Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Installing barrell hinges

Glen asked:
I have a question for you. Although I do not commonly use barrel hinges, I have a need now. I have always used the 10mm hinges in the past and used a (shimmed with masking tape) 3/8" dowel center to locate the correct position on the lid. I have a project coming up in which I will use 3/4" stock and will need to move up to 14mm barrel hinges. The problem is the dowel centers. I can find none larger than 3/8". Any suggestions?
I use a drill press and story stick method, and avoid the dowel centers which tend to be less inaccurate. Cut a story stick the same length as your box and lid. Use a stop block on the drill press fence When you drill through the story stick, prior to drilling the parts of the box, it can be simply flipped over to locate the position for the stop block on the other side. Once the stop blocks are in place, the holes for the barrel hinges can be accurately drilled so they align perfectly. I describe this in a couple of my box books.

Story sticks are amazingly accurate and require almost no measuring in the conventional numeric sense.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Circle Inlay

Reader, John Thomas sent the photo below showing his circular inlay. Interesting juxtaposition of color and line. I assume that John inlaid the circle of spalted wood first then routed another circle inside for the walnut inlay to fit. I like that he oriented the inner circle at 90 degrees to the surrounding wood rather than trying for a perfect alignment of grain. That creates interesting contrast of line as well as color.

Friday, November 20, 2009

does this dress make me look fat?

Design questions can be doozies. How can a husband answer a question like that safely and without getting in very deep trouble? Actually knowing something about design might help. What if we were equipped to discuss design intelligently?

Much less risky on the social front, but demanding some design expertise are the questions my box making students ask me about mixing woods. Using more than one species of wood in a project is regarded as a bold statement involving some risk. Mixing species of woods for decorative effect was done in the furnishings for all the Kings Louis of France, so we know it can be an effective design technique. My students like what I've done using mixed woods in my own work but wonder, "What woods work well together and why? Are there combinations of wood that work and some that I should avoid?"

I was asked to write an article on this subject for Woodcraft Magazine that I hope to send off today, and the question of how to successfully mix woods in a project provides insight into the "principles and elements of design," the rules taught to graphic and 3 D designers in art schools. In other words, to know how to successfully mix woods offers insight that could lead any woodworker to become a better designer of things made of wood. More to come soon.

The photo above shows one of the simple forms of mixing species of wood, inlaying one contrasting wood in another. The secret of effectively mixing woods has to do with two seemingly conflicting design principles... contrast and unity. Contrast is an important goal of product design, and unity another. Want to know how they both work together? In the sample box in the photo above, you see the contrasting color and line of the spalted wood, and yet, you will see hints of similar brown. That similar brown is what pulls the inlay and surrounding box into a unified whole.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

two questions, two answers

First about hangers...
Hi Doug,I have all your books and video. I love them! I have one question, do you know where I find good gold/brass necklace hanger hooks?
I have been searching all over the net with no success. I really appreciate your help.
I make my own using 1/8" brass rod, fitted in holes drilled at about a 7 degree angle. You can also check at Rockler or woodcraft to see what they have available. I cut the 1/8" brass using the sled on the table saw and an old carbide blade. It gives a clean cut, but I polish the ends, first on the belt sander and then with a buffing wheel.

Next, how to market and price boxes...
Mr. Stowe, I am a recent retiree with just about a full woodworking shop and I have an interest in boxmaking. What I am wondering is how to market what I make. I don't have a customer base...or time to build one. I would greatly appreciate it if you could assist me. Also...is there a formula by which you price your work? Thanks
Make your boxes in reasonable numbers so you can keep track of expenses, time, marketing costs (including time)and overhead, and then divide by number. You price boxes the same way you would price anything else. But I'm curious, you don't have a customer base or time to build one, so in other words, you won't be selling any boxes? Customers don't appear by magic. You have to work for them. You will have to take time to present your work to them and refine it to meet their needs. It takes paying a great deal of attention to what customers need, want, and are willing to pay for. Other than providing a brief note of reality, I can't imagine how I might be able to help. Best of luck.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

hand-cut dovetailed box

A reader sent the image of a box he recently completed with hand-cut dovetails and that he had consulted with me on veneering techniques. Great Job Nestor! Though I need not tell him what you and he can see for yourselves.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

golden ratio

Jim asks:
I have heard about the "golden ratio" of 1.6, but how do you figure the dimensions of a box? For example if I have a box with sides 3.5" high how long and wide would you make it? Thanks for any advice and I love your work and books.
First, in answer to your question, 1.618 x 3.5 inches = 5.663 or 5 2/3rds approximately. But the ratio is between two dimensions, not three. Just think for a moment about a three dimensional object. The golden ratio of 1: 1.61803399 provides a means to control the length in proportion to the height as in the design of the Parthenon in Greece. I actually never use the golden ration in making boxes because boxes are never viewed from the perfect vantage point from which the golden ratio can be observed. If you view something from a variety of angles, when will the golden ratio actually come into play?

