Woodsmith Survey

I received this email from Woodsmith Magazine today. They asked me to take a short survey, which being a Marketing major I usually oblige because I know that knowing the needs of your target audience can be helpful in understanding your customer base. I didn’t read the email close enough so, I figured the survey would mainly be about what kind of tools I own and what I plan to buy in the next year. Typical woodworking stuff.

So, I click on the link and it sent me to a third party website. It starts off with the usual questions of what’s your age, sex, nationality, etc. Then the next section is about what kind of car you drive and whether you plan on buying a new car in the future. I thought it was a little strange questioning, but I answered figuring it’s not a big deal telling them I drive a Ford Ranger.

But then, the next section starts asking me questions about my financial stability, how much money I had in the bank, and whether I own my own home. I quickly answered “None of your Business” and went onto the next section.

By this time, I was half way through the questioniare when it asked me about my health status and what types of medications I take. There wasn’t even an option not to answer and move forward. That’s when I got pissed off and left the survey.

Why the hell does Active Interest Media want to know about my financial status and my personal health? And why the hell would I tell them what type of medications I’m taking? My employer doesn’t even know what medications I take. How is knowing any of this going to sell more magazines? My guess is that they are planning on having more advertising in their pages in the coming issues and want to know what companies they should try to persuade to advertise in Woodsmith.

My privacy is important to me. I’m sure as hell not going tell you my personal information for a chance to win a $100. Hell, you couldn’t pay me a $100 to devolve that kind of information. I guarentee whomever fills out this survey will be bombarded by spam emails, texts and phone calls from various companies as their personal information will be bought and sold over the open market. What a joke.

Popular Woodworking’s New Look

I received the latest issue of Popular Woodworking today. As soon as I saw the cover, I knew things had changed big time with the magazine. I read on Lost Art Press blog a few weeks ago that Chris Schwarz will no longer write articles for them. That, and the fact that since a lot of the old contributors like Megan Fitzpatrick, Bob Lang, and Glen Huey are long gone, the magazine is a complete a new rag.


The new look just looks like a typical run of the mill woodworking magazine that appeals to the masses. Something like a Woodworker’s Journal or American Woodworker. It definitely lost its old hand tool feel charm. As far as the projects inside, don’t get me started. I asked my wife about the projects in it (basically two of them) and she said “who builds this shit? Why don’t they put furniture in there that people want to make?” It’s been an ongoing conversation with us for years about why I subscribe to woodworking magazines with uninspiring projects in it.


The new look has a lot of photo boxes where they describe what’s going on in the picture. Not a bad idea as it’s kind of the same idea of how I write this blog, but the layout seems a bit impersonal. On the plus side, they did have an article about welding. I’ve always thought that woodworking magazines should focus more on mixed mediums. Plus, Peter Follansbee’s Arts and Mysteries and George Walker’s Design Matters are still there.


I also noticed there are a lot of ads in the magazine for people who are old. From hearing aids, to walk in tubs, to a plethora of ads for medications. Don’t get me wrong, I actually don’t mind ads. If anything I learn from the good ones, but damn, don’t make me feel like I need to go get my dentures fitted.


Did you get your copy? If so, what do you think? Am I being too harsh? Are the days of the old Popular Woodworking concentrating on hand tools techniques long gone? It’s frustrating because Popular Woodworking was my favorite magazine. I guess I’ll have to start subscribing to Mortise and Tenon instead.

My 100th Post

Well this is my 100th post on my blog. I just want to thank all of you who find what I write interesting enough to subscribe to my blog. It was just six months ago when I told everyone that I had 100 followers. Today I have 175 and growing.

I started this blog because for years I’ve always wanted to write a book about restoring antique tools similar to Michael Dunbar’s book Cleaning, Restoring and Tuning Classic Woodworking Tools. It’s been out of print for years and I felt that the it was a side of woodworking that wasn’t paid enough attention to. However, sitting down and writing a book is for the birds as I don’t have the patience for that. I could however take a bunch of pictures of tools I was cleaning up, write about the processes and throw them on a blog. That’s why a lot of my posts are about old tools. I don’t know if I’ll ever write the book about restoring old tools though. I just found out a couple of weeks ago that Popular Woodworking is working on a second edition of Dunbar’s book.

I never thought I would ever get anything out of this blog. I mean sure it would be nice to have some advertising on the side of the page and make a little bit of money off of it. Hell, I’d use the money to pay for my golf league or take my wife out to dinner. But I’m not doing this trying to make a living or make a name for myself. For the most part, no one even knows who I am. I’ve never been mentioned on any other woodworking blogs like Chris Shwarz’s blog or The Wood Whisperer. So the fact that I have 175 followers after a couple of years isn’t half bad.

