Thursday, March 25, 2010

holddown for sled

Dean sent the photo above illustrating an exquisite solution to getting a secure grip on parts while cutting miters on the table saw sled. Thanks, Dean. I know many other readers will be heading to their hardware stores or ordering from, or other woodworking tool providers.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

rugged or beautiful?

Jim asks,
"I have two of your books and I like them very much. My question is about durability. I want to create boxes that are very rugged and durable so they last for at least 108 years. So far, my thinking is that a plywood bottom is not the most rugged bottom for a box with dimensions of 10” x 13” unless you use plywood thicker than 1/8”. Would 1/4” plywood sustain a 250 lb. force from a foot being accidentally placed in the middle? Maybe 3/8” or 1/2” would but then the sides could be compromised by the trench for the plywood. I don’t know. But, I’m thinking that a solid wood panel that covers the entire bottom with an overhang around the edges would be the strongest. What do you think?"
Jim, the most fragile parts of a box are the corner joints and the dado cut into the sides to house the top or bottom. Plywood has been around since the Egyptians, but I'll agree that 1/8" is be thinner than what I would use on a 10" x 13" box. 1/4" plywood should offer sufficient strength except in the case of deliberate abuse.

I make my boxes under the assumption that people will offer them reasonable care. Is there a reason you have to suspect that your boxes will no be offered care? There is a balance point. Most of the things you find treasured in museums are not there because they were ruggedly built, but because they were exquisitely crafted, meaningful and beautiful.

My suspicion is that a box showing the maker's interest in skill and beauty will last longer than a box showing the maker's interest in its rugged longevity. We make things to be passed into the hands of others for safe keeping or disdain. There are lots of things that can happen to a box on its way to 108 years. Like the landfill?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Narrative crafts?

A narrative is a story that is created in a constructive format (as a work of writing, speech, poetry, prose, pictures, song, motion pictures, video games, theater or dance) that describes a sequence of fictional or non-fictional events. It derives from the Latin verb narrare, which means "to recount" and is related to the adjective gnarus, meaning "knowing" or "skilled". - wikipeida
And so in this interesting list of narrative forms you, if you are a craftsman will see a glaring oversight... that of crafts. Are crafts a narrative expression? If you begin to understand that they are, it can change the way that they are viewed. It can change also the way we work as we ask, "what is the story here that I am trying to tell? It is my contention that the physical realities engaged through the making of beautiful and useful objects is more vital, more sincere than those narrative forms dependent on written or spoken words alone. And so it is with making a box. Like a poet, great playwright or novelist, a craftsman is also engaged in narration, revealing his or her own creative soul in material form.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A simple box

A great deal of thought can go into making what might appear to be a simple wooden box. The collection of idea in the image above were gathered from my students at the beginning of my weekend class with the Woodworkers of Western Ohio, WOW. You can click on the image for a larger view.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


WOW, Woodworkers of Western Ohio will be hosting a two day box making seminar in Dayton this Saturday and Sunday, March 6&7, 2010. I will be their guest, demonstrating a wide range of box making techniques. If you are in the Dayton area and would like to attend, please email me for more information. Costs are $45.00 for members of WOW and $60.00 for non-members.
Another wow, John Gasser sent photos of boxes he had completed from my books and also photos inspired by another author. Great job on all counts.