Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Blogging Course

I'm evaluating a multi-media course on blogging from the folks at Simpleology. For a while, they're letting you snag it for free if you post about it on your blog.

It covers:

  • The best blogging techniques.
  • How to get traffic to your blog.
  • How to turn your blog into money.

I'll let you know what I think once I've had a chance to check it out. Meanwhile, go grab yours while it's still free.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Using Videos as Your Woodworking Classes

When it comes to learning from a woodworking class, I’m a hands-on kind-of-a-guy. I have learned to look for details from the beginning, even looking at my own techniques for perfections or more accurately for imperfections. For when I can see the imperfection, I then know what to work towards. It is much the same as rereading a good book or watching your favorite movie and getting more out of it each time. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve watched Casablanca or The General or The Seven Samurai and I know that I'll watching them again.

As I said, I like hands-on not translations and I like to watch others do their thing with deliberation and forethought. So, in looking for some good videos on woodworking, I came across several that I want to comment on. The first is from Woodcraft at They have a list of videos to watch, all to do with products they sell. To me, these videos are no better than a movie trailer touting the next blockbuster, but they don’t titillate me enough. For example, the first on their list, #1 Odd Job Tool Video is about a lovely, multi-purpose tool, but they cram all of its functions into a 2 min 34 sec video. I’m sorry but I’m not sold yet, I want to see more. Why should I buy it simply because it’s a 4-in-1 tool?

Another video is Building The Ultimate Birdhouse. This is a 4 min 13 sec video of poor audio quality that spends almost half of its time showing a craftsman ripping some pine boards. I know how to do that. Please, show me something I need to learn. Would I really buy that video on the hope that I might get something out of it? It may be that Woodcraft has good products and great instructional videos, but I guess I’ll never know.

On the other hand, I visited DIY to watch their videos. What a difference! They weren’t perfect, but I was at least inspired and instructed. Their imperfections are only that they are incomplete. I was left with quite a few questions. But that’s a good thing. It prompted me to look further. I’ll leave it up to you. Visit DIY videos.

In the meantime, I’m headed back to see what Neil Lamens has added to

Till next time . . .


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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

More on Woodworking Classes

My most recent journey of searching for woodworking classes started off at a place I return to often – iTunes. I subscribe to 4 podcasts, these are video podcasts and I love them. The one I would like to mention here is a bit problematic, in that some of the podcasts are short and there are no active links embedded in the video, so here’s the link:
This is Dave Pruett’s Welcome page for his podcasts, but included are links to other pages -
• Welcome
• About Me
• Gallery
• Links
• TFRS Podcast
• Favorite Woodworking Podcasts
• Woodworking Downloads

In addition Dave links to his blog and to his site featuring his shop. But then, all of this for another post. I want to take you through to one of the links. It’s another blog of a furniture maker. This information is top notch both in the information as well as the presentation. My recommendation is: Do not hesitate, go to this blog and subscribe now:

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I found some premier woodworking sites today

Recently, I launched an information site chock full of articles about all subjects woodworking. You can visit it at jlchrlsrecommends. But the reason for my post today is to recommend 3 excellent woodworking sites to you. I can only hope that you will visit them and get as much as I have (and will, for I’ll be visiting these sites over and over).

I am a big proponent for educating yourself as opposed to taking a formalized class, primarily because you can learn at your own pace and you can pick and choose what you want to learn about. Believe me I am not against finding someone who knows more than me and following their example, but I am always reminded of when I was 10 years old and my wristwatch stopped, I wanted to find out why and try to fix it. I just find the process empowering. I have taken those formalized classes and I did indeed learn in them, but just as in grade school I was hampered by the speed or the lack of speed of the other students.

Don’t get me wrong, what I am saying is that everyone learns at their own rate. There are times when I have had to repeat something dozens of times before it became natural. So for me watching a video has some great advantage over attending a class where it is sometimes problematic to recap something I want to delve deeper into.

And this takes me to this first site. Besides being full of extensive information on a large number of topics, they produce free podcasts available through iTunes, and they are not just short clips of information, but recordings of workshops they have held.

