A friend of mine saw a bookcase in a woodworking magazine. She knows all about my workbench and my woodworking YouTube videos so she knew that this would be an easy project for me.  So, she asked me to make one for her grandchildren.

Gluing the apron and the cleats on to the top

Her grandchildren, Billy and Alex live in another state with their mother and my friend was going to deliver the bookcase to them.  Actually, that was my biggest challenge on this project because she was leaving in 2-1/2 days so this was definitely a rush job!  After I agreed to do it, she asked me if I could make 2 of them.  I try to be a nice guy, but I couldn’t commit to 2 bookcases in 2 days!

Test fitting the pieces

She wanted the boys to be involved in construction of the bookcase, so I had to build it as a kit rather than a finished piece.  I had this in the back of my mind the whole time I was building it and I made sure that assembly would be easy and as fool proof as possible.

Zippy with the bookcase before I disassembled it and sent it off to the boys for finishing

I  don’t normally work from plans in magazines, but having the dimensions all laid out for me did make it a lot easier!  Of course, I did stray just a bit from the original plan. The plan in the magazine called for solid wood construction and used a combination of pocket screws and dado joints. I kept the dado joints, but ditched the pocket screws. I also made it from cherry plywood and added solid cherry edge-banding. Also, the one in the magazine had 3 shelves and I made this one with 4 shelves so it is taller than the one in the magazine.

After the boys got it they glued it and clamped it together, they nailed the back on and they applied a wipe on polyurethane finish.

It turned out quite well, especially since it was such a rush job!

Billy and Alex with completed bookcase

Woodworking in America Video

I attended Woodworking in America for the first time this year and I had a BLAST!  I met so many woodworkers, makers, YouTube content creators, and friends fromFacebook that my head was spinning, figuratively speaking!

The Woodworking Podcast Meetup during Woodworking in America

I signed up for the classes, but I had so much fun meeting people that I spent most of my time in the Marketplace.

Amazing collection of infill planes at the Woodworking in America Marketplace

Lie Nielsen and Lee Valley tools had large booths and I couldn’t resist buying a 45 degree saddle square at the Lee Valley booth. Unfortunately, the saddle square is on back order.

One of my favorite booths was the Rare Woods booth.  I like to keep a supply of black colored wood on hand for marquetry and accent pieces, but of course, that is usually pretty expensive and hard to find, too.  Rare Woods was selling 1-1/2″ x 1-1/2″ x 17″ blackwood blanks for $7 each and I bought 6 of them!  I also picked up a 4″ x 29″ piece of ebony for $20.  I have no immediate plans for them, but I know I will use them on something!

Ebony and Blackwood from the Rare Woods booth

Certainly, one of the high points of the entire event was the Hand Tool Olympics.  This is an event put on by Mike Siemsen of Mike Siemsen’s School of Woodworking.  The event consists of three different hand tool activities.  First is hand cut dovetails, second is crosscutting a board, and third is rip cutting and planing a board.  Each of the activities is judged by speed and accuracy.  I did just OK with ripping a board and just terrible with the hand cut dovetail, but I got the BEST SCORE for SPEED and ACCURACY for CROSSCUTTING A BOARD!  And, the prizes were GREAT!  I won a Knew Concepts Coping Saw and a holdfast from Gramercy Tools!

Me with Mike Siemsen after winning two cool prizes at the Hand Tool Olympics during Woodworking in America

There were lots and lots of great classes to choose from and I wish I had attended more of them!  Chris Schwarz, Mary May, Roy Underhill, Shannon Rogers, and many more.  My personal favorite was Matt Cremona‘s presentation on Risk Mitigation in Woodworking.  One of his main points was to pay attention to what matters and the parts that will actually show.  For example, don’t get too worked up about the inside of a mortise and tenon joint.

Matt Cremona presenting at Woodworking in America

I live in the Twin Cities and WIA was in Cincinnati so I chose to drive there.  I didn’t know what else to do with Zippy so I brought him with!  He loves riding in the car and he stayed with my Uncle while I was at the conference.

Zippy in the car on the way to Woodworking in America

Actually, the drive down there and back were quite eventful for me.  On the way down I stopped in Bloomington, Illinois and spent the day with Andy Birkey.  Andy is one of a kind, and I mean that in a (very) good way! Of course I interviewed him while I was there and that should be on my YouTube channel sometime in October.

