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Woodworking Videos

Chisel Tune-up and Sharpening Overview - On Tormek Grinder

All woodworking tools need to be kept razor sharp. It really does make a difference. Not only is woodworking easier when cutting tools are sharp, the outcomes are better with less tear-out, less fuzzy edges and sharper cleaner cuts. All of which often means less sanding (at least for some things).

I have always found chisels to be the one tool in the shop that you can instantly tell if they are sharp or not, just by how they work. If you are a carver, you will really know the meaning of sharp tools because to carvers, trying to work with tools that are dull is exceedingly frustrating. I know carvers, and woodturners as always sharpening their chisels. They very quickly get to know the condition of the sharpness of their tools and are constantly "tuning them up" which really means adding the fine razor edge sharpness to what many of us would consider a sharp tool.

There are a few different methods, jigs and tools for sharpening, either by hand or with some sort of a machine. One of the sharpening machines is called a Tormek Grinder and is produced by a Swedish Company.


The Tormek Grinder development started around 1973, but long before that, around the world, large grinding machines were quite common. Often the wheels were 24" in diameter and were driven by a foot pedal or a crank, and some of them even had water cooling troughs attached to them. What Tormek did was bring this old concept and adapt it to more modern electric motors and make an amazingly accurate and efficient sharpening tool.

Shop Tour of Coventry Woodworks

wall mirrorI don't think there is anything more enjoyable than paying a visit to another woodworker ... except maybe paying a visit to 2 woodworkers. Not long ago I had the pleasure of visiting with a woodworking couple, both of whom are amazing woodworkers and between them have a wealth of knowledge. Cam Russell and Karen Trickett of Coventy Woodworks.
To make it even more enjoyable I got to see their new woodworking shop, which has been, I believe about 3 years in the making, and worth every second. This is easily a "Dream Workshop" for most of us. The shop it'self is 24 feet wide and 32 feet long with a vaulted ceiling. At the apex of the ceiling there is another open area where you can open windows that helps to create a natural draft on hot summer days and keep the workshop cool to work in. 

They have brought together some great tools that most of us would love to have. A large Powermatic Table Saw, a Makita Sliding Mitre with what looks like a 10 or 12 foot work bench for long pieces of wood. And then their is the Minmax combination 12" helical head, jointer/planer, and the list goes on ...

Colin's Holly Wood Sunglasses

wooden sunglassesWhen ever I start some kind of a different woodworking project that I have never attempted before, I have learned that making a prototype or working model of the object is a great way to learn about how to build it. And this is the case with making Sunglasses. I have never attempted to make sunglasses with wooden frames, but have always wanted to do do this. I have seen them - rarely - so I know it can be done but have no idea what the pitfalls might be.  The first thing I need is lenses and the quickest and easiest place for me to acquire sunglass lenses is ... you guess it one of the Dollar Stores. I picked out a pair of sunglasses, that looked to me, like they would be something I could work with. Fairly flat lenses 9or so I thought) and not fancy. Something actor Jack Nicholson would wear - how could I go wrong with that?

I had given this project a fair bit of thought and I theorized that I could pop the existing lenses out of the frames, then use the frames as a template to make the new wooden frames. It all worked in my head, too bad it didn't quite work in practice.


After spending a couple of hours making a jig to hold the sunglass frames, which I would then use a patterning bit in my router table to easily make the inside of the frames, I had made myself a beautiful jig that anyone would be proud of ...

Building a Colonial Style Lantern

colonial lanternLanterns of all shapes and sizes have made a resurgence in recent years. In the past, especially before electricity became common, they were used to illuminate homes and other buildings. Now they are more decorative than functional, but they can easily be made functional by adding battery or solar powered LED lights.

This version is loosely based on a colonial style of lantern that emulated a tiny house with windows. An interesting design with many sharp angles that makes it an interesting project and with the added feature of brass hinges, a brass clasp and even brass fittings for the hanger, it makes an attractive piece.

I could have used 3/4" material to make the frame for this lantern, but I wanted something that was a bit "beefier" so I custom planed some rough wood down to 7/8". Not much bigger but big enough that it is noticeable, and I used the same thickness for the top and bottom.

I tried to plan this project so I could do some glue-ups but still keep working on on other parts, so began by gluing up the boards that would later make the base, which ended up being 8-1/2" square. Next I began to work on the main body of the lantern and agonized over what method to use.

Joint Testing

failed jointAs woodworkers, we often seem to be obsessed by how strong joints are, and in many ways this is good. Of course we don't want people to be hurt sitting on a chair that could collapse, but in many cases the joints are many times stronger than actually needed. This is in part because of the way we need to make them in order for them to be secure.

In the associated video, I put together a variety of joints, all of them with Red Oak, just to see how well each kind of joint holds up. All of the joints were end grain to long grain, with the exception of the lap joint (which I will talk about later). End grain to long grain are the hardest joints because end grain does not glue well to long grain, well at least with much strength, so other means of fastening must be adapted.

In order to be fair with each joint, all the end grain pieces are 3 inches wide. This was selected for a couple of reasons, first of all it would accommodate the largest wood biscuit commercially available; the other reason is that by using 3" viewers could use the info to associate it with both 2" or 4". I just don't have time to run all the tests of both 2" and 4" material, so 3" seemed like a good compromise.

The lap joint was slightly smaller because I felt it was unfair to have 3-1/2 inches of long grain glued to long grain so it is slightly smaller at 2-1/2 inches ...

Making a Chainsaw Sharpening JIg

I know that to get good at something you need to practice, but I just never seem to use my Husqvarna Chainsaw enough to really get efficient at sharpening the blade. I do a good job of sharpening, but I know it takes me much longer than someone who uses the saw a lot.
My biggest challenge is when I have the saw in the field, and inadvertently hit the dirt or some small rocks, I can feel the blade getting dull instantly and have to stop to sharpen it. This is where my sharpening skills need the most help. I find it difficult at best to try and hold the saw with one hand and sharpen with the other. I know there are some jigs you can buy that you can drive into the stump of a tree, then clamp the chainsaw bar to ... but I never seem to be around a big enough stump to use one of these clamps. I am however, very often fairly close to my truck, so why not build a clamping system for the chainsaw bar, that I can fasten to my truck's tailgate, that I can then spend a few minutes and make a good job of sharpening the blade.


I started off by measuring the size of my saw and cutting an old piece of 1/2" plywood to fit. In my case 31" x 15". Next I needed to make a simple rack that would hole the motor and handles from moving around too much ...