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Visit from the Highland Woodworker

C_BrockMost everyone looks forward to Friday, but this past Friday was especially fun. The Wednesday before was not so much fun – it was filled with wood dust, wood chips and  lumber stacking, but not in a good way. Wednesday evening I spent cleaning my shop and rearranging the tools for a visit from Charles Brock, the Highland Woodworker.

Chuck and his business partner Steve began their Friday at the American Woodworker and Popular Woodworking Magazine shop in Blue Ash, Ohio, filming clips for upcoming episodes of The Highland Woodworker, which is Web TV for Woodworkers. (If you aren’t familiar with Chuck’s online show, you should sit a spell and take in a few episodes when you have some free time.)

Screen CaptureLater in the afternoon, we drove to my shop where we filmed a short interview section in which I discuss some of my early woodworking adventures, talked about what I find relevant in woodworking and I even shared a couple of stories about my (and my Dad’s) early days with Popwood. From there we talked about jointers and jointer setup, and we spent a few minutes discussing aniline dyes in finishing – you have to make the tiger-maple curls “pop.”

All this film work will end up on The Highland Woodworker later in the year. And when I get an exact date, I’ll be sure to let you know. Until then, below is the current episode for you to watch. If you slide about 15 minutes into the episode, you’ll find a guy who looks a lot like me talking to Chuck about shellac, but do watch the rest of the show. There’s some great woodworking information to be found, and best of all, it’s entertaining, too.

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Eagan, Minnesota

#45–June95As you may have read in the past couple of weeks, I’ve been appointed the incoming editor of American Woodworker magazine – I begin the new position as of March 15. There is a rich history at American Woodworker. During the mid-90s, AW was full of articles from woodworking legends such as Toshio Odate, Frank Klausz, Don Weber, Kelly Mehler, Jim Tolpin, Mike Dunbar, Patrick Spielman, Silas Kopf and many others. As I began woodworking, I picked up a couple of issues at the newsstand. The issue that I remember best is from June 1995 (shown at left). It’s from this issue that I learned about breadboard ends. Almost immediately I signed up for a subscription.

This past week, I had the chance to visit the current headquarters of the magazine in Eagan, Minnesota to talk with and meet the staff that’s keep that magazine rolling in spite of an almost complete lack of corporate backing. IMG_0056(If you’re a current subscriber, you owe a huge thanks to Tom Caspar, Tim Johnson, Brad Holden, Joe Gohman, Jason Zetner and Shelly Jacobsen.) American Woodworker magazine will move its operation to Cincinnati in the coming weeks, although Tom Caspar and Brad Holden will remain in Minnesota and work remotely as editors. Other members of the team are moving on to new opportunities.

(If you’re not a subscriber to AW, may I suggest that you purchase a subscription quickly. Tom and his gang are working on issue #172, and the new regime takes over for the following issue. I can say with great conviction that you won’t want to miss a single issue.)

While in Eagan doing what I needed to do, I walked around the office, workshop and a couple of storage areas to see the operation.IMG_0058 On a wall in one area photos – hundreds of photos – are thumb-tacked to the walls. It’s a visual history of American Woodworker magazine. There are, of course, images of projects from the many issues, but what caught my eye were the photos of past authors and woodworkers. There is a young Mike Dunbar shown looking through a couple of squares while handsaws hang on the wall behind him. Another image is of a younger Thomas Moser seated in a Moser-designed rocking chair. There are lots more photos. (Sorry that my photos of the photos are a bit fuzzy.)

Those photos were not the only historical records uncovered. Back in one of those storerooms are box upon box of old American Woodworker magazine files containing scads of original transparencies – how magazine photos were taken prior to digital cameras. Each box held the contents of 10 to 14 issues, and each issue is broken into articles. I was able to find the folders for each of the articles in the issue shown in the opening photo. You talk about history – and memories. I cannot wait to get started. Get your subscription now.


