Category Archives: Get Woodworking

Get Woodworking Week 2015: Friday

Holy smokes!  You turn your back for one minute, and before you know, it’s Friday of Get Woodworking Week!

I hope you are all out in your shops, encouraging others to follow you to learn the craft or building projects for others.

You know, one of the best things about woodworking for me is that unlike what the Rolling Stones claim, you can always get what you want. As I look around my home, I couldn’t possibly imagine life without some of the projects I have built. The kitchen pantry and banquette have become critical in our food and serving ware storage. The entertainment centers I have built have swallowed up so many different things that would have had absolutely no place to go otherwise. The new bed – just needing a coat of finish – has already been filled to the gills with all manner of items that needed to find homes.

Tom And Dom

But, what I will always remember most about my projects are the moments I have spent with my family building them. This picture, from February, 2000, was of me and my oldest son Dominic before his second birthday helping me build a set of bookshelves over a never-used bar area near my kitchen. Today, it houses tons of cook books, woodworking magazines and reference books, but it also houses so many memories of the two of us working together on this project. It seems impossible for me to believe that he will be 17 in a few months.

Other projects around my house, while maybe not designed for storage, hold so many memories I will treasure forever. And, that’s why I love woodworking, because it helps me get what I want.

We have a few more awesome entries for Get Woodworking Week 2015, and here they are:

Again, my monkey sits and waits in rapt anticipation waiting for your article submissions. So, if you want to send one my way, be sure to shoot it to, and the monkey will be sure to get them listed!


Get Woodworking Week 2015: Wednesday

Yup, it’s midweek, and I hope that you are enjoying the fun that comes along with Get Woodworking Week.

One thing I like to do in my shop is listen to music. I can plug in my iPod and select whatever I want to hear while I’m out there. Because I have so much uninterrupted time there, it’s a great opportunity to listen to complete albums … shesh, listen to me. ‘Albums.’ Talk about a child of the 1960s…

OK, I listen to albums by some of my favorite artists. Rush. The Police. The Red Hot Chili Peppers. James Brown. And, the Beatles.


While I prefer Abbey Road, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is a classic as well. Day in the Life? Totally awesome track. A little help from my friends? Maybe not so much. But, it’s a great message for Get Woodworking Week. Because, without a little help from my friends, where would I be as a woodworker?

I could go down the list of all of the woodworkers who have looked out for me over the years – encouraging me to get out and try new things in the shop. Gail O’Rourke. Marc Spagnuolo. Matt Vanderlist. Jim Heavey. Kari Hultman. Dyami Plotke. Chris Adkins. I could go on for a while and I guarantee that I would miss a bunch of folks. Each of them… each of you! … has made me strive to be a better woodworker.

Those crazy woodworkers...

Isn’t that what this week is all about? Not just getting people to look at furniture and woodworking. But to share that experience with others we care about. To share our successes, laugh at our failures and develop stories we can share with others for years to come.

Maybe even encourage others to try their hand at this craft we all enjoy.

Speaking about my friends, here are a few more stories which have come in for Get Woodworking Week!

Remember, Get Woodworking Week works when we share our passion for the craft. So, if you have posted anything about getting woodworking, be sure to send it to me at, and I’ll put it up in an upcoming post!


MicroJig Art

Get Woodworking Week 2015: Monday

Well, we’re off and running with Get Woodworking Week 2015, and things are going great!  I hope you are taking the time this week to demonstrate a few skills, build a special gift for someone in your life and spark an interest in woodworking in someone important in your life.

Today, I offer a guest post by Christian Holihan of Artisan Care. He poses an interesting question – do people not choose to get into woodworking as a hobby or even a career because they just simply don’t know what fine craftsmanship even looks like?  Here’s his take on that chicken-or-egg conundrum…

In early spring 2013, my wife saw a picture of an “easy” kitchen island on Pinterest that was featured on She simply had to have it and insisted that I build it for her. I thought she was joking because I had never built anything or even had the desire. At her urging, I looked at the plans and realized I didn’t even have the tools I needed: a circular saw and a Kreg Jig. When I presented these obstacles to her she made me a deal. She would buy the tools for me for Mother’s Day (it was 2 weeks away) if I would build her the island for Father’s Day. I had nothing to lose and tools to gain, so I agreed.

The kitchen island

I decided that mistakes should be made on a practice project. I learned valuable lessons (made a lot of mistakes) on the workbench that came with the Kreg plans and I was able to build her island in time for Father’s Day.

