Saturday, April 20, 2013

Days 4 & 5 of Practical Woodworking

Another Practical Woodworking class comes to a close today but not before they learned all about routers and sanding (and today, finishing)! As I mentioned in my last update, Rob holds a "Router University" on Day 4 of the class. This is when the details of the table begin to take on the shape, design, and uniqueness of it's maker. He tells them how to use the plunge router to add detail to the edges of table tops and how  to create templates and cut out designs from the edge of the skirt boards or into the face of the skirt boards. It's amazing all the things that this one tool can really accomplish.

We teach students to use batten strips, a nail, and clamped sanding blocks to create a natural and symmetrical curve wherever it is desired. For the table made in this class, curves are commonly cut along the bottom edge of skirt boards. After the curve is traced, they use the band saw to cut out the curve and then go on to the sanders and block planes to smooth it out. It's just one of the many detail options we introduce to students for their skirt boards. We also have a router table with a beading bit as well as the option to draw your own design to trace and cut out!

Cooped with router day is sanding day. I find that sanding day is a day of relief for students as they have fitted their mortises and tenons, assembled their tables without glue, and are pleased to see the project coming together. From there, they can take to the sanding pavilion. Here, they get the run down on sanding machines, paper, and technique. Then, they are turned lose to tackle one of the final stages of their table completion. We use random orbit sanders and four stages of sanding with 80, 120, 180, and 220 grit paper for a nice, smooth surface ready for finish.

Another detail that is introduced during the 4th and 5th days is leg treatment. Naturally, another set of Jeff original jigs comes into play to cut tapered legs or to router subtle rectangular detail near the feet of the legs. We also introduce the option of using the beading bit on the router table to add a bead to the corners of the legs. Here, you can see Andrew using Jeff's leg-tapering jig on the table saw.

As the final demos begin in the shop as I type, I am proud to know that by the afternoon today, we will have a room full of nearly finished tables and eleven new, happy Lohr School of Woodworking graduates! I will do my best to capture some photos of the tables and their new, fancy looks so you can see what Lohr students are capable of! For now, we are onto the last 8 hours of table construction, gluing, and finishing.

And, on this chilly Friday, I bring you Joie, the ever-entertaining shop dog. She is here to wish our students a very smooth and accomplished final day here at the school. She says, "You guys learned all about the basics of practical woodworking for furniture building in just 6 days?!" Yes, Joie, they did and they did it amazingly well!

For the rest, she is here to wish you a lovely weekend and say, "We haven't seen you at the shop yet. You want to learn about woodworking? Didn't you know that our school is the perfect environment for any type of learner/level of experience?" And on that note, I will return to the group to enjoy our last day of class.

Current students, you have done a wonderful job and we hope you return to the shop in the future! Future students, I hope these entries give you an idea of what to expect and heightens your excitement for your class to begin. Potential students, we hope to see your name on our roster some day soon. And, to the rest, thank you for reading and look out for a new post early next week!


  1. Woodworking machines are really valuable tools in making woodworking really easy and flexible..I really appreciate the advanced efforts made to make it more easier.

  2. Excellent Guide! I'm about to start a router table / saw bench extension and plan to use a similar two-part top / "H" subframe, but I'm a little sheepish about routing out the router plate. Thank you for your good contribution.