Stickley Sideboard Class

by Dale on August 11, 2013

If you have been wanting to build the sideboard this year, now is the time to do it. The sideboard is very similar to the modern factory made one by the L. & J.G., Stickley Co.

only better…MB-skiley side bar

Their construction method has the gallery on the back as an add-on piece – attached to the top. Ours is like the old, original with tall legs in the back. Our top is one inch thickness, for a heavier look. We use old fashioned mortise locks on the doors, and top quality pulls on the drawers (dovetail, of course).

We also do the butterfly inlays in the wood of your choice. It is a hybrid technique with a trim router and hand tools. We will also make quadrilinear legs for beautiful quartersawn white oak on all four sides.

You will learn the classic mortise & tenon joint, used throughout the project. Making and fitting panel doors, and panelized carcase construction. Inlay procedures, making and fitting drawers, attaching solid wood tops and more. When you complete this sideboard in six days you will have acquired the skills to build many, many different similar complex carcases; end tables, coffee tables, dining tables, and the list goes on.

I won’t be offering this class on next year’s schedule. So it’s the time to build it, learn more woodworking skill in the process and have a lot of fun at the same time. The dates are August 26 – 31st. There is now only room for two students, so sign up today. The class instruction fee and materials = $1050 plus state sales tax.

This class is fine for beginner’s level. You may not think you could build this but with good instructions and a small class of 4 or less this is no problem, just fun. And when you complete the project you will no longer consider yourself a beginner. There are many ‘intermediate’ level craftsman who would benefit from this class as well.

So many of us are self-taught which at times leaves some gaps in our training. Taking classes and building new projects fill in those gaps with solid knowledge and experience.

You will come away with an heirloom piece of furniture, and a new confidence in your skill level so that your next project of the future will be amazing!

Sign up  on our school page or call me, your instructor; Dale at 812-723-3461 if you have any questions regarding the class. For this class we need to order the materials soon to be here for the class start time.


Glues – Part 2: Hide Glue

by Dale on August 7, 2013

Hide glue, old brown glue, liquid hide glue, etc., these names are for the glue that used to be used exclusively for furniture,mb3-orange bookbinding, musical instruments, and it still is. Hot hide glue is made out of old horse hides, cow hides, and hooves. These are the parts of animals not edible.

The hot hide glue comes in dry granules or pellets and have to be soaked in water overnight and then heated in a glue pot made for the purpose. The only thing I use this type of glue for is making roll tops for desk, etc., and for hammer  veneering. (Subject for future blog)

This glue is reversible. Steam or hot water will soften it for disassembly. Possibly why it is used in making guitars, violins, and wooden stringed instruments. I have found that very old antique furniture is glue with this type glue.

Now if you were re-gluing an antique that was glued with hide glue, you wouldn’t have to clean off all the old glue if you use new mb11liquid hide glue to re-glue the piece. But using any other glue type you would have to clean the old glue off with hot water and then let it dry out completely.

There have been tests of different glue types for strength. Hide glue when dry in a good joint is stronger than the wood itself. Just asmb_gluebottles strong as common aliphatic  resin glue, such as white or yellow carpenters glue (Titebond, Elmers, etc.)

This was something I was very glad to learn because hide glue sets up slowly allowing you plenty of time for complex glue ups and letting you get all clamps tight before the glue seizes.

In my classes we use liquid high glue for just that reason. It takes most of the stress out of glue ups. The only downside is that you must leave the clamps on for about eight hours minimum or overnight. We also use other glues, but for complex glue ups its liquid high glue every time.

One last note on this glue.  It has a shelf life of about 1 year or so.  Recently I used some and it was still liquid after drying overnite.  I checked the date on the bottle and it was 3 years old.  So now I am careful to use fresher glue.


Which Glue is for You? Epoxy Part 1 of 4

by Dale on July 13, 2013


Epoxy is a two-part process.

1.) One part is a resin and

2.) the other part is the hardener.

Both parts must be mixed together, right before use. Some epoxy dries fast by design, like five-minute epoxy, and others are slow drying (20 – 30 minutes). You must mix these two parts together in the proper ratio.

Most epoxies are a 50-50 mix, but the more advanced or sophisticated epoxies use different ratios. They sell pumps which pump the correct amount automatically. This is the method I use for slow dry epoxy.MB_glue cans

  • When cured epoxy is 100% waterproof, I use epoxy on outdoor projects and sometimes for exterior doors. The slow dry product gives you plenty of time to get everything together and clamped. I also use epoxy when re-gluing chairs of lesser quality. It is also a good gap filler and it dries quite solid.
  • Squeeze-out with epoxy is unfortunately, somewhat difficult to clean up. You must use a solvent to clean it off wood. I used denatured alcohol or lacquer thinner and after everything dries I re-sand up to the glue joint.
  • The gap filling ability of epoxy will often come in handy. I also color my epoxy with fresco colors and thicken it with sanding dust. I use a five-minute epoxy thickened and colored for an excellent wood filler to fill knots, dents, holes and chips.