I thought that would be the end of the story, but the building bug had bitten me. I wanted more and went to the only woodworking resources I knew: Norm and the New Yankee Workshop, and The Woodwright’s Shop with Roy Underhill. Thank you PBS. Because of workshop space and no money for shop tools, I started learning about hand tools and traditional joinery. I realized that there was very little I could not build with a chisel, a dovetail saw, a hammer and sweat. I began buying and restoring antique tools. I started building really nice pieces and posting them online. I was even commissioned to build a walnut display case for a friend.

The Walnut display case

But last spring I was struck with a realization: most people don’t get to experience hand crafted, heirloom quality anything. Hobbyists make items for their friends or family, and professionals make high-end pieces with high-end prices (as they should). People in low income situations would never experience something of quality because things don’t last long enough to be passed down anymore. That was not ok with me. Nobody deserves particle board. So I decided to do something about it.

I started Artisan Care. We build heirloom quality furniture and give it away to families or organizations that could never afford it. I invite craftspeople together for a weekend to build a dining room table and benches. We raise the money, find the family, invite builders, find a designer, build a table, and give it away. Read about our first table built in October 2014. Now we get to do it again.

The first table

We build tables because it provides a point of gathering for family, generations, and community. As much as possible, we use local wood. I want to feature local furniture makers by building pieces they design for the event.

This event it portable! A build can happen in any city, anywhere. I hope to facilitate and help build projects all over the country. Imagine building with artisans, lumber, designers and then giving to someone, all in your community!

The dream is to buy a piece of property, build a shop that can host future builds and provide a place where groups and individuals can come experience the immense satisfaction that comes with making something you have personally sweat and bled for. A place than can continue to build quality furniture and give it away.

The final project, properly badged

If you would like to get involved, please let me know. If you want to donate or sponsor a build, PLEASE let me know. Spread the word to your local community. Follow Artisan Care on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Most importantly, keeping making, keep building, and keep looking for ways to give back. Start with your neighbor. She gave me my first chisel.

Wow, now that’s one way to get interest in woodworking! Remember, if you write about Get Woodworking Week, be sure to let my trained shop monkey know at, and I’ll be sure to list them.

The weekly plan

Spokane Audubon Society’s birdhouse plans

Fire the canons!  Alert the media! Today is the start of Get Woodworking Week 2015!

Since the vast majority of woodworkers get started building bird houses, why not get plans from the experts?  This page, offered by the Audubon Society of Spokane, has downloadable plans for different species of birds. By building these simple plans, even the beginning woodworker can start to build the skills necessary to tackle any woodworking project.

A snazzy looking useful birdhouse

Oh, you didn’t realize that different bird species need different size houses? You see, we’re already learning things this week!

We are also starting to get in some articles from around the web in celebration of Get Woodworking Week. Here are just a few to get started.

Sean Rubino also got into the act with a video on a furniture repair that can be handled with some basic woodworking know-how.

Remember, if you write about Get Woodworking Week, be sure to let my trained shop monkey know at, and I’ll be sure to list them.

Get thinking about Get Woodworking

So, I told you about my recent trip to Colorado. That was some special trip for me, since I had never seen mountains, and it had been about 20 years since I last went skiing.

The final run...

It was a magical experience. The air was rarified at more than 7,000 feet above sea level, the temperatures were a bone chilling – 5 degrees Fahrenheit on the coldest morning, and the air up there is as dry as a bone. So, why was I there in the first place?

Funny, I was speaking about hurricane preparedness. More accurately, preparedness for natural disasters, regardless of where they happen.  It was appropriate, since while most of the United States is out of hazardous weather season, tornado season kicks into high gear in a few weeks, hurricane season is right behind that, and we can expect to see lots of flooding during heavy summer rains.


Just as the time to start planning for hazardous weather is right now, it’s also time to start planning for our annual event Get Woodworking Week!

Just as we have in years past, this is the one week during the year when we in the woodworking community seek out those who may be on the fence and share our stories, lessons, know how, expertise and enthusiasm for the craft to get them into the game.

What am I looking for? Well, I need your help. I need each of you on your blogs, in your guilds, in your shops – to help spread the word about woodworking. Find someone to invite into your shop to pass on a skill to. Build a project to give someone. Pass some woodworking magazines on to some folks who are looking to get into the craft.

If you do something Get Woodworking Week related, be sure to let me know, and I’ll list it here on my blog in order to help folks find out more about what you are doing.

And, as in years past, I’ll be beating the bushes to see if we can get some awesome prizes. I’ll have more information as we get closer to GWW.


