New Summer Classes at College of the Redwoods

•March 27, 2014 • Leave a Comment

If coming to the Mendocino Coast for the sheer natural beauty of the place isn’t enough…

Every summer College of the Redwoods Fine Woodworking Program offers several excellent courses. Their three-week Tools and Techniques class is always very popular and is now offered as a one-week plane-making class (the tools part) followed by two weeks of technique instruction. In this condensed, intensive three-week course you can learn the core basics of the nine-month apprenticeship program started 32 years ago by James KrenovJim Budlong, long famous for his technical accomplishment and teaching ability, as well as immeasurable patience and good humor, will once again be teaching Tools and Techniques. Students of all skill levels are welcome and I would encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to achieve a greater proficiency with your woodworking.

With chairs trending in woodworking these days caning and upholstery are taken up and de-mystified this summer at CR. For the first time at CR you’ll have the rare opportunity to learn to build the classic Danish Cord Stool in a week-long class by David Johnson:

Danish cord is a three- ply Kraft paper cord resembling rush, widely used in the production of Scandinavian furniture. Students attending this class will construct a simple 16 inch-square stool in oak and weave the seat. –  from CR Fine Furniture

David is also teaching a three-day class in Caning this summer. A lot of woodworkers shy away from doing their own upholstery. I guess it seems too mysterious or far afield or something. But why let a little mystery spoil the satisfaction of having done it all yourself? Take the leap from woodworker to Furniture Maker.

And speaking of upholstery, Wheeler Munroe will teach a one-week Upholstery for Furniture:

Wheeler plans to present an overview of a variety of situations and solutions that can arise in upholstered furniture. Daily lectures, slide shows and demonstrations will be followed by hands-on exercises incorporating the day’s lesson. Information gained in this class will be useful in the planning of unique projects and in the restoration of treasures. Wheeler is of the opinion that upholstery is a sculptural process with a variety of creative and accurate approaches. Her goal is to familiarize students with a range of materials and methods. — from CR Fine Furniture

Summers are cool here on the coast — the average high temperature in June and July is about 65F. Our local area has a lot to offer for the whole family, from hiking and mountain biking in the woods to long walks and horse rides on lovely, lonely beaches; great lodging, dining, golf, fishing and giant redwoods. Oh, and don’t forget the Skunk Train!.

See you this summer!

“Holy Crap I’m a Plane-Maker!” by Scott Meek

•March 25, 2014 • 1 Comment
Scott Meek at Handworks 2013 in Amana, Iowa. Photo Credit: Robin MacGregor.

Scott Meek at Handworks 2013
in Amana, Iowa.
Photo Credit: Robin MacGregor.

About a year ago, a strange thing happened. I was at a Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event in Raleigh, NC showing off some of my wood body planes. The one and only Roy Underhill was also there, with his spring pole lathe. As is proper with the world, Roy had a rather large crowd around him and he was as entertaining as ever. I’d caught myself entranced by his showmanship many times as well. Suddenly, as I’m watching Roy work, a gentleman turns and looks at me, his eyes go wide, and he walks over to my bench and says, “You’re Scott Meek! I’ve admired your planes for awhile now. It is so exciting to meet you!”

Dumbfounded, all I could find to reply was, “You do realize that was Roy Underhill you were just watching, right?” He told me that he‘d met Roy before but hadn’t yet met me. Then he said,Follow this link for the rest of Scott’s story.

School Days (Get Woodworking!)

•February 5, 2014 • Leave a Comment
Wall Cabinet by Henry Hewitt (photo Kari Logwood)

Wall Cabinet by Henry Hewitt (photo Kari Logwood)

Yes, it’s that time of year again! Time for the College of the Redwoods Fine Woodworking Mid Winter Show and, as usual, the show is stunning. Check out the comprehensive gallery of the show’s offerings posted by Kari Logwood on her blog, WoodWabbet. I know we’re off the beaten path here in Fort Bragg, California, at the end of several roads, really. But this show is worth a bit of a drive. A beautiful drive, too. Hurry, though, as the show closes the ninth of this month. The reception will be this Friday, the seventh, and is always a great party. I’ll be behind the bar, as usual pouring wine and opening bottles of beer. I hope to see you there!