One of the many attributes of the filler is its staying power. It will never fall out, as other fillers may.MB_glue jars

Although it does take a lot longer than five minutes to dry enough to sand it off, it is well worth the wait. Usually it takes about one hour to dry completely.

If you cut a tendon too loose for a mortise, you can use thickening epoxy to glue the joint and it will hold very well. Just let the epoxy cure for at least 24 hours before you remove the clamps.

Epoxy will also bind just about anything.
It will glue glass, ceramic, steel (as in JB weld), leather, and brass. I have used it to make three-piece lamination doors, laminated rockers, ceiling beams (arched), laminated pedestals with steel cores, and many other kinds of demanding situations. I think it is the strongest, most waterproof glue available. Wooden boat builders, use it all the time, where a glue failure could be fatal in a storm on the ocean.

You can also use it in special applications to totally seal a door or outdoor bench. Encasing the wood in epoxy, waterproof, and stopping the word from expanding and contracting. This is what we use on outdoor cabinets, and some outdoor furniture and doors.

The epoxy won’t hold up to the UV light from the sun so you will have to coat the epoxy with a marine grade varnish of several coats. It must have UV inhibitors in the varnish, and you must use five coats or more. It’s all very time-consuming and expensive, which is why few people use it. But it will last five years or more and only needs a few touchups to keep it looking good.

****You should also wear gloves. If you don’t you can develop an allergy to the epoxy.

Another tip:
When using epoxy as a gap filler; you should first coat both surfaces with a thickened epoxy. This will make sure the epoxy gets a good “bite” on the raw wood, making it even stronger.

I like epoxy, I buy it by the gallon. It does have a long shelf life and although it can sometimes become too thick to pour out or to pump, just put it into a double boiler and once heated it will become thin again. Allow the epoxy to become cool then mix it as in the beginning. If you have questions about any aspect of epoxy, just ask in the comments below.

Build and Bond…


This is way cool and I invite you to check this out!

A recent student chronicled his 9 days at one of our Master Woodworking Classes.
Click here to read this student’s experience:

Josh’s diary was part of a Lilly’s Endowment Grant for the “Teacher Creativity Fellowship Program”.

Please read about his adventure, “Interconnected Community: A Woodworker’s Conversations with Trees” Great stuff!

In Josh’s own words:

I wanted to thank you again for the great experience. You taught me so much, and I’m very grateful. Not only did I learn so much, but you made me feel welcome in your shop and I never once thought “I don’t belong here.” shapeimage_4

MANY times since I got home, I’ve caught myself looking at the clock still in shock that I actually made that!

So, again, thank you. I really hope to be able to come down again in the near future for another class. I hope you’re enjoying your “week off!”

My blog that I’m keeping through this whole grant process is at if you want to check it out and see everything I put up while I was down there!

It’s actually nice for me to go back, read it, and refresh some of the details!
Thank you!

For this same experience, sing up for one of my Classes: Click here.

PS: Don’t forget you can bring a Buddy (male or lady) and get a discount.

Bond and Build!!!

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Aim for the Best with One of my Classes

by Dale on May 29, 2013

Last week and weekend, our school had two full classes – back to back. We had a great group of like-minded students making it a fun and enjoyable class. The plan was to complete the Thorsen Table in five days, then put the stain, and finish on the tables in the Fearless Finishing class.

Well, it was an ambitious goal, and when top quality is top priority, it just did not happen. We were not willing to compromise the quality of the finishing class to reach the goal of total completion.A fun and enjoyable class

Once this became apparent to students and instructor the decision not to rush the finish on the tables in order to attain the original goal was easy.

This type of decision comes up in a professional woodworking shop all the time.

Sometimes the time factor must take a back seat to the quality of the furniture. When you consider the fact that a piece of fine furniture will last well over 100 years, then an initial delay of a few days is insignificant.

Most clients understand this concept and will say that they would rather have the furniture as good as possible rather than to rush the job to meet a deadline. That takes the stress off the artist and frees him or her up to concentrate totally on the task. This changes the question from “how good is good enough?” to “is this as good as possible?”

This is the real reason we build furniture in the first place.Go home with new friends and furniture

The mass produced furniture made in most modern factories hears the statement, “That’s good enough; we have to get this done and out the door to make a profit.”

However, our furniture workshop classes hears the statement, “Wow, that’s perfect, you did an excellent job!” or “This needs a bit more work here, you can do it.”

Aim for your best!”

Learn more about my classes here:

Please contact me with any comments and questions!


