Category Archives: New Products

Best Place to Find Figured Wood

The second week of June, I had the pleasure of spending a week in Hawaii thanks to an all-expenses paid trip. (Thanks again, Steve and Chris.We had a great time.) While there I learned more than a few things. I learned a guy that is rather round at the middle should stay far away from two-person kayaks – that revelation didn’t surprise many of my friends – and I discovered that a mustache prevents a dive mask from attaining a seal strong enough to keep water out of your nose when snorkeling. That was the first day’s events.

On the positive side, I learned that hiking in the rain forest and jumping from cliffs into water filled via a waterfall is a blast, that sunset cruises on sailboats are relaxing even though you have to wade through knee high ocean to get aboard and that a “lava flow” cocktail at the Four Seasons Resort is mighty tasty.

One more thing. If you ever have a chance to get out of bed at 2:00 in the morning, ride in a van for an hour to pick up gear for an sunrise bike trip down from Haleakala’s 10,023′ summit, TAKE IT. It’s magnificent. We were above the clouds as the sun rose. We stood in 40 – 50 MPH winds in temperatures around 30 degrees, but it was so worth it. Then before the bike ride began, we stopped to take in an incredible view of Maui’s crater. It looked as if we were on another planet.

What does all this have to do with woodworking? Each day of the week the Resort invites in artists from many different mediums. Day one of my stay included a ukulele builder. I spent a while talking with Colly Norman of Blue Maui ‘Ukulele. As he showed me his ukuleles, he introduced me to a wood that I knew nothing about, Mangifera indica or mango in layman’s terms. I did not know that this wood existed, or was harvested for use, and I surely didn’t know it was available in a high-figure variety.

Don’t shake your head yes. I dare you to tell me you’ve seen this before if you live any where on the United States mainland and haven’t visited a tropical paradise. I think it’s a secret kept from woodworkers that favor figure.

Immediately, I began my search for mango. I need to build something in mango just to say I have. (Here is a page with all the technical data, click here.) An online search shows many small pieces, but I want slabs. Then I stumbled onto Keim Lumber Company’s Mango page and received a bit of a shock. Check out the price. Maybe small pieces are the way to go? Then I found mango at Roy Lambrecht Hawaiian Woods and mango, at $15.00 per board foot for curly, was back in the running. I’m still in the hunt.

Even though the above linked data base doesn’t mention any toxicity, Colly told me that mango was a wood that some woodworkers cannot work due to a potential skin irritant much like poison ivy. I have also found that Mango wood should never be used in fireplaces or for cooking fuel, as its smoke is highly irritant.

Below are a few more photos of Blue Maui Ukulele instruments. Check out the inlaid surf board, which is Colly’s signature. Very Cool.

Build Something Great!




Filed under Design, New Products

Different Woods

Because I posted the breadboards end router technique video Wednesday, I thought I would be self-serving with this post and show the first group of custom order mallet handles to ship out.

Arranged on my bench, I was in awe of the wood types selected. As a group, woodworkers are as individual as people are as a whole. The only woods selected by more than one customer was cocobolo – I too, like this exotic – and Honduran Rosewood.

Included in the group from left to right are Tiger Maple (not an exotic, but he wanted his handle without my company name. Still trying to figure that out!), Blackwood, Honduran Rosewood, Black Palm, Cocobolo, Zebrawood, a second Cocobolo, and a second Rosewood (another without the company name).

Below is a look at the actual mallets. By the way, WoodNet folks please take notice. I have dropped the dot com from the handle engravings. After reading your thoughts, I agree that the company name is enough. The best person to listen to in business is your customer.

Happy Easter, and Build Something Great!


Filed under New Products, Shop Tool

A New ‘Old’ Mallet from Woodworker’s Edge

It’s only fitting that a guy who reproduces antique furniture would, when he decides to dip his toe into woodworking hand-tool waters, choose to reproduce an antique tool. And so it is that today I announce the release of my first tool – a 16-ounce brass head mallet – designed for woodworkers.

Click here to go directly to the store.

A few years back while I was on staff at Popular Woodworking Magazine, I was bitten by the antique folding rules bug. As my collection grew ever so slowly, I considered reproducing rules. That idea didn’t get very far. Then one day as I sat in my cube tapping away at my computer Christopher Schwarz, former editor and now contributing editor, presented me with an antique brass mallet. He suggested that I reproduce it. I accepted his challenge, but only halfheartedly.

I played around with a SketchUp drawing of a mallet head, then sent it to my friend John Ostering at United Support Solutions so he could take a look and give me some pointers. Instead of evaluating the drawings, he put the team to work to make the very first prototype. It was awesome – and that swung me into full production mode. In my shop, I put the mallet to work so as to see what (if any) changes needed to be made. I came up with a few and when I visited John later in the year he handed me off to his lead guy and we worked the brass head into what it is today. Thanks John. Without your effort, this would have never happened.

With the new brass head in hand, I returned to work on an updated insert and handle design. Once complete, I produced a few new prototypes and asked fellow woodworkers to take a look and provide feedback. Feedback provided was excellent, and resulted in a better mallet. Now my mallet is ready to go. Tried and tested. I think you’ll find it exceptional.

Build Something Great!



Filed under Hand Tools, New Products