Thursday, August 29, 2019

Anti-Kickback System for Tablesaws

A gave myself a nice birthday gift the other day. Filed patent with the USPTO on anti-kickback system for tablesaws, so I can disclose it. A project important to me as I have experienced kickback a few times and made it a mission to fully understand it. Addresses table saw safety and the pervasive problem of dangerous and violent table saw kickback. The AKS system actively mitigates kickback. It can electronically sense 3 common kickback conditions and activate a braking system. The project began 3 years ago but I abandoned it due to its complexity. There were insurmountable technical hurdles that involved considerable more research.

This summer I once again embraced the project and pushed through the technical hurdles. The table saw in the video is a purpose-built prototype for testing of and demonstrating the AKS system. There was a huge learning curve to be able to accomplish this, develop the software to control it all, understand motor control and fabricate the prototype. AKS system can be integrated into any new table saw on the market. Best part is it works and exceeds expectations!!

Friday, April 12, 2019

New woodworking book...

So after a tumultuous month of March, the latest woodworking book is complete and published. Available in digital and print. March began with a bang (literally). My wife and I were broadsided at an intersection causing our SUV to roll and slide down the road for 100 ft. or more. We got out with aches, pains and bruises but on the mend now. The healing time allowed me to focus on this book more heavily and today I am happy to announce it's release! Below is a description for the book.

Decades of furniture making experience combine with furniture design in this new and refreshing take on woodworking. In addition to detailed furniture making techniques, the book delves into the thought process behind furniture design. Skills and processes to advance you as a woodworker and furniture maker are described. The book is also a window on the life of a furniture maker. Although the focus of the book is hand tools, use of machines in the preparatory phase of a furniture build is addressed. Time and labor-saving precision hand tool procedures are discussed. The emphasis turns to hand tools in latter stages of a furniture build where attention to detail is necessary. A reverence to wood as a medium is featured throughout the book.

Homage is paid to classic techniques such as dovetail joinery and workbench processes. As well as the traditional, modern techniques and processes are put forward to make your furniture designs stand out and be unique. The focus is one of a kind furniture, the unique furniture and wood objects that separate you from other makers. As a furniture designer + maker, discover my passion, what drives me and where I draw inspiration from. Learn how to develop your own style, aesthetic and voice in furniture design. It is not the how but the why behind the process that is often critical in a furniture maker's mind and practice.

The premise for this book is to provide insight into the craft of woodworking and more specifically the creation of furniture. The book is composed of sections, each of which is critical to your woodworking journey. Acquiring skills and knowledge in the last century involved taking classes, reading books or mentoring with a knowledgeable woodworker. Today, in comparison, there is a wealth of knowledge available through the Internet. What is lacking however, is the hands on aspect of the craft of woodworking. Learning involves making. I know of no one that learned a craft by simply reading and not applying themselves. It is critical to embrace the often lengthy learning curve involved. This book includes several articles focusing on aspects of woodworking in a contemporary world.

The book is composed of four sections. Each section contains articles that a woodworker or furniture maker will need to embrace as they evolve. The first section introduces basic woodworking skills. A large part of this book is devoted to hand tool skills. Although machines are combined with hand tools in my furniture making, I advocate that woodworkers should embrace hand tools. It is necessary to form a connection between hand and wood medium prior to seeking efficiency and a production mindset. Hand tools often get a bad rap as being slow and tedious. Instead, what hand tools offer is control,  dexterity, quiet and a close connection to the wood medium. In a one person furniture making studio, hand tools offer a healthy balance to the use of machines. Projects include through dovetails, portable board jack build, moxon vise build, and knife hinge install.

The second or  furniture maker section provides a glimpse into furniture making as a career. Woodworkers often aspire to become furniture makers or go into business for themselves. As a furniture maker for several decades, I share knowledge and insight acquired over the years. Some articles will inspire you to take the leap and become a full time furniture maker. Topics in the section include setting up shop, the furniture maker journey, the furniture maker lifestyle, social media for a furniture maker, and insight into diverging from furniture making to other forms of woodworking.

