Though I write a woodworking blog on the occasion, I don’t consider myself an expert, or even advanced. I consider myself a pretty good woodworker commensurate with the length of time I’ve actually been woodworking and the amount of time I get to actually practice my skills during any given week. So I still have hundreds of questions about woodworking that I would like to ask the woodworking community at large who may or may not be able to answer them. So, without further adieu…
If I use plywood on my next project, will the woodworking equivalent of Jacob Marley’s ghost appear to me and tell me that if I don’t change my ways my woodworking will be eternally damned?
I’m a fan of traditional woodworking, where you would probably not find plywood being used. I love the interesting grain patterns that you can find on wide boards. I also know that if I make the case of my next project out of plywood I will have no issues with warp, I will save some money, and it should, in theory, still look fine. And from what I understand plywood is considered ecologically sound. Something, somewhere is steering me away from using plywood and I don’t know what. I’ve used plywood in the past for drawer bottoms and case backs, professional woodworkers use it all the time, I’ve never had an issue with using plywood structurally. So what is stopping me? Is it my love of a completely natural board? Do I feel like I’m somehow cheating? I just don’t know.
Just exactly how sharp are my chisels supposed to be?
I am well aware of the importance of a sharp tool: they work better, they make you work better, and they are much safer than using a dull one. I am still baffled about how sharp is sharp. I generally hone my chisels and plane irons before each project, and then as needed during. It usually takes me a few minutes on each tool where I can get them to the point that they shave off hair quite easily. But every book and article I read seems to suggest that they should be “scary sharp.” I’m not sure what scary sharp is supposed to look like. Should my chisels be so sharp that I receive spontaneous cuts just by looking at them the wrong way, sort of like somebody who is possessed by a demon? Should the point where the bevel meets the flat be so acute that it defies the laws of physics and creates a hole in the space-time continuum? Should I be able to use my chisels for an emergency appendectomy? I just don’t know.
Why is Walnut so expensive?
Before starting a project I create a rough drawing with a close but approximate list of the amount of wood needed. For the most part I can come in pretty near the mark when it comes time to do the purchasing of the material. I do this because it saves time, money, and waste. Believe me it’s not all about money, money, money. I do not like to waste wood, it bothers me much the same way that wasting water by leaving the faucets open does.Because I don’t have an over abundance of spare cash, I make most of my projects out of basic select Pine, Poplar, Fir, and every now and again, Oak. However, my wood of choice is Walnut. I’ve made two projects out of Walnut: a Shaker table and a coat rack(and a small saw rack with the leftover pieces) Walnut is strong, easy to work with, and beautiful when finished. So when I drew up the plans for my latest project(an Arts and Crafts bookcase) I decided to price it up using Walnut because I really think that the bookcase I’m going to build will turn out great, and because it’s nice to treat yourself sometimes. So after getting a few price quotes from the internet and a local mill I was a little surprised. After my wife applied the smelling salts, and I took some Advil and drank a cup of coffee, I decided that my 5-year-old daughter may want to go to college one day so I had better not purchase Walnut and stick with clear Pine.
I just can’t figure out why it costs so much. I’m pretty sure it is really abundant in this area. Is there something about the milling process that makes it costly? Do the trees yield little usable wood? I’m all for lumber mills making a profit and paying their workers a good wage, but at this price women should be wearing Walnut jewelry. Is Walnut a lot more rare than I think it is? I just don’t know.
These are just a few of my questions. If somebody knows the answers and would like to set me straight feel free to leave me a comment. Because I’m at a loss…