Building Without a Plan

I am continuing to work through back issues of the magazine Woodwork and found this quote which I like:

What I enjoy about my work is that because there’s no sketch, you feel much freer about experimenting with where something might go, or how the thing might look.

Michael Cooper in Hardly Davidson by David Colmanissue #49, page 75, paragraph 2

Much of my own work is done without a plan, and I find it very enjoyable and fun to watch the project progress, and even more rewarding to see the end result. I encourage you to try it yourself.

You can find this quote, and many more on my page Quotes from Woodwork.

Power Tools vs. Hand Tools, and When Can You Modify the Design?

I am continuing to work my way forwards through back issues of the since discontinued magazine Woodwork.

If you are proficient with the tools at your disposal, the decision to use either hand tools or power tools can be based on pleasure or efficiency. I use a combination of hand and power tools, and my choice is usually based on which will produce a satisfactory result quicker with less effort.

The machinery is important for sizing and rough shaping, but much of the work in the shop is done with hand planes, chisels and carving gouges. It is not a production shop; handwork is often faster than setting up jigs and machinery for an operation that will only be done once or twice.

Kristian Eshelman in Master Craftsman Robert Whitley, in Woodwork issue #41, page 34, paragraph 4

In another article, the author writes about building a piece inspired by one that he saw, but made changes to suit his needs, aesthetics, and the materials he had available.

In you can appreciate what it is about the original that is so proportionally appealing, by all means change things according to your circumstances and rely on your own eye to preserve the spirit of the original.

Graham Blackburn in A Pepysian Bookcase: A handmade case-on-stand in Woodwork issue #42, page 46, paragraph 3

Read more on my page, Quotes from Woodwork.


More Quotes from Woodwork Magazine

I am continuing to work my way forwards through back issues of the since discontinued magazine Woodwork.

There is some truly fascinating content in these old issues, and one article that comes to mind is Georges Vaufrey’s Wizardly Woodshop. The article describes the processes used by the French company that specializes in producing high quality, precision woodturnings in large volumes (600,000 watch cases in two years, 50,000 pairs of ebony chopsticks a year, for example) with a +/-0.03 to +/-0.05 mm tolerance in hard woods.

The quality of work is partially the result of refined processes and jigs, but human skill is still a key asset.

The Vaufrey sanding system is essentially simple. But in practiced hands, it yields results that defy comparison.

Vaufrey’s sanding methods works beautifully because it puts the operator not the machine, in control of the process.

David and Abram Loft in Georges Vaufrey’s Wizardly Woodshop, issue #35, page 58, paragraphs 1-2

Here are some other interesting quotes I found. Read more on my page, Quotes from Woodwork.

Krenov had asked his students for complete emotional and personal involvement in every aspect of their work, in every detail.

Tom Mcfadden in Ejler Hjorth-Westh ,issue 33, page 37, paragraph 3

Furniture is nothing but practical sculpture.

Michael Cullen in Where Engineering, Art, and Woodworking; Meet: Michael Cullen by Tom Mcfadden, issue 35, page 34, paragraph 3

The reason so much old furniture has survived can be attributed to the fact that hide glue was the only glue available until recently. Furniture repair had to be done with it. Considerable damage has been done to old furniture since the introduction of modern glues, because repairmen can (and usually do) chose to use another glue.

Bob Flexner in Animal Hide Glue, issue 35, page 46, paragraph 8

Featured by Canadian Woodworking Woodworking Magazine

I am featured in Canadian Woodworking Magazine’s June/July issue! Pick up your copy today, get a digital subscription online, or preview the issue on the magazine’s website.


The magazine also produced an accompanying slideshow. Watch it here.

My First Commission Was Also One of My Favourites

My first commission, in 2008, was a 12-foot long bubinga table which later became known as Flow.  It was a part of a backyard renovation in Arizona which was recently featured in a Phoenix Home & Garden article.

Phoenix Home & Garden, September 2013 issue

Phoenix Home & Garden, September 2013 issue

The extensive and elaborate project was led by 2012 Master of the Southwest Morgan Holt of EarthArt Landscape & Design, Inc. and recently, he commented:

My favorite thing by far is the Bubinga Table and the chance to work with and know Chris Wong. We both had fun designing and building the table.

In 2012, Morgan was named as a Master of the Southwest.

I visit him and his family whenever I’m in Phoenix.  Morgan likes taking me to his job sites and showing me what he’s doing.  Aside from appreciation of design, we also share a love of mountain biking and woodworking.


Furniture & Cabinetmaking #210 (October 2013)

September 2013 Furniture & Cabinetmaking

Cover of Furniture & Cabinetmaking #210, from

My latest magazine article, Reading the Grain, was published in the October 2013 issue of United Kingdom’s Furniture & Cabinetmaking.  For this article, I teamed up with my friend, Charles Mak, (we first collaborated on an article published in the March 2012 issue of Australian Wood Review).

The article starts by explaining different ways to tell the direction of the grain and why it may affect how you work the wood.  Also covered are different tools, blades, techniques and setups to cope with end grain, difficult grain patterns and intersecting components.

