All posts by Iggy

The tailless one prepares…

Hey, everyone, Iggy here. It is the day before I travel to Cincinnati for Woodworking in America, and I have to tell you just how angry I am at Tom. I mean, here I am, the brains of this operation, and that buffoon is running around the house like he is the guy everyone is waiting to see.

Laugh it up, goofball
Laugh it up, goofball

Here’s is just how ridiculous this guy’s thought process is. On Friday afternoon, there’s going to be this really awesome roundtable discussion about online woodworking. There are going to be people who actually mean something in the online woodworking world – Marc Spagnuolo, Dyami Plotke, Matt Vanderlist, Chris Adkins, Shannon Rogers … people who are making a difference. So, Tom somehow gets this idea in his mind that he’s going to be up there to offer his musings…

Hey, Tom, can’t you tell the audience will get much more out of the event if they ask me up to the stage?  They want to hear about stuff like how I can cut a clean set of dovetails using nothing more than a common frozen household herring, not your smelly gym shorts…

Really, Tom?

And, then there’s your proven lack of ability when it comes to the Hand Tool Olympics, which is legendary. I’m convinced that you will be the first – and only – person to hurt yourself at these events.  That’s why they want to see me and my legendary hand tool skills…

The primate of the hour

While I’m sure that your feelings might be hurt – and that means fewer bananas for me – you aren’t totally good for nothing. One thing that a big woodworking event needs is some comic relief, and you offer that in spades.


Oh, and you totally rock at jumping up on tables… and dancing. Looking forward to some of that action…

I should put on my monkey suit

Hey, everyone, Iggy here.  You know, I can’t believe that Wood Magazine STILL agrees to post stuff from Tom.  Talk about slumming… that’s kind of like watching Donald Trump drive around in a rusted out 1993 Geo Metro. But, hey, beauty is in the eye of the beholder…

Anyway, my hairless primate friend has struck gold again on page 22 of the September 2013 edition of the esteemed Wood Magazine.

September 2013 Wood Magazine

This time, he’s talking about how to be a good neighbor while woodworking. Sure, if you were a hand-tool exclusive woodworker – or work in the middle of a 100-acre secluded compound – I bet you won’t have much to worry about. But, for the rest of us, coming up with a good game plan will help make neighbor relations a whole lot more pleasant.

Unless, of course, you are Tom’s neighbor.  Then, all bets are off…



Fast Fingers Iggy

Hey, everyone. Iggy here. Try as I might, I always have a hard time trying to get that big galoot Tom to learn new tricks. He must be an old dog, because it’s very difficult to do that, but I’m not deterred.

For instance, this coming Thursday, the Tampa Woodworkers Guild has asked me to cross Tampa Bay to come out to their meeting to show them how to cut some corner joints. I know they are pretty talented woodworkers, so I’m going to have my hands full trying to wow the crowd while keeping my interesting partner from embarrassing me. In fact, the only reason that Tom is coming along is because his legs are long enough to reach the pedals on his car. Otherwise, I’d give him a gift card to the movies and tell him to keep out of my hair.

One of the corner joints I want to cut is the box joint. Now, I know that Tom likes to cut his on the table saw using a dado blade and a jig he clamps to his miter fence.

Me, I’m just a little different. I like to do mine on the router table.  Now, when it comes to router tables, I have to thank my good friend David Venditto over at Infinity Cutting Tools. The one he gave Tom last year is a real joy to use… It has lots of track on it, allows for some precision work and the Triton router is totally kicking. Having a great router table makes work so much easier.

The New Router Table

My preference for a box joint jig would be something that attaches to a miter fence or even a router bit that cuts the comb for finer finger joints, but I’m stuck with this model that Tom bought years ago at a woodworking show.  But, hey, you gotta work with what you gotta work with. It’s serviceable for sure, and I’m going to make it work.  It’s set for a 3/8″ finger, so I obviously need to get a 3/8″ bit to work on this setup.

Tom's box joint jig...

The first thing you have to set up is a spacer to get an exact 3/8″ space between the bit and the rail. So, I broke out the set up blocks Tom has hidden in a drawer, and I set the distance by feel. Right on the monkey… ooops, I mean money.   From there, I took a scrap of wood, set it against the strip that is on the jig, and ran it through. This piece will work as my spacer.

The spacer ready to go

Just throw it over the strip and bingo, bango, you are there.

The spacer in place

Simply run the first piece through the router bit to cut the first notch, and then remove the spacer. Butt that piece and it’s mating piece against the strip, and start making your cuts. It makes it easier to hold everything vertical if you build a little jig out of scrap wood… Really easy to do.

Scrap wood jig

Take those boards all the way to the end, and what are you left with? A sweet set of notches that mate together beautifully, creating a very tight, sturdy joint.

The finished joint

This alder is a little splintery, but a little sanding on this baby, and we’re ready for the finish.

Now, maybe I can have Tom carry my tools and sit – quietly – in the corner.



License to drill

Monkey. Iggy, the Trained Shop Monkey.