The third section is devoted to furniture design. Furniture design forms a large part of woodworking. Often, it is necessary to design a complete piece of furniture or modify an existing design. The design process has evolved over past decades with the advent of computer software (CAD). Pencil and paper are now combined with CAD. Articles include how to create and refine a design, the concept of form and function and how it applies to furniture.

The fourth or advanced woodworking section delves into techniques to further your woodworking and furniture making. Veneering techniques, both manual and vacuum veneering are described. The process of creating a jewelry box is discussed in one article. The Japanese art of Kumiko is described in a final article.

235 Pages, 8.5 X 11 in. Non-fiction.  
Print Edition: 


Thursday, January 31, 2019

Kumiko cabinet doors...

After exploring Japanese Kumiko and in particular the asa-no-ha pattern or motif, I created a few panels. I also took it one step forward and framed the panels with pieces of cherry or mahogany I had lying around. The asa-no-ha pattern below seems to be the most popular and it can be seen reproduced by several woodworkers.

Having mastered the Kumiko process for the asa-no-ha pattern and in the process created several panels, I soon realized that they should be applied to a project. Kumiko panels on their own are only decorative, they are really meant to be incorporated into furniture, shoji screens, etc.

Without a new project in mind and after some brainstorming with my wife, the idea was hatched to integrate one of the larger Kumiko panels into an existing piece of furniture. While discussing, my latest Krenov display cabinet was directly in front of us. Hey, why not experiment with the Kumiko panel on this cabinet. So a cardboard mockup of one door was created and a large Kumiko panel carefully fitted in to be able to view the inside of the cabinet.

After some discussion, we both agreed that the idea was worthy of further exploration. I also secretly wanted an excuse to create more Kumiko panels and become better at it and to develop techniques. Next, two matching Kumiko panels were created and framed with cherry pieces. It was also decided to create the doors out of cherry. Selecting the wood for the doors was not an easy one. Lately, I have been making an effort to draw down my existing inventory of wood. I have so much existing inventory and it doesn't make sense to keep purchasing more wood. The only issue was the grain orientation of the wood. Since these are doors with about 9 inches in width, I preferred quarter-saw or at the least rift-sawn for dimensional stability. After exhaustively searching my pile and deliberating, a single cherry plank appeared to meet the criteria... for the most part. I also wanted a wood that would have the lighter Kumiko panels stand out. Cherry normally darkens with age and exposure to light, so this was an critical consideration. The cherry plank was selected since it was light pink or brown and was not likely to turn a deep red. I preferred a medium colored brown as the final color, to match the cabinet stand and interior drawer fronts. With cherry, the final color is often a crap shoot. So cherry it was for the doors.

The cherry plank was sawn and laid out for the door components. Doors assembled with an opening for the Kumiko panels. Kumiko panels were fitted in and temporarily attached as seen directly below. All is good at this point, the Kumiko panels fit like a glove. Door components were selected and laid out to minimize any horizontal movement across their width.

Proceeded to then create a lip and rabbet where the doors meet and to permanently install the Kumiko panels. It was absolutely necessary for the new doors to perfectly match the original doors in both width, length and thickness. This was due to the knife hinges used and the close tolerances necessary for their operation. The door reveals were also an important criteria. In other word, the new doors would need to be dimensionally exact as the original doors.

The photos above show the progression in both dimensioning the doors to size and creating the lip and rabbet where they meet. The last photos below have both doors installed in the cabinet prior to application of a shellac finish. The single right cocobolo door pull is also prepared and fitted but will only be installed as a last step. A temporary basswood filler piece is inserted in the mortise for the door pull. From previous experience, a protruding door pull seriously gets in the way of applying a French Polish type of finish.

Follow me on Instagram for progress updates:
Instagram:  @woodskillsmag and @pirollodesign

Friday, December 21, 2018

A Krenov revival...

Apologies for not posting more regularly but most of my project builds and images have moved to Instagram, @woodskillsmag and @pirollodesign. I've been working on my latest piece for a few weeks now. It is a cabinet on stand inspired by James Krenov work and philosophy. The story behind this particular piece is as follows. I originally created a similar piece to this in early 2012 and looked forward to making another a few months later.

Original cabinet on stand designed and created in 2012. Door and side panels are veneered with figured Big Leaf maple, interior is soft maple, back panels are Ambrosia maple, stand is cherry.

