Wood Talk No. 140

July 18, 2013

On today’s show, we’re talking about books that inspire us, wood movement in workbenches, cutting dovetails on long boards, and 4/4 vs 8/4 pricing.

Wood Talk

Around the Web

  • Steve Ramsey sent a link about “What inspires Chris Wong”.
  • Eric sent a cool 12 minute TED talk by Michael Green, who wants to build 30 story tall wooden skyscrapers. His philosophy on it is quite compelling. Ted Talk featuring Michael Green.


  • Stan – I was just listening to show #113, Shannon and Marc were talking about the Charles Brock Maloof inspired chair and I take umbrage with the notion that Sam Maloof “invented” the sculpted chair.

    Professionally I am a Chef and I was always taught that if you take one element of a recipe and change it, then it is your “original” recipe. Art tends to repeat itself, sure people come up with new media or new techniques but in the long run art does come in a circle. Maloof’s designs were unique and beautiful however they are not of his own “original” inspiration. I have read an article in the current issue of Popular Woodworking (issue #124) about Wharton Esherick. Esherick’s designs are clearly the inspiration for the sculpted design MADE famous by Sam Maloof. Clearly Maloof was inspired by Esherick’s work.

    It really gets me twisted when people put their artwork out there and make a claim for a style or genre (or the estate does this). Yes there are certain artist’s who have a unique style that is all there own, or it is what they are famous for. However if you study these artists, even the greats like Dali, you will find their individual point of inspiration and often times the inspiration comes from another artist’s work. What if Esherick’s estate were to go after Maloof’s estate for copying the designs. If you let this happen to the art world then there will not
    be any growth of a concept and style.

  • Mark – I have spent the last four months listening to EVERY Woodtalk episode. I feel like I have come to know you guys and it has been an interesting journey, cramming five years of shows into four months. Here is a summary of some of the things I have learned and seen your point of view change on:

    The Sawstop is a gimmick
    The Sawstop might have merit
    Matt owns a Sawstop (but wishes it had a granite top for his beverage)

    Marc thinks kids don’t belong in the shop
    Marc has a kid.
    The kid’s name is Mateo and we have video of him running through Dad’s shop.
    Shannon hates his lathe.
    Shannon bought some Easy Tools.
    Shannon loves his lathe and is building it some friends.

    Marc and Matt have a knitting fetish.

    I have learned much more than this, but just thought I would throw out the ones that stuck in my head the most.

  • Tom Buhl – #138 Shannon mentioned Jeffrey Greene’s American Period Furniture. That sounds a lot like Greene’s American Furniture of the 18th Century (Taunton Press). A friend of mine bought it and gave it to me. As Shannon said it is great historic reference as well as a behind the curtains look at major pieces. Not my favored style at this time, but the design, workmanship and the wood itself – stunning.
  • Pete – I know this is behind the discussion, but I need to share what happened when my father tried to make sawdust-based fire-starters. He’d borrowed one of my mom’s pyrex pans and filled it with the sawdust/wax mixture. He cut into squares and set it out on the porch to cool. Enter my aunt, dropping in for an impromptu visit. She saw a pyrex dish filled with brownish squares. It may look like fudge, but sawdust and wax does not fudge make. We kept the square with her teeth marks in it for years.
  • Jonathon – One of my go-to books for projects is “Illustrated Guide to Choosing and Installing Hardware” by Robert Settich. Choosing and installing hardware seems to be a little talked about topic, and this is the book I always consult before starting a project that will require hardware.
    Taunton’s Complete Illustrated Guide to Choosing and Installing Hardware (Complete Illustrated Guides)

Dude from Michigan has a question about laminating boards.


  • Looking at ‘Vic’s Island’ that Marc posted this weeks brought up a question I have wondered about for some time. When we built the split top Roubo we glued a a bunch of 1.75″x4″ (approx) boards together along their faces. In other words the edge (not end) grain is what we are looking at when we look down at the top. So, shouldn’t any significant wood movement in the top be in a vertical direction, not side to side? And if so, isn’t attachment to the frame less complicated?

    I have bunch of narrow boards I could glue up to make a top for a small table, and wondered if I oriented the strips like the Roubo, could I frame it with a mitered frame, or should I stick to breadboards?” — Barron

  • I am about to start on a piece with a carcass that is 72″ wide and 14″ tall. It will be made of solid wood, and I will use through dovetails on the corners. Usually I hand-cut the tails first, but on this piece, I’m thinking of cutting the pins on the top and bottom pieces first, since they will be the most awkward to work with.

    I’m also wondering how to clamp the top and bottom pieces while I saw them, because I can’t just clamp them vertically in my leg vise. With a top and bottom piece so long, how would you go about cutting the dovetails?” — Jonathan

  • I don’t recall the episode, but Shannon was discussing orders for exotics (not exotic to Michigan). He mentioned that U.S. mills ordering 4/4 was a special order for those mills, as they usually mill 8/4-12/4, causing a change and special run just for the American market. It would seem that this would increase cost, actually causing 4/4 bubinga to be more expensive than 8/4. Obviously this is not the case. Is the pricing an American thing?” — Rick

Comments, questions or topic suggestions?

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