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How Woodworkers Source Got Started in Business: A Quick History

by Keith Stephens | July 24th, 2014
All photos use

 

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 Woodworkerssource.com 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 www.woodworkerssource.com/history.php

 

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.

www.woodworkerssource.com/demos.php

 

How to Finish Mahogany: 3 Great Tips for Finishing Your Woodworking Projects

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

You have dozens, maybe hundreds, of ways to finish mahogany for your woodworking projects. That’s one of the best aspects of the wood; you can do just about anything to it and it’ll look wonderful. So there’s no way to make a definitive declaration about the best finish for mahogany. But I can pass you a few tips, ideas, and tried-and-true techniques that have served woodworkers for many years.

Absorb these three techniques, you might find them useful for your woodworking projects. The video above demonstrates how to fill grain, stain and dye to achieve the following looks and colors in mahogany.

1. How to Make a Deep Red Antique Mahogany Finish Using Dye, Stain, and Filler

deep red mahogany finish on genuine mahogany dye stain

Want a visual? This video demonstrates every step, click to watch:

Of the three process we’ll show you here, this one is the most sophisticated, but it also has the most interesting result of the three. While there are a few steps, it’s a straightforward process that’s not hard to pull off. Even though I’m going to list the exact brands and products I used to create this finish, they’re less important than understanding the process. Other brands will work just fine, too. In short: dye the wood to make it the overall color you want, seal it, fill the grain with something dark (aside from the filler I used, there are several other options too), apply a protective finish on top and polish it.

Products Used:

  1. Solar Lux aniline dye, medium brown walnut color (it dries with a maroon red color)
  2. Old Masters Woodgrain filler
  3. Zar oil stain, Early American color
  4. Denatured alcohol
  5. Zinsser SealCoat
  6. Spray lacquer

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the wood surface as you normally would by sanding to 180 or 220 grit
  2. Prepare the dye by diluting it by 50% with denatured alcohol in a mixing container. Apply the dye, either with a pad or by spraying
  3. Let it dry, then apply another coat of dye. Repeat until you’re happy with the color
  4. Apply a coat of Zinsser Sealcoat after the dye is dry. Work quickly and do not let it drip or pool.
  5. After it has dried, you may lightly and carefully sand the sealer if it developed nibs or bumps. Be cautious not to sand through the dye.
  6. Mix Old Masters Woodgrain Filler with a dark brown oil stain. In this example that’s Zar Early American. Use a 2:1 ratio, 2 parts filler to one part stain.
  7. Apply this tinted Woodgrain Filler with a rag, brush, or scraper to work it into the pores of the wood. Follow directions on the can. Let it dry for about 5 minutes, the wipe it off moving across the grain.
  8. Allow the filler to dry about 4 hours. Do another application if the grain is not filled to your satisfaction.
  9. Apply the topcoat of choice. The sample above is finished off with another 3 coats of Zinsser SealCoat, sanded between each one with 220 grit. And then it’s sprayed with 3 coats of lacquer, also sanded between each coat.
  10. Buff and polish when the top coat is ready.

2. Staining Mahogany The Easy Way

staining mahogany is easy to do

Left to right: Zar oil stain “Merlot” color; Old Masters Penetrating Oil Stain ‘Dark Mahogany” color; Old Masters Gel Stain “Cherry” color.

Coloring mahogany doesn’t need to be as involved as that first process. You’re allowed to just open a can of wood stain and put it on the wood. The results, of course, are far less dramatic and less nuanced, but they’ll still look nice. There are a lot of kinds of oil stains to choose from, but basic penetrating oil stains seem to bring the nicest results from the bunch. Opinion, of course. But the pigment builds up in the pores, darkening them more than the surface wood which highlights the character in the wood.

Not all oil stains are engineered the same way. Gel stain, for example, is most often suited for creating a wood grain appearance on fiberglass doors. That’s why if you were to get up close to the stained piece of mahogany on the right you’d notice that the color appears to be almost like a translucent layer of color riding on top of the wood rather than getting into it. The gel stain has muddied the grain of that piece of mahogany. Gel stain has its place — on a piece of raw mahogany is, arguably, not it.

Genuine mahogany also accepts water based stains just fine. As usual, raise the grain and sand it back before applying the water based stain. If you do want to use a water based stain, I suggest filling the grain with a darker water based filler first. Perhaps Timbermate’s walnut colored filler.

After staining mahogany (and after it dries!), protect it with your preferred top coat like varnish, shellac, lacquer or polyurethane.

Take a closer look at stained mahogany examples:

3. Fill the grain to get a perfectly smooth finish

Harder to see in pictures, but the piece on the left has the grain filled with a mahogany colored filler, the piece on the right does not. Both have a lacquer topcoat.

Harder to see in pictures, but the piece on the left has the grain filled with a mahogany colored filler, the piece on the right does not. Both have a lacquer topcoat.

Your mahogany woodworking project will benefit greatly if you fill the grain first, and you’ll notice the difference between a finish with the grain filled and one without the grain filled. So how do you do it? There is more than one way to skin this cat, so here are two.

1. Woodgrain Filler or another paste filler

We already brought up Old Masters Woodgrain Filler in the first process above. So that’s one product you can use, and it’s easy to work with. The trick with it is that you’re supposed to tint it with an oil based stain because out of the can it’s an off white or cream color. So you tint it, apply it, wipe it off, and once it dries sand it smooth. The sanding could be optional if you wipe it down well enough and you approve of the color that it leaves. Naturally, the stain you tinted the filler with will color your wood — the sanding will clear it up though. If you still want to stain your mahogany a darker color, you can do so. So you get the benefit of darkened pores, filled pores, and the choice of keeping your mahogany its natural color or staining it.

Another way to keep the stain in the filler from darkening your mahogany is to put down a washcoat (a coat of sealer) before the filler.

2. Timbermate, or another water based wood filler

The benefits of a water based wood filler is that it dries much faster and clean up is much simpler than the oil based filler above. You also don’t have to tint it, as it frequently is available in numerous colors. The brand Timbermate offers a mahogany color filler, which is what I’ve used in the sample in the picture above. A darker filler might prove to be a little more interesting, darkening the pores more, but the point is that the filler helps you achieve a glassy smooth finish quickly.

 

 

In this post, we share several tips for finishing mahogany in a way that gets you to the color you want and with a glass-smooth protective top coat.

In this post, we share several tips for finishing mahogany in a way that gets you to the color you want and with a glass-smooth protective top coat.