The design adheres to the principles of Krenov, construction follows his methods and philosophy, and the aesthetic is clean, minimalist and devoid of ornamentation. This has also become my furniture making style in the past 14 years or so. I discovered the work of James Krenov about 14 years ago and read his books quite regularly, each time extracting a new nuance or so. This was the age when learning from woodworking books was the preferred way of understanding woodworking. I followed Krenov's writing and tried to glean as much technical information from the grainy black and white photos in several of his books. A little while later, I attended a furniture making school that was founded on the principles of James Krenov and College of the Redwoods. It was one of a very few schools in North America espousing the tradition of hand work. This experience opened my eyes to a slower form of furniture making where the focus is on the wood itself and attention to detail is paramount. Where am I going with this? Well, between the years 2012 and 2018 I pursued a few other interests, mainly wood sculpture, furniture design, video production, writing books and publishing a semi-annual woodworking magazine WOODSKILLS. As well as returning to school to follow a one year business program, my woodworking continued.

My woodworking (2012-2018) followed a different path where I embraced modern, contemporary design. In this intervening period, I entered furniture design shows with very contemporary console table and chair designs. The years went by while I yearned to revisit that original cabinet on stand and hopefully make another. I had even developed a set of plans and drawings of the cabinet at the time thinking it would be a matter of a few weeks before I could start on another. Fast forward to late 2018 and I finally set aside time to fulfill this build. The following are progress shots. This version of the cabinet on stand has a slightly modified interior layout than the original. The stand is configured differently only because it was possible to do so and I wanted it to be both different and unique. A couple of new additions are a hidden, secret compartment, inlay on the front apron of the stand and the cabinet floats on the stand. Otherwise, the design follows the original piece created back in 2012.

Installing knife hinges in 2018 version of cabinet on stand

Fitting door panels an creating lip and rabbet where they join.

Interior layout of new cabinet mocked up on cabinet base (using a few of the tools I design + make).

Cabinet mocked up and drawer fronts fitted. Hidden compartment also visible below right-hand drawer compartment.

New set of three dovetailed drawers created (at bottom).

New dovetailed drawers fitted into respective drawer compartments.

The legs, aprons, rails for stand are mortised and prepared for loose tenon and dowel joinery (using modified horizontal mortiser).

Progress checklist (whiteboard and dry erase markers) on one of two wall-mounted hand tool cabinets.

Creating mortises for drawer and door pulls ( cocobolo heartwood and sapwood combination)

French Polish process for door panels and cabinet sides.

New version of cabinet completed. Note the dropped front apron with inlay and floating cabinet on side rails.

Cabinet with figured Big Leaf maple door and side panels and cocobolo pull. Cherry stand with inlay.

Interior of 2018 cabinet. Compartments are flipped from 2012 cabinet. Secret compartment behind the small blue cup at lower right.

The new cabinet on stand seen here. Final detail was the addition of a single, small bullet catch at top of right-hand door.

So I've fulfilled my requirement of building a Krenov-inspired piece of furniture every six years or so 👊😉

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

WOODSKILLS Issue 02 - now available!

The idea was hatched a year or so ago. A new magazine catering to the discerning, fine woodworking enthusiast. It was an idea that slowly developed and at one point became a reality. So a small team and I have been working at this and are happy to announce that the latest issue of WOODSKILLS woodworking and furniture making magazine is now available. Some of the features in this Furniture Maker Edition include furniture maker articles, profiles of accomplished furniture makers, best studio practices, contemporary furniture design, gallery, vacuum veneering, Moxon vise build, sharpening + woodworking strategies, wood selection strategies and social media for furniture makers. The terms studio and workshop are used interchangeably throughout the magazine. WOODSKILLS is a semi-annual publication, published twice yearly in late spring and fall.

