Steel City Tool Works is no more. The popular machinery maker with the “By Woodworkers, For Woodworkers” slogan closed its doors in March 31. The company set out in 2005 to change the rules of the industry, hiring a small staff of veteran designers to create a line of high quality woodworking machines. But the company seemed to struggle with its vision from the start and after several restructurings over their decade in business, little remained that resembled their original vision. If you own a Steel City machine you can still get replacement parts through their technical support line.
The national hardware show is celebrating its 70th anniversary march 5-7, and where better to do it than Los Vegas. As someone who used to run a hardware store, I can tell you that these shows can get pretty wild. I remember one year we totally took over the Radisson hotel in Toledo. They were giving away glue samples, people were mixing their own paints and stains, I had two whiskey sours and I still managed to talk the 3-M guy out of his sandpaper display for a 2 percent discount. Good times.
Chris Schwarz is throwing convention out the window of his small hand tool workshop. In a recent blog he takes exception with hand plane theory that states long planes are for straightening wood wile short planes are for smoothing it. He says that all planes can do some straightening work and most can also do smoothing too. In fact some of the finest woodworkers do most of their work with a single plane. The long and short of it, according to Chris is this: A hand plane can easily and reliably flatten a surface that is about twice the length of its sole. There are some exceptions to that rule, which is why you will want to read his blog over at Popular Woodworking.
KDC Software has released version 10 of its cabinet design program, and they say it’s the best one yet. Project manager Jeff Murphy says they’ve made it faster and easier to use. It now can be incorporated with CNC equipment, and comes with more than a hundred door styles built right in to the database. This version is also optimized to work with their touch tablet software, allowing you to show customers what their cabinets will look like, and even control shop machines. The software is popular among medium to large scale production shops, and costs around $2,000, but they also have a monthly rental plan.
Mike Rainville has finally received the honor he deserves. He was received the Vermont Wood Manufacturers Association Woodworker of the Year Award. Of course he’s served on the association’s board for 16 years, including as it’s treasurer and president, and he’s now retiring, but that’s neither here nor there. He says the award is usually given to someone who’s done something in their business that’s innovative of motivating and they just happened to think he qualified for the award on the year he was leaving the board. All kidding aside, Rainsville has run a woodworking business since 1979, employing 40 people, and he also owns a Woodcraft store in Middleberry, Vt. So he does meet the qualifications. It’s sort of like when I won the very first Stumpy award for our 2X4 contest a few years back. Just because I was the sponsor, host and judge didn’t disqualify me from winning!
If you’re literate, you’ll literally love this next story. Firefly Books and Fine Woodworking have teamed up to give away a pair of books on canoe making. Imagine yourself drifting down a glassy stream, the chirping of the birds in the air as the occasional trout leaps into your canoe. That’s living! But you can’t live the good life unless you have a sweet canoe, and what better way to own one than to build it yourself? Well go to the link in the show notes and leave a comment on the Fine Woodworking.com blog to win a copy of Canoecraft by Ted Moores or Canoe Paddles by Warren and Gidmark. That’s all there is to it! The deadline is April 29th.
Making a canoe out of wood may be pretty cool, but a penny farthing bicycle, now that takes it to a whole new level! Ron Schroer of Jacksonville, Florida- a cancer survivor who said he wanted to “let some of his crazy out before he passed”, has proven once again that woodworkers are the greatest people on the face of the earth. His big wheel bike incorporates an incredible unique walking rear end drive that has to be seen to be believed. You can see it in a blog written by Ben Blackmar at the link in the show notes.
Using wood in bicycle making is nothing new. In fact an interesting article found in the May 1896 issue of Stove and Hardware Reporter- yes, there was an entire magazine about stoves and hardware, noted the effect the bicycle industry was having on the lumber trade. It said that American factories would produce nearly 800,000 bicycles in 1896, and most would have wooden rims. Each rim required 2 ½ board feet of rock elm. That meant that 6 million board feet of the wood was being consumed each year, on rims alone, not to mention other wooden bike parts. The author complains that the select elm was going to the rims, raising the price and making good grades difficult to find for other industries. If that wasn’t problem enough, there was a new trend toward wooden handlebars that threatened to wreak havoc on the supply of hickory! And then there are the wooden crates that the bicycles are shipped in. The author’s point was that such a minor piece of fluffery as a bicycle having a noticeable effect on the massive American lumber industry was further proof of how important wood is mankind. Thanks to Jeff Burks for sharing this interesting article.