This second has a huge library of free plans and that is only part of their site

And this third one is for those who want to design. It is about software programs to help make your projects work better for you. It’s not just CAD programs so check it out

Well, I am off to do some more research and I’ll let you know of my progress soon


Saturday, September 22, 2007

An Inch is a good as a mile

Whether your interest in woodworking is as a hobbyist or a student or professional, working toward perfection, as elusive as it is, must be the goal. Here’s why I think so, if you make that fatal compromise in quality too soon, you’ll never achieve the most important goal for having taken up the project – your own self-satisfaction. For without that simple accomplishment, deciding to take up the next project becomes prohibitive. This is not to say that if you haven’t created a museum-quality masterpiece, you’ve failed. Not in the least. Just remember back to the first time you tried to write in a cursive hand, it certainly doesn’t look much like your hand writing today. You didn’t give up. You learned how to make an O or a Q and then you went on. It is likewise for perfecting your craftsmanship as a woodworker.

Here’s my analogy for you. Take a measurement of 1 inch (or centimeter if you are so inclined). A standard tape measure divides an inch into sixteen parts (some may even divide it 32 times) so that you have 1/16th, 1/8th, 3/16th, 1/4th and so forth. But look at that huge space between the 16th and the 8th; it’s as good as a mile if you’re trying to build a square box. A caliper divides that same inch into 1/1000th. I have a friend whose eyes are so keen that can look at 2 lengths of straight line and can tell which is the shorter and even by how much. Boy did I learn to discern by working with him.

But I want to take that tape measure analogy a little bit further. Ok, we’ve agreed that there is a space between the hashes on the tape measure, but look now at the hash mark itself. There is a leading edge and a trailing edge to that thin printed or inscribed line. How many times can you divide that thin line? With practice I have made into 5 equal parts. My friend with the keen eye grew up using the meter as his standard, but because of some of his job requirements, he accurately learned the “foot/inch”. But he would constantly deride me for my preference to using the foot/inch. And with all due respect for his genius, I would like to tell you, as a woodworker, why I do indeed prefer inches and feet. The Meter is based on the decimal system. A very good system, but it’s mechanical in structure and not natural. The foot and inch divide naturally by 2. To me this is organic and I can continue to divide, by my eyesight, by 2, all the way down until I can no longer discern. And for making my box square, without the use of jigs to repeat performance, I maintain that my accuracy is within O0 O’ 30”.

But with the jig I am even better


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Blog Rush

For all you who are fellow bloggers, I would like to invite you check out a special new tool just launched by the renown Imarketer John Reese to get MASSIVE TRAFFIC
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I joined... so should you!

Best of Success,


Friday, August 31, 2007

Looking for Good Woodworking Classes?

Whether you’re looking for woodworking classes to become a professional woodworker or you feel a need to make your own entertainment center, there are dozens of resources available to you with many of them here on the internet. From 1 and 2 week workshops teaching how-to’s on a specific project at professional schools to semester long courses at your local community college or joint vocational or trade school, you can easily find the education and support you need to start.. The structured class can help you focus and minimize mistakes, but without the pain of making mistakes you will not really learn to increase your craftsmanship. A true education will begin with a formal structured class; but your craftsmanship will advance only after putting your hands to those tools you’ve collected. Hands-on projects are the real woodworking classes.

When you start out you may know nothing about the tools or the materials you are working with, so your first lesson is to hit the nail on the head. Then your next lesson is hitting the nail on the head a second time. Then after a thousand or so swings and your arm is getting tired and finally you start getting consistent at hitting that nail head again and again without missing, then you learn how many strokes it takes to drive that nail into place. And then hitting it upside down or in a tight corner and then which hammer to use for which purpose. My point here is that you must learn each step and in its own place. Master it. Then move to the next step and learn it. Cutting corners can and will become a very expensive lesson; it can cost you an expensive piece of wood or a finger or even your life. Master the hammer, then move on to the saw and the square and the screwdriver and etc.

When I became a journeyman and an unfamiliar job came my way, my task was to learn to master that new tool I needed to do that job and I measured my success by how fast and accurately I could master the tool. By the time I became a master woodworker, I learned to master new tools by their third use, which meant that I could then move on to other new tools and after more than 35 years of learning how I mastered things, I find that I have mastered much. In the ideal you don’t learn how to use a hammer, saw etc., you learn to master and in the end you master yourself. That is what you strive for when you take woodworking classes – master yourself and you’ll be the better craftsman for it.

But this still begs the question, “Where do you start?” or more precisely, “Where do you go from here?” That depends on the nature of your interests. Are you shopping or are you buying. I’ve been searching the web and am compiling a resource list for you, so bookmark this page and come back again for more information. If you know what you want, search Google for “woodworking classes”, but if you are still trying to decide, try this. I have found an 85 page eBook with a clear approach to beginning a career or simply gaining the skills to tackle a project. Take a look at A Beginner's Guide to Woodworking. Or visit and find other books and DVDs.

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