Wednesday, December 20, 2023

A reliquary of wood

With the addition of a plexiglass box to keep the innards safe, my reliquary of wood has been added to the Museum of Eureka Springs Art museum display. 

The reliquary was inspired by a reliquary in the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City and by my participation in  a shrine show (sponsored by ESSA) in which artists were invited to create shrines celebrating the things important in their own lives. 

The idea of a reliquary is to lift as important things that should be treasured. My reliquary has 25 turned samples of American (Arkansas) hardwoods, each in their natural color. It is a statement of value. The box itself is made of sugar maple.

Some may remember a simple children's finger game that goes, "Here's the church, Here's the steeple. Open the doors and see all the people." The people in my small chapel are the woods of Arkansas, each deserving admiration and respect. The way the doors open is designed to represent hands opening to the wonders of all life.

This small box has been honored before. It was featured in my book, Simply Beautiful Boxes, as best of show winner in a show at the Springfield Art Museum and on the pages of UU World Magazine.

The museum will be open to the public on Saturday, December 23, 2023 from 1 PM until 5.

Make, fix and create...

Monday, December 18, 2023

Veritas Box Maker's Plow Plane

 I received two planes from Lee Valley today, left and right plow planes of a smaller size suggested for box making. Like other Veritas planes made by Lee Valley, they are works of art. The crafting of them is exquisite.

Plow planes are used for cutting grooves in wood but can also form beads and coves. In box making you can imagine using them to cut grooves for inlay, or for bottoms to fit. With other cutters installed, beaded edges or panels could add interest to a lovely box.

The tight curls of walnut behind the plane in the photo below were formed in my first test use of the right handed plane.

These are lovely in their design and perfect in their manufacture. They can be ordered here.

Make, fix and create...

Sunday, December 17, 2023

a flush cut saw


If you are a box maker, a saw I recommend for your own Christmas stocking is a small flush cut saw, also of Japanese design. I use this saw to trim miter keys flush at the corners of boxes, and with careful use, it will do so without marking the surrounding wood. It cuts quick. I bought two that have kept sharp through several classes and multiple student uses. 

I prefer the Tamatori single edge flush cut saw  over the version with two cutting edges as it allows me to guide the back edge of the saw flush against the work without scraping my fingers with the teeth on the back edge.

Make, fix and create...

Thursday, December 14, 2023

ESSA has announced a mentored residency program in woodworking at ESSA. I'll be the primary mentor, joined by Larry Copas, an excellent woodworker and instructor from the Springdale area and frequent participant in ESSA classes. 

The details and application form can be found here:

The program is designed to help woodworkers take their work to the next level. Both the wood turning and flat work studios will be available. With on site lodging, we expect lots of collaboration and fellowship among participants. 

The display cabinet shown above is some of my earlier work.

Make, fix and create...

Friday, December 8, 2023

glue spreaders

 I began using simple plastic glue spreaders while teaching kids at the Clear Spring School. One of the things you'll soon notice when kids use glue is the mess.  

So I would have the kids make a small puddle of glue on a plastic lid from a box of screws from which dried glue could be easily removed, and then use plastic glue sticks to spread just the amount of glue needed and in just the right place. Glue bottles offer an immediate mess.

These glue spreaders work great. Just as advertised, the dried glue comes right off, and they're cheap enough that you can give them to all your woodworking friends and thereby improve the quality of their own work. These are perfect for applying just the right amount of glue in tight places or for gluing linings in small boxes. 

I've used them for years and at $9.95 for 70 of them you'll get a lifetime supply. The ring around the working end is useful. It holds the messy end up off the workbench.

If you buy through this link I get a small commission as an amazon associate... a bargain for each of us.

Cubitron Sanding Discs

I was introduced to these excellent sanding discs from Taylor Tool Company They do an excellent job of dust removal and last far longer than other sanding discs. The placement of the dust extraction holes removes the concern with aligning them just right on the sanding pad. And they are hard to wear out. This link to provides a small commission when you buy a set.

Make, fix and create... 

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Making stash boxes

Medical marijuana is legal in many states, and an old friend of my wife asked if I could make a stash box to hold various paraphernalia. In the old days I know many of my boxes were used for objects associated with the use of marijuana. But that was never discussed. The advantage of this box is that it has two levels of storage, under the lid and in the drawer and we can talk about it.

The top is frame and panel construction, and the drawer is made with a mortise and tenon technique that I always use on small drawers. The wood used is walnut except for the bottom panels (Baltic birch) and the drawer sides (maple.) 

Plans for a similar box can be found in my book Beautiful Boxes: Design and Technique  

With the stash box finished, it will be shipped tomorrow.

Make, fix and create...

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Table saws are ill equipped to rip cut 30° joints required for a triangular box because the blade will only tilt to 45°. The solution is to cut with the wood standing up alongside the fence with the blade set at a 60° angle but that's not ideal because as the cut is made there's nothing left to support the wood and it falls down into the blade. 

This new jig allows the woodworker to clamp the box part in place so it is carefully carried through the cut. The results are shown in a practice box.

Make, fix and create... Assist others in learning lifewise.

