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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 ...

Patio Server

One of the best features of being a woodworker is that fact that you can re-make things, alter designs or just make things from pictures or ideas. What an amazing thing to be do, I guess that's where part of the art form of woodworking comes from. I often wish I had some of those creative abilities. For the most part, I need to at least look at a picture of something before I can create it, which is precisely what happened with this build.

I liked the design and the functionality of having and using a patio server ... what a handy little item for anyone who does some entertaining among family and friends. A perfect way to hold and transport food and drink around a patio, sundeck or back yard get-together.

I started off by making a rough model, just to get a sense of comparative sizes of the parts that might be needed. Once I had that, the next real measurement I needed was ... what would be comfortable height for the handle to be at and with this knowledge the build began ...

Using Winding Sticks to Check Wood Warps

I'm not sure if anyone really knows where or how winding sticks came into being, but I would be willing to bet it was in ancient boat building. Boat builders use all sorts of tricks to figure out the best angles, curves and lines on boats and to do this they need to start with straight lines, which is where winding sticks would be helpful.
Winding sticks are used to help show where boards are warped or twisted and the way they work is simply to set them up on a board which is lying on a flat surface, then sight down the tops of the 2 sticks. If they line up perfectly, the board is flat, if the sticks are uneven, then the board is warped.

Oddly enough, it is boards that are only slightly warped that are the hardest to determine and this is where winding sticks really shine. Boards that are wildly warped are pretty easy to see, it's the ones that "look" flat that can be challenging ones to work with.

In the past winging sticks were useful to a woodworker or carpenter who was hand planing boards to make them flat, and that really hasn't changed, only now we often use machinery to make boards flat, and winding sticks are still useful in ...

Making A Collectables Cabinet

There are a variety of television shows that revolve around the collectables theme, whether it be antique or more modern collections. Almost every collector loves to show off their collections or at least parts of it to those who are interested. In this article and video we build a small wall hanging cabinet with glass door, and with battery operated motion sensitive light, precisely for showing and storing a collection.

In order to make the collection the focus, we purposely built the cabinet fairly plain, and even finished it with a dark color to help take away any distractions from the wood and the cabinet. After all, the whole purpose here is to show off the collection, not the cabinet.

This cabinet could also easily be built without the door, in our case it was a requirement, but for others it might not be so. Our cabinet was a modest 14 x 6 inches and 4 1/2 inches deep. The main reason for this size was to make something small enough that a battery operated illumination would enhance, and it did ...