>Tips on Starting a Woodworking Blog


I am constantly amazed by the number of woodworking blogs out on the web. A quick search around or flipping through the woodworking tags on a site like Stumbleupon reveals more reading material than you can possibly digest. As a matter of fact if you were to try and read all of the blogs on woodworking then…well you wouldn’t have time to woodwork!

So, why are there so many blogs out there and more being started every day? And why would you start a woodworking blog if it is difficult to get a large following and almost impossible to ever make money at it? Well, first of all if you go into this hoping to become famous or rich, you may want to try something else like say…playing the lottery? Most blogs including mine were started because we love what we do and want to share it with others. You have to be passionate about what you are doing and want to write about it even if no one reads it.

When I first started Highrockwoodworking I was disappointed that I did not automatically have readers, but at the same time I was not participating in other blogs and forums. The blogging community is just that a community. We learn from one another and hope that a few others will stop by and either learn something or give us a few tips of their own.

I will be the first to tell you my site does not generate thousands of people a day but I have a steady group that reads my site and I really appreciate those who do take their time to stop by and read what I have to say. I also have many woodworking blogs I follow and admire.

• Write about what you are passionate about.

• Continue to write even if no one reads it, that will come sooner or later.

• Be yourself and don’t take yourself too seriously.

• Be involved with the community you are writing about, you have a chance to make some great friends.

• Be patient.

• Get involved with Twitter and not just to advertise your blog post.


As always, thank you for reading and feel free to leave a comment on your thoughts or sudgestions.




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>Amateur Woodworker or Professional Woodworker?


I have been thinking a lot about the term “amateur woodworker”.  The word “amateur” makes you sound like well…..an amateur.  I know technically it means simply that you are not a professional but the term still has a slightly negative connotation to it.  As for myself, well I am not even really sure how to describe my woodworking?  I grew up and worked for many years building houses with my father where one of my main jobs was to build the cabinets and often furniture for many of the custom homes.  Over the years I no longer work on the job sites but instead manage a projects and a construction company.  So I am I no longer a “professional” since I don’t work with my tools at work anymore?

And what about the difference in the skill level between an amateur and professional woodworker?  A professional woodworker is paid to because of their skill and artistic ability.  They are expected to have a high level of quality and spend their days working on their trade.  An amateur woodworker usually has a day job that they work at and only woodwork as a hobby for fun.  But take a quick look around the web at sites like The Wood Whisperer or LumberJocks and you will quickly see that there are some amazing pieces made by what are considered amateur woodworkers.

It seems that in truth it really doesn’t matter if you are an amateur or professional woodworker, we all have a lot to teach each other.

Thanks for reading and as always leave a comment with your thoughts.



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>Wormy Chestnut and Wenge Hand Plane


For some time now I have wanted to build a hand plane but have always had some other project I need to finish first, well I decided that I would always have some other project to finish and just jumped into the hand plane project.  The thought of building a project with tools I have made very appealing to me, so I thought a nice wooden hand plane would be a perfect start. 
Cutting of the body went fast and I was soon able to dry fit all of the pieces together to see how the rough plane would look.  For the bed I went with the 50 degree angle that was shown on the in the illustration.  There is always a lot of debate as to the best angle for the iron to rest at and a lot of the decision depends on your intended purpose and type of wood, but for myself I typically like a higher angle.After doing a little research online I found a style I liked and a downloadable plan from Popular Mechanics website, this seemed like a strange place for a wooden hand plane plan but the illustration is great.  Anxious to get started and not wanting to go buy more wood I looked around the shop to see what I had.  I decided that a 6/4 wormy Chestnut board I had would be great for the body but for the sole and wedge I started with a Cherry…  but after some welcome advice from Scott Meek of Scott Meek Wood Works, I realized that a denser wood would be more suited for the project and would help resist wear over time.  I decide to go with Wenge as I liked the contrast against the Chestnut and I have always wanted to use it in a project.  
As a side note I did not realize how hazardous Wenge dust can be and did not start out using adequate protection to keep from breathing in the dust.  You can read more about this in my previous post Dealing with Toxic Wood Dust, but I can tell you this stuff can be rough if you inhale it.   
One mistake that I made and did not realize until to late was that I should have glued that sole plate on to the rough stock before I cut it into the front, back, and side pieces.  By not having the sole glued on before, I realized that I needed to glue sole plates onto each of the pieces and then clean the pieces back up again.  I was concerned that if I tried to glue the sole plate one after the body I would have had a difficult time keeping the mouth clean and flush with the inside of the body. 
Before gluing the plane together I order the iron and chip breaker, I went with a Hock blade that I ordered for Highland Woodworking.  The blade was great right out of the package and with only a little honing was ready to cut.  I used the iron to make final adjustments and placements before final glue up.  After the glue was set I planed each of the faces one more time to make sure everything was square and flush. 
For the final part of the process I needed to shape the body of the plane to its final dimensions.  I decided to just freehand the shape onto the plane with a pencil.  After a few adjustments of my lines I was satisfied and cut away the waste.  All that was left was to sand everything smooth.  Now, as for a finish there are many opinions as to whether a finish should be applied or not, but for this post I decided to stop at this point.  However, I am going to put a few coats of Tung oil on for protection and….well I just think it looks better! 
This plane works great and I could not more pleased with how it cuts with only a little adjustment.  It was a great little project be build and can’t wait to build another.  

Please leave a comment below and share your opinions and experiences.  As always thanks for reading!


Below is the illustration I used and a link to the Popular Mechanics site.

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>Dealing with Toxic Wood Dust

>There are moments in woodworking, just like in everything else we do in life, that we look back and say why didn’t I think of that before I started? I have a tendency to just jump and get me feet wet and figure the details out as I go. As far as figuring out the details on how I build something I like to rely on my skills at “figuring things out” but what we should not figure out as we go is shop safety. We are all conscious of protecting ourselves when using power equipment or protecting ourselves from hazardous chemicals but what about wood dust? Wood dust can potentially be just as hazardous as anything else in our shop.

On a project I have been working on I am using Wenge as an accent. I have never used Wenge before but have always wanted to incorporate it into one of my projects. Other than hearing that it is expensive I knew little else about the wood. After picking up a piece at almost $14 per board foot, I discovered that the one thing I did know about the wood was correct, it is expensive!

Like many hobby woodworkers my workshop is in my two car garage and space is limited and for the amount of work that I do I have never justified purchasing a dust collector. I have a respirator mask that I wear when sanding or using chemicals but never bother when using the table saw. After getting the Wenge into the shop I cut the pieces to length and then put on my mask before sanding. After being in the shop for a few hours I came back into the house and told my wife that I felt congested, nauseous, and drowsy, and that I thought I was coming down with something. After lying down I felt better after a couple of hours.

This whole incident should have been a clue but being hard headed and wanting to finish I went back out into the shop and worked for another hour later in the evening only to find that once again I started feel bad again. Finally making a connection I came in and looked up the toxic effects of Wenge, they include respiratory problems, nausea, and drowsiness as well as the dust can cause a poison ivy like rash on the skin! The mistake I made was not being aware of the potential problems of a material that I had never used.

There are many woods such as Greenheart, Padauk, Rosewood, Teak, Wenge, and even Black Walnut can cause respiratory, eye & skin, nausea, and a number of other problems, some woods such as Sasafras that have been linked to nasal cancer. The important thing is be informed with what you are working with and protect yourself accordingly, such as wearing a mask or respirator when cutting and sanding. I protected myself while sanding but failed to protect myself when cutting and from the dust that remained in my shop. Another way I could have helped protect myself would have been to open the garage doors and turned on a fan to help clear the dust from the air.

This experience has also made me realize that a dust collector is more than just a way to my shop clean but could also help in keeping toxic dust out of the shop and more importantly out of my home where it could affect my family.

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>Georgia Woodworking Get Together!

>Last night while listening to Wood Talk Online I noticed that there were a lot of woodworkers in the chat room from the Atlanta area.  Someone brought up that we should all try and get together, so I volunteered to see if I could put something in place.  I have had several e-mails from woodworkers interested and thought this would be a great opportunity for fellow woodworkers to share experiences with those close by.  If anyone is interested leave a comment or you can e-mail me at highrockwoodworking@gmail.com

For now there is no real plan other than just getting together and see where it goes.  If anyone has any ideas or even needs that this could fill, let me know. 

Chris Adkins

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>Veritas Router Plane Review


My wife recently surprised me with a Veritas Router Plane and Router Plane Fence.  She knows that I am like a kid in a candy store when it comes to new tools.  I have always wanted a router plane but only had one occasion to even use one, it was a class that Marc Spagnuolo (The Wood Whisperer) was giving at the Highland Hardware Store here in Atlanta.  I loved the tool and immediately thought of a thousand used for it but only added it to my wish list.  My wife always keeps a few tool magazines for herself and when I mention something that I like she circles it for a surprise at a later time….I know she is great.
Like all Veritas the router plane was sharp right out of the box.  A little honing is all that is needed but I like to try the tool out before honing just to see how it does with the factory edge, and this one did great.  The plane comes with a ½” pointed blade, ½” straight blade, and ¼” straight blade. 
I started by trying the router out on a dado.  I used my table saw to make a rough dado in the middle of an oak board and rough cleaning it out with a chisel.  I started out with the 1/2” straight blade the blade occasionally chattered but I soon learned how much I could drop the blade at one time to prevent chattering.  After switching to the ½” pointed blade I was able to cut deeper with each new adjustment but the blade does leave the bottom of the dado at a slight V instead of flat.  It seems as if for a dado the best is a combination, the pointed blade for the rough work and then the flat blade for the final flattening out of the bottom.  The end result was a very clean dado with a very precise depth with I checked with my micrometer. 
As I said starting out my wife also bought me a fence to go with the router plane.  I decided to see how well the fence worked by making a rabbet on the same board’s edge.  Straight out of the box it took me a few minutes to find the screw that holds the fence onto the router, I looked all in the box but then realized that the screw is stored in the end of the fence shaft, I guess I should have read the directions first.  After installing the fence I decided that this time I would not rough cut the rabbet with the table saw but instead use the router plane to complete the entire cut.  I quickly learned that like any other plane you have to be cautious of grain direction.  The first attempt I cut to deep and against the grain and ended up with some pretty bad tear out.  I started with the pointed blade flush and only dropped a quarter of a turn at a time, after not getting the results I wanted I switched to the straight blade.  I was able to control the cut much better on the rabbet cut with the straight blade and after about a 1/8” down on the cut I was able to make a full turn (1/32”) with each adjustment. 
The only issue I had was that I was trying to make the rabbet cut on the board’s edge rather than on the face.  Part of the reason I did this was because the board was so small and I wanted to clamp it in my bench vice.  It would be better to cut the rabbet using the face of the board as you have more area in which you can hold the plane flat.  I had a tendency to tilt the plane but was able to make adjustments to give me a clean right angle before I was complete.
I am really happy with the plane and can’t wait to put it to use on my next project.  It looks like I owe my wife a nice date night…

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