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Jim Morgans Wood Profits

Jim Morgan's Wood Profits

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American Country Furniture: Projects from the Workshop of David T. Smith by Nick Engler and Mary Jane Fawrite (1990, Rodale Press, Emmaus, PA 18098) 422pp;hardcover, 529.95 Although I can't recall the last time I built a piece of furniture from someone else's plans, I must confess that I'm addicted to books, especially books with plans of period furniture. I figure if I pick up a few new ideas, the book has paid for itself. Despite a somewhat hefty price, Nick Engler's book American Country Furniture: Projects from the Wbrkshop of David T. Smith presents enough ideas to recoup its cost.

As a furniture maker, David T. Smith's rapid rise to success is no accident. His reproductions are impeccable, and no detail is overlooked. His expertise in duplicating antique paint finishes is uncanny, and I believe his influence has heightened the appreciation of old painted finishes.

Engler focuses on these qualities in this well-conceived book on Smith's approach to furniture building. The text is clear, concise and easy to read. Engler begins with an historical overview and a look at period styles and design, which gives the reader a perspective on how country furniture evolved.

In the section on construction there is a wonderful array of projects, from simple accessories such as spoon racks and shelves, to tables, beds, chairs, desks and cupboards. Mary Jane Favorite's drawings are clean and understandable. Each of the 50 projects featured is accompanied by a photograph, standard views, an exploded view and plenty of details. I appreciate the fact that he does not specifically prescribe what tools to use for construction. This forces cabinetmakers to think out the job and select tools they have on hand. When an unusual technique is required, a special "know-how" section supplements the project. providing information that would otherwise have to be looked up elsewhere.

The final chapter is on finishing and is very informative, providing tips on replicating old finishes, particularly painted finishes.

A terrific color-photo section ties everything together and brings the talents and craftsmanship of David T. Smith to life.

If you appreciate a book that not only tells you "how-to" but also tells you why, then I highly recommend this book. My only disappointment was when I reached the end.


Build a Shaker Table

Build a Shaker Table with Kelly Mehler

(1989, Taunton Press, 63 S. Main St., Box 355, Newtowti, CT06470) 60min.; VHSIBeta, S29.95 The key to a good how-to video is to use that precious 60 minutes to show things that can't easily be explained in a book. Rick Mastelli, the director of Build a Shaker Table, does just that. It progresses step-by-step through the construction process. Rather than whizz past every detail, it focuses on how a project flows through an efficient one-man shop, as an idea becomes a design and a design becomes reality.

It begins in Mehler's studio where he explains how he develops a design and adapts it to various tables. Then it moves to his wood storage area where he shows how stacking wood in the order it was sliced from the log is an important first step in creating a harmonious piece. He illustrates his thinking as he marks up the boards for rough cuts that will maximize each board's potential. This is a theme that remains strong throughout the video; each step of the way, Mehler points out how he is cutting and orienting stock to achieve the best final result. This is exactly the kind of information best conveyed in moving pictures.

Mehler doesn't waste time reiterating what anyone who owns a table-saw already knows. But he does show his favorite jigs in action, like a simple jig for ensuring that multiple cross-cuts are all exactly the same length. He has a big industrial pin router that he uses to make mortises. Recognizing that few people will make mortises that way, he shows how to cut them with a plunge router.

Nearly eight minutes of the video are devoted to sharpening a cabinet scraper. That may seem a little strange for a 60-minutc tape on making a table, but again it's exactly the kind of thing you need to have a woodworker show vou. The video also does an excellent job of showing what's involved in gluing up and adjusting clamps. You can really see the organization and rhythm needed to get the job done before the glue dries.

I have only two criticisms, one very small, one larger. The small one is that Mehler extol Is the virtues of the Brett Guard on his saw and promises to show how easy it is to take off.

He never does. The larger criticism is the skimpy booklet that comes with the video. Just as a video can show things that arc difficult to tell, a more substantial booklet could have filled in missing details.

Learning to build this exact table is not really the point of Build a Shaker Table. It's much more valuable for the logic and techniques that go into a woodworking project. This glimpse at how a pro does it is well worth the price.

David Schiff


Moos«, by Cruz Rendon, Austin, Texas. Basswood. Dimensions: H: 8 in., L 131/j in.


Joining a woodworking guild can take the loneliness out of an otherwise sofitary craft The work you see here is a colcction of pieces from three Texas guids: the Central Texas Woodturners Association, the Central Texas Woodcarvers, and the Central Texas Woodworkers. If you've been yearning for company, check out your local woodworking guilds. If you're already part of a guidr send us photos of guid members' work. We'd Bke to see what you're up to.


Moos«, by Cruz Rendon, Austin, Texas. Basswood. Dimensions: H: 8 in., L 131/j in.


Box, by S. Gary Roberts, Austin, Texas. Mesquite. Dimensions: H: 4 in., Ch 5 in.

Eagle Head, by Charles Chapot, Austin, Texas. Walnut Dimensions: H: 10 lnn L 24 in.

Chip-Carved Plate, by John Duffy, Austin, Texas. Basswood. Dimensions: W: V« ku, Dia: 9 Vi in.

Bowl, by James Poppell, Belton, Texas. Walnut Tttmmhim II til. Dia: 117» in.

Bowl, by James Poppell, Belton, Texas. Walnut Tttmmhim II til. Dia: 117» in.


Cowboy Hat, by Rod Johnson,

Udded Box, by Jim Berry,

Want to see your work in Gallery? Send photographs and a description of the piece to: AMERICAN WOODWORKER, 33 E. Minor St., Ennnaus, PA 18098. Only black-and-white w prints (4 in. x 5 in. or larger) or color slides will be accepted. Please do not send color prints or snapshots. Enclose a self-addressed envelope for return of photos.

ArmadiHo, by Danny Griffith, Austin, Texas. Basswood. Dimensions: H: 9 in., W: 4 m.


Udded Box, by Jim Berry,

Cowboy Hat, by Rod Johnson,

Carved Table, by Tern SayThongKham, PflugervHIe, Texas. Mahogany. Dimensions: H: 18 au, W: 21 in., L 48 in.

Carved Table (close-up)

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Wood Working 101

Wood Working 101

Have you ever wanted to begin woodworking at home? Woodworking can be a fun, yet dangerous experience if not performed properly. In The Art of Woodworking Beginners Guide, we will show you how to choose everything from saws to hand tools and how to use them properly to avoid ending up in the ER.

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