As a follower and practitioner of James Krenov style of work and methodology, both hand tool and some machine techniques are included. Although the vast majority of articles refer to hand tools, machinery is not excluded. I find this to be a more realistic approach in this day and age. Machines can do the grunt work whereas hand tools are used to create joinery, shape and finesse furniture components, smoothing surfaces, etc. Advertising is at an absolute minimum and consists of curated advertising, a term gleaned from the art world. Advertising must reflect practices and products that our readers and the team at WOODSKILLS could use or include in their own workshops and studios. Available through (digital) or Amazon (print version) or Blurb (premium print version).
Furniture Designer + Maker Profiles
Darrell Peart, Craig Thibodeau, Jan Lennon, Brian Greene
Workshop Setups & Best Practices
Furniture Maker Articles
Vacuum Veneering
Furniture Design Gallery
Contemporary Furniture Design
Moxon Vise Build
Sharpening + Woodworking Strategies
Social Media for Furniture Makers

WOODSKILLS Issue 02 woodworking magazine

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Twitter: WoodSkills
Facebook: WoodSkills 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Pursue your passion...

As a few of you may know, my woodworking and furniture making career is the second one of my life. A long, first career in the hi-tech industry preceded my current career. It is difficult to view life through a rear-view mirror but I often think of how it would have been if the leap had been taken earlier on. When I began in hi-tech, technology was rapidly advancing and I could not absorb enough of it. My life revolved around computer technology and software. I worked for possibly the best multi-national computer firms and there was a mutual respect of what we brought to each other. Hi-tech today is quite likely the same where change is fast and furious. However, sometime in the middle of the hi-tech career I began to realize that grasping the latest technology was becoming a full-time job. It became increasingly difficult to keep up with the latest in hardware and software. I shrugged this off and continued on the journey, after all I did need a career and a pay cheque. My performance was above par but it became obvious I could not keep the façade going for several more years. The technology was just not as exciting to me anymore. I felt something was lacking in my life and began to seek a creative outlet instead.

A short time later I discovered woodworking through an evening class and was smitten. The creative aspect of woodworking and making tangible objects with the hands was the part lacking in my life. My focus began to turn to woodworking and the hi-tech career simply devolved into a series of jobs. One thing led to another, I launched a small part-time woodworking business over 20 years ago, it grew but not enough for me to leave hi-tech. The struggle of juggling employment with the part-time business eventually took its toll. I retreated and told myself the next step was to become a full-time woodworker. Life gets in the way however! A marriage, new home, a couple of downsizings later and I could finally live the dream of having my own furniture making business.

I often ask myself if I remained in the hi-tech industry for perhaps ten years too long. Looking back, I should have possibly exited hi-tech, struggled at woodworking and not look back. The hi-tech employment became a crutch and it was the pay cheque that kept me from leaving. It is difficult to say what the best path would have been. Circumstances were different in my case, it has all worked out in the end, but the "what if" lingers! Today, I see many younger woodworkers taking the leap into full-time woodworking and commend their courage. After all, why pursue a career you no longer have an interest in. This is one of life's biggest lessons and as mentioned earlier it is difficult to look back through a rear-view mirror. I recently read an article that summarized people's biggest regrets later in life. The regret of not having pursued their dream was high on the list. To summarize, pursue your passion!
So I teamed up with a videographer and created the following video in the form of a 5 minute synopsis of my exciting second career in woodworking and specifically furniture making!

Follow my journey on Instagram: @woodskillsmag
Pirollo Design

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Makers and furniture...

Not long ago, woodworking was considered to be in a downward spiral of diminishing followers and practitioners. The pundits were proclaiming the demise of woodworking as a hobby and how fewer young people were taking up woodworking and interested in building their own furniture. Why bother, with so much commercially mass-produced furniture available at reasonable prices. In addition, style trends come and go and being saddled with an out of style furniture piece became an issue. Staying on top of style trends has become instilled in us through the proliferation of interior design and renovation shows on television. Furniture has slowly become a disposable or recyclable object instead of a heirloom piece to be handed off to future generations. When you think about it, this trend flies in the face of environmentalism and celebrates the creation of even more trash. Out of all this doom and gloom rose the maker movement.