I've made golden ratio scanning wands to give my furniture design students the opportunity to observe my slide presentations and call out when they see a piece of furniture that is actually designed according to the golden ratio. It almost never actually happens because most designers are thinking about other things. Like, how does it fit the room? What are the planned contents and how will it fit those objects it is designed to hold?

The golden ratio is indeed an interesting thing. Does it help in the design of boxes? I think there are more useful design principles.

It would appealing to think that there might be a simple mathematical method to determine proportion that would be better than thinking about all the other elements of relationship... What goes in it? Where does it sit? Can the hand fit in to grasp the objects inside? Is it so large that it overpowers its placement? Does it look safe and substantial, or does it look top heavy and likely to fall?

The easiest thing is to design for what goes in the box, but if you don't know that, design from the wood that you have available, or knowing that box making is a process in which a single box is just a step in a journey, just start making.

A beautiful box

Leonard James, a student of mine from Marc Adams School sent me photos of a box he had recently completed to be given at his local Rotary fund raising auction. It is a beautiful box as you can see. The hinges used are Brusso brass hinges that cost about $25.00. Only someone who who has had the experience of making something beautiful from wood would really understand what goes into making such a thing.

Leonard informed me that the box sold for $100.00. Can you see what is happening here? Another friend of mine had sold a box with hand cut dovetails at a charity auction for a small fraction of its value in terms of time and materials, and the buyer asked if she could get another at the same price.

There is a complete disconnect in people's minds concerning the value of hand made things. Sometimes when I show my work at public events, people want to know, "How long did it take to make that?" They want a way to calculate my hourly rate in a world that is largely incomprehensible to them. In all likelihood, and in complete innocence they've never actually made anything themselves and have no clear way of understanding the value of hand-crafted work.

But, where is the real value of the crafted object? Otto Salomon, founder of Educational Sloyd said that the value of the carpenter's work is in the object, but that in contrast, the value of the student's work is in the student. It can be sad to let evidence of learning go so cheap, but the passage clears the way for the next, even more beautiful expression of growth.

My heartfelt congratulations to Leonard for his generosity and beautiful craftsmanship. My congratulations as well to the lucky person who purchased a bargain heirloom of lasting value. Those small objects made with love have ways of influencing things, bringing qualities unexpected into the home, unanticipated sparks of transformation and I am looking forward to seeing Leonard's next project.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Inlaying an "O"

A question from John:
I've read your book where you make the jewelry box, and it features a oval walnut inlay with maple, and the walnut diamond in the middle. I have read that chapter over and over but for some reason its not soaking in. I understand I need to make templates to make templates, your inlay is actually more complex than what I need to do. I'm just inlaying the spalted "O" into the solid walnut lid. Any tips on template stock(thickness preferred) bits,guides, and or bushings would be great.
I would try using 1/4 inch Baltic Birch or similar ply for your template. Making an "o" with an inside cut out is something I would try in two steps. First inlay the large "o" as a solid piece, no middle. Then inlay the spalted piece and sand it flush, then inlay a new piece of wood matching the outside wood in the middle of the "o". Use the guide bushing set for the router like I use in the box you mention from Simply Beautiful Boxes. It has a 1/8" bit a guide bushing and the additional brass collar. You can find these in Rockler or Woodcraft.

Send me photo when you get done. You will find my email address through my blogs: http://wisdomofhands.blogspot.com and http://boxmaking101.blogspot.com


Monday, August 31, 2009

from Marc Adams class

Leonard James, one of my students from Marc Adams School sent me a CD of images from my Decorative Box Making class including this one of my Gifkins Jig Dovetail demonstration. A number of my students made boxes using the jig. The photo below is the miter sled that Leonard made when he got home, customized and refined over my basic model. Nice "T" track for the stop block and the hold down clamp is a great safety feature.

turned dowels

Reader Hal sent the photo of his box with dowels turned using the drill press... presenting an interesting variation of my boxes from Basic Box Making.