I’m not 100% certain what’s going on with Tom these days, but I’m not sure that I like it. He has this thing – all of a sudden – about James Bond movies and the old Mission: Impossible TV series. He’s been at it non stop for about a week now. His poor wife had the bad idea to rent the newest James Bond film Skyfall, and he just went on a rant fest about the movie. “It’s not as good as the old movies! There were no gadgets! Where are the Bond girls?”

Double -0-Dipstick

Since then, he’s been forcing his poor kids to watch those movies and those TV shows pretty much non stop. I can hear that Mission: Impossible theme song out in the shop, even over the sound of the router. He’s obsessed.

But, the movies and shows do bring up some interesting discussion. I mean, they did do some great stuff with those spy gadgets. No matter how bad the situation got, they always had the ge-gaw or doodad that was able to open the door, eavesdrop on the most important conversation or make a clean getaway. How many times do we as woodworkers find ourselves looking for that one particular tool to get the job done?

That’s why I was so happy to receive a few sets of special super-agent drill bits from our friends over at Bora Tools They carry the Fisch brand bits, some really high-quality babies. These bits are ready for their special mission – drilling wood.

Boring in wood takes special bits

Drill bits, you must be thinking.  What’s so special about those? Unlike regular split-point bits, those designed for drilling wood provide some advantages for the task. Split point bits can skate or walk when they contact a wooden surface. If you take the time to create a center point where the tip of the bit can bite, that can improve things. But, I discovered that this skating can really reduce accuracy when you need to do something very precise, like bore holes to make a mortise.

Brad Point

Enter the brad point bit. These bits have a center point that helps the bit start true, as well as cutting lips on the outside perimeter of the hole. This allows the bit to score the outside of the hole, allowing for a very clean entrance. Twist bits can rip out wood fibers when they enter the hole, leading to some ugly holes.  Deep flutes also assist with chip extraction, a big plus when drilling into any kind of wood – soft, hard other wood product like MDF.  They also drill flat-bottom holes. This may not seem like too big of a deal (especially for Double-O-Six-and-two-thirds), but it is huge, especially when you are doing precision work like boring for doweling or inserting parts.

The Wave Cutter Forstner

Once you get to a bigger size, enter the Forster bits. These babies do many of the same things that the brad point bits can do, only for much bigger holes. Rather than looking like traditional twist bits, these have a shaft and a cutting head forged from the same steel. Since the head can be up to – and larger than two inches in diameter, they do a good job boring larger diameter holes. Once again, there is a center point that helps secure the bit before it enters the work, and the outside rim of the cutting head shears the perimeter of the hole, giving a very smooth edge. Between the outside cutting edge and the center point, sharp angled edges cut what looks like plane shavings out of the wood. These bits also excel in cutting holes that other bits would have a hard time with – angled holes, holes that go past the edge of your board… the works.

Jeez, Tom, take it easy

With a set of bits like this, any secret agent would be more than equipped to tackle even the toughest mission. Now, how do we pry Tom away from the couch and get him back into the shop? Yes, Tom, I see the secret agent in a tough predicament… sigh…


Oooop! Ooooop!

Hi, everyone. It’s me, Iggy again.

I was reading the latest edition of Wood Magazine, and you will never guess what… I saw an article by Tom. But, this time, the great ape wasn’t messing with wood. He was offering some advice for people who want to protect their stuff when a disaster is coming. Now, I know that Tom is a walking disaster with oposable thumbs, but I think they may have found something he’s good at – disaster preparedness.  Believe it or not, what he had to say made some great sense.

May 2013 Wood Magazine

Now, that’s a first!

What I was most excited for was that my mentor, svengali and muse Marc Spagnuolo is also featured in the magazine as well. He talks about how tired he was after his adorable son Mateo was born, and how dangerous it is to work in the shop when you are really fatigued.

Which is funny, because I’m really tired of Tom’s shenanigans, but I still manage to work in the shop …

Get Woodworking Week 2013: Thursday

Get Woodworking Week 2013

I have got to hand it to my primate shop partner Tom… he’s been keeping this baby chugging along for the week (with a little bit of my help).  Maybe I have been wrong about him – hey may not be totally worthless.  At least, sometimes, he can serve as a bad example.

Today, I want to share another tip with you – one that I can’t seem to pound through Tom’s thick skull.

Bless this mess…

You can have a bunch of great tools in your shop. And, in some cases, you may have had to drop more than a few bananas to buy them. There’s nothing wrong with that. I mean, if  you can get the right tool for the right job – I mean, come on – that makes your time in the shop that much more enjoyable.

And, I can remember the day when my pal bought this.  Now, this is a really cool tool. It’s called a Mortise Pal, and about four years ago.  And, when he bought it, he thought it was better than two banana daiquiris…  I mean, easily cutting properly sized mortises in projects in the right place the first time… without having to buy a mortising machine… man.

The mortise pal

When he got it back to the shop, that guy woke me from a nap and asked me to set up the router.  So, with a few grumbles, I headed to the shop to set things up and get a few test boards. And, ya know what?  That tool worked like advertised.

Oooh, pretty mortises!

That’s when the big lunkhead threw it into a drawer where he promptly forgot about it…  What a shame.

