Saturday, December 29, 2012

MWA Podcast Episode #21 - Woodworking New Year's Resolutions

Show Notes for Episode #21:

After being with us since episode number 2, and being the technical lead behind this wonderful innertubecast, Nick Roulleau has left the MWA. We wish him the best in his woodworking and all his other endeavors

As we’re trying to focus the discussion and comments to a single location, to comment during the show please use twitter with the #mwalive hashtag.

Dyami Plotke and Rob Bois of the MWA were guests on the latest episode of ShopTalk Live, the Fine Woodworking Podcast. It will be posted to iTunes on 12/28 and can also be listened to at

Our good friend Justin Leib has started a blog at
Bill Akins, a long time member of the founding Atlanta chapter of the MWA has recetly blogged about his shaving horse at his blog,

For the main topic, we discuss the woodworking related gifts we recieved for Christmas, the woodworking gifts we made for Christmas and our New Year’s resolutions for our shops and our projects.

Our next podcast will be on January 9, 2012. Megan Fitzpatrick, the new editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine will join us.

The MWA on Shop Talk Live

This is a re-posting of a post I originally shared at

Last week fellow +Modern Woodworkers Association member +Rob Bois and I headed up to Newtown, Connecticut to meet up with the +Fine Woodworking crew and represent the MWA on their podcast, Shoptalk Live.
Publishers, and just all around nice guys who love woodworking.
We had a great time and really appreciate the invitation.

On the podcast we joined +Asa Christiana+Matthew Kenney & +Ed Pirnik to talk woodworking. The specific topics discussed ranged from the pro & cons of sliding compound miter saws (I'm on the Pro side) to the dangers of drinking shellac.
Matt Kenney sits down in their decked out podcasting studio
Yours truly, behind the mic.
Ed Pirnik made this decked out mic stand just to accommodate us.
You can check out the podcast on their site here, you can also download and subscribe to it on iTunes here. And if you do listen using iTunes, please leave a review. +Ed Pirnik will really appreciate it.
Rob & Matt talk shop.
Yes, Rob, jointers do come that big (By the way, he won a Bad Axe Tenon saw).

Friday, December 28, 2012

Jeff's Josh Finn Workbench Update

I'm a sucker for benches. Frankly I can't think of a better reason to showcase a fellow +Modern Woodworkers Association  member.

+Jeff Branch is a member of the Atlanta Chapter. He's been a member of the MWA from the beginning and he's been a contributing member of the overall online woodworking community for much longer. You can catch all of Jeff's posts at He's a big advocate of SketchUp and sell's his well crafted plans on his site and at Sawtooth Ideas.
Jeff's Josh Finn Bench
The bench that Jeff uses and has recently posted about is his Josh Finn inspired bench. It's made of two (2) beams (built as torsion boxes) that rest on specially made saw horses. I could go into the design more here, but you owe it to Jeff to read about it right at the source.

What I find so cool about the bench are two (2) things. First, I'm a sucker for torsion boxes. I think this bench makes great use of them to provide a wide and very usefully variety of clamping scenarios. Second, I think the Roubo's have become a bit too dominant lately. While they are a great bench, so are many other designs. Jeff's definitively non-Roubo bench helps illustrate this point.

Yet, as you'll see by reading Jeff's post, he's currently reading The Workbench Design Book and may be falling under it's design spell.

What do you ladies and gentleman, you woodworkers, use for a bench? Please share.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

MWA Podcast Episode 20 - Special Guest Chuck Bender

  • Things online that piqued our interest
    • Google Launched the “Communities” in google+ which looks like it will be a great place for topical conversation, like forums, and social sharing, like G+ or twitter, but allows for moderation, and for communities around a specific topic, like woodworking, so there’s much less unrelated noise to filter through. We’ve set up a community for the Modern Woodworkers Association which we’ve shared on FB, G+, Twitter, and will add a link to from our homepage. Another great community for woodworking is the “woodworking” public community. Worth checking it out.

  • Goings on in the MWA
    • We’ll be publishing our first newsletter
    • We’re planning meetups at the various sites for the Woodworking Shows. If you want to help organize a meetup in your area for the shows, send us an email to

    • Chuck first answered our standard 5 questions. Then we went into his work.