I did get a call from American Woodworker magazine editor Glen Huey a couple of weeks ago. As you may know, F+W Media which owns Popular Woodworking bought New Track Media a few months ago which owns American Woodworker. With the change over, Glen was appointed to be the editor of Am Wood. He contacted me asking if I would be interested in writing a few articles about making furniture from construction grade material like 2 x 8’s or cheap hardwood like poplar. He has read my blog and was impressed with some of the stuff I’ve been able to make with it and thought it might make a good article for the magazine. I jumped at the chance as writing for woodworking magazines has been a dream of mine ever since I was 11 years old when I bought issue #3 of Wood magazine. I ran down to the corporate office in Blue Ash, OH last week and met with Glen for about an hour. I’m in talks with him right now about some ideas of furniture I could make so, hopefully I’ll have a couple of articles under my belt by the end of the year.

Modern Moxen Vise

A few months ago I wrote about how I attached a Micro Fence to my Bosch Colt plunge router. The link is below:


The tool works great but I wished I had some sort of guide system to make routing tenons even easier. Then one day as I was cleaning up my shop, I came across a Popular Woodworking magazine I had stashed away. The issue was from Oct, 2012 and in it was an article about making an improved Moxon vise the writer called Gizmozilla. When I saw it I thought to myself “oh yeah, I forgot about that thing”. I stashed it away because I was planning on making it some day and since that I had the Colt plunge router, now would be a perfect time.

The writer of the article, Kenneth Speed, used maple to laminate a beam that was 3 1/2″ square by 4 feet long. I knew that was a little too big for me since I was using a small trim router instead of a big plunge router, so I milled a 4×4 to 2 1/2″ x 3″ x 3′ long.

I then built the trough system that would guide my Micro Fence fence. This was the most difficult part of the project because I needed to make sure that the trough of my fence was loose enough for my router to move freely, but not too loose that it would create slack completely defeating the purpose of using the Micro Fence. After a couple of attempts, I had the right thickness to make it work.

I then had to route a couple of grooves in the beam to accept T-tracks that I bought from Rockler. Those things didn’t come cheap as I paid nearly $20 a piece for them but I wanted to have adjustable stop blocks the same way Kenneth had. I also attached feet to the ends by laminating a couple of 3/4″ scrap plywood together. I have a couple of holes drilled through my workbench about four feet apart so I can hold the fixture to my bench with a couple of hold fasts.

Kenneth used store-bought knobs to hold the stops tight to the fixture but, I wanted to try to make my own so I grabbed some scrap maple, a 1 1/4″ hole saw, and drilled out six plugs to create little knobs.

Once the plugs were cut, I traced around a 1/4″ nut with a pencil and gently carved out the inside with a 1/4″ chisel.

After the area was all carved out, I inserted a nut and shaved three sides of the circle on my disc sander to create a soft triangular-shaped knob. Once all six knobs were made, I used some five-minute epoxy and glued the nut inside the knob so it wouldn’t slip out during use. The bolts that they are threaded to are nothing more than 1/4″ carriage bolts with modified squared off heads to pass through the T-track.

Kenneth used Jorgensen hold-down clamps and a fancy caul system to hold the wood to the fixture however, I wanted to keep the fixture as simple (and cheap) as possible so I simply use a couple of Jorgensen F-style clamps to hold the wood to the fixture.

Everything looks good but I needed to see how well it worked. I took a couple of pieces of scrap wood and placed a loose tenon over the joint and marked where I wanted the tenon.

I transferred those marks around the edges of the wood so I could then gauge where the router needed to cut. I also marked the “face” on each piece so I knew in which direction the piece needed to be place on the fixture so that the face of the boards would line up evenly.

I set the stop blocks where they needed to be and made a test cut while placing the face of the work piece on the inside of the fixture. Everything looked good on both pieces and fitted together nicely. This joint was super fast and easy to create!

The beautiful thing about using the Micro Fence is that if I do need a thicker tenon, I simply use the brass stops on the sliding bar of the fence to limit the travel of the router on the Y axis.

I now have accurate three-dimensional cutting availabilty using this fixture. The fence stops act as the X axis, the Micro Fence guide rails act as the Y axis, and the plunge router base acts as the Z axis.

Much like Kenneth’s Gizmozilla, the fixture can be used as a regular Moxon vise for cutting dovetails by hand or with a power router when I use my Keller Dovetail System.

This was a super simple fixture to make and it has already been very useful in my shop building a couple of outdoor benches. I’m sure it will be the most valuable jig/fixture I have ever made.