About

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I grew up and live in Eastern, IA, on the banks of the Mississippi River. I arrived at woodworking later in life and soon realized it’s what I should have been doing all along. I’m interested in each aspect of the process from the tree growing in the ground to the heirloom table in the dining room, and I’m particularly fascinated with all aspects of joinery from simple to complex.

19 thoughts on “About

  1. Son,

    Thanks, for the information and education about woodworking. I’m sure it must be relaxing and at the same time rewarding.

    Love, Dad

  2. great blog.. I’m working on my very first Nakashima style trestle table and your blog answered a few questions on how to best go about things, especially bridle joints. Good job and great work.

    • Hi Bill, thanks for looking. Your blog looks great as well and your handwork on the butterfly joints looks professional. I’ll be sure to follow your progress.

  3. Thanks for sharing your latest work. I am starting a similiar project with two slabs of cherry. I was wondering if you have any comments/suggestions for me..? I was thinking of having the mill plane each slab (since most mill only do 24” and under), also to join them did you only use glue or also biscuits?

    Thanks

    Jordan

    • Hey Jordan,

      Thanks for looking-I’m guessing you’re talking about the Roubo bench top? If so, what are the dimensions of the pieces you are working with? And how flat/warped are they? For the bench that I built, I used two approx 4″ thick by 10″ wide by 6′ long pieces of white oak cut from one tree. They were pretty green when I got them (26% moisture content) so I let them sit for about a year and a half until they got down to about 12-13%.

      Once there, I spent a quite a while edge-jointing them. I used an electric hand planer initially and then moved on to a belt sander using winding sticks to check for level. After I finally got them within 1/32″ of being flat I glued them together. Honestly, with two slabs that size, a good edge joint, and ample amounts of glue and clamps, that glued joint will be stronger than the wood itself.

      At that point, I built a slab flattening jig per an article by Nick Offerman in Fine Woodworking magazine. You could also use hand planes depending on comfort, budget, experience, etc. You end up working with a really heavy piece of wood and so the best advice I got was always think in terms of taking the tool to the work rather than the other way around.

      I’d be happy to fill you in on more details if you have some specific questions. It’s a big undertaking building this bench, but it’s not out of reach. I didn’t have much in the way of experience when I started and that bench became something a crucible on which I tested my zeal for woodworking.

      Good luck and let me know how your project comes along.

      -Bobby

    • Hi Suzanne, thanks for perusing the blog. I live in the Quad Cities on the Iowa side.

      I do take commissions and if it’s something I’m not able to build I will let you know. Depending on the piece it can take 8-10 weeks to design and build (I’ve got this day job thing that gets in the way of my woodworking:-/) and if you live within an hour or so delivery is free.

      Let me know what you might be interested in and we can decide if I’m the right person for the job.

      Thx,
      Bobby

  4. Hello!

    Beautiful work, checked you IG feed too… Beautiful!!!

    I have a question I’ve been puzzling on for a while. I am trying to come up with a way to machine cut (bandsaw) a Japanese birdsmouth joint. Do you think this is even posible?

    I was thinking it might be posible with a fixture on a sled that would index to the mitre slot on the bandsaw???

    Thoughts?

    • Hi Peter, thank you for the kind words. That’s an excellent question. It’s been a while since I’ve cut that joint-if memory serves correct, I think it would be possible to build some sort of jig that would approximate the correct angles. If you needed to cut several of these, then that might be worth the time to design/build the jig. However depending on the intended length of the members you’d be running them through the bandsaw at odd angles and my guess is that they’d get hung up on some part of the machine. If feasible I’d recommend bringing the tool to the work rather than the other way around. Hope this helps.
      Take care, Bobby

  5. I love your work bench! I’m modeling mine after Chris Schwarz’s same article too! I had a question for you about your bench top. Have you had any significant warping of the slabs you used for the top?
    Thanks,
    Kurt V.

    • Hi Kurt, thanks for the kind words. I did in fact have issues with cupping/warping on the bench top. When I built the bench I started off with 3″ or so thick white oak planks that had been air-drying for about 2 years. About a year after I built the bench, there was some decent wood movement but it was a pretty quick fix by using the jack and jointer planes to bring it back to level. You could also build a jig like the one by Nick Offerman in Fine Woodworking, that employs a router on a sliding tray to level it off. Unless the wood you are using for the top is very dry/stable, there’s almost inevitably going to be some movement over time. If I had to do it over again, I just would of used thicker slabs, knowing that I’d have to eventually plane them down. That being said, ever since that second flattening it’s stayed incredibly flat for 5+ years now. Hope this helps.
      ~Bobby

  6. Where did you get the mortise chisel in “The Japanese Transom Part III”? Is it 6 mm wide? Who makes the chisel. Could a long paring chisel be used instead of the mortise chisel Thanks,
    Terry

    • Hi Terry, the chisel in that post is a Ray Iles mortise chisel. That particular one is 3/16″ wide (about 4.8mm). The online shop, Tools For Working Wood carries them. You likely could use a paring chisel, although I find that the height of the mortise chisel blade helps to stabilize it while pushing through the waste. It also might be difficult to find a paring chisel with a long enough neck to make it’s way through the grouping of kumiko (at least based on the project in this post). Good luck, Bobby

  7. Thanks for the answer. Is the groove you are cutting the same width as the Mortise Chisel or is it slightly narrower so you have some wiggle room so to speak? I did find a paring chisel that is long and I think it would work well as a finish cut after the mortise chisel. I might try and make a longgg! mortise style chisel from A2 or O1 steel, that way I can group a bunch of larger pieces, say for Shoji together and make the cut for the grooves. The reason being that it will not be used to cut a mortise and have all that stress put on it so it can just slide through he material. Are those pieces stacked together 1/4 in or 3/16 in? I count about 24 pieces clamped together using the brass bar clamps.
    Thanks again for your help.
    Terry

    • Hi Terry, the groove is slightly larger than the mortise chisel width. The half-lap joint is 6.4 mm wide, which is also the width of the kumiko themselves. That way the half-lap joints cut on the kumiko to be joined will accept one another quite precisely. The sidewalls of the half-lap joint are cut with a dovetail saw. Then, when knocking out the waste with the mortise chisel, it comes right out-no need to worry about a semi-rough underside on the half-lap joint, as it is mated and completely covered with a corresponding piece of kumiko. If you haven’t already, I’d suggest getting a copy of Des King’s “Shoji and Kumiko Design: Book 1” to give you an exact sense of how this can all work. Hope this helps and good luck!
      -Bobby

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