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Wabash Valley Woodworker’s Club

TapperI was suppose to make the three-hour drive to Lafayette, Indiana on Friday night, but a clipper snowstorm changed my plans. Instead, I left home at 4:50AM Saturday morning only to arrive at 8:20AM. Then there was another 20 minute ride out to the shop where the presentation took place.  A conflict that pits me against Mother Nature is nothing new when meeting with the Wabash Valley Woodworker’s Club. The last time I visited with them, I made it up on Friday, but an overnight snow storm made morning travel a bit dicey. I pleaded that the next invitation be sometime in late July or early August. (The gentleman pictured is Tapper – his shop was the meeting place for the day.)

LogoYou may wonder why I would fight a snow storm to talk with this group. Just take a look at the club’s logo (at right). Notice the figured hardwood? There’s something that draws me in, and the fact that Dave Redlin is very persuasive.

I had a great time talking with these guys. There is a lot of interest in woodworking, and they’re all quick to share stories, which keeps the meetings lively. Group 1We talked about small box joinery and decoration. I shared a couple of jigs to add a little punch to dovetail joinery, used a small router extensively and demonstrated differences between power tools and hand tools when producing line & berry work. And we walked through the steps to make a sand-shaded fan. We worked at a band saw, table saw and spindle sander to make the inlay for the spice box I first built for Popular Woodworking Magazine back in December 2001 and February 2002.

Group 2If you live near Lafayette and are a woodworker or thinking about woodworking as a hobby, you should get in touch with the Wabash Valley Woodworker’s club. I might see you there if I’m asked back. And if so, bring your swimming trunks – the river in front of the shop would be a nice way to cool off and I’m hoping it will be hot.

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Happy Holidays

Throughout the next couple of weeks, I’m spending time with my family. I encourage you to do the same. I’ll see you in the new year.

puzzle pic xmas

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas.

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Glen D. Huey


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This week, I want to mention Woodworking in America (WIA). With my return as managing editor with Popular Woodworking Magazine (PWM), you know that I’ll be and teach at WIA. If you are a woodworker in search of basic skills, you should plan to attend. If you are experienced at woodworking, but are looking to up your game, you should plan to attend. My bet is that if you look at the woodworkers PWM has presenting this year, you’ll want to be there, too. (Registration is open, so now is the time to make the call. Pull the trigger and click here to sign-up.)

This year my classes are all over the map. I open the conference teaching a seminar titled, “Better Woodworking Through Proper Wood Prep.” MIllingThe most basic observation I can give you is that if you begin a project with warped wood, you will fight it throughout the entire project. You need to make sure you know the basics, so of course we’ll cover the basics and you can bet there is way more. I’ve spent 20 years milling wood for projects. I’ve learned a crap-load of tricks and techniques to make the work easier and to mill lumber that is bent, twisted and just plain gnarly. In addition to the basics, I’ll share how to read your stock, what corner to press and when to straighten twisted stock, cup up or cup down and what to do if your board sticks at the jointer. This one class can make your time in the shop better.

Another class I’m teaching is “Precision Joinery: In a Hurry.” In this area alone, you discover why you need to be a blended woodworker. 9The class description from WIA says it best, “No single hand tool, power tool or machine is best to produce all the requisite joints. To make parts as quickly and accurately as possible, you need to know what tool to use when.” I’ve got jigs that make my life in the shop easy and highly productive, but I also know when to turn to my hand tools. During the class we’ll look at a number of furniture joints and I’ll share my best techniques.

On Sunday at WIA, I have a three hour class on inlay based around Federal-style inlay. Be sure to attend “Understanding Inlay: A Key Piece in Connoisseurship & Identification.” InlayIf you study inlay you’ll discover that each major city center had its own distinct inlay designs. One of the most famous (and often miscategorized) banding is the lunette inlay often associated with John and Thomas Seymour in Massachusetts. Every banding, inlay and patera is a clue to where the piece was built. Not only will we learn about different inlay and bandings, but I’ll demonstrate how many of these bandings are assembled. And before the class is over, you’ll be given the opportunity to make a sand-shaded fan that you can inlay into your project. So come ready to learn and ready to work, too.

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Happy Father’s Day

It’s Sunday, the day of the week that I post a blog. It’s also Father’s Day. How could I not combine the two.

