I always love working with people who have more experience than me because that's how I learn new things, and when it comes to pro woodworkers and master carpenters, they have all sorts of little tricks and ideas they use on a daily basis to get quicker and more accurate results, so it saves them time and helps them get top quality results, what could be better??

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The first person I learned so much from was my High School woodworking teacher, "Charlie" Whittaker. When I joined his class he had already been a woodworker and a teacher for a number of years and had many little things he taught us that have served me my entire life ...

The first thing he showed me was only after I asked what that "tail" was at the end of all of his wood marking? He explained that in order to get a perfect cut, you need to cut on one side of the line or the other. Basically, you need to cut on the "waste" side of the board, and when you do that you end up with a perfect cut. "always cut off the waste" he would tell me. and the little "tail" indicates which side of the line is the "waste" side.

Squaring wood
I'm not sure where this came from, it's so long ago, but when you working with special wood and want to get the pencil lines off quickly, ordinary rubbing alcohol works excellent for doing that ...  

Rubbing alcohol on wood

One of the earliest techniques I was taught was to dampen the wood, to allow the grain to raise slightly, and only when it is BONE dry, should you attempt to scrape off or very, very lightly sand off those wood fibers that have expanded from the moisture you applied, and stayed proud of the wood so that they can scrape or sanded off to make an even finer, final finish.

Raising the wood grain
Working with darker wood helps to hide imperfections. Woodworkers are the worst for point out the tiny imperfections in their work that most people either never see or don't care about ... but the woodworker who created it does. The best way to make these tiny imperfections less noticeable - EVEN to the woodworker, is to work with darker wood or to use a darker stain or dye in the finishing of the piece. Or, as you can see by the samples, use some contrasting woods which work equally well. A small dark line of joint of far less noticeable on darker woods than they are on lighter woods, so use the power of darker tonewoods to your advantage. 

Working with darker wood
Whenever I am making a piece of furniture that has legs, I always spend time sorting out which are the best legs with the most optimized grain, and which faces of the legs should face the "front of the piece" (if there is one ???)  After all that sorting out I then mark the tops of each leg and then ... invariably when it comes to assembly, I sometimes forget which number was to be in which direction. Forget about numbers like 1, 2, 3, 4, and work with stick numbers like I, II, III, IIII  they are so easy to use and you can NEVER get the legs mixed up as to which one goes where, and what is the face side. 

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Copyright Colin Knecht


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