Trimming Tenons to Fit Mortises

by Dale on May 13, 2013

The Easy and Inexpensive Way

Making tenons on a table saw with a dado blade and sled is the way I make them fix exact. However, occasionally they end up a bit too tight.

Recently I read an article that said you have to have a shoulder plane for this task. A shoulder plane costs over 100 dollars. I do have a shoulder plane, tuned and sharpened and a shoulder block plane as well. They are quick and accurate and I used them many times for this task.

Nevertheless, it’s a bit tough to take an exact amount off the entire tenon equally and you usually end up with a slightly irregular tenon. In addition, this method takes some experience to master, even to get acceptable result.

Well, when I started teaching, this problem comes up all the time. I didn’t want to spend one full day teaching the shoulder plane and having students practice for hours so I came up with a solution that is fills the need so well that I don’t use my shoulder plane now.Dale two

That is unless the tenons are excessively thick. I make accurate sanding blocks and a few passes with the block on one or both sides quickly bring the tenon to fit perfectly.

Here is How I Make the Blocks:

Dale one
First, purchase a roll of 80-grit 4.5″ wide self-adhesive sandpaper.

Then make blocks out of plywood, 2.5″ wide x 4 5/8″. These measures are the exact width of the self-adhesive sandpaper, so be sure and measure it. Then stick the blocks to the paper like the photo above.

Trim the sides exactly on the edge and do both sides. Now, use the block on your tenons. With no sandpaper on edges to mess up the shoulders of the Dale threetenons and the paper sands right up to the corner you’ll have success.

This is easy and accurate and a problem no more.

I love it and I think you will as well. Please leave me your comments or questions.


Dale Barnard Stickley Clock

by Dale on May 10, 2013


In a previous blog I explained why you need a dozen or so bowed clamping cauls. Here I am going to give easy instruction for how to make them:MB_one_4png

You will need some scrap 2 x 2 or 1 ½ x 2 or even ¾ x 2 and about 4’ long.  The 4’ width works for most tabletops and for anything smaller than four feet.

After jointing and planing, ripping these boards and cutting them all the same length. I mark the 4 sides. I the center of the length say at 2 feet. Then I mark another one all around at one foot, or ¼ of the length.

Next I decide which side I want to make the bow on and go to the jointer and taper joint it from about the center of the space between the one foot and two foot mark at about 18 inches from the end. Flip the caul and do the same taper cut from the other end. (Set jointer to take about 1/16” off)

Then I taper joint again starting at the 12” mark and off the end, flipping it around and doing the other side.MB_two

Now the last part, I taper joint again at about the 6” mark from the end and off the end, flip and do the other side or the caul. Now you have a rough curve on one side of the caul, but it has flat spots. To fair out the curve you could use a hand plane, but since I have an edge sander I just sand the bow into a nice curve on the sander.

This isn’t a perfect system and there are more accurate ways to achieve this, but for me the time saved by this method is worth the irregularities and I have about 50 of these that I made this way and they have served me well over the years.MB_Untitled-3

Cauls can get lots of glue on them. I kept the surface that touches the glue well waxed for years. Occasionally touching up the surface on the edge sander.

But about a year or two ago I cleaned them all on the edge sander making sure even the wax was sanded off. I put a run of ordinary packing tape on the bowed side.

Now I don’t have to mess with waxing them anymore. The tape lasts a lot better than I thought. It lasts well over a year even with almost daily use.MB_four

Also mark an arrow on the side pointing to the bowed side to make sure you always know which end is up.

Please leave me your comments and/or questions. I look forward to hearing from you.


There are certain tasks that every woodworker will have to perform on a regular basis. I have decided to address these specific chores in different blogs. This one deals with making narrow boards wider as in making wide table tops, door panels, or for other reasons. It is a chore that is done so often in my shop that I have developed a foolproof simple system that I use almost every week.

It doesn’t require special set-ups or any techniques that the average fifth grader can’t do.MB_fund_IMG_7624

1.) To align the edges even with each other I use bowed or slightly curved cauls on the top and bottom of the boards to be glued together. I will tell you how to make these “cauls” in a later blog. I use these cauls instead of bowels or biscuits, or splines because it is just as strong and is much simpler and faster. I have a set of carpenter horses, which I set up parallel to my jointer. I then set several bowed cauls perpendicular to the horses with the bows facing up. (As shown in the photo)

2.) Next I line up the boards to be glued together on top of these cauls, with the best face up-or however I want it to look after gluing together. I look at color and grain and try to make the lines flow into a nice looking panel.

3.) Then I take the first board and edge joint the right side first. I turn the board so the face is against the fence. After jointing the right side MB_ #1IMG_7619I turn the board so the bottom side is against the fence. Then I set the board back on the cauls and pick-up the next board. The board is right edge down and the face against the fence, left edge down and bottom against fence.  Continuing in this fashion with the rest of the boards needed for the project.

