Broken River Joinery

How to Flatten a Board 2 of 3 (and build a box)

I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure this guy is cutting dovetails completely by feel/memory, no marking whatsoever.

The Will to Live

Came across this while walking the timber this morning. It looks like half the trunk fell off and rather than give up, the old gal doubled down. Incredible.IMG_4494

How to Flatten a Board 1 of 3

This first video gets going at about 2:46 and is part one in a three part series. Be sure to check out the enormous marking gauge at 7:48.

Mastery of the simple is the name of the game here. I’m a big fan of the use of basic concepts coupled with utter skill, i.e. slab of wood on ground = workbench; piece of wood the size of a stick of gum = bench stop; and bowl on ground = ashtray.

Milling Red Cedar

This weekend we tried our hand at milling up a decent sized Red Cedar trunk. It was about 10′ long by 16-18″ in diameter. The Red Cedar goes by many names, Eastern Red Cedar, Aromatic Cedar, Pencil Cedar, etc. It’s in fact not a Cedar tree at all, rather a species of Juniper native to this region and beyond. Some people see it as a weed in that it’s so common and thrives in many different soils. I personally find it to be beautiful, especially the older trees. When young, it resembles a bush and will often appear to grow along fence rows as if planted. It’s one of the first species to appear in damaged, disturbed or open areas, say a fallow farm field that used be a prairie here in Iowa 150 years ago. So to me it’s a sign of recovery although I take the long view in this. It’s nature just slowly reclaiming land that we modified. If say we let enough altered land to itself, eventually wildfires would return which would then keep the fire intolerant Red Cedar in check. And on it goes. Whether these areas would return to their native systems if left alone will take more years than I have on this planet to observe. Incredibly, these trees can live to be over 800 years old. My guess is the trunk we slabbed out was about 60-70 years old.

The fence row phenomenon is a result of the digestive system in Cedar Waxwings which will shoot a Red Cedar/Juniper berry through in about 12 minutes and if they sit on a fence for that time, might just deposit of few of those digested berries in a nice straight line.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of beginning to saw my own lumber is getting in touch with the land around me. I spend a lot more time looking at the trees as I drive down the road, paying attention to environment and what it can provide. To think that with a small amount of effort and decent amount of time, I can procure my own supply of lumber from the very trees that have been growing up around me, with me, is an incredibly subtle and eye-opening realization.

Here’s a few photographs from yesterday’s work:








Blog Update (lolcats)

I’ve added a link in the top menu to my new Instagram account (@brorivjoinery). It includes some photographs that show up in the blog and a few more that don’t and will provide more day-to-day visual updates all having to do with you guessed it-wood. And because I’m fully aware that cats are way more popular than wood out there on the interweb, here’s a shameless selfie/photobomb with my friend, Oatmeal. That’s Oatmeal’s excited face.




Milling Walnut on March 1st (in the snow)

As we get things dialed in on the chainsaw mill, the cutting is going quite a bit better. Today we milled a 10′ by 18″-20″ diameter black walnut log into 1 1/4″ boards. Minus the two caps we were able to get 8 nice slabs that are now stickered and should be ready by fall of 2016 plus a few months indoors.

It was a good day to cut and when everything is running right and the sun is out, there’s not much better on this land then to be a part of it through good work. Even if the ground is covered in snow on the 1st of March.








Furniture Maker Edward Wohl

Here’s a nice video on Edward Wohl and his workshop in South East Wisconsin. Every year during the SE Wisconsin Fall Arts Tour, Ed opens his shop up to visitors. If you are ever in the area at that time (mid-October), make a point of stopping by. You won’t soon forget the experience. There’s usually fresh, hot cider, too.

Snowshoeing In Iowa

In the end, the best kind of woodworking is found outside the home.


Fo Shizzle

For a different take on woodworking try this for a change

It may take 60-90 seconds or so but it is well worth the wait. I promise.

The Standard Shoji

I finished up my first (really second) attempt at the standard shoji with an aragumi kumiko arrangement and mizugoshi structure as based on the exercises in Des King’s, “Shoji and Kumiko Design Book 1 The basics”. I ended up building only 1 of the two screens as I seriously bungled the first screen several months ago.

The end result was overall a decent product but had its share of issues, most glaring of which involved one of the 45 degree miters on the tsukeko having an embarrassing gap. Beyond that there were slight miscalculations in the size of the rail mortises allowing one upon close inspection to see the tiniest of black spaces.

My next goal is to continue with the exercises and then give the Kasumi-Gumi Shoji a go. This design incorporates a hip board which will give it a nice heft.










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