Monday, October 31, 2011

Get Your Woodwork Chatter On #tweeetchat

Once upon a time, woodworkers gathered on Twitter to chat about woodworking. It was usually driven by a topic, with lots of great participation and sharing of ideas. It was really good. But then it stopped, and we miss it. For some, their path to becoming a better woodworker took a detour. It's time to get things back on track.

Woodchat's Future
After a lot of conversations in the last three weeks with Dale Osowski (Timberworks Studio), Dyami Plotke (Penultimate Workshop),Matt Gradwohl (UpperCut Woodworks) Vic Hubbard (Tumblewood Creations), and Tom Iovino (Tom's Workbench), we will berestarting #woodchat this Wednesday November 2nd at 6pm pacific time, that's 8 central and 9 eastern. We've got permission from the former woodchat crew and have been working behind the scenes to ensure to define how we'd like this to work best for everyone.

Lets make #woodchat like a dinner conversation among woodworking friends.
Our First Four Woodchat Principles

1. Easy for People to Get Involved
There are lots of woodworkers already on twitter, and it's easy to sign up, so continuing to use the #woodchat hashtag makes things very easy. No special download, no separate account. So we'll start on twitter but may incorporate other technology as things progress. Right now, Tweetchat is the easiest way to participate.

2. Approachable for All Skill Levels
If you're a beginner woodworker, you will be welcomed in and find people ready to help and encourage you. If you're a skilled woodworker, you'll also find encouragement and help, and be asked to share your experience and knowledge by welcoming and being helpful to new woodworkers.

3. Focused on Actual Woodworking
In the past #woodchat drifted off topic at times. We'll focus on woodworking: inspiration, design, stock prep, joinery, finishing, tool selection, shop safety, or shop layout, for the beginner, part time hobbiest or full time woodworking business. No preference towards power tools or hand tools.

4. A Team to Make it Successful
To make sure that chats happen on Wednesdays without one person carrying the workload, we're going to work together to ensure success. We all have busy schedules with our day jobs and families, but with five (or more) people committed to making this successful I'm sure we'll establish a regular rhythm.

Woodchat is Yours
Ultimately though, woodchat is ultimately driven by those who participate, so we need to know what topics you'd like to discuss, what technology you might suggest that we incorporate, what days and times work best. Let us know on Twitter or leave a comment below. See you all Wednesday night.

16th Annual Long Island Woodworking Show

Though it appears I will be missing this local event to take my kids to visit my Grandmother, I’d like to invite everyone to attend the Long Island Woodworkers 16th Annual Long Island Woodworking Show.
The barn that houses the Long Island Woodworkers Woodworking Shows.
The show is being held in a beautiful timber framed barn on the grounds of the Old Bethpage Village Restoration Fairgrounds for the 3rd (or 4th) year in a row. It’s a beautiful venue and the building is just the right size to house the small to medium show.
My Dad's winning carvings from 2010.
As with most shows, it’s a combination of member exhibits and vendors, with the odd lecture thrown in for good measure.

Members of the Long Island Woodworkers Club (& Chirs Schwarz in the background)
at our group dinner held at the Northeast Woodworkers Show in Saratoga Springs
in March, 2011.

If anyone is in the area and thinking of attending I’d encourage you to use the comments here as a method of coordinating your trip so it can serve as a Modern Woodworkers Association meetup too.

I’ll post if my plans change, but assuming I’ll be on Cape Cod for the weekend, have a great time.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Every Time a Bell Rings a Woodworker is Born

As a child growing up I always heard stories that every time a bell rings a woodworkers is born.....or something like that anyway.  Well, this week the bells have been ringing off the hook!  Today our very own woodwhisperer Marc Spagnuolo and his with wife Nicole had there new baby boy and for what we hear although early doing well.

As I said the bells have been ringing because we also had news that our Atlanta member Aaron Marshall and his wife also just brought home their new adopted baby this week.  I think I can speak for all of us and say that we wish both couples the best and as they are entering a new phase of there lives.

Not to take away from all of the great news this week but I also wanted to take the time to thank Marc, Shannon, and Matt for the mention of MWA on Wood Talk Online last night.  Thanks for the mention guys we appreciate all of your support.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bill's Purpleheart Plane

Below is a post that one of our Atlanta members Bill Akins posted to Lumber Jocks.  This was Bills first shop made hand plane and it turned out great, I am honored to post it on here and Bill should be proud.  

