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Archive for July, 2009

When Do These Kids Have Time For Guitar Hero & Facebook?: A Look at the AWFS 2009 Fresh Wood Student Woodworking Competition

Monday, July 20th, 2009

When you stroll through the AWFS (Association of  Wooworking and Furnishings Suppliers) exhibit hall in Las Vegas, you’ll find impressive lumber-cutting machines.   Huge things that rival your house.  They can mill 8,000 little furniture parts in under 60 seconds, for over-exaggerated example. I’ve seen robotic arms use immense suction to lift 3/4″ thick 4×8 sheets of plywood, swing them up overhead, and set them down on a CNC table that, in turn, cuts out a couple hundred little puzzle-like pieces that get knocked together into rocking chairs (that part’s done by a human) – whamo! Done. Like it’s nobody’s business.

Well, seriously, it is nobody’s business.  From plywood to parts, you don’t need a person to handle the material.  Unbelievable.

It hit me like a ton of bricks: In today’s woodwork manufacturing, you don’t need to be a woodworker to control the machinery . . . on the contrary, you need to be a computer programmer.  It’s like woodworking – ahem, maybe I mean craftsmanship – has nothing to do with it all.

When you walk out of that exhibition hall, and if you’re not zombie-eyed and numb by what you’ve seen inside, you should notice a little kiosk thing in the concourse.  Inside the kiosk are the 50 finalist entries for the 2009 Fresh Wood Student Woodworking Competition.  Step inside.  It’s cool.  It’s inspiring.  Creativity and innovation come together. You’ll be saying to yourself, “Kids made this stuff?  Well okay, the world’s in good hands then.” read more

Nick Cook Turns Big Bubinga Bowls for Powermatic at AAW Symposium

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009
Making the chips fly

Making the chips fly

Few woodworking activities elicit sheer youthful thrill and goofy smiles as much as woodturning does.

What competes with chucking up a nice block of wood on a lathe seated on 50-pound cast-iron legs, flipping the switch and pushing that mammoth toothpick you call a “roughing gouge” into the spinning blank? Anything?

Very little, once you feel the wet chips soar into the air and float down to cover your arms, torso, and head.  Maybe peeling big, long wood curls with a hand plane comes in at a distant second.  Depends on your tastes.

Anyway, it’s this thrill of woodturning that brought out some 1,100 folks to the American Association of Woodturners Symposium from June 26 through June 28. The 23rd Annual National AAW Symposium took place in Albuqueque, New Mexico – and Woodworkers Source took pleasure in supplying all the turning blanks for the demonstrations by Powermatic.

We piled up all manner of blanks, from cherry and walnut and maple to some other lesser-known and yet beautifully  bizarre woods from all over the world and sent them off to our friends at Powermatic.  Powermatic’s turners proved their mettle on Powermatic 3520-B wood lathes throughout the show.  But we tossed in just one piece for an extra special challenge for he-who-dared: read more

Boredom Cure: Build Your Own Sanding Block

Friday, July 3rd, 2009
Brilliant!  A handy homemade sanding block

Brilliant! A handy homemade sanding block

When your wife asks, “Can I get your help with something?” you now have a good excuse when you answer, “Uh, not right now sugar.”

Because you’re building something important. Something that demands your utmost attention and focus. You don’t want to get this one wrong.

Pay close attention and set to work making your own heirloom quality sanding block: at The Bespoke Woodworker Blog.

You can thank me later.