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.
• START WRITING!
As always, thank you for reading and feel free to leave a comment on your thoughts or sudgestions.
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.
Well after way to long working on this bed I finally finished it and my daughter loves it. It probably would have been much simpler to just use smaller posts instead of glueing the three 2×6’s together and then cutting them down or to not have ripped all of the 2x material down so that…well they didn’t look like 2x material but I am really happy with the results. With the head and foot boards mortised, glued, and lagged together they are really strong. I notched the side rails to form a tenon so that they slide back into the mortice cut into the head and foot boards and installed lags to secure them in place. The end result is a bed that is easily disassembled but very sturdy.
The loft bed is great for our daughters room because it allows her to use the space under neath as a play area and saves space.
This weekend I had a little time to spend in the shop and wanted to cut a few dovetails as it has been a while. I am getting ready to start a chest of drawers project as part of the Woodwhisperer Guild summer build and will need to cut quite a few dovetails, so I decided to play around a little. Before long I ended up with a cool little box.
I started with cutting a few dovetails in some scrap oak I had laying around the shop. After I finished they fit so nice I decided to go ahead and make a box out of them. I lined the inside with cherry for the lid to sit on and also used cherry for the base and lid. The holes I drilled in the sides to show some of the cherry lining as a contrast to the oak.
The tree came from an idea that I have had for a while. I sketched the tree onto a 1/4″ piece of oak and cut it out using my scroll saw. Once the shape was cut out I used a wood carving bit on my dremel to finish the tree. After carving tree I realized that because the surface of the tree was now uneven I was going to have a problem clamping it to the lid while gluing it down. The solution I came up with was to apply the glue to the back of the tree, lay it on the lid and then cover it with plastic wrap for protection. I then placed pea gravel over the surface and set a weight on top. The pea gravel allowed the weight to have even pressure over the surface.
This was a fun little project to build and sometimes it is nice just to see where inspiration takes us.
One of the biggest issues most amateur woodworkers face is not enough workshop space, most of us work out of our garage or something similar in size. Tools constantly complete for floor space and there just never seems to be enough storage. With limited space organization becomes woodworkers’ most critical skill. But organization does not only apply to a small shop but to any shop. A large shop can become cluttered with tools, materials, waste, and whatever else we drag in to the point where it takes longer to find a tool than to use it.
In my shop I have many medium sized tools that need to be secured to a bench in order keep them from moving around during use such as my scroll saw, morticer, dovetail jig, bench vise, and others. If I mounted all of these tools on my various benches around the shop…well I would have no place to put anything together. The solution I have for this is that I secure all of these tools to pieces of plywood. I use ¾” plywood so that I can countersink the bottom side so that the bolt heads I use to secure the tools is flush with the bottom. With the tool attached to the plywood I only need to clamp the plywood down to my workbench with a few C clamps and can work on a secure platform. Once I am finished I can store the tool away for the next use with only minutes of set up.
Like most woodworkers I have way to much “stuff” in my shop, the best solution I have found for this is using the heavy duty wall mounted shelves that can be purchased at Home Depot or Lowe’s. The shelves come with vertical brackets that allow the shelves to be adjustable and are extremely strong. I use storage containers labeled by category such as, finishing supplies. Storage containers are also great for grouping tools such as palm sanders or for keeping tools together, I keep my router in the same containers with my router bit containers, everything is in one place when I need it. The shelving also work great for a horizontal wood storage, with the shelves being adjustable you can take up only as much room as needed.
Organizing the shop does not have to cost a lot of our money, we need that for…….well, more tools. There are many things around the house, shop, and office that can be used to help. Food storage containers work great for organizing various screw sizes or for storing finishing rags between coats, when applying wipe on poly I keep a container with a little mineral spirits in the bottom to keep my cloth from setting up between coats. Stackable file trays work great for sandpaper storage. Too many clamps scattered around the shop? Just screw a scrap piece of wood into the wall and secure all of your clamps there.
The most important rules I have learned in keeping my shop functional is to keep everything in it place, label so that I can quickly find what I am looking for, and keep the shop clean. I have always made it a practice to take a few minutes before finishing up in the shop to clean and organize. Just a few minutes of cleaning and organizing can help you work faster because you are working in a more efficient environment.
My dad has alway had the habit of bringing in some rather unusual tools into the shop. A few months ago he called and said wait until you see what I found. The next week I drove up to North Carolina and in the shop was a very strange looking tool….or something like that. It is a vertical belt sander made by Wysong and Miles Co. The sanding belt is less than 2″ wide but is around 15′ long! The three phase motor runs great and is very sooth. The belt can does not have to be exact in length as counter weights keep pressure so that really no adjustment is needed. The belt rest against a form that can be changed out on the table for different profiles. The advantage to the belt being so long is that very little heat builds up and the belt last longer since there is more surface for longer wear.
I haven’t been able to find much information on the sander but believe it was used in furniture factory for shaping profiles. It was fitted with a wood profile covered with copper sheeting for protection. I was surprised how fast it cuts and does not black the wood from heating.
My wife and I were visiting our families up in North Carolina. As usual I tried to spend a little time out in the shop and while out behind the shop I ran into a stack of lumber that I had almost forgotten about. About two years ago we had to demo my Great Grandmother’s old house as the state was building a new four-lane and the old house turned out to be a casualty of progress. After removing the old plaster we realized that about 90% of the framing in the house was chestnut or what we call wormy chestnut.
It is estimated that before the 1900’s 25% of trees in the Appalachian mountains were American chestnut, I have read that the mountains looked snow covered in the spring when the chestnuts were in bloom. Today they are gone due to a chestnut blight that hit in the early 1900’s, with only a few mature trees are know to exist in the Appalachian mountains. What we call wormy chestnut is actually trees that were damaged by the blight but were cut to be used as timber for houses and barns rather than to lay and rot.
Wormy chestnut was a popular wood for local woodworkers at the time when I grew up and honestly I have always thought of it as a bit old fashioned and rustic. But standing there looking at the stack of lumber I realized that it was part of my heritage and that I should try and incorporate it into the style of work I build.
I decided that since the wood is so durable and perfect for the outdoors, that the first project I am going to work on is building a bench to go outside the front door of my home. The challenge is building a bench that is somewhat contemporary but using a wood that is definitely on the rustic side. Some of the challenges in working with this type of wood is that a lot of the boards are split or deteriorated from exposer to weather and insects, this must be taking into account when planning to ensure you have enough material. Another major concern is that because the wood has been used in framing there tends to be nails in it. A visual inspection will not always find all of the nails because some have rusted until there is nothing on the surface, a metal detector is the best way to make sure all the nails have been removed.
I look forward to getting started on this project and will post more soon!
The picture of the board is an actual piece that I am working with, and although I took this picture because there were a lot of holes in it, it is a pretty true representation of the wood. Also, the picture below is a gun cabinet that my father built before I was born so it means a lot to me.