Friday, August 28, 2009


I have been hearing from my students from Marc Adams School, and it is a delight for me to know that what I have shared has been meaningful and of use. The following is a note from Rick, edited slightly for length:
I was in your box class and as the saying goes, "the jigs alone were worth the price of admission." My family and friends will be the first to tell you that I am very critical of my work, I see things that 99 percent of the population would never notice or see. Since coming home from the class, I have built most of the jigs we saw in the class. In the past I was frustrated because after reading many articles on how to build cut-off jigs or trying to cut mitered corners, it never seemed to work out. After your class I came home and made the jigs and they came out great. I can cut miters with confidence and my boxes come together with precision like never before. Even I am pleased with the results and my wife will tell you that I am never pleased. Just the other day I made a small box out of white oak that came from the hand rails at work before they remodeled the floor and I gave it to my boss. It was white oak with a walnut top and walnut keys. He was absolutely blown away, and kept asking how I did this or how did I do that. Thanks again for a great class.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Interior Architecture for Box Making

Today I demonstrated linings, dividers and the making of drawers along with general discussion of materials, techniques and designs. I had demonstrated making regular dividers in the class last week, so these were cut at an interesting angle, forming diamond shaped compartments.

In a nearby room, Alan Lacer was teaching a parent/child woodworking class. Many of the kids and parents had never been at a lathe before. It was a good introduction to creativity in wood. Let's hope some of it sticks.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Day five at Marc Adams

Today we finished my box making class at Marc Adams and tomorrow I have 19 students for my class on interior architecture. It is called "thinking inside the box." Or is it? Maybe we will have outside the box thinking and design for inside the box. In the photos below, my students will recognize some of their wonderful boxes.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Day three at Marc Adams

Today at Marc Adams School in my box making class, we began installing hinges, making inlay and I demonstrated the Gifkins jig. All the students are making interesting boxes and some are also making jigs from scrap plywood so they can continue using some of the same techniques when they get home.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

day two box making at Marc Adams

Today, students were continuing to make boxes. Some were box joints made using the box joint sled we made yesterday. Some boxes were mitered and students used my hidden spline jig to cut hidden spline slots. Other boxes will be made with keyed miter joints. One student asked whether we would all be making exactly the same kind of box, but in my classes, students make and learn what they want. We have a wonderful staff at Marc Adams School, staff with whom I have worked for several years past. So together we make a very fine learning team and it doesn't seem that any students are left without assistance when needed. I think one improvement over years past is that I introduced two joinery techniques at the beginning so we managed to avoid very much waiting in line for the first boxes to be made.

Tomorrow we will learn how to install hinges, how to make inlay, and add one more simple joinery technique. Later in the week you will see finished boxes.

Monday, August 3, 2009

First day of box making

Today in my box making class at Marc Adams we had a very long but interesting discussion on design, then began making sleds, and cutting miters and box joints. What a great start for a 5 day class.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

ready for class

I am settled in at Jamison Inn in Indiana and ready for my first day of class at Marc Adams School. Check in over the next few days to meet my students and see our progress.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

interior architecture

Boxmaking is such a wonderful way to learn woodworking. I leave for Marc Adams School of Woodworking in an hour or so, and am packing up boxes to use in illustrating box design. I've found that providing concrete examples also gives starting point for discussion. My box making class will be very much like the others I've offered at Marc Adams, in that each class is actually unique... shaped nearly as much by my students as by me. From moment one, there are relationships to form, discussions to take place, and my students offer a great deal of encouragement to each other. It is a week I look forward to.

Then on Saturday, I teach a new class on interior architecture, about what happens on the insides of boxes. I am taking along a variety of examples to illustrate possible starting points for exploration. One is my "reliquary of wood" shown in the photo above. It was the grand prize winner, "Best of Show" at the Springfield Art Museum's 4 state regional exhibit, MOAK a number of years ago, and was also featured in my second book, Simply Beautiful Boxes.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

making sleds

Jim writes this question in reference to my DVD Basic Box Making:
In the 3rd chapter you showed us how to make a cross-cut sled (something I’ve always needed) and I was successful in getting the sled made!! The problem I’m having is that the sled doesn’t slide as easily as I thought it would. I know there are probably a number of things to try but have you ever had a sticky sled? I tried soaping the runners and I also tried steel wool. I then tried sanding the entire under-carriage of the sled. It just seems to take too much effort to push the sled. I checked the spacing between runners and they appear to be the right distance. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
My response: How many screws did you put in the runners? One problem I've seen is that woodworkers think that if two screws go in, surely 5 or 6 more would be even better. If your runners slide smoothly then two screws in each should be enough. More will actually expand the runners, making them fit too tightly in the miter gauge slots. Wax will help. If you've put in lots of extra screws, begin removing some until it slides smooth. Did you follow the sequence I showed in the DVD with the first screws being installed from beneath, using a square to align? Then, I assume you added the second runner by screwing in from above. If you only used two screws in each runner as I suggest, remove one screw and see how it slides. If it is still tight, put that screw back and remove the other. Check it. When it slides smoothly, put a 2nd screw in at another spot along the runner, this one also from above.

In a magazine, I had noticed that one well known woodworking writer made a sled with lots of screws holding the runners in place. He then spent another 15 minutes or so, sanding the runners to fit the slots. You can always sand like he did, but it is much better to get it right using the easier method.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

how to set price

I got an inquiry from a box maker, Bob, who is making boxes for his first show and he asked the question, how to set price? That question is a doozie. When you are in your shop working on boxes, you can run things through your head, "I spent this amount on material and hinges, then if I make this many and sell them for that much, I'll make that amount of money." Those calculations fail to give the full picture. "How much do you think your time is worth when you are out of the wood shop?"

If your objective in selling your work is just to clear a few things out so you can make more and perhaps buy a new tool, and you are looking forward to sitting in a booth for a weekend, wondering when you can take a bathroom break, you may be satisfied with setting a selling price that fails to consider your marketing costs.

Galleries have mark-up on work because they have expenses. If you are selling your work direct, you also have expenses that should be reflected by mark-up in the selling price. Recently in a woodworking magazine, an editor was discussing his disappointment at a local craft show. He walked through and said to himself, "I could make that as nice as that for less money." But the fact was, he didn't and was unwilling to sit in a booth and sell his own work at that price. So here are a few of the things that craftsmen don't consider when doing their first show, and that should be considered in setting price: printing expenses, booth fees, travel expenses, packing materials, a margin to cover your time trying to sell the things. You can choose to just do the whole thing as a hobby, and in doing so, undercut the pros who are trying to make a living. They really do have to consider all the expenses in bringing their work to market. Their consideration of those costs is a matter of survival. You may have the luxury of not thinking about those things. But do yourself and the professional craftsmen of the world a big favor. Charge your customers for all the expenses. That will be good for your pocket book and sustain the market value of professional craft work. Would you really want to undercut their inspirational endeavors?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

two quick questions...

The first question to come in this morning concerns cutting box joints in angled stock. Can they be done on the table saw or are they best done by hand? Cutting box joints by hand, if you have the skills to do so is one of those things you just wouldn't bother to do. Dovetails would be the more interesting choice. The good news is that yes, angled box joints can be cut quite easily on a table saw. The only challenge is in knowing where to cut the first finger, and I would control the first cuts on each piece by using a stop block.

The second question comes from one of my students from last week's class. He is interested in buying a small, inexpensive table saw for making boxes in a small space in his basement and he is looking at the Ryobi BTS21.

My view of table saws comes from being actively involved in box making and as a box maker, I find that model lacking in essentials. It has no miter gauge slots, is difficult to install zero clearance inserts, and can only use a 6 inch dado (uncommon). While this saw can cut wood and is easy to fold and put away (It has its own wheels), it doesn't lend itself to the common, easy and safe box making techniques. It is far better buy old and used, tried and true, rather than a cheap saw with newfangled gimmicks that add little to its successful use.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Box Making day 5

Today was day 5 of my ESSA box making class and you can see the results. Miters that fit. Box joints that fit tight. Lift lids and hinged lids, interesting pulls and feet. Plus some very happy box makers who have learned a lot and have work to show for it.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Box Making at ESSA day 4

Tillian is almost finished with his box, and Les has finished his first. Both show creativity. In a final day of box making, most of the students will make one more.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Box making at ESSA, day 3

It has been an exciting day in the woodshop. My students now have boxes ready to apply hinges. As shown in the photo above, Pete cut miter key slots in the sides of his box to give greater strength and lasting integrity to the corner joints.