This younger generation of makers has slowly begun to appreciate the creation of things with their hands.  The increased waste going to landfills brought awareness to the never-ending cycle of consumerism. Let's face it, people are much less likely to throw out something they have created themselves. The virtues of designing and making an object has returned people to their heritage of being self-sufficient, inventive and to not be reliant on industrially produced goods. Through handcrafting, people could imprint their own mark on an object and customize the design to reflect their own aesthetic. The current maker movement is simply an evolution of the arts & crafts movement which has defined creative people for countless decades. The maker movement is an updated form of the craft movement where new materials, technology and ideas are incorporated into craft.

A spin off of the maker movement has been the return to creating one's own furniture. In fact, a large and growing segment of the maker movement revolves around designing and building furniture. The best part of this is how young people have once again embraced the creation of their own furniture for reasons different than in the past. In the past, the younger consumer could not afford furniture so instead built their own. Today, the reasons for building your own furniture revolve around handcrafting, channelling creativity into a furniture design, and the process of creating an object. It isn't so much about the result but the experience of getting there. Younger makers today are turning furniture design on its ear by shunning age old design constructs and paradigms, and instead embracing a fresh outlook on furniture design.

In the past, bolder and radical furniture designs were the product of reclusive studio furniture makers with limited means of communicating with one another. Today instead, younger makers are informed primarily through social media. Practicality and functionality of design have become the new criteria for furniture design. The furniture of this new generation of makers embraces universality and democratizes design. Social media plays an important part in design today within the maker movement. Through social media, furniture designs have become instantly available to both inform and influence other makers. Through social media, makers can quickly adapt an existing design to their own aesthetic or style. The process of fleshing out designs is considerably accelerated through social media and democratization.

So from what I observe, things are looking up for furniture making and woodworking in general. There is a resurgence occurring in this decades old creative outlet. A new awareness of the virtues and benefits of creating objects using wood as a medium is occurring. I am fairly active on social media and an often awed by radical new furniture designs from this new maker movement. Along with this, the democratization of design will hopefully benefit us all as we can extract elements of shared designs to incorporate into our own work.

Norman Pirollo

Friday, May 11, 2018

Deck renovation...

With the arrival of spring I decided to renovate our deck. The original deck was built 17 years ago and because of intense exposure to sun, the boards were getting weather-beaten. Although they were still somewhat solid, cracks and aging were taking its toll. So a new deck floor and railing system was planned. The deck structure itself was in excellent condition as it was sheltered from the sun and is raised a few feet from ground level. This allows the wood to breathe and not accumulate moisture for long. Renovating a deck is so far removed from making fine furniture I must say. The pictures tell the story. So many screws to remove and replace, in the order of 1500. Some were stubborn, the majority were removed without issue. I wanted to avoid damaging the joists below so no prying off of deck boards. They were all judiciously removed.

The first series of pics show the original wood railings, the last series show the new wood and metal railing system. Since the deck is a few feet above ground, I maintained the correct height of the railing to meet the local code here. I also wanted to make the railing strong and solid to avoid any risk of somebody leaning over and snapping it. So the railing sections are tied together with bolts creating a strong and solid structure. The four cap rails on each side is one continuous plank and this does wonders in reinforcing the rail sections. A redesign of the posts at the stairs to accommodate solar lamps was a nice touch! In a few weeks I will apply a timber oil finish. The same oil finish can be seen on the gazebo deck in the background of the first and last pic. I have never had much success with water-based finishes on outdoor wood. A combination of sun and wear cause the finish to flake off in a year or two. So oil finish it is now!

Below, the window in the background is one of a few large windows in my furniture making studio. If you look closely, you can see small scale mockups of a chair in the window.

We found the new solar lamps to be such an improvement over earlier generation lamps. Glass is "water glass" so light is disbursed in a random, quirky pattern. So we like them so much that another set was just added to the gazebo deck this morning! Actual gazebo going in this weekend. Back to regular scheduled programming next week. Also begin preliminary work on Issue 02 of WOODSKILLS magazine this month.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Woodworking in 2018

I write about the dichotomy occurring in present day woodworking. The clash between the growing movement towards traditional hand tool woodworking versus the rise in automation along with a plethora of machinery to expedite woodworking processes. This is from the perspective of a traditional woodworker determining how much current woodworking technology to embrace in his studio practice. I write this because today we are bombarded on two fronts in woodworking. Go traditional with hand tools, go modern with the latest in technology, or somehow combine the two. I lay out how I resolved my own compromise and came to terms with the dilemma. The machinery I speak of is increasingly sophisticated to where an operator sitting alongside a CNC machine can quickly create components for a piece of furniture. At the hand tool end, the debate swirls around what constitutes traditional woodworking. Should wood be prepared and dimensioned by hand? Should this grunt work be performed by machines with the emphasis then shifting to hand tools? Can the use of power tools be combined with hand tools in a truly traditional woodworking shop? Would our woodworking forefathers have embraced machinery if it existed in their historical period?