Bocote Plane by James Krenov

Bocote Plane by James Krenov

The CR FWW program launched my career as a blade maker and I couldn’t be more grateful. I was in the right place at the right time, thirty-odd years ago, when James Krenov and his class needed better blades for the planes they make and use and was (just barely) smart enough to follow along on what has been a truly wonderful adventure. It’s been a real privilege to know every instructor and every student. The students are usually fairly accomplished woodworkers when they apply (but not always). The year-long program hones existing skills and develops new ones galore. Regardless of the skill level going in, every student comes out a master artisan.

Logo, GWW14

Woodworking schools and classes are abundant right now. Close your eyes, start walking and you’ll likely bump into one. No matter your skill level, you can always improve. If you’re a complete novice, never touched a plane or chisel, you can find a class situation that will build the skills you need to make beautiful works of wood. And if you already have some skills, you can always improve them and learn new ones. I have a (very incomplete) list at that I’ve copied here (in no particular order):

College of the Redwoods (James Krenov’s) Fine Woodworking Program check out this great web site!
Inside Passage (Robert Van Norman carries on the James Krenov tradition)
The Northwest Woodworking Studio (Rogowski’s place in Portland, OR)
Four Sisters Woodworking Vacations (right here in Fort Bragg, CA)
The Windsor Workshop (West Sussex, England)
Red Rocks School of Fine Woodworking and Lutherie (Lakewood, Colorado)
The Woodworking School (Buckley, Washington)
Rosewood Studio  (Ontario, Canada)
The Woodworker Academy   (Alameda, CA)
Center for Furniture Craftsmanship   (Rockport, ME)
Island Mountain Arts - (British Columbia, Canada)
American Woodworking Academy  (O’Fallon, MOi)
New England School of Architectural Woodworking (Easthampton, MA)
David Charlesworth’s Courses Site   (Devon, England)
John Lloyd Fine Furniture  Courses in furniture making and restoration (East Sussex, England)

The editors of Fine Woodworking Magazine maintain a much more comprehensive list as well. I am amazed at the number of offerings. Also, ask your local community college or woodworking supply store if and when they offer classes. You may be surprised what’s available nearby. Don’t be afraid to jump in. Nobody was born knowing how to do this. It’s never too late to learn. Woodworking is such a rewarding activity. Step off the curb and join the parade. It’s time to GET WOODWORKING!

Marc Spagnuolo’s “Hybrid Woodworking”

•November 27, 2013 • 1 Comment

When I heard about this book my first thought was, “Why hasn’t this been done before?” Hock Tools has benefited greatly by the renaissance of hand woodworking tools, skills, instruction and advocacy. Much of that thanks belongs to the efforts of Popular Woodworking magazine and books. That encouragement and the advent of the internet gave woodworkers access to arcane knowledge. Many of you picked up and carried the hand tool torch to a new era of hand woodworking.

Even so, many woodworkers continued to cling to a handtool-dismissing power tool catechism they learned in high school shop, eschewing the hand plane whilst pledging fealty to the jointer.

Marc Spagnuolo’s Hybrid Woodworking does a brilliant job of reconciling the power-tool/hand-tool divide. Marc has gained some fame in the woodworking community as “The Wood Whisperer” with his website of valuable content about all aspects of woodworking. Now he’s offering a peaceful settlement in the ongoing “conflict” between Normites and Neanderthals. Hands across the workbench. Or something like that.

In his very friendly, witty, conversational style Marc finally answers that burning question: When to Use Which to do What? I for one have never advocated that any woodworker go all hand-tools. I understand the efficiency of properly applied power. Roughing, dimensioning, making multiple blanks — power tools are the go-to answer. But for fine work, precision fitting and a surface finish that you simply cannot get with power tools, Marc helps you select the hand tools to balance the power tools and suggests when to use which. This book will make a great gift for anyone looking to expand his or her woodworking tool kit and experience.

Tom Fidgen’s “The Unplugged Woodshop: Hand-Crafted Projects for the Home & Workshop”

•November 26, 2013 • 1 Comment

A great gift idea for the woodworker who appreciates using handtools, especially one who steers clear of the din, dust and and danger of power tools, Tom Fidgen brings us The Unplugged Woodshop: Hand-Crafted Projects for the Home & Workshop.