    1. how did you get into woodworking?
      1. He learned as a boy by starting off making a skateboard
    2. what's your favorite tool?
      1. His Daed Tool Works Smoother
    3. who has influenced you the most?
    4. What was your biggest stumbling block & could it have been avoided?
      1. Learning to Carve, as it wasn’t part of his training (and Making Money as a furniture builder)
      2. Get out of your comfort zone
    5. How has the internet influenced your work?
      1. exposes to more people, lead him to re-examine how he teaches and does things

  • Next broadcast’s topic
    • Join us Wed 12/26 when We’ll be talking bits and blades with Dave from Infinity


Chuck Bender's Bermuda Dovetails

Friday, December 14, 2012


It’s been a bit more than a year to the day since I stepped into my role with the MWA, and we’ve grown quickly. I’m proud of the achievements we’ve made, and my part in them:  developing networks on all major social media, relationships with sponsors, guests, donors, and publications, organizing events around the country -and more than a 10 in the Boston chapter, pulling together a biweekly video podcast with great guests, streamed and recorded live, and contributing to the woodworking community, and more.  I like to think I’ve added quality and value to all aspects of the organization.

The time has come for me step back from my duties with the MWA and to re-focus my priorities, on my family, growing my business, continued learning, growing my skills, and contributing to some other organizations. Thanks to all who've supported my work, and I wish the team the best in moving it into the future.  

For anyone wishing to stay in touch, you can still find me on twitter @mansfinefurn, on FacebookGoogle+, or just send me an email!

Thanks for the Memories!

Woodworking is a Community

One of the core beliefs here at the Modern Woodworkers Association is that woodworking is a community. We don't care what kind of woodworking you do, what kind of tools you use or what you build. As long as you love working wood, you're our neighbor.
We're all a great big woodworking community.
I mention this in light of Google's new addition to Google+: Communities.
In the MWA Community share your projects, ask questions or just chat woodworking.
I won't go into too much detail here, but Communities are a new way to share on Google+ based around common interests. When you post within a community, all the community's members can see and comment on your post, even if you haven't circled them. While it's not the best place to share birthday greetings to your cat, it's a great place to talk about a shared passion . . . such as, I don't know . . . woodworking.
Who wouldn't want to be in a Community with these galoots?
There is already a great general woodworking community on Google+ started by David Bennett & Tammy Capistrant. There is also the Modern Woodworker's Association Google+ Community. You can join as many communities as you like, so please, join both and share. We want to see what everyone is working on and keep the woodworking community growing.

By the way, to anyone who already joined, please check that you're still in. As we want everyone to join in, we've made a change from the original MWA G+ Community. It's now public. Unfortunately, this meant we had to delete the original private community and start over. So if you were in and we deleted you with the original community, we're sorry. Please sign up again and join in.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Christmas Classic...

This originally appeared on Tom's Workbench back in December of 2009... Hopefully, this will get your woodworking selves into the holiday spirit!

Twas some time before Christmas, when all through the shop
I was just so darned busy, I thought I would drop!

The gift list was hung by the workbench with care.
“If we don’t ship these soon, they’ll never get there!”
I in my apron, glue bottle in hand,
was prepared to work hard, to make my last stand.

Sanding and planing, the dust it did blow,
covering the shop floor like the new-fallen snow.

I struggled and sweated as I wiped off my brow.
“I’m sure I can’t do this… no way or no how.”

Project pieces lay about, both tennon and mortise.
“If I progressed any slower, I just might be a tortoise.”

When what in my offended nose did I smell?
“I can place that aroma!  I know it so well…”

When in swang a monkey, hanging high by his tail.
“I’m here to help – together, we won’t fail.”

Of course, it was Iggy, the trained Shop Monkey.
He looked very dapper, his smell was quite funky.

With tool belt cinched tightly around his middle.
He looked young and  strong – as fit as a fiddle.

He was 20 inches tall, all covered in fur.
I guess it’s there so, if cold, he wouldn’t say ‘brrr…’

With eye protection on and boots on his feet,
his shop working outfit was completely complete.

“Now, what’s on this list? Something for father and mother…
We’ll finish this job, don’t you worry, my brother.”

But, raising my hand, I told the monkey to hush.
“They’ll all look simply awful if we get in a rush.”