As part of being a member of MWA I want each person to be able to share your own woodworking and projects.  This is just as much about the online friendships as it is at group meetings.  So if you have something you would like to share just send me an e-mail and I will be glad to post it.  

This is my first home made hand plane. A couple of weeks ago our group of Georgia woodworkers met for breakfast and then went over to Woodcraft. Chris Adkins of brought his set of planes that he had made. I was so impressed I bought a block of purpleheart and a Hock 1 1/2” blade and chipbreaker set. Using some plans from the internet I made this plane. It is 11 3/4” long by 2 3/8” wide. This is the first time I have worked with purpleheart and Hock blades. After sanding to 400 grit, I finished the plane with a very generous coat of BLO. After letting that soak in awhile I wiped it down and then used EEE polish followed by 2 coats of Renaisance wax. Other than scorching the end grain a bit I am pleased with the finish. I am going to have to get use to wooden planes but I think it has a permanent home in my shop. I hope to make jointer and block planes to go with it.
Also our little group decided to set regular dates to get together, coverse about wood working and general fellowship. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bringing woodworking to life

I’m not sure why this claim was made, but a rumor was going around at Woodworking in America that online woodworking is dead. Deceased. No more.

What a strange thing to say, because the folks I met who blogged about woodworking and marketed their tools online seemed to have a very lively and robust exchange, and they relished the thrill of posting what they were doing for all the world to see.

In fact, I think two more blogs were born in the short time between the end of the conference and this posting, with a few more folks looking to get in off the sidelines.

And, I don’t think it would take much more to convince others about the power of online woodworking. In fact, there are a few opportunities coming up that just might help get more folks involved in the craft and enthused about building.

The first opportunity was created by my friend Chris Adkins at High Rock Woodworking. He and several Atlanta Area friends have been meeting at some local woodworking haunts. This inspired the idea of creating the Modern Woodworkers Association.

It works when woodworkers get together with other woodworkers in the area to build, source lumber, shop or just shoot the breeze. The only thing you would really need to do to be listed would be to take some shots of the event and … well.. we’re still working on a way to get those babies uploaded. But, imagine if we had ‘chapters’ of the Modern Woodworking Association around the country – and the world. Wouldn’t that be a total blast to see what Chicago, London or Sydney woodworkers were doing?

The other opportunity comes with the Woodworking Shows. Yes, it’s that time of the year again, when the Woodworking Shows makes its rounds around the United States. It kicks off this weekend in Dallas, Texas. Demonstrations, classes and cutting edge products always draw woodworkers from miles around. My friend Jim Heavey of Wood Magazine is also out yukking it up with the crowd while teaching some valuable shop tips. I know that last year, Andy Chidwick and his wife Shari were working with the show managers to get the online woodworking community out in force. I spent my time at this year’s Tampa show working the crowd at a booth of my own, and had a great time talking to central Florida woodworkers.

There are 19 stops on the show’s route this year, stopping in major cities from coast to coast. Again, wouldn’t it be awesome to get a bunch of woodworking folks together at each of the stops for a little camaraderie, fun and telling some big fish shop tales? If you know that you are going to be coming out, why not e-mail the organizers and let them know you’ll be out there in force? After all, if they know you’ll be there, maybe they’ll help roll out that red carpet for you! The e-mail address is

I don’t know about you, but if we’re going to demonstrate that the people who write online woodworking content and watch it to gain valuable insight into the craft are alive and well, they just may believe the hype that online woodworking is overrun by woodworking zombies.

That would be kind of frightening…

Monday, October 17, 2011

MWA Meeting 3 Atlanta

Todd Hyman, Aaron Marshall, Chris Adkins, Bill Akins
As many of you know a group of us Georgia woodworkers have gotten together a few times over the summer and had a great time.  It is a great group of guys and I really enjoy us talking and learning from each other.  So far we have met at different locations with no regularly scheduled dates.  It is difficult to keep this going as I will tend to procrastinate until last minute which is what I did this last meeting.  In the end there were only four of us but many other keep asking to be left on the list for future meetings.

