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Woodworker's Journal readers truly, truly love their radial arm saws.

Kevin Masson's tongue-in-cheek letter on radial arm saw "pros" overlooked some real advantages of this disappearing workhorse of a tool.

First, unlike any table saw, the radial arm doesn't need all that open space in the center of your shop. Placed along the wall, it's a great way to unclutter a small or mid-sized shop floor.

Second, try plowing a chunk out of a 4 x 4 or 6 x 6 on your table saw. You'll be lucky not to bend a blade or lose a finger pushing such heavy stock across the table. With a radial arm the stock stays safely stationary.

Finally, I'd rather put on a dado set or change a blade on a radial than on a table saw any day. No fiddling below the table in cramped spaces and poor light, and no losing the blade nut into a pile of sawdust. Accuracy may not equal top-end table saws, but with a top-of-the-line blade, a properly maintained and well-adjusted radial arm cuts almost as accurately as a table saw— and with a lot less trouble.

Bruce Kinsey Saumsville, Virginia

I bought my DeWalt saw in the early '60s, and it has been going strong ever since. I've made lots of good furniture with it

Stephen H. Minnich Ballston Lake, New York

A negative hook keeps the blade from climbing at aggressive feed rates. This is what has given the radial arm saw a bad reputation over the years. With the correct blade, it's a great woodworking tool.

Darryl Roberson Taylors, South Carolina

A Woodworker's Journal magazine cover showcasing two famous woodworkers, Sam Maloof and Jimmy Carter (the former U.S. president), provoked a lot of response.

I have been a woodworker for 30 years and subscribed to many wood magazines and archived and kept every issue. Your magazine is the first one I have ever trashed. Why you placed that ex-presidential joke on the cover of your magazine is beyond me. That traitor and incompetent idiot offends me, and I'm sure I'm not alone in my opinion. I suggest you change the name of your magazine to Indies Home Woodworker, and you will be able to attract the rest of your ilk.

Robert Cristofalo Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Yours is a woodworking magazine and as such features those individuals who inspire and help promote the love of woodworking in all of us, regardless of anyone's political views. Both President Carter and Mr. Maloof do just that.

Keep up the good work.

Edward Taylor Bowling Green, Kentucky

In light of your decision to bring politics into your magazine, I have decided to cancel my subscription. I see your choice to put former President Jimmy Carter on your cover as overtly political, and it disturbs my right to peacefully enjoy a hobby that brings diversion from the nastiness of today's world.

Richard Beirne Galesville, Wisconsin

The idea of a "Ladies' Home Woodworker" isn't such an insult, either, really.

Eunice Sorenson Kathryn, North Dakota

As women woodworkers become more involved in what has traditionally been thought of as a man's hobby, Woodworker's Journal readers have taken note of the changes.

I'm getting so sick and tired of seeing so-called experts in sewing, ceramics, painting, drawing, arts and crafts — oh, and also woodworking — lending their expertise in woodworking. I'm sure that they have hammered a few nails in a block of wood. If they want their views known, then go start their own women's woodworking magazine and stay out of my workshop. If you're running out of veteran woodworkers to staff this magazine, then you better get out of the city and into real America. I know quite a few men that are more than fit to staff a real woodworking magazine.

Barry C. Nelson Kalamazoo, Michigan

I know and have had to deal with many men like Mr. Nelson since I took up the hobbies of woodworking and home improvement. His assumptions that Susan Working [director of the woodworking program at Anderson Ranch] and Teri Masaschi [wood finishing author] are not woodworking experts, and that they should go "start their own women's woodworking magazine and stay out of my workshop" is the typical ignorance and stupidity that unfortunately prevails in this industry.

Tract M. Remmo Indianapolis, Indiana

I would just like to know if Barry is intimidated by women in general or specifically by talented women in the woodworking industry? No doubt his insecurities are the result of his need to compensate. I bet he has a really big truck!

Catherine Morris Rohnert Park, California

An article on "bargain basement" woodworking tools brought forth opinions on their affordability and quality.

I was part of an article for your August 2002 issue titled "Woodworking's Crumbling Gender Barrier." For the past nine months, I've been working on a home office and wanted to show you pictures of the project I'm really happy with the way it turned out. I'd LOVE to send these pictures to Barry Nelson!

Carol Johnston Peru, Indiana

An article on "bargain basement" woodworking tools brought forth opinions on their affordability and quality.

I don't have the budget for fancy tools or expensive woods. My table saw, drill press, and band saw aren't fancy, but they do the work. I probably sand more than some folks, but that gives me time to reflect and meditate, and keeps my rapidly aging arms in good shape.

Joh n Bowman Indianapolis, Indiana

I'll bet the tool accuracy is as good as what the furniture makers of the late 1800s and early 1900s had to deal with.

Ernest L. Taliaferro Tallahassee, Florida

Reader Carol Johnston sent in a picture of her home office building project to prove a point.

that have put millions of dollars into research and development. They have no accuracy and could be fire hazards, not to mention [the potential for] electrical shock. A lot of our quality tools have a base here in America. We have more stringent inspections and quality control. Not to mention supporting this country, and most of your subscribers, I am sure, are Americans. I would not buy or even use these tools to work on my backyard fence.

Yvette Brown Valeejo, California

The author of "Bargain Basement Power Tools" was surprised at the quality and low price of power tools from China: "The worst thing seemed to be that [they] smelled bad." What really smells is China's disregard for basic human rights and their threat to American jobs.