“Not to worry, pal,” said the monkey with glee.
“We’ll get this job done, just you wait and you see.”

And, with fur and tools flying, working hard was a must.
“You know all these tools, in your skills you must trust.”

“Don’t overthink your joinery, lay out and do cut.
If you don’t get a move-on, I’ll just kick your butt.”

With motivation a-plenty, I set out to work.
“You do a good job, Tom, just don’t be a jerk!”

With project pieces cut, the work was quite simple.
I was happy it worked! You could just see my dimple.

The monkey and I, we worked at the bench.
I was no longer bothered by his terrible stench.

The tools sprung to life, and I was in awe.
Iggy shouted quite loudly, “On router and saw!

On sander and chisel! On spokeshave and plane!”
Our work was quite orderly, the pace was insane!

Together we worked, and with our combined project attack,
there, on the bench, sprung to life nine tiny wine racks.

(A note to my relatives: Right now, shield your eyes
or I will be blowing the big Christmas Surprise!)

The plans we had gotten from our friends there at Wood.
The project looked sweet, the fit was quite good.

From a stack of work pieces all perfectly milled,
from just a plain drawing, these projects distilled.

The frames are held fast with the mortise and tennon.
Try as you might, there’s just no way to bend ‘em.

I sanded the pieces, then applied the finish.
Iggy said “You work faster than Popeye on spinach!”

A coat of shellac, a wipe on finish made them pop.
The look amazed both of us, our jaws they did drop.

Eight tiny wine racks, made of maple and sapele.
(That’s a wood from Africa, not Brazil or New Dehli)

Eight were the same, but there was this one
made of dark wood –  it  looked nice – I had some.

The bottle supports are all of curly maple.
In Iggy’s workshop, that wood is a staple.

And riding on each was a bottle of wine.
Most of them cheap, very few of them fine.

The eight sapele projects they lined up to follow
the dark wooden wine rack, with a red foil on bottle.

The scene it reminded me of old St. Nick’s Sleigh
with Rudolph’s red nose a-lighting the way.

Iggy said, “We got them together, of that there’s no lie,
just try not to touch them ’til the finish is dry.”

“We now need a cheesy photo… go get the missus!”
“What if she won’t?”  ”Well, go ply her with kisses!”

And so, in a flash, she came with her camera to snap.
She took some pictures, then went back in for a nap.

Iggy looked pleased as I reviewed the shots on the camera.
“That was some hard work.  Now, how ’bout a banana?”

And as I handed Iggy a big golden bunch,
he said, “At least – this time – you fed me lunch.”

And, as he swung to a tree and disappeared from sight,
Iggy shouted, “Get  to the post office now, not later tonight!”

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Guilds can join!

Local woodworking clubs and guilds have been a great resource for woodworkers. Since most of us work in the seclusion of our own shops, it's great to get together every so often to share tips, swap tools and tell tall woodworking tales. The only problem? You typically just have the same members showing up time after time. That's great for building camaraderie, but not so good for getting new viewpoints or sharing what your club is doing as a group.

That's why the Modern Woodworkers Association want to know about you! If you are a member of a local woodworking club or guild, simply click the Join MWA tab. Once you do that, it's a simple matter of letting us know what you are up to! Send us your website address so we can list your group among our membership. If your group has a newsletter, shoot us the link, and we'll let folks know what's happening in your guild or club.

As we gather additional guilds and members to the Modern Woodworkers Association, we can go to woodworking stores, tool manufacturers and others as a large group to see what kinds of deals we can negotiate for members.

Another advantage is that you will have a built-in network of woodworkers around the country - and internationally. So, if your travels take you away for business or fun, you can get the woodworking lay of the land before you travel.

How much does it cost to have your guild or club join the Modern Woodworkers Association?  It's absolutely free.

So, why wait?  Resolve to become a more connected woodworker in the New Year!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

MWA Boston Chapter Meetup: Lie-Nielsen at the Furniture Institute of MA

MWA Boston Chapter Meetup: Dec 1st, 2012

We're planning a visit to Phil Lowe's shop in Beverly MA for the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event on Saturday December 1st, 2012, followed by dinner/drinks at a nearby venue. Join the fun anytime Saturday afternoon to go play with the tools (and buy some, no doubt), and chat with the demonstrators before we set out for food around 5p.