The group today included Bill Akins, Aaron Marshall, and Todd Hyman.  After leaving we are all pretty excited about seeing this continue and made a few decisions.  First the name, we have just been calling this the Georgia woodworkers get together and well.... that petty much just sounds lame.  Most of the woodworkers and those that follow this blog are what I and others now refer to as "modern" woodworks, and by this I mean that we are hybrid woodworkers.  We don't feel that it is necessary to say that we are only hand tool or power tool users and whatever range in between.  We also learn from not only putting sawdust on the floor in the shop and in classes but also from social media and the blogging community.  For this reason the name Modern Woodworkers Association seems the most appropriate.

We have also set time and place to meet on a regular basis.  We will meet at the Boulevard Diner (let me know if you need the address) a few miles up the street from Woodcraft here in Atlanta at 9am on the 2nd Saturday of each month.  From there after catching up we will stop by Woodcraft.  Steve Quehl the owner of Woodcraft of Atlanta has been very accommodating and is excited about the success of the group.  Aside from the regularly scheduled meetings we will also have "field trips" from time to time to explore local woodworking and projects that we can work on and learn together.

This group is about learning from each other and helping to continue the grow of woodworking.  Anyone that wishes to participate can send me an e-mail at and I will add you to the list.  We would even like to encourage those that live outside of Atlanta to join even if you can't attend the meetings, we can all learn from each other and please spread the word.  There are no obligation, if you can make it to meeting then great but if not thats ok too.  I do hope many of you will join us and help spread the word.

Keep on woodworking!

MWA Meeting 2 Atlanta

Today was the second local Georgia woodworkers event and we had a great time again.  For this event Lamar set up a tour with the owner of CAG Lumber Steven Brown.

When Lamar set up the tour to visit Steve's mill I expected a large saw mill but when I arrived at the address typed into my GPS, there was nothing there.  I asked a neighbor if she knew where the saw mill was and she said she didn't know there was a saw mill around....I thought I was totally lost.  I called Steve and he gave me directions on in the way guys back home in North Carolina give directions, second road on your left after the church at the mechanics sign. 

After arriving, Steve brought us up the hill to watch him slice up a Beach with his Wood-Mizer, wow that thing is awesome, I have watched this before but am still amazed at how easy the machine handles the logs.  The first pass just cleans the bark off and makes a thin cut after that he can slice whatever thickness he wants with no binding.  The first few boards cut are mainly 8/4" but later Steve made a few cuts for mantle boards that where 4" thick and the Wood-Mizer cut the boards with no strain at all, amazing to watch.

Other than the Georgia heat the only part of the work that brought a sweat was when Steve had to change the blade, it is crazy to think that the blade on this saw cost pretty much the same as the blades on my own band saw in my shop!

After finishing with the Beach log we took a tour of Steve's shop and a few project going on in there while having a cold drink.  Several tables and chairs made from beautiful Walnut and I couldn't help but admire the corner Big Green Egg stand...

Next Steve brought us around to see his stored lumber, I must say that I was not expecting the stock pile that he had.  He had rack after rack of Walnut, Cherry, Maple, Oak, Cedar and much more.  He even pulled out a few pieces of his private one-of-these-days-I-will-build-something-with stash and has some beautiful and interesting stuff, like Sassafras (smells just like root-beer). 

Steve was a great host and we all really enjoyed the tour around his mill, he has a great stock of most any thing you want and can get just about anything else, and with great he is just a nice guy.  You can visit Steve online at

The past two events have allowed me to meet many great local woodworkers and I really hope we continue and grow to bring in even more woodworkers.  Any others that are interested in joining our group let me know and I will add you to the e-mail list of events to come.

Keep on woodworking!

MWA Meeting 1 Atlanta

Last month while listening to a live session of Wood Talk Online, several guys in the live chat room mentioned that they lived in the Atlanta area and were interested in getting together.  After much e-mailing we finally met yesterday for the first time.  We all gathered a Highland Woodworking here in Atlanta and had a great time checking out all of the wonderful tools, talking about woodworking, and later having lunch together.

Next Saturday (Jun 25th) with the help of Lamar Bailey we are meeting at CAG Lumber yard in Gainsville, GA for a tour of the lumber yard at 10am.  After the tour we will probably grab some lunch together.  

Anyone interested let me know and I will send you the address.  

The pictures in the post were sent to me from Bill Akins, thanks Bill!  Also, the last picture is of the new planer Bill pickup while we were there.