Thursday, January 30, 2020

I need good laugh...

You know what? 

I need a good laugh. 

It's been a rough month, and I just needed this video to give me a good diversion. 


Drunk Scottish Guy Wakes Up In The Wrong House, Gets The Most Scottish Reaction From Homeowners

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Wanna see some of the student's 2019 work?

We had a ton of fun in 2019 - the camaraderie is a really important component in the classes that I teach. We rely on teamwork, on keeping an eye out for our fellow shop mates, and for lending opinions about the designs we're building. 

That line - It Takes a Village - is true.

I wanted to take a minute to acknowledge some of the great pieces that people built at the shop this past year. See, in the classes, everyone mostly builds the same projects, so that they can learn some awesome techniques, refine their skills and get in some solid practice, so that when they tackle a bigger piece, they'll be able to build it properly. 

So we start with some simple things like these cutting boards. 

When you learn to make something simple like that style of board, you can work up to something a little more complex, like this one. 

or these - beautiful scooped charcuterie boards. WOW!

 These pictures don't do them justice. 

think it's helpful to start on a more "utility" project, like a workbench. If someone makes a slight mistake on their workbench, like a small gap on a mortise and tenon joint, or  if it has a funky looking glue line, it's not the end of the world. 

The bench is still going to work fine, and it's certainly something to be proud of. Check these out! 

These are serious, weighty benches, and will give these students years of use.

Starting with a bench is great, but graduating to more "finished" pieces is the goal - and our table making class gave everyone the opportunity to make some AMAZING tables.

 Like this mid-century inspired coffee table with a flip top. 

Or this Sassafras dining table, built for six.

Look at this ridiculously beautiful live edge table. 

It has a waterfall edge, and a beefy custom metal leg. (Thanks, Hugo!)

This rustic sofa table is gorgeous,

 and was designed to fit a few more diners during holiday meals. The woman who made this is so talented, it's ridiculous! 

She brought this meal on the last night of her class. 

MUCH appreciated by everyone in her class. 

She's in the front row, middle, in the solid black shirt... we LOVE her food, and the energy and great vibe that she brings to any class.

We also build some much bigger pieces - usually on Saturdays during Open Shop, where past students can rent shop time and build independently.

This bed was one of the highlights of the year, built by the same woman who built the live edge corner table shown above.  The bed started out with four massive bed posts, and some  custom made metal brackets for mounting the live edge head and foot boards. 

If I had to guess, this bed took Laura maybe 4 months of building on Saturdays. 

It's just... stunning. 

And when she added motion activated lights under the side rails, it blew us away! I could not be more proud of what she built!

We had another ongoing project in the shop - this kitchen island made for John's daughter, who likes to bake and needed more counter space in her kitchen. 

It rolls out of the way when she's not using it, 

and the top flips up to give her more counter space. 

I'm guessing it took him maybe 2-3 months of Saturdays to make this, and it's so functional and matches her existing cabinetry... it's just a wonderful gift!

These next photos are from a few years ago, buy John also made this crafting table for his wife, and he's told me that it gets a TON of use. (He made the lamp on it, too!)

Ann's been working on building bathroom vanity for a while, it matches a piece in her home, and the ornate trim was quite a challenge to match. 

and the final piece with its granite top is perfect. 

This is a masterpiece!

She also made this matching medicine cabinet - a small piece, but a wonderful touch in her bathroom.

They say the most challenging piece to build is a chair, and Kareem knocked it out of the park with this design. 

He based the design on the back on a QR code, and his execution was perfect. 

I'm always happy to see his name on an upcoming class roster, as he's SO creative and wood-curious.

John didn't make this piece in my shop, but brought it by for us to see... what amazing colors and texture he got in the resin! That delicate spindle work is SO difficult, and he's producing some amazing turned pieces lately.

So what's the key to building amazing pieces?

Practice, practice, and more practice. I know it sounds silly, but making small projects like these candles (with built-in matches!) 

or these cool "wristwatches" will really increase your skills and help you when you tackle larger projects. 

I apologize if I forgot anyone's work... if I've forgotten a piece you built this past year, send me some photos and I'll add it to the next post!


I have this amazing piece of curly Purpleheart to tackle, 

and some big projects in the pipeline... it's going to be a busy year! 

I'm going to post a few pics of my 2019 projects in my next blog - stay tuned!

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Who knew....? Another little hidden gem that's right here in Las Vegas

Let me get this out on the table from the start - I'm a little jaded about the "latest and greatest" woodworking gear.  

I think people try to overcomplicate things - like trying to invent the "next best" doweling jig, or the coming up with a "new" finish that is basically the same as other finishes on the market. OK, maybe they added a teaspoon more of beeswax or something, and called it something different... 

So when my buddy Andrew Moore of Reclaimed Secrets told me about a new saw blade that he'd discovered, I didn't think that much of it. 

I'm a pretty loyal user of the Forrest Woodworker II blade. I probably have a half dozen of them at my shop. Three are in the tablesaws at any given time, and three are sharpened and ready to be installed. It's a good, albeit expensive setup.

The part that was interesting about Andrew's discovery is that this blade company is local - located right in Henderson, just a short hop across town from my shop.  The Oshlun crew were generous with Andrew, giving him some blades to test, and he shared one with me.

So I tested their blade on our Festool Track saw.  

We cut so many slabs with that saw, the poor thing was starting to complain, and that  blade took a beating. But... the cut quality was impressive, to say the least, and it held its edge for miles of cutting. Well, maybe not miles, but it was impressive. 

Next stop?  Our Safety Speed Cut panel saw, which gets a workout almost every day. 

Any given afternoon might find someone in need of a door trimmed, or some sheets of paneling broken down. I've even been cutting FRPs for a local surveyor, who places giant "X" markers out in rural Nevada. It's messy to cut FRP, and I have a Oshlun blade dedicated just for his work. 


But the real eye-opening experience was loading one of their blades in my tablesaw and cutting with it. See, classes were starting soon, and I needed to cut miles of wood for their first project - the cutting board stock. 

When I say I'm cutting miles of wood... well, I mean it. 

. \

And you know what? 

That new Oshlun blade performed better than some the high quality blades I've always used.

Read more about the blade here.

It's just my opinion, but I think it performed better than the Forrest blades I've used. Better than the Freud blades, and better than even one of my favorites - blades made by HO Schumacher & Sohn.Now... if I can only get the guys from Oshlun out to my shop to give a little presentation on their blades for one of my Sin City Woodworkers meetings... that would be great!

Sunday, January 05, 2020

RIP Stella, you were the best

Hope the New Year is starting off good for you. 


Not such a good start, but I just can't go into it right now. 

My beloved Stella passed away and it might just be a while until I can write about it. 

She was the sweetest soul and my favorite woodshop companion. 

She made me smile every time I looked her way, and it's going to be a long time until I'll be able to think of her without a huge lump in my throat.

Meanwhile, these toolbox musicians managed to make me smile this week, which was a small victory. 

Enjoy. And hug your pets tight tonight.