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Blog series by GnarlyErik updated 144 days ago 15 parts 45974 reads 130 comments total

Part 1: Shop Tips

605 days ago by GnarlyErik | 13 comments »

In the past, most old guys like me jealously protected their shortcuts and tricks to guard their job from competitors. I’ve seen many old fellows actually turn and place their bodies in front of their work to keep someone else from seeing how they did something, and they were not too bashful about doing so either. But, a lot of the old knowledge is disappearing now and some hard-learned things may disappear forever. I’ve learned a few tricks in my six decades of work related experience, and w...

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Part 2: Dividing a line or space into equal parts

604 days ago by GnarlyErik | 19 comments »

I’ve heard people say ‘What good are learning things in school if you don’t use them?’. After my lifetime of careers, I realize you never know what may be useful to you later. One of my most useful high school classes for example, was a one-semester class in typing – a ‘fill-in’ course – way back when they taught ‘Typing’. I guess it is called ‘keyboarding’ if anything similar is even taught today. Geometry was another, which at t...

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Part 3: “Declivity” - a trick for dealing with things out of level or plumb

603 days ago by GnarlyErik | 10 comments »

With shipbuilding in the past – and for some larger vessels even now – boats were built ‘on the shingle’ (beach), meaning they were built on a slope, sometimes quite steep. In fact, before the days of modern machinery, the slope of the building site enabled the builders to move and launch a vessel of many, many tons. And, unless the builder compensated for the angle of the shingle, many items could end up out of kilter once the vessel entered its working environment af...

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Part 4: Centerlines - Finding, Marking and Using Them! (Part One)

602 days ago by GnarlyErik | 8 comments »

When working with non-squared and oddly shaped things – like boats, you generally need starting and reference points. The most convenient usually being from the “centers” of something. One general approach is to ‘work from the centers out’, which seems to work well overall too most times.  For a simple example, suppose you must install a seat in a boat (or, a seat bottom in a chair). You may know the seat width or depth, but ends are not squared to that. Working fro...

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Part 5: Centerlines - Finding, Marking and Using Them! (Part Two)

601 days ago by GnarlyErik | 9 comments »

Here’s a little esoteric ‘how-to’ for those times you can not buy the ‘round’ you need in the size or material you want. This is a basic spar or mast builder’s technique which works for making things round and long. Almost all wooden masts have traditionally been built with a changing taper, diminishing towards the top. In ancient Grecian and Roman times, many of their architectural columns in their buildings were gracefully tapered from base to capital, and in fact often, the tapers began...

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Part 6: Measuring Things - Rulers Versus Tapes

600 days ago by GnarlyErik | 16 comments »

“MORE THAN YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SIX-FOOT FOLDING RULES!” Most people today use a flexible metal tape for measurement, except for some old-timers. There are reasons for this besides stubborn intransigence – although that surely plays a part. First, most set-in-their-ways people like me suspect metal things are more affected by temperature than wooden things, which is correct. Steel thermally expands or contracts roughly three times as much as the wood in a ruler. For example,...

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Part 7: Measuring Things - The Two-Foot Folding Rule

599 days ago by GnarlyErik | 6 comments »

“More Than You Ever Needed to Know about Two-Foot folding rules” Let me say up front that I am most familiar with the six-foot folding rule. That said, I will share with you some things I have learned about two-foot rules. Most common are those with four joints, known as ‘Two-foot, Four-Fold Rules’, and you can do many things with them.These were typically carried in a workman’s shirt pocket, or in the side pocket on the right leg of most overalls of the time. There were also two-foot, six...

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Part 8: Laying out irregular areas and surfaces

595 days ago by GnarlyErik | 10 comments »

The “Tickle Stick”Here’s a layout tip for boat work, and it comes in handy for other things too. This technique is used to accurately pick up the edges of irregularly shaped areas or surfaces and transfer them to the material to be cut. The original purpose was in taking off (measuring) bulkheads to fit accurately against a curved boat hull. The idea can also be used laying out a seat for a bay window, a countertop notched around obstructions, chair bottoms and other things....

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Part 9: Preventing End Grain splitting

482 days ago by GnarlyErik | 5 comments »

You are faced with end grain splitting or tearing out when working some woods. Most woodworkers know to clamp a piece of waste stock hard up against the material being worked to prevent this when planing across end grain. But what about those times when you are simply sanding or doing some other operation on end grain? Some materials have a bad tendency to tear out slivers at the ends of narrow stock, such as a chair or table leg. Sometimes simply sliding a wooden chair leg across the floo...

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Part 10: Clamping Big Stuff

482 days ago by GnarlyErik | 9 comments »

Here are some little tricks you can use when you are trying to clamp something bigger or longer than your available clamps. ‘Joining’ clamps: Sometimes it is possible to simply clamp one clamp to another, with their business (working) dogs to the outside of your work as with pipe clamps, but in the case of door clamps this is hard or impossible to do since you can not rotate the dogs of the clamps. Once neat solution is to use a piece of scrap as a ‘joiner’, sandwiching it between the c...

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Part 11: MORE than you ever wanted to know about HOLES!

478 days ago by GnarlyErik | 9 comments »

Don’t get too excited – this isn’t an article on porn or sex, but only about making holes in wood! There are times when you need a hole in wood which becomes a challenge, even with the right sort and size bit. Here’s how to deal with some of the more common challenges: 1. Drilling long holes accurately:  A. By far the easiest way is by making a shallow saw kerf in the “Faying Surface”①. These are then joined together by glueing or other means, with the kerfs mirr...

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Part 12: Making Long, Round Things in Wood - with the Norwegian Dowel Cutter

472 days ago by GnarlyErik | 5 comments »

Sometimes you need long round parts made from wood. Prior to the 19th century, specially made wooden dowels often served where nails, screws and bolts are used today. For instance, in barn building and shipbuilding, ‘trunnels’ were used to fasten timbers together and planks to a ships ribs. Outside of lacking the strength of of metal, trunnels are not affected by electrolysis and do not rust, important considerations in ships – although of course they can eventually rot. The word ‘trunn...

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Part 13: Duplicating Parts in Wood and Smoothing Curves

470 days ago by GnarlyErik | 2 comments »

Let’s say you need to made two, three or even four parts in wood, all precisely the same size and shape. It is straightforward and fairly easy to make your parts if they are all rectangular and can be done on the table saw. But, what if they are curved or irregular in shape, and you only need a few? The following technique may seem elementary, but it is surprising how many people aren’t familiar with this idea. Simply put, this is as easy as making two or more parts at once, in one setup, th...

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Part 14: “Repeat After Me”: Making identical parts in wood

231 days ago by GnarlyErik | 6 comments »

Mold makers often use of this technique when making castings patterns. Layers of wood are temporarily glued together in a way to be easily pulled apart after the carving or milling work is done. After a casting pattern is made, it is often separated into two or more parts for making a sand mold for casting. This is a useful trick when needing multiple identical parts in wood – say two identical halves of an item, etc. Of course you can use it for making more than two pieces too, within ...

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Part 15: Down and Dirty Proportional Dividers

144 days ago by GnarlyErik | 4 comments »

Have you ever wished to scale something up or down, either from plans or from actual objects? Then, you looked around the shop only to realize you don’t have any convenient tool other than measuring with rulers and then trying to convert using sometimes shaky math – especially if using English measures in feet, inches and fractions? (A quick aside here – metrics are so much more convenient to use! Although, it is ever so hard to make the initial roll-over and adjustment into me...

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