Friday, March 17, 2023

hidden spline lid

A reader had asked to see this box open, perhaps to see more about how it was made. The sides are joined with a hidden spline joint, and the parts of the lid are joined the same way... small pieces of wood fitted between parts, but that are not visible on the outside of the box. The hidden splines in the lid could be compared to the use of biscuits.

In this case, instead of biscuits I used small pieces of 1/8 in. thick Baltic birch plywood inserted in grooves cut with a 1/8 in. router bit.

To cut the grooves for the hidden splines, I use the jig shown.

Make, fix and create... Assist others in learning lifewise.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Hank Kaminski

A good friend of mine passed away. Hank Kaminski was one of my early friends when I moved to Eureka Springs, and his wife JoAnn was the person I met who told me about this place and suggested I consider Eureka Springs as a place to work as I was ready to move on from doing pottery at Memphis State. 

Hank's life and achievements are discussed at the Arkansas Department of Heritage website. 

I was honored to have been a panel member selecting Hank as an Arkansas Living Treasure. 

I explained to the panel that I would recuse myself from voting because Hank was like a brother to me, but the panel voted unanimously and at the age of 79 he was named the Arkansas Living Treasure of 2018. 

I’ll be in Portland for the coming week so will have to miss the celebration of his life to be held on Saturday. Hank and JoAnn were such important persons in my early days in Eureka Springs and played such important roles in our development as an arts community. I always felt that Hank was my big brother in the arts… he always being a bit ahead of things. He gave me confidence for my own growth.

I was looking up at the moon this morning against a clear blue sky and wondered that the moon had no eyes to look back. Its movements around our planet have such profound effect, and yet we do not know whether it has the wondrousness of consciousness that life provides. Can it know love?

Artists are trained to look at both positive and negative space. The positive space is occupied by that which falls between the lines. The space beyond is not empty space, but is filled with all else... the relationships that bind us, each to each other.

Physicists tell us that once two particles are entangled with each other they can be thrust to the furthest ends of the universe and what happens to one is known to the other. It may feel as though Hank has been cast beyond reach. But the truth is that even when we are apart, our lives have been entangled and that entanglement is a thing that gives meaning. We are larger in each other than grief allows us to comprehend.

As I was watching the moon, a jet plane flew across its path. It was much too high to be landing at XNA, but I knew from having flown that it was full of beings, each having a consciousness that the moon might envy, connected not only with each other but beyond, each having personal connections at each end of their flight. What a wondrous thing it is that we live this life and that our lives cross.

The photo shows Hank with his Peace Globe in Fayetteville, AR.

Make, fix and create...

Friday, February 24, 2023

My Carter letter

This is a letter I received from former president Jimmy Carter. He is a man of courage and conviction. He's also shared my own passion for woodworking. 

As one of my most admired presidents,  I had sent him a copy of my book, The Complete Illustrated Guide, Box Making, and notice about an article coming at that time in Fine Woodworking Magazine. 

All the holes at the top of the letter are from it being pinned to my bulletin board for the last 19 years. Aside from a shared interest in woodworking, I can cite about a hundred reasons why I hold Jimmy Carter in high esteem, as others do as well.

During the run up to the presidential election that 
Reagan won and Carter lost, emissaries from Reagan sent a cake to the Ayatollah, urging him to delay release of American hostages until after the election, thereby enlisting a foreign adversary to manipulate the outcome of the presidential election. And in that you see the difference between true character and the lust for power. 

Carter lost the election, but won in the game of life through service to the American people and to people around the world. He also did some fine woodworking.

Make, fix and create... assist others in learning lifewise.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

In preparation for a class in Portland, Oregon, I decided to test a router bit that cuts 5/32 in. finger joints. Because of the size of the bit, I decided to build a dedicated router table using my large Makita router, one that's rarely used in my shop. You can see the set-up and results in the photo. It has limitations, being useful only for boxes about 2 1/2 in. high or for drawers of similar height height.

An advantage of this method is that all four sides of a box can be clamped together on the sliding portion of the jig to be cut at the same time. Two cuts (and some additional fiddling about) and you've got a box.

Make, fix and create... Assist others in learning lifewise.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Hidden spline joints


This video featured in the FineWoodworking weekly newsletter can be found on the Fine Woodworking website through this link or on my youtube channel at youtube/MrDougStowe

Make, fix and create...

Monday, January 2, 2023

Installing miter keys in a keyed miter box

Please view this in youtube to build up my watching hours. More box making tips and tricks can be found in my books and on my youtube channel:

Making a bandsawn box

Please view this on youtube to build up my viewing hours.

Sunday, January 1, 2023


Today I'm  practicing, by making small bandsawn boxes as shown. The secret of bandsawn boxes is to have something in mind before you start cutting a block of wood into little pieces and then putting them back together with glue. For someone who wants to do woodworking that goes quick and offers near immediate results, bandsawn boxes can be a good project. These are small, but larger ones can be made.

They can be simple or more ornate, they can be textured and painted with milk paints. They are fun.

One of the founders of Home Depot, one of the world's largest suppliers of do-it-yourself supplies has decided that Americans would prefer to be fat and lazy. So who does he think shops in his stores each day? Folks like you and me who want to make stuff and make stuff happen for the world and the American economy.

Make, fix and create. Happy New Years! Need a resolution? Make something before the year is out. You've plenty of time before the next holiday season.