Woodworking Techniques

  • by Rockler

    We've provided a handy calculator and series of mathematical tables to help you calculate the right angles on your woodworking projects.

  • by Matt Becker

    A table saw is the most useful tool in the woodshop, deserving of respect, here are a few basic safety practices you'll need to follow.

  • by Matt Hocking

    Receiving a memorial flag is a great honor, but some wood displays can damage them in the long run. These tips show how to display the flag well but safely.

  • by Michael Dresdner

    If a piano has an old combination of finishes on it, is it worth trying to salvage the original coloration or how should you refinish it?

  • by Michael Dresdner

    A lot of people don't really understand what wood sealer is and how and when to use it on a project, our author clears up this vital process.

  • by Matt Hocking

    Q: In your article on “Building a Base Cabinet for the Kitchen,” the author builds the base and carcass separately. Most of the articles I’ve read build the base cabinet as a single unit. I would like to know the pros and cons of each approach.

    A: Ease of installation is the signal benefit of a separate base.

    Building a cabinet with full-length sides is a bit easier and saves some material. It’s the ideal approach if the cabinet is a stand-alone with both sides exposed — a bathroom vanity, for example. With access to both back corners, such a cabinet is easy to level.

    But more typically, you combine two, three or more cabinets in a row. You want the faces in the same plane, the tops straight and level. But you’re unlikely to have a flat, level floor and plumb walls with square corners to work to. There’s always at least one back corner you can’t reach to shim.

    If the cabinets are designed to sit on a separate base, you make one base for the whole row. It’s easy to level because nothing interferes with your access to the back or corners. If you need to trim material to accommodate a high spot in the floor, it’s easy to scribe the base and to cut away the edge. When the base is level and solidly supported, screw or nail it to the floor. Then set the cabinets in place and screw them to the base.

  • by Rockler

    If you're at all intimidated by starting to design your own drawers, this guide will help you get over the basics of drawer construction.

  • by Rob Johnstone

    Resawing is something that isn't covered for many beginning woodworkers, so determining the resaw capacity for a bandsaw can be difficult for beginners.

  • by Michael Dresdner

    Storing your shellac will help keep it fresh, but no matter how good your storage solutions are will your natural shellac flakes go bad?

  • by Matt Hocking

    Understanding what makes up the structure of wood is much easier if you have words to name the features that we can see. This glossary explains the words and their meanings.

    Annual Ring: seasonal growth that is highly visible in RING POROUS hardwoods, especially oak and ash.

    Bark: the skin of the tree outside the CAMBIUM; divided into living inner bark and dead protective outer bark.

    Cambium: a layer of tissue that is the source of cells that grow and divide to form the wood and bark of a tree.

    Cell: the basic structural unit of wood, consisting of an outer wall surrounding a central cavity.

    Diffuse Porous: a type of hardwood tree that forms vessels of roughly the same diameter throughout the growing season.

    Extractives: complex chemical substances that form during the transformation of SAPWOOD cells into HEARTWOOD cells; they darken the wood and make it less porous.

    Fiber: hardwood cells formed in the latter part of the growing season in ring porous wood that gives the tree strength; characterized by thick walls and a small cavity.

    Fusiform Initials: mother cells in the CAMBIUM that grow and divide to form vessels, fiber and parenchyma in hardwoods and a variety of tracheids in softwoods. Growth Ring: increment of wood added during a single growth period. In temperate regions, the growth period is usually one year, in which case the growth ring may be called an ANNUAL RING. In tropical woods, growth rings may not be discernible or are not annual.

    Hardwood: timber from broad-leaved trees; designation does not necessarily reflect the hardness of the wood.

    Heartwood: the older, nonliving central wood of a tree, usually darker and harder than the younger SAPWOOD.

    Inclusions: any material that plugs a vessel, notably gum, resin or tyloses.

    Parenchyma: cells mainly involved with food storage and distribution; light-colored tissue when viewed through a hand lens; distributed in a variety of very specific patterns in certain species, making it a good recognition factor.

    Pith: the soft, spongy central cylinder of tissue in the trunk, branches and twigs about which the first growth takes place.

    Pits: a thinning in the side wall of the cell that allows water to flow from TRACHEID to tracheid.

    Photosynthesis: the synthesis of complex organic materials needed as food from carbon dioxide, water and inorganic salts, using sunlight as the source of energy, aided by chlorophyll.

    Rays: plate-like thin layers of tissue that extend out radially; serves for food storage and conduction.

    Ray Initials: mother cells in the CAMBIUM that grow and divide to make rays in both hardwoods and softwoods.

    Reaction Wood: abnormal wood that comes from a tree with a severe off-center PITH, usually caused by severe curvature or leaning.

    Ring Porous: type of hardwood tree in which vessels formed at the beginning of the growing season are much larger than vessels laid down at the end of the season.

    Sap: fluid that carries nutrients and water to various parts of the tree.

    Sapwood: younger, softer, living outer portion of wood that lies between the CAMBIUM and the HEARTWOOD; less durable, and usually lighter in color than the heartwood

    Silver Grain: the emergence of ray tissue on the surface of a board.

    Softwood: timber taken from a needle-bearing tree; designation does not necessarily reflect the softness of the wood.

    Tracheids: elongated cells that serve for support and upward conduction of sap. See PITS.

    Tyloses: film-like material found in the heartwood vessels of some hardwoods; forms regularly in white oak.

    Vessels: specialized tubular structures in hardwoods for conducting sap upward.

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