Saturday, November 12, 2011

Four Uncommon Woodworking Products

This post is about four products I find indispensable for my shop that you will never find at Woodcraft or Rockler. 

First up is “Wurth Brake and Parts Cleaner”.  I’m sure we have all had our battles with the packing grease or cosmoline that is slathered on all those new tools when they arrive in our shops.  Wurth Brake and Parts Cleaner cuts through and dissolves that gunky mess like butter on a hot skillet.  But unlike other brands of Brake and Parts Cleaners, this formulation by Wurth will not eat through paint.  I use this stuff on almost every new cast-iron/metal tool that comes through my shop.  The only downside is that unless you live in California, I doubt you will find it at you local auto parts dealer.  I discovered this product a few years ago from a mechanic friend of mine and quickly put in an on-line order for a case of it.

Next up is an oil-painting palette knife.  I use this for cleaning up glue squeeze-out, mixing up and applying wood filler.  I find the palette knife much better and easier than using a chisel to clean-up glue squeeze-out. 

It also excels at mixing and applying wood filler.  I’m sure most of you have never had to use the stuff on your projects.  But for mere mortals like myself - when I do use wood filler, I prefer Timber Mate. I have three different colors and a number of Transtint dyes.  When I’m done milling my stock for a project, I take one of the cut-off pieces, put some gouges in it, and mix a three to four different “colorations” of the Timber Mate using precise and repeatable measurements.  I then finish the piece using the same finish I will be using for the project.  I can then see which coloration matches best (usually its best to go a little darker).  So if I end up needing to use some filler, I know exactly which mix is going to give me the best results.

Palette knifes are available at any arts supply or craft store and are very inexpensive.  Lee Valley sells them too.

The next item is a coffee stirrer from the chocolate shop at the Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas.  This stirrer has a round paddle at the bottom and is great at stirring those quart and smaller sizes of finish containers.  I usually find myself in Vegas at least once per year for one reason or another.  When I’m there I make a point to go by the Bellagio Casino a couple of times, have a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, and stock up on a few stirrers.

Last, but by no means least, is my brass egg paperweight.  It’s is made of some sort of brass alloy and is unusually heavy for its size.  It has a flat-side on the bottom, a rounded one on the top, and fits my hand like a glove.  I use it exclusively as a small chisel mallet when making fine controlled cuts.  I have tried those small brass mallets you can really choke-up on.  While they work great, I still prefer my brass egg.  The big downside is that I do not know of a source for the paperweight.  I received it about 12 years ago when the company I work for was sending everyone to Covey Leadership Training.  This was part of the gift bag when you completed the course.  If anyone knows of a source, please let me know.

Please comment below if you have any questions or would like to share your uncommon woodworking products.

Thanks for stopping by,


Saturday, October 22, 2011

WIA 2011 Haul

Well to say that “Woodworking in America” (WIA) 2011 was nice woodworking respite maybe a misnomer considering the crowd I ran with during the event.  It certainly was fun.  The best part was meeting up with on-line friends I met last year and meeting new friends attending this year’s WIA.  I just hope the APB runs out before WIA 2012. 

The second best part of WIA for me was the Marketplace.  Where else can you actually see and try the tools you see on-line and in the magazines.  Anticipating the deals, I saved my pennies and cashed-in at the event.  And now that UPS has made their deliveries - pictured below is my WIA 2011 Haul.

Going clockwise from bottom right I bought the following items:

1.         Veritas Inset Vise – I’ll use this in the other side of my split-top bench
2.         Great Bench Dogs Time Warp Toolworks was giving out in the Hand Tool School Booth
3.         Woodpeckers Mini Square
4.         Veritas Bench Blade
5.         Veritas Camber Roller Assemble for the Mk. II Honing Guide
6.         Bridge City KM-1 Kerfmaker
7.         Veritas Skew Jig for the Mk. II Honing Guide
8.         Lie-Nielsen Bronze No. 3 Smoothing Plane with the 55 degree frog
9.         Veritas Skew Rabbet Plane
10.       Knew Concepts Fret Saw with the Elkhead Tools replacement handle
11.       Veritas Plane Screwdriver

While all the toys are great, for those that haven’t made it to WIA yet I strongly recommend it.  It is the preeminent woodworking event on my calendar each year.  Each year it seems established concepts are challenged.  Last year it was Michael Fortune’s class on Bandsaw set-up and the myth of blade drift.  This year, it seems to be Adam Cherubini’s class on nailed furniture and its quite acceptable use in a variety of projects.  But while the classes are great and the Marketplace is dangerous, the best part is meeting new and old friends alike.  Here’s to seeing you there next year!

Thanks for stopping by,


Saturday, October 15, 2011


After many moons the Jewelry Cabinet is finally finished and installed.  The materials used are: African Mahogany for the cabinet and interior; Ambrosia Maple for the door panels, drawer fronts and back; Ebony Accents and Pulls; and Brusso and SOSS hardware.  This is one of my own designs, but it was heavily influenced by the G&G Curio Cabinet and The Woodwhisperer's  Gadget Station - both pictured below.  I also need to thank Aaron Marshall for his input and confirmation of my original sketch-up design. 

The first challenge of this project were the proud finger joints for the top and sides.  I used the table saw with 1/4 inch dado blade and some stop blocks on my miter gauge.  I cut the fingers for the top first and then fitted the side fingers to them.  Of course, I made a series of test cuts first.  I also left the sides long in case I screwed up.  That way I could just cut the fingers off and try again.  This is the third project in row I haven't had to "re-make" any parts.  Either I'm getting the hang of this wwing thing (scary) or just lucky.

The second challenge was the interior of the Cabinet.  It has three drawers and an upper center divider; with two Brusso necklace carousels on the right side and two adjustable shelves on the left side.

Because of the clearance required by the SOSS hinges, I bascilly had to build a box inside the cabinet to hold the drawers.  In buiding this interior box, I decided to use the proud finger joints again to provide some visual interest.

Since the G&G style can be described as somewhat masculine, I used the Ambrosia Maple to impart little feminine touch to the Jewelry Cabinet.  In that regard, the maple was used for the drawer fronts which are finger jointed into the sides.  I also decided to add the tsuba detail to the front of drawers with an integrated pull similar to the G&G Curio Cabinet.

Some other details I would like to highlight are (1) the Base - which will allow this Cabinet to be placed on a table, dresser, or stand, if one wishes; (2) the  magnetic catches and ebony door stops on the center divider; and (3) the door pulls (once again inspired from Marc's Gadget Station).

If you have any questions or comments (good or bad), please comment below.

Thanks for stopping by,


Monday, October 10, 2011

My First Post

This is the obligatory first post - I am semi-beginning woodworker who is fascinated by tools and all things wood.  While I have a number of projects under my belt, few I would call "fine woodworking".  Over the last few years I have become enamored of the designs of Greene & Greene.  Within the last year I have built my version of The WoodWhisperer's G&G frame, and recently just completed a Jewelry Cabinet of my own design...more on that in my next post.  During the journey of this blog please leave comments on my posts or reach me on Twitter @TexWood.  While I am sometimes opinionated, I have on occasion revised my views based on additional information ;-)

Thanks for stopping by,