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How Woodworkers Source Got Started in Business: A Quick History

by Keith Stephens | July 24th, 2014
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This is not a picture jewelry box in this story -- it was lost to a home burglary some time ago. But this box is the most recent one I've made.

This is not a picture jewelry box in this story — it was lost to a home burglary some time ago. But this box is the most recent one I’ve made.

Years ago I wanted to build my first jewelry box. So I tried to buy a little bit of hardwood lumber, which seemed like a simple thing to do. But I was wrong. Here’s the story:

In the late 1960s my wife, Betty, and I were newlyweds just out of college. I was a CPA with a large international accounting firm and Betty was a Registered Nurse. In 1970 life started to change with the words, “I’m pregnant” and “It’s time to buy a house.”

I had no experience with home repair or improvement (or babies) but undertook projects and enjoyed the process. My tool inventory started with a Sears radial arm saw and a Black& Decker ¼” drill. I really moved up when Betty bought me a Black & Decker router, 1 HP, ¼ “ collet, edge guide and carrying case. $39.00 for the package.

I made my first table in 1976 using construction lumber and became hooked on building projects. I wanted to try hardwood, Betty and I designed a jewelry box with two drawers and a glass top. I made a sketch and a list of parts, and then headed to the lumberyard.

Problem. The lumberyard didn’t sell hardwoods, only construction lumber. I left disappointed and searched for a local hardwood outlet. Eventually I found one down by the railroad tracks, in a seedy, industrial part of town. My only experience was with construction lumber: smooth all sides and dimensioned to specific sizes. So imagine my shock to find piles of rough, random width and length lumber at this hardwood dealer. When I asked a salesman for some help by showing him my list of materials, he took my list, held it in the air and announced to his coworkers, “Look at this! Look at this! This guy’s got a list!” I left embarrassed and without the material I needed.


In 1978 I opened the first Woodworkers Source store to serve the retail and custom woodworking communities. The store offered a wider range of woodworking products and a higher level of friendly service than could be found anywhere else in Arizona. Over 35 years later, here we are. Today we have three stores that offer 100 different hardwoods, woodworking tools from the best brands, and a friendly staff that knows woodworking.  Each store has a completely equipped woodworking shop to perform custom cutting and milling services and an education center for live woodworking demonstrations.

Our website is the most visited of all wood related sites and contains a wealth of useful information with woodworking tips, a hardwood database, and a gallery where you can share your project pictures with other woodworkers.

Our Rosewood Club is a loyalty program that gives discounts, rebates and special offers to our customers. Join it if you haven’t already.

Thanks for being a customer and letting us help you succeed in woodworking.

You may read the complete story at


Here are some other projects I’ve made over the years:

Free Hands-On Experience with the Featured Wood of the Month

by Mark Stephens | July 11th, 2014
All photos use
hand planing wood for woodworking

If you’re quietly interested in knowning more about our featured wood of the month, you can test it out in our store. We have a small work space set up with various hand tools and a few boards of the featured wood just for you to test out and see if you like it.

Every month we feature a different hardwood by stocking up with fresh new inventory and by slashing the price by 25% or more.

But did you know that every month we also provide a chance for you to test out the wood and get a feel for it yourself?  In every one of our stores you can experience the wood in your own hands to see how it saws, sands, hand planes, chisels and finishes.

We call it the “Wood Workshop,” and it’s totally free. It’s just our way of letting you get a little hands-on experience with a new wood as well as providing a little instruction on working with wood. We have  a workbench, a few boards of the featured wood , and a number of hand tools available to you. If you want to know more about the featured wood of the month, here’s a great way to do so.


Woodworking Contest Fall 2014: Challenge Your Skills, Win $500 in Tools, Enter for Free

by Mark Stephens | June 23rd, 2014
All photos use

Woodworking Contest : Sitting Stools
Here's one way to build a custom stool: like these Thomas Moser kitchen stools with sculpted seats and turned legs

Register for the Contest Now:

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There are 76 people registered so far!

Project Deadline: Saturday Nov 8, 2014
Prizes Awarded: Friday Nov 14, 2014
No fee to enter!

FREE Entry
Project Theme: Sitting Stool
Project Deadline: November 8, 2014
You’ll Get $50:
Every completed project receives a $50 store credit
Prizes: Win up to $500 worth of woodworking tools 

The sitting stool is one of the earliest forms of furniture – so if you want to explore the rudiments (and fun) of woodworking, build a wood stool. So that’s what we’re going to do with this contest. Sitting stools serve numerous applications and therefore they take on numerous shapes, styles, and geometries. There are bar stools, musician stools, artist stools, breakfast stools, shop stools, and more. For this contest build a stool of any style or size you want – except we’re talking about a seat, not a footstool or step stool.