IMG_0021I lost my Dad five years and 15 days ago. I lost my Mom on April 11 of this year. For the past two months I have been dealing with breaking down a house that holds many memories – I house that I helped build from the foundation up. You see, I worked in construction and then furniture making with my Dad. For the last 20 years of his life, we worked together in one way or another. That’s just another way to say that I have many, many memories.

My Dad was more than a Father. We were friends. We traveled the roads selling furniture at shows from Chicago to Connecticut and from Cincinnati to Virginia. We had many hours driving, talking and laughing. One of my funniest memories of Dad was while driving in the New York city area when I car cut us off causing me to swerve the truck and trailer full of our furniture. As things settled down and we moved beside the reckless driver, my 70-something-year-old Dad purposefully extended his middle finger at the other car. We laughed for miles. I’m a lot like Dad when I’m on the road.

One of the ways that I am not like my Dad is in how he “got” things. Dad could pick up a book, read about any topic and get exactly how to do whatever it was that he read. That’s one of many traits of his that I admired. (I, on the other hand, am a woodworker. I’m visual. I have to see it happen before I really get it.)

When Dad decided to build his first house, he picked up a book on how to do the wiring and went about the work. It took him a few inspections, but his job passed. Our family lived in that house for a few years before he built another home. He did the same when he began woodworking. Books were read, tools were bought and a new hobby was started. (My brother and I argued about who would get his first piece – a cherry lowboy – when my parents were gone. The photo above is that lowboy – and it sits in my house.) Dad could do almost anything.

PerrierWhen I talk to woodworking groups on my first visit, I tell them a story about my Dad and how important it is to get your kids or grandkids involved in this hobby, or any hobby. The story goes like this: One thing that Dad couldn’t do really well was correctly pronounce words that he read. For example, when water was first sold in bottles, one of the first to market was Perrier. Dad would call it Pierre. (This is a bit more difficult when writing versus speaking.) He pronounced taco, as in Taco Bell, with a long, drawn-out a. He was only off a bit, but it was a noticeable bit.

As a 13 year old shadowing my Dad’s every move, I also began woodworking. I liked what he liked. I did what he did. I pronounced words as he had told them to me. (That was a mistake.) We went to Washington Court House Ohio to a lumber mill – Willis Lumber, if you know the area – to buy lumber for a lowboy and a Shearton Field Bed that I wanted to turn. (I had already turned a dozen bowls at the lathe – obviously I had mastered turning so I moved on to a bigger challenge, and Dad was happy to indulge my fantasy.) After you picked your material at Willis Lumber, you went upstairs and asked to have your selections measured so you could pay. Dad went upstairs and I stayed behind to make sure everything we picked was measured.

As the guy measured our lumber, he asked what we planned to build with all the 12/4 cherry and 12/4 mahogany. I pumped out my chest and said that I was building a bed with the mahogany and that Dad was making caribou legs for his lowboy. (Dad told me they were caribou legs – as I said, big mistake!) A huge grin washed over the lumber guy’s face. It wasn’t until later that we found out that these legs were called cabriole, not caribou. I can only imagine how many laughs we brought to the lumber dealer employees.

From John Kiesewetter's blog at

From John Kiesewetter’s blog at

What I don’t have to imagine is how much fun and how many laughs this episode brought to Dad and me. We talked of it often. Years later we had a weatherman in Cincinnati named Ira Joe Fisher who, in the winter months, loved to give the temperature in Caribou, Maine. Each morning while drinking a cup of coffee before heading out to work, Mr. Fisher reported the thermometer readings for Caribou, Maine, and Dad and I would smile at each other. We had something between us that few others knew about. Woodworking gave us a connection that to this day makes my eyes well up when I think of it. This is why it’s important to get your family involved in your hobby. You never know when lifelong memories are made.

And if this is too much information for you, imagine my middle finger being extended. As I said, I’m a lot like my Dad.

Happy Father’s Day and …

Build Something Great!



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Woodworker Cartoon

Since I reintroduced this blog in January 2012, I have posted something woodworking related every Sunday. This is not Sunday,but this short video is woodworking related. One out of two is not bad. And it brought a smile to my day. It may do the same for you.

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