in America in Pasadena.

Justifying Three Shows Per Year

After reading the post and some comments over on The Woodwhisperer’s site I am convinced that this is a good thing, and an opportunity to grow the woodworking community. To me it says a lot about the resurgence of woodworking to see Popular Woodworking believe that they will have enough attendance for two shows, and for FWW to believe that they believe they’ll still get enough attendees to justify their own, competing show. The business decision makers and sponsors behind these shows wouldn’t go for it if they didn’t believe they had the attendee numbers to justify three shows in one year. That’s awesome, and I hope all these shows are successful.

Top Speakers and Interesting Topics

After looking that the schedule for Fine Woodworking Live, I’m excited about the sessions. I don’t know if the format will be similar to other shows, but the speakers they have lined up and the topics they will cover are genuinely interesting to me.

After a quick look, the top topics for me are:

  • 5 Ways to Bend Wood with Michael Fortune
  • Essential Workbench Jigs with Matt Kenney
  • 40 Years of Woodworking Tricks with Christian Becksvoort
  • 7 Steps to Beautiful Boxes Instructor with Matt Kenney

Making New Connections

Last year at Woodworking in America, one key topic of discussion was “How to Save Woodworking” it’s been an ongoing theme with Christopher Schwarz and was the subject of a banquet dinner at Woodworking in America 2011. We’ve been encouraged to start blogs, bring others into the craft, and work hard to educate consumers about the benefits of working with local woodworkers.

Woodworkers have taken that task head on, creating the Modern Woodworkers Association, rebooting #Woodchat, and launching Get Woodworking Week.

Get Woodworking Week

Get Woodworking Week

So, although I’m still bummed that I won’t see all the Cincinnati Crazies, I’m excited to meet new woodworkers, encourage them in the craft, and bring them into the community. Overall these three shows will collectively reach more people, and that’s great for woodworking and those that support it.

Woodworker Showcase

An opportunity that Popular Woodworking and Fine Woodworking are uniquely suited to help with is to open their shows up to the general public to help educate and increase demand for locally made furniture. These shows could have woodworking showcases with pieces for sale; they could advertise to and educate consumers; and have targetted business, marketing, and sales seminars for woodworkers.

For there to be resurgence of woodworkers, there must be demand for the products we woodworkers make, and Popular Woodworking and Fine Woodworking could help small woodworkers with that through their shows.

Here’s an excerpt of an earlier post I made on the subject:

Consumers are buying more locally and responsibly produced products in many areas of their life. Families attend farmers markets, buy handmade goods on Etsy, pursue organic food and fair trade coffee, and buy electric cars. They do this even when the products aren’t necessarily better, they do it for two other reasons (in my opinion). 1. The product is more authentic, and 2. the product is more responsible. People in Seattle worry about the carbon footprint of the California grown tomato. No really, they do.

It’s hard for me to explain what I mean when I say a product is more authentic. I guess the best example I can give is that authentic means that someone with real skill actually touched the product. Think Adele vs. Katy Perry, or The Gap vs. a hand-knit sweater. Responsible I think is easy – no one buys a Prius because it’s fast, sexy, or good looking. It’s a very ugly, slow, and uncomfortable car. People buy a Prius because they want to be responsible. They may tell you it’s for the economics, but I don’t believe them, especially those that paid a premium when they were in short demand.

So I think the position that woodworkers need make clear with consumers is that locally produced custom handmade solid wood furniture is better quality, but it’s also authentic and more responsible. When customers know that the wood for their piece was hand selected, shaped, joined, and finished by your hands, a warmth is imparted on the piece. You can enhance this by including them in the design, bringing them along to pick out the wood, and blogging in detail as you build the piece. It’s kind of like ultrasound pictures for a baby in the womb, only in this case the baby is their furniture and the womb is your shop.

You can also have conversations with consumers about the responsibility of your product. Use FSC certified woods, safe finishes, and build your product well. Explain to them about mass produced furniture being built from trees that shouldn’t have been harvested in the first place being shipped by the container full across oceans, cite examples of toxic finishes found on foreign made products, and help them understand that your product will never fall apart and end up in a landfill. And of course stand by your product if it does need repair.

Call To Action

So, if you’re a woodworker and you’re going to attend a show, great! But don’t spend too much time lamenting that you might not see all of your woodworking friends at the show. Be excited that our craft is growing, be outgoing and open and meet new woodworkers, and encourage them to continue in the craft. Let them know about all the resources that are out there: Twitter, #Woodchat, Wood Talk Online Forums, Podcasts, Blogs, The Woodwhisperer Guild, and The Hand Tool School, the Modern Woodworkers Association, and other resources. Get their contact information, and follow-up with them. Answer their questions, and introduce them to others. Get cheap VistaPrint business cards containing this information, and hand them out.