According to the magazine’s website, the article is available for download from your Android device, iPhone or iPad via iTunes.  You can also order a hard copy from their site.


News About Woodworking Magazines

The December/January issue of Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement is now on newsstands.  If you’ve been following my blog for at least a year, one of the three pictures at the top of the cover should look familiar.


On the Contents page, we see that I have an article, Make a Wooden Bow on page 16.  Also, on page 28 is another of my articles, Shop Skills: Working Without Numbers.


This video preview shows some of the issue’s content in a different format.  (2:29).

In related news, Woodwork, my other favourite magazine, is now on newsstands.  Currently, only one issue is printed per year.  I highly recommend that you find yourself a copy.

Dale J. Osowski’s copy of Woodwork


New Quotes from “Woodwork”

The magazine simply titled Woodwork is by far my favourite.  The latest issue, #118 – Winter 2012, is on magazine stands now and I strongly recommend that you look for it.  (It is also available in the American Woodworker Online Bookstore.)

Woodwork #118 - Winter 2012

Woodwork is a different magazine.  Instead of focusing on step-by-step projects, it showcases woodworkers and their work.  Read more of my thoughts on Woodwork HERE.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the annual issue and gleaned four excellent quotes from its pages.  You can find these and more on the page titled Quotes from Woodwork (Resources -> Quotables -> Quotes from Woodwork).

* * * * *

“My work is a reflection of what is going on in my life.  You take a pathway that leads to consequences, both good and bad.  Work will reflect that if you trust your intuition.” – Todd Hoyer

Todd Hoyer: Pathways and Choices by Terry Martin in Woodwork #118, p. 30, ¶6

* * * * *

“If a woodworker is going to break from traditional construction, it behooves him to understand it and think through the consequences of any novel approaches.” – Rob Porcaro

The Design Journey: How to Turn an Idea into a Finished Piece by Rob Porcaro in Woodwork #118, p. 36, ¶6

* * * * *

“Obstructions lead to creativity.” – Stephen Gleasner

Visions in Plywood: The Plyscapes of Stephen Gleasner by Patrick Downes in Woodwork #118, p. 48, ¶10

 * * * * *

“From the time he started his own workshop in the 1960s, Alan [Peters] worked long and hard to prove that one could still earn a living in the contemporary world by building useful, beautiful furniture with integrity, one piece at a time, and he prided himself on making furniture that was priced within reach of working people like himself.” – Peter Korn

Thinking With Things: Design as Discovery by Peter Korn in Woodwork #118, p. 63, ¶7

Published in May 2007 Issue of Canadian Home Workshop

Last summer, Jodi Avery MacLean, the Managing Editor of Canadian Home Workshop Magazine (CHW) contacted me asking if I was interested in building them a whirligig.  Truth be told, I was hoping that they’d ask me to build them a piece of furniture such as a side table or dresser, but I was excited nonetheless and promptly responded with a resounding “yes”.  I took a few days to get my grand idea together.  I was familiar with whirligigs though I had never built one.  I knew that there were two main types:  simple and complex mechanical.  Simple whirligigs typically consist of a body with two propellers on the sides for arms or legs.  Mechanical whirligigs use a propeller connected to a camshaft to control one or more characters and are much more elaborate and time consuming to construct.

Given that this is my first assignment for the magazine, I knew that I had to make a strong impression and immediately cast aside the idea of a simple whirligig.  I scan through the books in my local library revealed no shortage of ideas and plans for a mechanical whirligig.  However, trying to impress, I decided to design my own whirligig from scratch.  My grand idea was to have a scene from the wood shop:  one woodworker uses a jack plane to surface a board while the other chops a mortise in another board.  With the idea fresh in my mind, I drew up a quick sketch which I later turned into a 3D model using a CAD program called Rhinoceros 3D.  I sent a screenshot of my idea off to Jodi to be reviewed and turned my attention to working out the details.

The building went surprisingly well, although it took a bit of patience to get everything working smoothly.  The idea of having my project published, however, was more than enough of an incentive to keep working at it (If you want the details of how to build it, check out the magazine!).

Once the building was complete, the writing began.  I began by making detailed notes, documenting every step involved.  Then I took those notes and converted them into sentences and paragraphs – the first draft was complete!  Eight drafts later, I had an article which I was completely happy with.  I sent a copy off to Jodi at Canadian Home Workshop electrically and mailed the whirligig across the country from Port Moody, BC to Toronto, ON.  Upon receipt of my handcrafted work of art, the staff at Canadian Home Workshop were very impressed.  Mission accomplished!

About a month and a half ago, I started working together with Jodi Avery MacLean and Steve Maxwell (CHW’s technical editor) to edit the article and illustrations.  I compared Draft 9 with the final draft and only found a handful of changes the folks a CHW had made.  And each edit was minor – adding or changing a word here and there.  This meant that the nine drafts I had meticulously pored over for so many hours had been worth every minute, with the result being an article which I can call my own.  It was just a matter of time before the magazine with my article hit newsstands nationwide – and that time has arrived!

Get your copy today!