All woodworking machines should be treated carefully – never use a machine before you know how to operate it safely. However, the planer moulder is among the safer woodwork machines as the whole unit is usually housed within a safety enclosure which acts as a chip guard. The operator’s hands shouldn’t go near anything dangerous. As an added benefit, the safety enclosure reduces the noise the machine produces.
For inspiration, look around you. Take photographs of leaves, animals and even the patterns on other furniture and interiors of buildings. Once you have your photographs, keep them as clip files. Arrange them by subject matter for future reference. Photographic references are perfect if you’re planning on carving out realistic objects and animals.
You can add your personal touch to any furniture you make. Why not paint on some of your own patterns? You can paint on traditional floral or geometric designs. You don’t have to be an expert at painting. You can always use stencils, which you can buy at any crafts shop.
To the great majority of us woodworking is a hobby or a past-time. Even for the retired folks there is just not enough time in the day to do everything that needs to be done, and even less time to do the things you would like to do. Woodworking can take a lot of your scarce time so for everybody who takes this craft seriously it has to be because the time spent in the shop working on their woodworking projects is as satisfying to them as the product or end result.
Now there are many different styles of work, from the plain and simple lines of the Quakers, to the highly decorated Queen Anne pieces with turned legs and curved fronts, to the ultra modern pieces that infuse wood and other materials. In my mind the best style is Arts and Craft. I think there is a lot of agreement with that choice. One of the things I have learned since I began to research the Arts and Craft movement is that the style is not limited to just the furniture. It’s a whole package which can encompass your entire house. If you doubt this, go to your local DIY store, where you will find an ever increasing supply of Hardwood Oak moldings and trim. Or go to any of the thousands of furniture stores, and even though a lot of the stuff is particle board and laminate, a lot of the designs have very strong Arts and Craft influences. When we moved into our current home, we had the standard builder’s grade painted 1 3/8″ molding on every door and window. As time and budget has allowed, we have replaced every single piece of it with wide, stained oak molding. We recently replaced the stair risers and treads with oak, and most of the carpet has found its way to the junk yard. Why, because we love the look and feel of real wood. Most of the furniture I make is either a reproduction of an Arts and Craft piece, or a variant of it. The furniture that we have purchased is either Leather or Danish Modern.
The most common known family category is Pine. Pine is available all around the world and is relatively inexpensive. The trees grow tall and straight, a characteristic which, in years gone by made them suitable for the masts of sailing vessels as well as large construction beams. The common examples of softwood are Himalayan Cedar, Oregon Pine and South African Pine etc
Fishtail Oak can be quite a puzzle to the novice woodworker, as it is not a true Oak, and has nothing to do with fish. It is, however, so strong and durable that it is a wood of choice for shipping crates, especially those which will contain heavy equipment or metal ingots. This wood can easily be recycled from crate to craft, and because of the distinctive appearance, it is ideal for woodworking projects that will not be stained or painted.
So there you have it, if you are like me, I look for every book or article I can find about the Arts and Craft movement. Not because I want to build everything in the book, I don’t have the room, time or budget for that, but because I love the style. If you’re new to the Arts and Craft style, you came at a good time, recently there has been a renewed interest, and with that brings more information, books, and CD’s. Go find a project you like, and work at it, but be careful, you might get hooked on the style.
The strength and durability of Fishtail Oak comes with a price, however, in that this is a very heavy wood, which makes it impractical for some projects. Kitchen implements such as sauté tools, for example, while lovely to look at are too heavy for a pleasant experience in the kitchen.
With the skilled craftsman leaving to go to the Europe and the Asian theaters of War, their knowledge left with them. The woodworking guilds closed down as the craftsmen left and those who took their places in the workplace were unskilled laborers. As woodworkers, I think we can all agree that the difference between an average woodworker and a craftsperson, is often training under a skilled master woodworker.