Want some great examples for inspiration? Scroll down, there’s a gallery of ideas at the bottom.

As a woodworking project, a sitting stool doesn’t require much wood – but don’t be fooled into thinking they’re simplistic. Crafting a wood stool will challenge your skills in a fun way. For example, unless your design is an unusual one (which is okay!),  you’ll most likely get intimate with the mortise and tenon joint plus a couple of variations (like adding wedges for strength or chopping at an angle to accomodate rake and splay).  You’ll also probably get good use out of your hand tools like planes, rasps, scrapers, spokeshaves, handsaws, and layout tools like the t-bevel. You’ll definitey face the joinery and assembly challenges that follow the geometry requirements of splayed and raked legs.

But who knows? There are endless ways you can build a sitting stool. For the seat, you can sculpt it, cane it, upholster it, make it round or square or triangular or something else. Same limitless choices on your legs. It can have any number of legs you want, they can be sculpted or turned or tapered or steam bent or bent-laminated, or anything else that appeals to you.

There is no doubt that’ll you’ll have a good time with this project. See the examples below for some ideas.

Complete Your Project, Get $50 Store Credit:

All entries receive $50 store credit on November 8 upon project delivery. Yes, you keep your project and we give you $50. However, we keep the projects for one week while the panel of judges inspect each project to determine the winners.

 Plus you get a chance to win prizes from great woodworking vendors.

Enter the Contest in 2 Easy Steps:

  1. Register (it’s free)
  2. Deliver your project on Saturday November 8, 2014 (You’ll get $50 store credit)


On Friday November 14, 2014, we’ll host an awards ceremony at Practical Art, a gallery in downtown Phoenix. Prizes will be awarded for the top 3 entries, plus various honorable mention awards.

  • First Place: $500 package of woodworking tools
  • Second Place: $300 package of woodworking tools
  • Third Place: $100 package of woodworking tools
  • Honorable mentions: Various woodworking tools/supplies valued approximately $50 each

Sources for Inspiration and Techniques?

I’ve created a gallery on Pinterest of all kinds of stools collected from around the web, which you can see here. Below is a sampling: Follow Mark’s board Woodworking – Custom Seats and Stools on Pinterest.

Rules and Guidelines

How to Submit Your Project

  • Register for the contest using the form at the top of the page. Free entry.
  • Deliver your project on November 8, 2014.
  • Pick up your project on November 14th or after.  If you’re in the Tucson area, you can simply deliver and pick up your project at our Tucson store. We’ll arrange transport to and from Scottsdale for the judging and public display. Entries must be made in person either to our Scottsdale office or Tucson store. We won’t be able to accommodate crating and shipping individual projects that are shipped in from other parts of the country for this contest. Your stool is yours to keep after the contest. Judges will be using the week between November 8 and November 14 to make their selections.

Materials to Use

You do not need to buy your wood from Woodworkers Source in order to enter the contest. Wood is the focus of this project and you may use any wood you’d like. The seat can be upholstered or not. You can incorporate metal or other materials into the legs or support but we want to see wood as the focus.

Design Considerations

There is no constraint on the design or style, let your own tastes be your guide. You can replicate a design or come up with your own. Use any woodworking process you want for creating your stool – such as turning, carving, sculpting, laminating, bending, tapering, etc, etc, etc.

Does the Project Have to Be New? How Many Can You Enter?

We prefer that you enter a project you build specifically for this contest, but that’s not a hard and fast rule. So, if you want to enter a stool you have already built, take a close look at it and determine if it needs to be refinished, waxed or polished. If it’s scratched or faded from time and use, do what it takes to refresh it so that it makes the best impression – this is, after all, a contest. You can enter more than one stool as long as they are different. There is no need to enter more than one if they are from a matched set.


A winning entry will have a fabulous finish. You can use any finishing process; you can use stains, dyes, glazes or any clear wood finish you want. We encourage you give your project the best impression with a well-done finish. Start your project sooner rather than later to allow yourself plenty of time to get a good finish. It takes time for finishing and staining products to dry between coats, and it takes time to polish your finish to your desired sheen, so give yourself time to do it well.

How Do You Build a Stool?

See these woodworkers who build custom wood stools: