I couldn’t believe the great crowd we had last night for Bryan Nelson’s Router Basics seminar! I counted 137 eager woodworkers. For those of you who were at the Paul McCartney concert at the Wells Fargo arena, you missed a great seminar (And I bet Paul didn’t even give away any $5 coupons with those $100 tickets or door prizes, did he?)
Bryan covered what to look for in buying a router (fixed base vs. plunge base vs. combo kits), feed direction, collet size, and speed control. In addition he got into the tricky question of when to backrout and when not to. And he also offered some tips on how to prevent chipout, showed a neat little depth gauge for roundovers and chamfers, and demonstrated how to cut a dado or groove so the piece fitting in will have a perfect fit. (Though Bryan admitted he hadn’t practiced this last demonstration in advance, it fit perfectly like a hand in a glove. I was impressed!) And, as always, those of you in the audience had some great questions.
So remember, "Twist and Shout (With your Router)" and "She (Your Router) Loves You, yeah, yeah, yeah." Take that Paul McCartney!
You may have heard me mention Bloglines at the last few seminars. Today I added Bloglines to our Links of Interest and Doug asked me to let you know what exactly it is. In short, Bloglines is an online service for searching, subscribing, creating and sharing news feeds, blogs and web content.
Most blogs are updated daily (sometimes six or seven times a day). This is one of the things that make them so popular. But clicking through dozens of bookmarks, several times a day, can be tedious. That’s where Bloglines comes in.
Bloglines is a web-based online service that’s free. There are no programs or software to download. To use it, all you need to do is register and set up an account with a user name and a password. When you register, you’ll be provided a directory with links to tons of blogs, news feeds, and a wide assortment of web content that you can save or delete according to your tastes or interests.
Once you’re set up, you’ll be able to open Bloglines and see at a glance whether there is anything new going on. Under the tab "My Feeds," will be a list of all the feeds you’ve chosen with a number in parenthesis next to it. This number indicates the number of new posts since the last time you’ve visited. It’s an easy way to stay on top of your favorite blogs and such and I recommend giving it a try.
We’ve all heard the story of the persistant ant pushing his food up the hill. Woodworkers are a lot like ants.
Last Thursday, I spoke with a young man who has been attending the woodworking seminars. He told me he went to the Cabinet mini-seminar at the Woodsmith Store EXPO and was inspired to start attending the Thursday night seminars. After Doug’s seminar was finished, he stuck around to ask him a question. Doug was busy answering other questions and so he asked me instead.
"I’ve learned a lot the last two weeks, but I was wondering, is there an easy way to cut 4×8 sheets of plywood without a table saw?"
I told him how I’ve done it (I like to use a circular saw with a cutting guide) and then I asked him why he wanted to cut full sheets of plywood. His answer floored me.
"I’m replacing my kitchen cabinets and I don’t own a table saw."
The ant story is just a fable. It’s woodworkers who inspire me!
Here’s a bonus article on cutting plywood for those who don’t own a table saw.
Click to download a copy of Adobe Reader 7.0.
I really had a good time today leading the first Hands-On Workshop of the season. It’s fun teaching the Thursday Night large group seminars, but I think even more fun teaching a small group Hands-On Workshop. That’s because I get to see the attendees actually make the cuts themselves!
Today they did a great job setting up for a number of cuts (crosscuts, rips, cutting to length, dadoes, grooves, rabbets and lap joints). Actually, we kind of lost track of time and the workshops that were supposed to be one hour long ended at an hour and a half! The second group was supposed to finish at 11:15 but didn’t get out of the seminar room until after one! But I think it was worth it as everyone said they picked up a tip or two and built up some confidence by just making the cuts. It was great to see how the first nervous, tentative cuts turned into positive strong cuts by the end of the workshop.
We only allow five people into each workshop so everyone gets a lot of experience. But that means we have a lot of people on the waiting list. I’m trying to figure out how to deal with that. Setting up and cleaning up the seminar room afterwards takes quite a bit of time and getting teachers (Who are actually "volunteers") to commit even more of their weekend for additional workshops can be a bit of a challenge.
Would those of you on the waiting list (or those wanting to take a hands-on workshop) be available during the day on some weekdays? Or does anybody have any good suggestions for times?
Okay, I’m rambling, so I better sign off. If any of you attended the Hands-On today, let me know what you thought of how it could be improved or what you liked about it.
More table saw basics. But these cuts aren’t really so basic, are they?
I mean, what’s the difference between a dado and a groove? You can cut them both with a dado blade, so why don’t you just call them both dadoes? Well, as you can see there are some important differences. Doug Hicks puts on his teacher’s cap once again. (Doesn’t he ever take a night off!)
I remember a toy box project I built several years ago. It sticks in my mind because I had to cut all four of these joints to complete it. I have to admit, I was a little intimidated. But, once I’d finished building it, I was showing off my craftsmanship to anyone who would pay attention. Now making these cuts is just like second nature.
Hopefully, after this Thursday’s seminar, all of the mystery about "Dadoes, Grooves, Rabbets, and Laps" will be cleared up.
This fall, the seminars seem to be taking a logical flow through the world of woodworking. Three weeks ago, Doug Hicks showed us how to "Get Started In Woodworking." Then last week, Steve Curtis and Dave Stone shared their expertise on "Selecting Lumber for Your Projects." This week it was "Table Saw Basics: Crosscutting and Ripping." Doug had a lot of great pointers for all woodworkers on how to work safely and easily on a table saw.
Table saws are a mainstay in any woodworking home shop. They’re big, powerful tools that can be a little intimidating, but once you learn the basics, it’s easy to see why they’re so important. I know a few people who downplay their usefulness (except for cutting sheet goods), but I’m not one of them. I have a General contractor’s saw and I use it in my shop just about every day.
What kind of table saw do you own? Is it a benchtop, contractor’s, hybrid or cabinet saw? Are you happy with its performance? Did this seminar clear up all your questions about using them? Let us know what you think. Your opinion is important to us.
By the way, I want to see how many of you were paying attention at the end of the night. Doug mentioned a couple of his favorite table saw books, including one called "The Table Saw Book." The author of this book builds custom furniture at his shop in Berea, Kentucky. Can you name this author?