This method makes the final panel flat and any amount out of square the jointer fence has doesn’t matter because it is negated by the next edge being out of square the same amount but in the opposite direction.

4.) After jointing all the mating surfaces I dry fit to make sure all is tight. Now I get more cauls ready to place on the panel after gluing. I usually turn the boards on edge and only apply a nice bead of glue on one edge of each joint. I MB_#2IMG_7620don’t smooth it out or anything else. Just lay the board back down flat and push it against its mating neighbor. After all the edge joints have been glued and pushed together, I place the other bowed cauls on top curve facing down lined up with the one below and clamp then together on each end.

The bow on each caul facing each other puts pressure on the panel boards to line them up.

5.) Now, working quickly I use pipe clamps to draw everything tight. If you line the screw of the pipe clamp with the center of the edge it will put even pressure on the panel, keeping it flat. The bowed cauls also keep it flat. Now need to put clamps on both sides of the panels. I usually use yellow glue for this, regular Titebond, but any brand will work just fine.MB_#3IMG_7621

6.) I leave it in the clamps for about one hour. Then remove the clamps and scrap squeeze out off before final curing.

I have glued many hundreds of panels, tabletops, shelves, etc. for over 35 years and never had any fail. Well one did cause trouble when I used powdered glue that had expired and they all failed, but that was my fault. (Glue it or lose it…)MB_#4IMG_7623

Using enough pipe clamps is essential for a 450 line from the screw on both the sides drawn on the face will put pressure on every joint. This system is fast, easy and inexpensive and works.

If you are enjoying making furniture this tip will help you appreciate the craft even more.

Next time: How to Make the Bowed Cauls, also called Bow Clamps.


1-2-3, WIPE

by Dale on April 1, 2013

About 35 years ago, I received my first multiple chair job. There were four matching ladder back spindle chairs, round rungs everywhere but the slats in the back. These chairs were badly in need of refinishing and some re-gluing. It wasn’t really that difficult. I wasn’t worried about it at all.

Well, all went well until they were all stripped, sanded, re-glued and ready for finishing. My older brother, Barney, had recently used a new (at that time) finish and he recommended it to me. It was called 2-3-4. It’s simple to apply, you just use a clean shop cloth and wipe on the material in the can marked #1. Then after a few minutes to allow as much of the goo to soak in the raw wood: Wipe it off with a clean cloth. Leave it alone over night. Then repeat the process with the can marked #2. Another night of rest and once again, wipe on thick, wait – wipe it off from can #3. The next day: buff it all with another clean cotton cloth, apply paste wax and buff again.MB_dalechair33_best

I’ve since learned a universal name for the 1-2-3 products is wiping varnish. I mean WIPING, Wiping, wiping, wiping, wiping, and more wiping varnish.

Well, I though it seemed simple enough and the small jewelry box Barney used it on looked great. So I decided to try it. After I spent about 20 minutes on the first chair, I wiped it really hard to force the thinning varnish into the pores of the wood. Then I had to wipe the sweat of my brow and other areas! It was hard work. This is why they call it wood “work” ing.

And I knew I had 3 more chairs to do and each chair had to be done 3 times each including the paste wax. As I looked at the work before me, I was glad it wasn’t twelve marching chairs. There was no other solution but to forge ahead. I had to wipe down a chair 16 times to complete this job. That famous phrase rushed to mind, “There has to be a better way!”

I looked to the industry. How do the manufactures solve this problem? They are finishing hundreds of chair every day and making a profit! I found out that they spray the chairs with lacquer, nitrocellulose lacquer. That would probably cut the time to less than one hour on a typical chair and the finish is flawless.

Understanding lacquer and everything about it became my quest. Well, it’s been quite a long journey for me and lacquer. I’ve been learning, using, experimenting, trying this and that, purchasing different spray equipment such as air MB_daleandguncompressors, filters, dryers, thinners, retarders, flattening pastes, colored lacquers, Japan dryers, the list of terms goes on and on.  Thousands of hours reading, learning, and thousands of dollars spent on equipment.

All learned the hard way – by doing the job and solving problems when they occur. If you are a woodworker who is setting sick and tired of wiping on, wiping off and you are at the point where I was 35 years ago. Have I got a deal for you!

I teach a weekend finishing class that is called Fearless Finishing. It’s a class where I share and teach what I’ve learned about finishing in 35 years organized into a hand’s on workshop of only two days, including a simplified booklet with all the information you need in outline form.

You will learn all about every type of wood stain, finishing systems, shellac, varnish, lacquers, catalyzed finishes, etc. and spraying techniques and equipment to get you out of the wiping world.

You will learn how to put professional finishes on your projects in less than half the time of the 1-2-3 wiping varnishes method.

Check out this class in my May, Workworking Class Calendar.