Here is the Link to the Lie-Nielsen event information. In it you'll find a list fantastic demonstrators they've lined up, as well as directions to the shop.

Please feel free to forward this to anyone who may be interested in joining us for this event, or joining the MWA.
NOTE: For event invitations and the ability to view announcements issued in Google+, don't forget to add us to your G+ Circles!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Woodworking In America 2012 MidWest In Photos

Woodworking in America 2012 Midwest was a great event this year. Though the community seemed slightly split by having two (2) venues this year, we still managed to have a blast in Cincinnati. We took classes, hawked the MWA to anyone that would listen and, of course, hung out with our woodworking friends (both new and old).
Yep, Mike brought a log to a bar.
In the coming days and weeks, we'll be assembling a podcast of interviews we made with many of the lecturers from WIA2012 Midwest. In the mean time, check the links below to see the full Modern Woodworkers Association photo galleries of the weekend.

We used the photo sharing capabilities of Google+ Events to set up events for our Thursday night get together and the conference itself. Through the Events, anyone who was invited (everyone who follows the Modern Woodworkers Association on Google+) was able to upload all of the photos they took during the event to a communal album.
Thursday nights festivities
On Thursday night, Sean Wisniewski and Dyami Plotke contributed photos to the album you can find here.
We came, we saw, we sat on Megan's bench.
For the full event, Jeff Waggoner, Sean Wisniewski, Nik Brown and Dyami Plotke contributed photos. The full event album is here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Thank You Woodpeckers

We need to thank Rich Hummel of Woodpeckers. Besides making great marking and routing tools, Rich was kind enough to help us out and fund the lanyards we gave away at Woodworking in America West and will give away at Woodworking in America Midwest.
If you're not familiar with Woodpeckers, they are the purveyors of some of the nicest milled aluminum marking and routing tools you can imagine. I know the make your own wooden marking tool movement has caught on as of late, but listen to Rich talk about machining aluminum and you'll see he's just as passionate about it as we are about working wood.

My first Woodpecker tool was their 1281 12" Precision Woodworking Square I bought from Christoper Schwarz a few years ago when he was selling his excess tools. While I have the utmost respect for Chris, and I enjoy learning from him whenever I can, I can't wrap my head around selling off a 1281. It instantly became my favorite marking tool, and I don't think I'll ever have the desire to make my own when I can use one of these.

Be sure to check out Woodpeckers at or by clicking the Woodpecker logo on right. They'll become your favorite tools too.

On a related note, Popular Woodworking Magazine is currently auctioning off a set of signed Chris Schwarz Books & DVDS. Having read the three (3) books ("The Workbench Design Book", "Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use" & "Handplane Essentials") I'll tell you they're well worth it, even if the auction wasn't for the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

WIA 2012 -West, Thanks for your Help!

We've made it back from a great weekend in Pasadena, where the Modern Woodworkers Association hosted the Hand Tool Olympics. If you missed the live stream and really want to see the activity, you can find a series of live streams on the MWA Channel on YouTube. We'll eventually find some time to edit the 6 or more hours of it to just the action, so be forewarned, there is a fair amount of downtime captured.

We'll be aggregating a ton of photos from WIA from our members over the next few weeks, and posting them as soon as we can. Before we do anything else, we'd like to acknowledge everyone who helped make the Hand Tool Olympics possible at WIA West.

First, a sincere thank you to our members who sacrificed hours of their time to help out teaching, timing, setting-up, tearing down, prepping wood, tuning tools, and so much more. In no particular order, thanks to:

  • Kyle Barton
  • Nik Brown
  • Aaron Marshall
  • Matt Gradwohl
  • Jeremiah Rodriguez
  • Chris Wong
  • Mike Lingenfelter
  • Matt Watkins
We also received tons of support from friends of the MWA in donating prizes and gifts, lending us tools, benches and materials, and other support for pulling it off. We thank them for their help, and encourage you, the members of the MWA, to support the organizations who share our mission and help make it possible:

Special Thanks to Wilbur Pan for capturing this photo of me getting my butt-kicking from Chuck Bender in the dovetail challenge...(I, uh...let him win...)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

MWA Meetup at WIA-West!