Bridge city tool works makes heirloom quality hand tools like infill planes and marking gauges, but a chopstick maker? Recently John Economaki came up with the idea of a planning jig for making chopsticks in preparation for a trade show they were attending in China. What they came up with was an innovative base that holds a strip of wood at an angle, and a mating plane that shaves material away while using the entire width of the blade. The result is a perfectly taped set of chopsticks in about five minutes. This will never catch on, right? Well, it was a huge hit at the show and what began as a novelty is now going into production. As with all Bridge City tools, the cost is likely to be high, but I suspect a jig like that would be far easier for me to use than those stinking chopsticks are to eat with.
Glen Huey and Chuck bender recently took on one of the roughest subjects in wood finishing- steel wool vs. steel wool substitute. Many woodworkers use steel wool between coats of finish, or for a final buff after it’s dried. Others prefer scotch bright pads or other substitutes. But do the substitutes really work as well? They seemed to disagree. Glen likes the way Scotch Bright pads can be warped around an edge molding, but Chuck believes the steel wool cuts the finish surface better. But the big tip was they don’t think you should use steel wool between cuts at all because it can cause adhesion problems with your next coat. Fine sandpaper is a better choice. It was a gripping discussion that you can listen to yourself at the link below.
WHAT STUMPY THINKS:
This Ted’s Woodworking guy is getting out of control. It’s time we put a stop to it. If you don’t know who I’m talking about, Ted “Woody” McGrath is a made up guy that only exists on the internet. Let’s just get that straight. The photo of him on the website is a stock image you can buy for a few bucks on several clip art sites. AOL, Entrepreneur, CNN, USA Today- none of these have endorsed him or his amazing set of 16,000 woodworking plans on DVD. So the either thing starts out with a bog old wopper of a lie. What Ted really is is an international scam that has done far more harm to the woodworking industry than good. But how is that possible you say? There are people who have produced glowing reviews of the collection. They seem satisfied! Well, what these people aren’t telling you is that Ted’s Woodworking is selling stolen woodworking plans. The vast majority of the 16,000 plans were gleaned from the internet and are the copywrited work of others. In many cases the creators were giving the plans out for free, but that doesn’t mean Ted can package them and charge $50. That’s theft. And that’s not where it ends. The collection includes plans stolen from various woodworking magazines and websites that are trying to make a living selling their hard work, only to have these freeloading dirtbags take the food from their mouthes. It blows my mind that people will actually say it’s a good value because it saves them all of the time it would have taken them to search the internet to get the plans for free. How about this, I’ll come to your house and steal everything you own. It’s a great deal for me because it saves me all the time I’d otherwise have to spend shopping.
But this isn’t just about stealing woodworking plans. It’s about cockroaches. Yes, the people who sell this scam are the cockroaches of the internet. There are swarms of them who post fake comments on woodworking blogs and message boards with lies like “I just happened to see this great deal, you folks should check it out”. They didn’t just happen to stumble upon Ted’s woodworking, they are part of this multilevel marketing boondoggle and they are dishonestly presenting themselves to you in an effort to sell you a dishonest product. Now they are actually posing as popular Youtube woodworkers. They steal videos from Youtube channels and repost them on their own, hoping that the creator’s fans will come to them instead. It would be like me robbing a 7-11 and setting up a stand next door with all their stuff so I could fool people into thinking I sold slurpees, when I’m really just peddling pee in a cup. This is a cancer, and it needs to be stopped. So what can you do? Create an HONEST review and post it everywhere on the internet you can. On Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, woodworking message boards, everywhere you can. Let’s drown these scam artists out with sheer numbers so the next time some poor schmuck types Ted’s Woodworking into a google search he’ll see all the links to people exposing the truth about this fraud. Theft is still wrong, even in today’s world. Let’s stop saying it doesn’t matter before Ted destroys the online woodworking community. And that’s all I have to say about that.
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