MicroJig Art

Get Woodworking Week 2014 – Saturday

As we wrap up Get Woodworking Week 2014, it’s important to note that we began and ended with contests of great physical effort.

On Sunday, the Seahawks beat the Broncos in the SubPar Super Bowl, and today is…

The Sochi Winter GamesNo, it’s not the Winter Olympics, although I am looking forward to watching some of that crazy four-man bobsled competition. I mean, those guys can fly down that track. Oh, and hockey…

But, today really is about the City of Largo’s Adventure Run. Rhonda convinced me that this mud/obstacle run through one of the city’s nature parks would be a good thing to participate in.

Largo's Adventure run

Last year, I watched her and her friend tackle the course, climbing walls, running through obstacles and crawling head-first through deep pools of sticky, gloppy mud.

When the first registration fliers came out for this year’s event, I thought about ways I could weasel out of it. “Oh, it’s going to be too cold.” “Oh, I can’t run 5K, my knees would hurt too much.” “Oh, I don’t have any old sneakers to wear…”

Eventually, Rhonda looked at me and said, “Why don’t you just get off your behind and do this?”

Laying out dovetailsAs we leave Get Woodworking Week, I think the most important lesson of all came from my wife. For many of us, we hold ourselves back from trying new things in our shops. Chairs are too difficult. I can never cut a mortise and tenon. I’m not comfortable working with expensive wood.

Maybe we know we want to show our spouses, children, friends or neighbors what we do, but are not sure we are good enough to serve as teachers. Maybe we even are too modest to show off our successful projects because someone may notice a few imperfections.

teaching woodworking

We now have 51 weeks until next year’s Get Woodworking Week. And, I’m pretty sure that many of you out there truly meant to pass along your woodworking knowledge to others, but time and circumstances conspired to get in the way. Here’s a challenge to each of you… Do something… anything… between now and next year’s event to help spread the love of woodworking to someone new. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, but, believe me, it will have a huge payoff as we get more new woodworkers off the sidelines and into the shop.

And, one day in the future, someone will look back on their woodworking hobby and recall how you gave them the kick in the pants to make it happen.

Here are some more articles to read about Get Woodworking Week:

Get Woodworking Week 2014 – Friday

My wife is a high school English teacher, so we work hard here at home to make sure we speak more goodly… I mean better… Definitely better.

A part of that effort is that we play a bit of a game when it comes to spelling and grammar. I have been asked to take out my camera to document a misspelled or poorly punctuated sign. In fact, she offers extra credit to her students if they can submit a sign with a spelling or grammar mistake. Some of the submissions are pretty funny.

No wonder the executives are falling asleepAnother thing that makes her want to pull her hair out are modified absolutes. What are those? Well, think about a newscaster reading a story about a fire that totally destroyed a building. Since destroyed means that everything is collapsed and in a smoldering pile, there can’t be a partial destruction… either it is, or it isn’t. In the same way, you can’t have something that is kind of perfect.

The one that drives her up a wall is used frequently on those talent scout reality shows. You know – American Idol. America’s Got Talent. Stuff like that. After a performer finishes his or her song, one of the judges is bound to say, “wow, that is the most unique act I have ever seen.”  Either it’s unique, or it’s not…

Americas Got Talent Judges

When it comes to woodworking, there are hardly any unique ideas left. A table is a flat top that you can use. A bookshelf is someplace you can store nick-knacks or books on.  A chair is someplace to park your behind.

But, that doesn’t mean you can’t take the design into different directions. Recently, Chris Wong hosted a great event – the shop stool build off. This event took place on January 25, and 45 entries were eventually received. Talk about some creative thinking.

A plywood designWhile there were many traditional designs, there were others that pushed the design limits. One of my favorite submissions was this one, using plywood in unexpected ways. I loved how the stool uses curves and is shaped to expose the plies on the seat.

Roubo stoolThis design looks very much like a Roubo bench, with the rising dovetails and hold fast holes. The Roubo design is just so classic, and this one screams traditional strength.

Branch out, why don'tchaThis one is a totally organic design, featuring branch legs and a nearly whole log as the bench. Not sure how comfortable it would be to sit on for a while, it definitely showcased the creativity of the builder.

With a vise!And, how handy can you get? This stool incorporates a vise that actually works, giving the user additional work holding options and a comfortable place to park your behind.

These are just four of 45 entries, so you may want to cruise on over to Chris’ site to see each of them. Who knows what type of inspiration you may find while you are there?