Go Be a Woodworking Ambassador!

Woodworker’s $160 Portable Spray Booth Part 1: Introduction and Finishing Turntable

This is the first post in a series detailing a woodworker’s portable spray booth that I’ve built. The design is based Michael Dresdner’s post on Fine Woodworking. I thought I had some original ideas to improve on this, but then I saw Jeff Jewitt’s book Spray Finishing Made Simple. You can build this booth for about $160 with supplies from your local big box store and scraps laying around your shop.

Application Techniques & Finish Choices

There are three main ways that I have applied finish in the past: brushing, wiping, and spraying.

I started, like most I think, brushing finishes. That’s never really given great results – the finish ends up too thick, with deep brush marks. This was early in my woodworking so I’m sure my material choice, surface prep, and brushing technique were problematic. I get much better results now, but don’t enjoy brushing and everything that goes with it.

In recent years, I’ve been applying wiping varnishes a lot. Oftentimes I’ll apply oil, then multiple coats of shellac, and finish with few topcoats of wipe on poly or Arm R Seal. On the downside this still takes multiple days, the rags have to be disposed of properly, and you’re required to store flammable chemicals. The upside is that there isn’t a lot of equipment required and the results are great with this tried-and-true technique so I’ll continue to use it.

I’ve also sprayed finish (including water based paint) with my Little Critter. it works great and doesn’t cost much. It can be a bit fussy and creates quite a cloud, and the guys at WTO made fun of it too. For small projects and with the right finish it works well, but isn’t right for large projects. I only use this with water based finishes though, because I don’t want to create a big flammable cloud in my shop. Polycrylic sprayed nicely and produced a smooth but plasticy finish.

Earlex HVLP and a Spray Booth

I’m pleased with with wipe-on varnishes so it’s time to upgrade my spray finishing tools, materials, and results. Last year my wife bought me an Earlex HV6900 which is a great unit. I’m applying more professional product like Enduro Var and working on bigger projects. With the Earlex and Enduro Var I have a great finish that isn’t flammable and cleans up with soapy water. So I’ve got the right material, I’ve got the right sprayer, so now it’s time to spray in the right place – a spray booth.

The Turntable

Inside the spray booth, it’s important to have a turntable. This lets you spin the work, instead of walking around it, and allows you to have linear airflow. The idea is to have fresh air flowing from behind you to the furniture in front of you. It’s also a good idea to keep the spray unit behind you in the fresh air. Any finish that doesn’t make it onto the furniture moves away from you, into the booth. This is cleaner for the user, keeps the finish from clouding in your shop, and since all spray is moving toward the finish, you get a better application. The turntable below is based on Dresdner’s. It breaks down flat, is easy to move because it rolls, and it’s sturdy.

Step 1: Build braces for the top and base from half-lapped 2x4s.


Step 2: Cut two circles out of plywood for the top and base (these are 42” diameter)


Step 3: Mount the braces to pipe flanges and screw pipes into the flanges

Note that the pipes are sized to fit one inside the other


Step 4: Screw the circles to the top and base


Done! you have a spinning, sturdy finishing turntable that breaks down flat when you unscrew the pipes from the flanges.

Leave me a comment and let me know:

  • What finishes are your favorite?
  • What are your application methods?
  • Do you worry about a flames or fumes?
  • What are your tips, tricks, or safety concerns?

Tom’s Workbench Spotlights Matt Gradwohl and Upper Cut Woodworks

The Woodworking community is very supportive and dedicated. Woodworkers are actively preserving the materials, designs, tools and techniques. Some of this preservation is happening on the Internet via traditional magazines bringing content to the web, but a lot of it is being preserved by the dedicated woodworkers themselves. I am a big fan of blogs and online woodworking communities, check out the Blogroll in the right side bar of the main page to see some of my favorites.

Tom Iovino is a long-time member of the woodworking community, and is doing his part to advance the craft. Tom is the Managing Editor of Tom’s Workbench which is one of the most popular woodworking blogs on the internet. Tom’s Tips are featured on Wood Talk Online and he is a published woodworking author. He currently writes the Shop Monkey series of articles for Wood Magazine. I met Tom at the Woodworking In America conference and he’s a great guy, super friendly, and a top craftsman & blogger.

So, with credentials like that I was surprised and pleased that Tom was interested in featuring Upper Cut Woodworks on his blog. I quickly agreed. It’s always great to talk to another woodworking blogger, and Tom and I had a great conversation. This was a really fun process.

Tom’s article about me, my woodworking, and Upper Cut Woodworks is on Tom’s Workbench, here.

Taking a break from chopping out some handcut dovetails in the shop.

Taking a break from chopping out some hand cut dovetails in the shop.