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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If you are a regular visitor to my WoodTreks video blog, you’ve come to expect a new video with each of my blog posts. But with the arrival of the new year, I thought I’d reflect for a moment on the first year of my WoodTreks adventure, the people I’ve met along the way, and most importantly, I want to extend a thanks to all of you who have shared with me, contacted me, and encouraged me in the inaugural year of this blog.

WoodTreks has been in development for a while now. It went “live” and was viewable by the  public in June of 2008. Many viewers have written and told me that I haven’t spent much time talking about myself, my woodworking background, or why I do this.  Well let me start by saying that I’m crazy about woodworking and have been since I was a kid. So, it all starts with that. I still credit my high school shop teachers with guiding and mentoring me. Since then it’s just been decades of reading, learning from others, and the good-old “school of hard knocks”. Like most woodworkers (and probably like you), I’m always learning and I like to learn.

Some viewers are surprised that I haven’t featured any of my wood work on this blog and are curious to know what I make. To answer that, I build solid-wood furniture, some cabinets, and I enjoy architectural cabinetmaking and trim work. My latest project was a custom designed European style cabinetmaker’s bench. This bench makes a cameo appearance in the intro “bumper” to each WoodTreks video segment. Perhaps you’ve seen it?

What really gets me going is learning about you…

What has been most gratify for me in this first year of WoodTreks has been meeting so many people from so many walks of life. It amazes me to know that these videos have touched people from around the world. Many thousands of viewers from dozens of countries have viewed my little videos and some of these viewers reach out to me and share their stories. One viewer from the Netherlands, a former police officer wounded in the line of duty and now confined to a wheel chair, told me that these videos had inspired him to take up the craft once again after years of depression. Another viewer from Brazil, an extraordinarily talented woodworker told me that, in viewing the videos, he felt connected to the larger world of woodworkers beyond his local sphere. This connection inspired him. And many, many more of you have written me and shared your stories and I thank you for that, because in the end, this is what keeps me going.

People often ask me why I do this.

“Why do you spend time and money making these videos and delivering them over the Internet for free?” Well, the answer is a bit nuanced, because it’s both work and play. I do this because I’m passionate about doing it. I’m passionate about wood and I’m passionate about digital filmmaking & the Internet. And of course, I like to meet people and am gratified by helping them. I’m also an Internet entrepreneur that can’t sit still. Over the years I’ve been involved in several internet-based businesses that often grew out of experimental projects. So I guess I might include WoodTreks among my pet projects. Whether it will have some commercial future, or will remain a low-key labor of love and incubator of other entrepreneurial ideas to explore, only time will tell.

Before I wrap this up, there are many people to thank…

I’d like to bring special attention to the many woodworking bloggers who have been so very kind to me. Unfortunately, there are just too many to mention easily here (but I do list them on my “Friends, Fans, and Fellow Bloggers” links page). Many of these guys and gals have reached out and given me a boost just when I needed it. One example is Mitchell, a retired photographer and now a passionate woodworker. Mitchell (see his The Part-Time Woodworker Blog) has turned out to be a wonderful sounding board, a behind-the-scenes advocate & promoter of WoodTreks, and just an all around pleasant online friend. Thanks Mitchell and thanks to the rest of you (you know who you are) for reaching out, encouraging me, and helping me in so many ways.

Lastly, before I sign off, I’d like to extend a special thanks to the talented artisans who you’ve seen and come to know in my current library of video releases. First, a special thanks to Don Leman (and his wonderful wife Sharon) for trusting me to film Don’s talents early in the launch of this site, when WoodTreks had no “track record” and not much to show. And thanks also to Craig Vandall Stevens, Mark Damron, Todd Felpel, Brad Ramsay, Jeff Williams, John Reed Fox, Michael Hoffmeier, Dave Crossen, Eric Matson, and finally last but certainly not least, gracious hosts Rick & Brian Hearne. (Also thanks to artisans Rick Pratt and Johnathan Sanbuichi who will appear in soon to be released videos.) You guys are just fantastic!

So in closing, let me say that this has been a truly adventurous year of fun for me as we’ve discovered, together, more of the wide world of wood. Thanks for joining me in the journey and I look forward to spending more time with you in the year ahead. So as we enter the new year, please stay in touch, offer your insights, ask questions and share with one-another. I wish you and yours the very best in the year ahead.

Happy New Year!

Keith Cruickshank

Thanks guys, so much, for your feedback and insights! (To see comments click here)

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