Bob McKenna Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Most of these are knock-offs from long-established companies

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Woodworker's Journal reader George Tritthardt won a WJ co-sponsored trip to spend the day at Norm Abram's shop— a prospect that would have thrilled at least some other readers.

To rate Norm as a 2 would be similar to rating all our schoolteachers K-12 as 2s. We all had to learn the basics. Norm has filled that space for thousands of woodworking wannabes.

Bill Wise Clancy, Montana

Even Maloof started by nailing two pieces of wood together.

Ron Popp Belgrade, Montana

The development of the SawStop mechanism, a table saw brake that prevents the blade from cutting fingers, brought debate on whether the device should be legally required to be installed in all saws. (SawStop now markets their own line of quality table saws.)

Where does Dr. Stephen Gass get off thinking legislating the sale of his SawStop brake unit product is in anyone's best interest? I'll admit it's a worthy goal to want to increase the safety of table saws. But to force manufac

Woodworker's Journal reader George Tritthardt won a WJ co-sponsored trip to spend the day at Norm Abram's shop— a prospect that would have thrilled at least some other readers.

With our readers' help, Woodworker's Journal selected Gustav Stickley as "The Woodworker of the 20th Century" — and noted that TV woodworker Norm Abram also received a large portion of votes from readers, who had much to say about this.

Seeing Norm Abram selected as one of the twentieth century's great woodworkers along with icons like Gustav Stickley, Tage Frid and Sam Maloof was a real slap in the face to all of the great master craftsmen who have dedicated their lives to teaching, designing and crafting great pieces of furniture.

Norm is an amateur compared to these talented craftsmen. If rated from 1 - 10, they would all be a 10. Norm, maybe a 2.

Alfred Petersen Fremont, Nebraska

I take great umbrage with Mr. Petersen's cavalier remark that "Norm's No Ten."

Mr. Petersen should try to understand that this is woodworking, not a cure for cancer. All of the woodworkers that he listed, including Norm Abram, are excellent, highly skilled craftsmen! What the craftsmen on that list are not are "icons."

At one end of the spectrum woodworking is simply a pastime; at the other end it is a source of income. At times, it will deliver frustration akin to trying to teach the family cat to fetch, but when it all comes together as you had envisioned it... joy, pure joy.

Bruce Thompson Port Angeles, Washington

If Norm only rates a 2 according to your Nebraska reader who obviously comports only with the gods, where does that leave the rest of us poor, ordinary mortals?

Thomas E. Jordan Newton Highlands, Massachusetts

Norm is good at what he does, but he is not a craftsman in the category of the great names that were mentioned in the original letter about Norm's award. Norm is a very good basic woodworker. He cannot be considered as one of the great craftsmen of our time.

Stanley Risk Crawford ville, Florida

Norm Abram has been terrific for woodworking — by popularizing woodworking — much as Muhammad Ali popularized boxing and Arnold Schwarzenegger popularized bodybuilding.

I'm afraid my Neanderthal tendencies force me to side with Mr. Petersen, since I find it difficult to award a greatest woodworking award to someone who uses a biscuit joiner!

Rich Donahue Sierra Vista, Arizona

turers to buy his product using legislation is flat-out wrong! If Dr. Class's product is so great, why doesn't he get his own saw on the market and show the other manufacturers a better tool!

Clinton J. Struthers Midland, Michigan

I'm taking exception to Mr. Struthers' attitude toward table saw safety. I remember a time when the table saw guard was listed under optional equipment in equipment catalogs. I'm also aware of the injury-based "scattergun" lawsuits that drove many of America's finest woodworking machinery manufacturers into bankruptcy.

Bernie Maas Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania

I am not interested in buying a saw where people would get too relaxed and disregard safety, feeling that the tool is failsafe. I believe that this approach might actuallly lead many to forget the hard-learned safety issues in woodworking.

Eugene Gemborys Gardner, Massachusetts

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Woodworkers can find many roads to the same result. In this exchange, which was initiated by Ian Kirby's article on the obscure "hidden, mitered dovetail" joint, the debate quickly moved to whether dovetail or biscuit joinery is "better."

Ian Kirby's article on hidden, mitered dovetails really made me question my choice of subscription. While Kirby might get an ego trip for writing such esoteric, complex and on, they will eventually be lost I'm sure dovetails will survive for many generations. Would "hell, why not just miter the two pieces, cut a biscuit slot, and glue it?" last just as long?

Roger Lafleur, M.D.

Hrookfield, Massachusetts

In some 40 years of being in and out of the furniture making and repair business, I have seen and repaired thousands of failed joints. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of failed dovetail joints.

C. Patrick Ventrone Hillsboro, Ohio

Sure, master woodworker Ian Kirby's techniques are top-notch, but only a very small percentage of woodworkers are going to put his instruction into operation. In my view, he is wasting his breath along with beating a dead horse.

James T. Phillips Mineola, Texas

If woodworking was just about getting a project done, I'd just buy the furniture or fixture I needed.

Charles Puelo, Henderson, Nevada hardly relevant woodworking techniques, the practical necessity of such nonsense is lost on most of us. I read the article through three times to access what he was trying to relate and finally said, "Hell, why not just miter the two pieces, cut a biscuit slot, and glue it?" Hidden dovetails indeed!

Ron Paque San Antonio, Texas

I feel compelled to write in defense of Ian "dovetail" Kirby vs. Ron "biscuit man" Paque. Granted, hidden dovetails not exactly something we all yearn to do, but if all the skills of master cabinetmakers are not passed

And one of those. And that. And that. And that. Oh, and both of those!

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