Tom’s previous book, Made by Hand, Furniture Projects from the Unplugged Woodshop, was Popular Woodworking Books‘ best selling title in 2010 and I predict that The Unplugged Woodshop: Hand-Crafted Projects for the Home & Workshop will easily contend as another best seller. Tom has packed this book with useful how-to instructions that walk you all the way through a compelling variety of beautiful, useful things — from a sawyer’s bench to an architect’s table to a hand plane to a library card catalog — all using historic hand tools and age-old, tried and true techniques along with Tom’s latest tricks and tips. Treat yourself or someone you care about to the intimate pleasure of using hand tools with exquisite results. The journey is the destination and the journey need never end. Unplug!

Bob Lang’s “Building Blocks of SketchUp”

•November 26, 2013 • Leave a Comment

It’s that pesky gift-giving season again. Wouldn’t we look forward to it a lot more if it came around every four years? It’s an idea that may take some time to catch on…

Meanwhile, if you find yourself in need of a gift, I’d like to share three new books that have recently crossed my path. Any woodworker on your list can look forward to these books! I’ll present them in three consecutive posts. This is the first:

Building Blocks of SketchUp is a new book in enhanced PDF format. 260 pages with 50 embedded video lessons

While you may know Bob Lang as Popular Woodworking’s Executive Editor, Bob is also the woodworking community’s authority on using Google’s incredibly useful 3-D design software SketchUp. Among his many other excellent books on Arts and Crafts and Craftsman furniture he has written and taught extensively on SketchUp and how to take advantage of it for your woodworking projects. Extensively researched and written, this SketchUp book, as do all of them, takes full advantage of the pdf format with clickable links and embedded videos (50 of them!) that thoroughly illustrate each topic. Learning to use SketchUp can be daunting, but with clear, accessible writing, Bob takes you by the hand up the learning curve. Through well-presented step-by-step exercises he clearly illustrates the ins and outs of SketchUp, one of the great pieces of software available to 3-D designers. This is an amazing offering at $34.95 for download. And Bob has the disc version on sale for $39.95 with free shipping until December 1! Highly recommended!

New Product Announcement from Linda!

•October 8, 2013 • 5 Comments
Hock Tools' KC500 5" Chef's Knife Kit

Hock Tools’ KC500 5″ Chef’s Knife Kit — $50

Thought I’d write a quick post for Ron. He’s getting back to The Sharpening Blog very soon. Like, well, very soon! In the meantime Ron’s packing the box to ship to Woodworking in America and helping our new shipping department whiz kid Mark Taylor package up the newest product from Hock Tools.

Did I say, “a new product from Hock Tools”? Yes, indeed! As a matter of fact while writing about the two new kitchen knife kits for the newsletter as I listened to Ron pack and weigh the booth for WIA gave me the idea to pinch-hit for his blog.

I’m particularly proud of Ron with these two kits—one a proper and practical paring knife, the other a consummate, all-purpose chef’s knife. Both are sweethearts and both will provide you your own kitchen masterpiece!


Hock Tools’ KP350 3-1/2″ Paring Knife Kit — $35

As a person who loves – I mean LOVES – to cook, I’m already thrilled and can’t wait to use the completed kits. We have a lot of knives in our kitchen — as you may imagine. Most of them are prototypes from Ron’s knife making years on the American Craft Council circuit. I have a few rather fine seconds, too. When people come to cook with me they are always a bit envious and ask to chop, dice, and slice. I don’t have to ask for help!

The conversation turns to what makes the perfect handle for that particular kitchen helper. Then we talk about how best to keep knives sharp and why 01 tool steel is perfect for knives. Stainless is always shiny but sadly for poor stainless it does not get as sharp or hold an edge as well as good ol’ 01.

I do try to remind my friends that I never, and I mean never, put my Hock knives in the dishwasher! That’s a cardinal rule about carbon steel kitchen knives. As a matter of fact I wash and dry my knives right away — Ron doesn’t always; please don’t ask — and enjoy my chef’s patina on the blades; the sure and steady tale of my loving work.

I hope you are as excited as I am about the two new kitchen knives. They’ll be available for the first time at WIA! Through the website (and your favorite retailer) thereafter.

Hope to see you at Woodworking in America!

– Linda at Hock Tools


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