Interestingly, elements of this debate also occurred during the advent of the Industrial Age in the late 1800's. The reasons then to not embrace machinery were somewhat similar. Machines were thought to remove the human touch and craft component from furniture. Skills which had been passed down through generations of woodworkers would be lost. Victory was achieved with the advent of the Arts & Crafts movement, although this was short-lived. Eventually, the use of machinery in woodworking won the battle resulting in the further distancing of woodworkers from their traditional craft. Over 100 years of woodworking production advancements later and traditional woodworking is once again being embraced.

The reasons are similar to the repudiation of the Industrial Age with the only difference being that we are today on the cusp of full automation in production woodworking manufacturing. Developments to facilitate and expedite production are occurring at a faster pace than ever before. So, although it seems strange today to embrace traditional hand tool methods, it is more relevant in light of the possibility of forever losing a centuries old craft. Thumbs up to the many private schools dedicated to teaching traditional hand-oriented woodworking skills today. Traditional woodworking has effectively ceased to be taught in mainstream schools, fewer and fewer parents immerse themselves in woodworking to pass down to children. Some have mentioned the traditional craft of woodworking is on its death bed. Woodworking taught in schools today tends to focus on automation and heavy use of machinery. In the big picture, the resurgence of traditional woodworking methods using hand tools could not occur at a better time in history!

I must admit that it can be confusing for an entry level woodworker of which path to follow today. Is their work intended to be batched out or instead created as one-offs? The larger issue becomes the processes used to achieve this goal. The use of modern technology can be enticing, where visions of machines magically create components for furniture never ceases to amaze. Machinery manufacturers are constantly upgrading their offerings to where the learning curve for CNC is rapidly diminishing. This would be at the extreme end of full automation. At the traditional end, new and often improved releases of traditional hand tools continue to occur. High quality and precisely machined hand tools are widely available today. The single most common and necessary component in the traditional, hand tool equation is the necessity to manually push or pull a hand plane, saw or chisel in order to prepare wood, smooth wood or to create joinery. So a large component of manual labor is involved.

A woodworker with many years of experience may have come to terms with the direction they wish to follow. In many cases, they embrace a quieter, less hurried form of woodworking. Their woodworking passion is better served in the enjoyment of creating a piece rather than simply achieving the end goal. Instead, somebody just starting out will perhaps wonder why today they should be performing manual tasks such as hand planing, hand sawing boards and creating joinery by hand. After all, isn't this why machinery was created, to facilitate the processing of boards used in furniture making? Hasn't the trend in industry always been to make our jobs easier and more productive? This is the dilemma facing many woodworkers today, specifically new woodworkers. I don't pretend to have a solution and can only form an opinion through many years of experience in both camps. As a former hi-tech person and convert to a quieter form of woodworking, I would much rather work with traditional, time-proven methods than to embrace the latest in machinery whose goal is to make my life easier. I too faced this dilemma and have been minimizing the use of machinery in my woodworking. In the process, I have since learned to appreciate wood as a medium and not just to use it as a means to an end. The machines I use today are effectively motorized hand tools, nothing sophisticated. This is where I draw the line.

In my studio practice, it is preferable for me to be closer to the wood and work with its characteristics and inherent beauty. Today, I use machines to prepare wood in the initial stages and perhaps to dimension it. Afterwards, all processes in my furniture making incorporate the use of hand tools. I will always seek a method to use a hand tool to perform a task before ever considering using a machine. So this is how I have come to terms with the question of maintaining traditional methods in my own work. I find this to be the best compromise in coping with an ever-increasing fast-paced, technological and production-oriented world.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Drawer makeover...