If he had it handy, he could do a few more projects with it. Maybe get some practice with it. Maybe build something worth hanging on to for a few decades…

Yet, it sits in its box.

I hope the big lunkhead can find this

So, what I had to do was organize his shop. I even took the time to write on the outside of the box which tool resides within. I even put it where the lovable lunkhead can see it.

Will he use it more?  Who knows. But, at least I made it a little bit easier for him to find it. Let’s see if you really can teach an old woodworker some new tricks…

Oh, and I can’t believe how good the articles are from the rest of the blogging community this year.. some awesome stuff.  Here are some more:

Oh, and here’s another video done for this week. This time, it’s  from Bill Akins.  I think you will enjoy…

Oh, and don’t forget … we have a few give aways for some very lucky new woodworkers.  They are:

Infinity Cutting Tools: A kit of the six most essential router bits as recommended by Wood Magazine in issue #151.  Two round overs, a rabbeting bit with seven different diameters of bearings, a flush trim bit, a chamfer bit and a 1/2″ straight cutting bit. With these babies, your router can go from an expensive electric paperweight to a true heavyweight in your shop. They are a mix of 1/2″ and 1/4″ shanks, so keep that in mind.

Bessey Clamps: Two kits (one for each of two winners) – each featuring:

  • Bessey Tool Bag
  • 5 x LM2.004  –  light duty bar clamp
  • 10 x XM5  –  spring clamps
  • 2 x BPC-H34  –  ¾” pipe clamp H-style
  • 1 x VAS-23 – Variable angle strap clamp
  • 2 x UK3.012  –  UniKlamp parallel clamps
  • 2 x TGJ2.506+TK  – profiled rail malleable cast bar clamps

Bora Tools: A set of English squares and a marking gauge.

Lou Quallenberg Studios: This is a new addition from our new friend Lou (in Llano, Texas… home to some of the best barbecue in the Lone Star State). To be eligible you must do each of the following (Most of this is on Faeebook): #1 comment on a blog post in Mesquite Musings #2″Like” our Mesquite Furniture Page on Facebook #3 Friend or Subscribe to Lou Quallenberg on Facebook #4 “Like” Barney the Woodshop Wonder Dog on Facebook #5 Post a photo of a wood project that you made, want to make or are making to the Mesquite Furniture page on facebook – It does not have to be made from mesquite. (You cannot be a regular woodworking hobbyist or pro – this is for newbies people!)  Check out Lou’s site to find out more about the contest.

Highland Woodworking: And, we are looking for a school/group/organization who works with kids in the 1st through 4th grade range to win four of their Kid’s Toolbox Sets, each featuring a smaller sized hand saw, hammer, screwdriver, tool belt and the ever-important safety glasses.  Additionally, they are also throwing in eight of their kids catapult woodworking kits, where young woodworkers (and those very young at heart) will end up with a great project that can fling items across the room.


Get Woodworking Week 2013: Tuesday

Get Woodworking Week 2013

Alrighty, then.  It seems my tailless friend Tom has hit on something with all of this Get Woodworking Week business.  And, I am glad to see that he’s also featuring the writings of people who actually know how to do woodworking.  Fascinating…

I make these tools look GOOOD...

OK, we’re now in day three of Get Woodworking Week, and I think it’s only appropriate that I offer up my top-five list of ways to get other folks interested in trying their hands at woodworking. Sure, some of the ideas may may not work, but they are worth a shot!

  1. Share the wealth. If you are a woodworker, no doubt you have a ton of old woodworking magazines and books you never crack the cover on anymore. It’s a shame to just leave them on your hand-crafted bookshelf to gather dust. Why not donate them to a local woodworking guild, library or vocational education school to serve as inspiration to others, and to clear some space on your shelves?
  2. Offer to build a project… but, add a condition. Everyone loves to get a wooden gift. The cook of the house may want a cutting board. Kids may want some kind of toy. A young man or lady would love a custom-crafted box to store their treasures. Why not offer to build them this keepsake, but invite them to come to your shop to help with its construction? It will add so much more  interest to that simple project.
  3. Speak up! Volunteer to talk about your tools or projects to a local organization. A scout troop, your kid’s class, a series of talks at your local library…  You are the best ambassador for the craft because it’s what you do, and what you do well!
  4. Come on in. There’s nothing wrong with inviting a few neighbors or friends over to show off your shop. Most people are fascinated by the idea of people making stuff in their homes, and they will probably have a ton of questions. Once they get an idea of what you do, they may be interested in learning more.
  5. Display proudly. As woodworkers, it’s easy to be bashful about what we build. I mean, come on, can’t EVERYONE see that slight, nearly microscopic gap in that joint that just screams its presence to you every time you look at it?  Believe it or not, it’s not visible to anyone but you. So, proudly display those items in your house, and explain that yes, you built it. And, with some training and the right tools, they can, too!

These are just the top five that come to my mind – I’m sure that you can come up with lots more.  If so, please submit them my way. I’d love to share them with my readers.

I love working with this plane

Oh, and here are some more great articles culled from the web for your reading pleasure:

And, what would Get Woodworking Week be without a video from our friend Scott Morton?  Here’s a video for this year’s effort… it’s a hoot!