Learning new things is natural to humanity. Human beings strive for learning opportunities. So why is it that we fail to engage our children in schools? Could it be something in the way we teach? We look for outcomes satisfactory to the teachers, parents, administrators and even tax payers but forget that the most important outcomes are the feelings of tangible accomplishment that students feel in response to their efforts. After a time, they learn that effort is disassociated with the kinds of feelings they most crave.

I got something in the mail today that made this day special for me. Matthew B. Crawford sent a signed copy of his book Shop Class as Soulcraft. I am deeply honored to quote the first lines from Chapter one:
In schools, we create artificial learning environments for our children that they know to be contrived and undeserving of their full attention and engagement... Without the opportunity to learn through the hands, the world remains abstract, and distant, and the passions for learning will not be engaged.
-- Doug Stowe Wisdom of the Hands (blog) October 16, 2006

Box Making at ESSA, day two

Today was the second day of my box making class at the Eureka Springs School of the arts. In the photos above and below, you can see Bill studying the assembly of his box, while Tillian makes grooves on the edges of his top panel to fit the sides. Bob assists with safety on the table saw.

Monday, July 13, 2009

essa box making class, day one.

Today we did a lot of talk about design and the origins of creativity and the narrative aspects of box making. Then I demonstrated making two kinds of sled and 4 kinds of boxes. Finally, we prepared stock for my student's first set of boxes. The book matched walnut will be used to make boxes with a four corner match, so each piece requires some arrangement and study as shown in the photo above. I was too busy teaching to get photos taken except this one at the last minute. There are so many things to learn about box making.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

next steps

To know what we're making you will have to review earlier posts. My wife and I are currently driving across Kansas and I am remembering the question, which is flatter, Kansas or a pancake. The research indicated that Kansas was actually flatter, but there are actually many hills when traveling across the state.

Take a piece of maple stock and make a series of cuts, each with a 1/8 inch kerfed blade. You will only need to cut in a few inches, then pull the stock back from the cut, turn the saw off and adjust the fence for the next cut, and repeat until you have a series of uniform cuts.

Then insert 1/8 inch thick spacers into the saw kerfs as shown in the photo below. I use some hot melt glue to hold the spacers in place so they don't shift. The tools you will need tomorrow are a scroll saw. You can see the crescent moon inlay complete. You can also see your next step shown on the edge of the walnut stock. Make saw kerfs into the edge defining the thickness of the heart. Now you can be creative. I cut out a paper heart and then sketched wings on the maple stock. You can do something different if you like and then share it with other readers.

Friday, July 3, 2009

work along with me here.

These steps are the beginnings of making a winged heart as shown in an earlier post. First step is to cut a maple plug using a 3/8 inch plug cutter. Then drill a matching hole with a 3/8" drill in contrasting wood. In this case, I am using walnut which will be used to make the heart. If you have these materials, a plug cutter and drill, you can work right along with me. Glue the plug in place. You will need to spread the glue evenly and hammer the plug in as far as it will go. When the glue has dried, drill another 3/8 inch hole slightly offset to form the crescent moon shape. Then drill another plug from the background stock as shown in the photo below. I'll give you the next steps tomorrow.

Get started now, and you can send me photos of your results when the project is complete.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Making decorative elements

Over the next few days, I will share a process for making decorative elements for use on boxes. You can see the nearly finished object, a winged heart, in the photo above. At this point in the process, the heart and wings are being glued to a solid backing, a step which could be ignored if you plan to use it on a box.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

reader query on wood...

A reader, Nestor Demianczuk, sent photos of his work along with the following questions:
1. Is there an ideal ratio (length to width to height) to maintain in designing a box so that it is pleasing to the eye?
2. The stock that I buy from the wholesaler is usually about 15/16 inches thick. Does it make sense to try and get two equal thickness boards which probably will wind up to be 3/8 inch thick or should I just bite the bullet and make one piece over 1/2 inch so that when I plane it down it would result in a board about 7/16 inch thick and the rest is basically put into the scrap box and used for small dividers and trays?
First I will say that there are not any definitive answers to either of these questions. There are so many considerations in making boxes that there are no absolute right or wrong answers. On question 1. some box makers and furniture makers are intrigued with the golden ratio, a system of proportion based in the fibonacci sequence of numbers. Personally, however, I have made most of my boxes with an eye toward their use. It may be that some shapes and sizes will have particular appeal, but I would consider it an unreasonable constraint to impose a system of proportion on my making of boxes. Even if there were an ideal shape, you would have to stand in just the right position to see it.