Ok folks, the moment you've been waiting for:

The MWA get together for the Woodworking in America WEST crew has been announced.

*Here is a link* to the invitation (you will need to have added +Modern Woodworkers Association to your circles in google+ to be able to open the link, and adding us gets your invitation to future events delivered to you directly). 

When:  Saturday Oct. 13th, 6:30P - ? (we'll be there all night)

Where: Lucky Baldwin's Pub (17 South Raymond Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91105)

Seating may be limited if you come later, but there will be standing room aplenty, and we're planning on over-running the joint and filling more tables with saw-dust covered wood-junkies before the night is out. Get there early for good food, drink and camaraderie and secure yourself a nice spot for an evening of fun. 

Last year at WIA, we had a great event, and we're looking forward to seeing everyone whose coming to Pasadena this year!

PLEASE RSVP in the G+ event invitation even if you THINK you might make it. If you aren't on G+ or just haven't circled us yet (what are you waiting for?) Let us know by email, or right here in the comments.

NJ/NY MWA Meetup

On Saturday, September 29th the inaugural meeting of the NJ/NY chapter of MWA was held at the Nautilus Diner in Madison, NJ. We had seven attendee (some of whom had previous met at Fine Woodworking Live in New Paltz.) as well as a friend of one of the folks there.  Joe U. brought a radiused wooden plane that he had made in order to finish a collection box for his church and a photo album of some of his other work, including a very nice clock.  Rusty and Rob both brought along some photos of some recent work as well.  Rusty showed off a very nice Tansu step stool that he had submitted to a juried show that Tommy Mac hosted.  Rob showed a dining room light fixture that he had recently worked on that had a very unique set of turned aspen lampshades.

Breakfast was hearty and there was much coffee consumed.  All agreed on the desire to keep this group going and to aim for another meeting in about a month's time.  There is an upcoming exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC that may be our first field trip:

The Princely Furniture of the Roentgens, on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art October 30, 2012, through January 27, 2013, will be the first comprehensive survey of the Roentgen family’s cabinetmaking firm from 1742 to its closing in the early 1800s.  Some 60 pieces of furniture, many of which have never before been lent outside Europe, and several clocks will be complemented by paintings, including portraits of the Roentgen family, and prints that depict the masterpieces of furniture in contemporary interiors.

If you are interest in joining us in the future, please join the MWA-NJ/NY mailing list here:

Order up! Coffee - black!
L-R: Carol P, Rusty B, Joe U, Jonathan S, Rob A

L-R: Carol P, Rusty B, Joe U.
Light Fixture with Aspen Lampshades (Rob A)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Inaugural NJ and NY MWA Meet-up

A number of like-minded woodworkers who met at the recent Fine Woodworking Live event have decided to try and form another local MWA chapter in Northern NJ and NY (esp. for those too far from the Long Island Chapter.)

This first meeting is meant to help the group get up and running and to grab some bacon at a local diner before the coming Bacon Apocalypse.

Here are the particulars and apologies for the late notice.

When: September 29, 2012 @ 9am

Where: The Nautilus Diner, Madison, NJ (

Who: Most of us met at Fine Woodworking Live at SUNY New Platz but anyone is welcome to come

Why: We see a need for a group of passionate amateurs in the NJ and NY area.

What: Inaugural meeting of Modern Woodworkers of NJ & NY.

  • Agenda: 
    • Defining this group's interests further (Ideas, Next Steps)
    • Getting acquainted
    • Bring your favorite (small) handtool

I hope you can make.

PS. We have also just set up a NJ/NY mailing list.  Visit here to sign up:!forum/modernwoodworkersnjny

Thursday, September 20, 2012

WIA West Coast - Hand Tool Olympics

MWA has been working with Popular Woodworking on possibly helping out with a Hand Tool Olympics event at Woodworking in America in Pasadena next month.  The final question on if we can pull this off is staffing.  If you will be attending WIA in Pasadena this year or live in the area and would like to help out send me an e-mail  I know that everyone attending will be wanting to get the most out of the show but if you think you can spare an hour or two each day (or more), then please let me know. 

Either way I am looking forward to seeing everyone there next month and be sure and stop by our booth and say hi!