Shortcut To Experience

I don’t think there is any better teacher than experience. The only problem with experience is that it takes time. Lot’s of time. There are, however, ways to bypass that huge time drag and gain from experience quickly. You’re not necessarily getting experience, but you are learning from experience which is the next best option. How do you gain or learn from experience? You learn from those who have already paid their dues.

This week I’m writing about Popular Woodworking Magazine’s Woodworking in America (WIA) conferences. At the bottom of this post is a short video that sums up my thoughts on the conferences,  just what you stand to gain if you attend and why you should be there. Between here and there, I’ll briefly describe the sessions at WIA in which I share my experience.

In “Finishes That Pop” – the title really says it all – I’ll discuss the steps needed to bring a great finish to your project. There are so many areas of woodworking in which small missteps add up to a major disaster. Finishing is at the top of that list. In more than twenty years of furniture construction, I have experienced more finish faux pas than one could expect. (I will never say I have seen it all because there is always something new around the corner.) As a result, I have picked up a number of finishing tips and tricks. For example, did you know that there are times when you should final sand using #120-grit sandpaper, that wood coloration is best done with a good soaking instead of a controlled wipe or that on certain hardwoods applying a coat of oil is great while on others you are simply wasting your time? And just how many coats of oil/varnish does it take to build the right sheen? That’s just the beginning. In the sessions we’ll discuss much more.

In the “The Mighty Dovetail” we’ll examine what has become the joint of all woodworking joints. Today, unlike centuries back, you are judged on how well you cut and fit this joint. That’s a shame because this joint has uses that do not – read that again, please – do not require you to spend huge amounts of time making exact cuts. In fact, After I walk through how to hand-cut this popular joint, I’ll share where you can take a few shortcuts, show to create this joint using a jigsaw and demonstrate how to speed up your process without jeopardizing a hand-cut look. Then we’ll spend time learning where, in building furniture, dovetails are a great choice and some areas to avoid altogether. If you are a dovetail devotee or newbie, this session will open your eyes.

I have often said that if you know case construction (as in dovetails discussed above) and you can build a drawer and door,  you have all the tools needed to produce any piece of furniture. In “Doors: Types, Tips & Techniques” we’ll discuss all things door, including mortise-and-tenon joinery, mitered sticking and creating raised panels. I’ll share my techniques for producing door panels of all kinds, and the best angle to tilt your table saw to produce a perfect fit into a frame groove. I’ll even talk about hand planes and raised panels, too. In addition, I’ll share the technique and the story on why I learned to construct glass-door frames so they were rabbeted for glass right off the table saw – no more frame assembly then routing the rabbet.

These are just my classes at Woodworking in America. There are so many other presenters that I know you’ll come away from these conferences a better woodworker. (Click here to register for a conference, or both conferences, or to read about other presenters and classes.) And as you’ll see in the video below, that is what this is all about. I hope to see you there.

Build Something Great!

Glen

3 Comments

Filed under Design, Finish Techniques, Joinery, Shop Tips

3 responses to “Shortcut To Experience

  1. Tracy Ross

    I am new to quality furniture building, can you recommend a good brand of mortising bits?

    • Tracy,
      If you are looking for information on mortise chisels for hand tool work, I’m not the right guy as I do not mortise by hand. If, however, you are searching for mortise chisels for a plugged in machine, I would recommend chisels from Lee Valley/Veritas, Woodcraft (from Delta, I believe) or chisels identical to those furnished with your machine.

  2. I was there and can’t recommend it enough. Best value for the money I’ve ever spent on woodworking, being able to learn from the masters.

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