On question 2. I find that smaller boxes feel best if they are made with resawn stock. Larger boxes feel best if made with thicker stock. This will mean that for small boxes you will want to resaw your stock down the middle and use both parts for box sides. If done well, you can get 3/8 inch stock, though I use 5/16 inch material for most of my small boxes. For medium size boxes, you may do as you suggest and use offcut material for dividers and the like. For large boxes, you may just want to plane the material down to the desired thickness. There are also other considerations. For instance, what kind of hinge are you planning to use? Hinges, because of their design may require that box sides be a specific thickness to feel right.

As my readers can see from the photo above, Nestor is doing quite well in his box making. I like the inlay he applied to the top panel.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Box making at ESSSA

There is still time to register for my box making class, July 13-17 with the Eureka Springs School of the Arts. The class is almost full.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

small box with finger joints

Interesting work by Kintaro Yazawa offering an uncommon "finger joint".

Friday, June 5, 2009

reader's box

Larry Williams from Nacogdoches, Texas sent photos of a box he completed for his mother. What you see here is a son's love for his mother expressed as attention to detail and exquisite inlay.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

tip of the month, make your own

Hand cleaner, that is. Woodworkers who use Danish oil finishes are left with the nagging problem, "How do I get this stuff off my hands?" Over the years I've tried a number of hand cleaners with some minor success. Now I've stumbled upon the miracle cleaner, one that it seems I will never need to buy at the store, and as long as I'm working with wood, will never run out of. Sawdust! I put a few cups full in the bottom of a small trash can and use it to scrub just like I would have done with soap and water. It is extremely effective, even removing the smell. After scrubbing thoroughly in sawdust, wash your hands as usual with soap and water.

My students at Clear Spring School fussed about getting oil on their hands as they finished up end of the year projects last week. After discovering the effectiveness of sawdust at removing the oil from their hands, there were no further complaints and no hesitancy to get back at work on a second coat. I regard this simple thing as a major discovery.

And while I'm at it, I should show you the chess boxes made in our Clear Spring School 5th and 6th grade class.

The board is laminated using sawn walnut, maple and cherry veneers vacuum laminated on 1/4 inch Baltic birch ply.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Table saw or compound miter saw?

A beginning box maker asked "which is better for box making, a compound miter saw, or a table saw?" And the answer as in most cases is, "it depends". You can buy a very good compound miter saw for much less than what you would spend for a reasonably good table saw. So if you are comparing what you can get for the money in terms of accuracy and quality of cut you may get one answer. Ask a few other questions and you will come up with another view.

First of all you need to understand the tools. A compound miter saw was invented as a carpenter's tool, portable, to be taken and used at various job sites for installing moldings and trim detail. The good ones are very precise.

A table saw, on the other hand is designed as a more general tool, adaptable to a variety of wood shop functions. It will rip lumber to width, and cross cut lumber or small parts to length, and do lots of other things besides. But in order to do all those things with some degree of accuracy, you will spend a great deal more money on it. You lose the easy portability, as the good ones are heavy.

The real problem with compound miter saws in box making is when box parts get small. It is difficult to hold or clamp small parts in place on a compound miter saw. Clamps get in the way of the motion of the saw unless the parts are long enough that they can be clamped some distance from the blade. When using the table saw to cut parts of similar size, you can use a sled, and stop blocks and simple hold down stick to control the stock through the cut, so in my experience, the use of a table saw is preferred. And yet, there is the problem of cost. If you plan to do quality work, cheap table saws should be avoided. You would be better off buying a used, quality made machine rather than those on the market that are little better than an upside down Skil saw in a stand.

Buying tools is not the best way to learn their use. It can be good to take a class and get experience on real tools. I have three box making classes coming up this summer. The first is at William Ng's School of Fine Woodworking in California, June 8-12. Check it out. I would love to see you there. The photo above is from my class at William Ng's school, June 2007.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Brent Livingwell

A friend of mine's son, Brent Livingwell, is doing fantastic box making as you can see from the photos he posted on Lumberjocks.com What beautiful wood! And the craftsmanship is exemplary.