There is something intoxicating about the process of turning — part by-the-book technical, part a fluid freestyle dance. For flat-work artisans, those of us who make cases and cabinets, it’s easy to see why so many woodworkers are drawn to this fascinating, and some might say hypnotic specialty of the wood world.

On my recent visit to The Irion Company Furniture Makers, I was delighted to meet and learn from Johnathan Sanbuichi, an accomplished cabinetmaker and turner. In this video, Johnathan demonstrates his approach to the turning of flats, beads and coves, the core design elements found on many styles of beds, chairs, tables, and cabinets —— especially 18th and 19th century furniture styles. In this video, Johnathan explains how to use a “story stick” to lay out and create “elevation” guides that mark key points in these types of designs, how to use calipers and a parting tool to rough-in depth cuts on the lathe, and how to work with a skew or spindle gouge. And along the way, we get a few thoughts on Johnathan’s life in woodworking. Now, how’s that for a deal?

I hope you enjoy this informative and mesmerizing little peak into Johnathan’s world of turning. – Keith (7 Minute Woodworking Video)

Johnathan Sanbuichi is a cabinetmaker and turning expert at the The Irion Company, specialists in the restoration, conservation, and hand-made reproduction of American antique furniture from the 18th and 19th century. Irion is based in Christiana, Pennsylvania.

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There are many ways to join pieces of wood, but mortise and tenon joints are the standard against which most alternatives are measured. In this comprehensive video (15 minutes), University of Rio Grande program director Eric Matson explains how mortise and tenon joints are used in typical post-and-rail construction — the type of construction often used in high-quality chairs, tables, and beds. In these applications, vertical posts (or legs) are joined with horizontal rails (or aprons). It’s the perfect application for this traditional joint.

In this video, Eric deconstructs a sample side table to show us how high-quality furniture is designed and built. Learn how to layout mortises for maximum strength, how to incorporate and work with split tenons, how to mark-up twin tenoned mortises, and how to account for reveals, offsets, and non-flush designs. Eric’s systematic approach minimizes errors and helps make layout and construction more efficient. For me, that’s the key point; understanding what makes for consistent, repeatable, quality joints. Armed with the information in this video and careful step-by-step application of what you’ve learned, you can craft better, stronger, faster joints. — (15.5 Minute Woodworking Video)

Eric Matson is the Director of the Fine Woodworking Program at Rio Grand University. Rio Grande offers a one year certificate program, as well as two year associates and four year college degree programs. Graduates have the skills and knowledge to be productive in custom furniture shops and architectural/cabinet shops. Rio Grande (pronounced rye-oh) is in Southern Ohio.

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Sometimes when looking closely through the lens of my camera at a gifted artisan’s working hands, I see movements similar to the supple and exacting hand-motions of a musician. This is especially true when it comes to carving. Woodcarving requires a high-degree of free-hand skill. There are few opportunities to rely on jigs or fixtures. To master the skill, it helps to understand that it’s not simply how a carver slices the chisel’s cutting edge into wood grain, but also how tool grip and hand motion gets transmitted to the sharp end of the tool. If you’re like me, you’ll find this kind of closer examination instructive and inspiring. That’s why I made the video here featuring the Irion Company’s carving expert Brad Ramsay.

Brad is one these naturally gifted artists whose precise and flowing hand movements allow him to wield total control over his work. In this video segment we take a closer look at these motions as Brad explains how he uses his hands in a variety of ways to control his carving tools (chisels, gouges, or sweeps, etc). Among other subtleties, there are five (5) hand grips or motions worth examining in closer detail that increase carving control including; how to add power to your grip, how to use “skewing” motions to cut through difficult grain, how to lock the gouge into your palm & fingers by using your “pinky” or “little” finger, how to form a tool rest with your opposing hand, and how to choke up or down on your grip to alter your leverage and maximize control. — Keith (5 Minute Woodworking Video)

Brad Ramsay is the Irion Company’s in-house carving expert. The Irion Company specializes in the restoration, conservation, and hand-made reproduction of American antique furniture from the 18th and 19th century.

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