I have a small Krenov-inspired cabinet which I have enjoyed for the most part. The drawers not so much. The cabinet is solid beech but long ago the decision was made to make two stacked drawers with walnut fronts to provide contrast to the beech. I realized at the time that the contrast was not ideal, but for the sake of expediency, went ahead to see if it would grow on me. Well it hasn't. Another idea at the time was to have through-dovetails to attach the drawer fronts to the sides. This provided another level of contrast and introduced yet another wood to the mix. Overall, I wasn't pleased. So recently I decided to give the drawers a makeover and replace the drawer fronts with something more aesthetically pleasing and to provide not so harsh a contrast. Pic below of original drawer fronts.

My first attempt was to use some highly figured veneer I had stored away. It is commercial veneer so very thin. The veneer itself is beautiful, light in color and would make the interior of the beech cabinet pop. First step was to scrape down the surface of the drawer fronts and glued a piece of this veneer to each. Did this successfully and began to create the mortises for the new pulls. However, there is something about commercial veneer that doesn't sit well with me and I was not able to get past this. The thickness of the material is paper (thick paper) thin and brittle, too fragile for my taste.

Since it would be necessary to scrape the surfaces to get a polished aesthetic, this was entirely not possible with this thin, brittle veneer. I typically use shop-sawn resawn veneers in my work. Instead, I created some band-sawn ambrosia maple with beautiful figure between 1/16 and  3/32 in. thick. I decided to go ahead with this shop-sawn veneer instead. Next I band sawed the drawer front to the thickness of this shop-sawn figured ambrosia. Applied the veneer to the drawer fronts and I could not be more pleased with the outcome. Shop-sawn veneers are more workable and forgiving with hand tools.

I then created two new wide pulls out of blackwood. A single pull instead of two in the original drawer front. Also decided on eliminating the upper and lower shoulders of the pulls to be able to have them thinner. This would not take away from the figured fronts as much. This step introduced a level of risk in creating the mortises, since there is no drawer pull shoulder to rely on to hide an imperfect mortise.

After some judicious mortising using chisels and a mallet,, then some paring, the drawer pull mortises were created as seen above. The most critical part of this step is to remove the top-most layer of wood; it is so easy to tearout the surrounding wood if the chisel cuts are not clean. Then it is simply a matter of cutting and paring to the correct depth of the tenon for the drawer pull. Contemporary-styled blackwood pull temporarily inserted below.

So very happy with the outcome and will be completely replacing the doors of the cabinet next. I intend to use veneered figured wood for the doors, similar wood (Ambrosia Maple) as the drawer fronts. I plan to write a detailed article about this in the next issue of WOODSKILLS Magazine

Thursday, April 5, 2018

WOODSKILLS Issue 01 - new magazine

**Updated with new video of print version of magazine.

The idea was hatched a year or so ago but other projects came first. A new magazine catering to the discerning, fine woodworking enthusiast. It was an idea that slowly developed and at one point became a reality. So a small team and I have been working at this since the month of January and we are happy to announce that the latest woodworking and furniture making magazine WOODSKILLS is now available. Some of the features in the magazine are articles on hand tool use and techniques, profiles of accomplished woodworkers and furniture makers, best studio practices, contemporary furniture design, gallery, tool discussions. The terms studio and workshop are used interchangeably throughout the magazine. WOODSKILLS is a semi-annual publication, published twice yearly in the late spring and late fall.

As a follower and practitioner of James Krenov style of work and methodology, both hand tool and some machine techniques are included. Although the vast majority of articles refer to hand tools, machinery is not excluded. I find this to be a more realistic approach in this day and age. Machines can do the grunt work whereas hand tools are used to create joinery, shape and finesse furniture components, smoothing surfaces, etc. Advertising will be at an absolute minimum and consists of curated advertising, a term gleaned from the art world. Advertising must reflect practices and products that our readers and the team at WOODSKILLS could use or include in their own workshops and studios. Available through or Amazon (print version).
Woodworker and Furniture Designer Profiles
Workshop Setups & Best Practices
Hand Tool Techniques
Furniture Design Gallery
Contemporary Furniture Design

WOODSKILLS Issue 01 woodworking magazine

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