Andy Birkey, the Big Guy, and me

On my way back from the conference I visited both Guy Dunlap and James Wright.  I got a nice shop tour and chatted with each of them for a while.

Visiting James Wright’s shop in Rockford, Illinois

Visiting Guy Dunlap of Guys Workshop

I also stopped by Nick Ferry‘s shop and hung out with him for most of the day.  What a fun guy he is!  Expect to see an interview on my YouTube channel sometime late in October.

Charlie Kocourek visiting Nick Ferry after Woodworking in America

Here are some more pictures from my Woodworking in America trip:

Tom Prichard and Me

Tim Holiner

With Ray Mowder of TabLeft Workshop

Nick Ferry at the Hand Tool Olympics during Woodworking in America

Randy Wright

Mike Fulton, Bob Lee and Charlie Kocourek at Woodworking in America

Charlie Kocourek and Juan Vergara with one of his cool infill planes at Woodworking in America

Johnny Brooke of Crafted Workshop and Charlie Kocourek at Woodworking in America

David Proctor, Paul Desmond, Wes Swain, Andy Klein and Charlie Kocourek at Woodworking in America

Gib Clark and Charlie Kocourek at Woodworking in America

Dyami Plotke of Modern Woodworkers Association and Charlie Kocourek at Woodworking in America

Guy Dunlap of Guys Woodshop and Charlie Kocourek at Woodworking in America

Chad Schimmel runs a woodworking business in the Phoenix area and he is one of the few woodworkers I know who earn a good living from it!  Chad does a lot of woodturning, but that is just the start of how he keeps his business going.  Chad revealed some of the secrets to his success during a candid interview with me in February of 2016.

Chad has an 1100 square foot commercial space that includes and office.  He has a laser engraver, a CNC, two metal lathes, and a complete wood shop.  He also hires people to help him with the office work and to assist him in the shop, too.

Charlie and Chad at Schimmel Woodworks in Chandler, AZ

Chad’s primary focus is on extremely fine hand made pens.  He also does one of a kind custom woodworking, but his real passion is designing and making some of the finest pens imaginable!  One of Chad’s many specialties is fountain pens made from vintage watch parts.

Vintage Franck Muller Watch face Fountain Pen

Chad also found a market for pens made from historical materials.

Lambeau Field Bleacher Pen

Chad used wood from Abraham Lincoln’s office for this one!

If you go to Chad’s Impeccable Pen website you will see that he made a point of offering a wide range of products.  One common theme is that he focuses on gift items such as gifts for bridesmaids and groomsmen, gifts for dad, and of course gifts for pen collectors.  He also sells a whole line of pen accessories.

Pen Display Trays

Walnut Fountain Pen Desk Organizer Pen tray

Ah, but how to sell all these great products?  Many if not most of Chad’s sales come through Arts and Crafts shows.  He says you need to create interest in your products and it is important to engage people as they walk by.  He is amazed by the people who go to the trouble and expense to set up a booth at a craft fair and spend their time reading a book or playing on their phone rather than talking to potential customers.

Chad has pens that sell for thousands of dollars!  When I asked him about pricing he said he believes that you need high priced items to sell lower priced items.  If someone sees that you have a $2700.00 pen they might think the $60 pen is a bargain!

Chad also makes sure that he prices his work high enough to ensure that he can make a profit.  This sounds obvious, but many craftsmen don’t actually do this.  You can’t just count the materials in the piece and your time in the shop.  You also must account for vehicle costs, equipment costs, and all the time you spend outside the shop to keep your business alive.  Things like accounting, buying supplies, marketing, time on the computer, and all the other time you spend to keep things going.  Don’t cheat yourself!

Chad Schimmel

Chad is a friendly guy and I enjoyed meeting him.  I was also very impressed by his keen business sense.

Check out my article about how David Marks turns a 400 pound hollow vessel!

YouTube video on Adding Dust Fitting to Circular Saw 

Just about all of us have a circular saw in our workshop, but most of us call them Skillsaws!  These handy little saws have been around since before we were born. The name Skillsaw is a synonymous with circular saws as Kleenex is to tissues.  We buy them, we use them, and we love them.  Unfortunately, very few of these saws allow for any dust collection and the ones that do are either hard to find and/or very expensive.

That is a real shame because managing wood dust and keeping it out of your lungs is pretty important.  None of us want to end up dragging an oxygen bottle around!

I found a very easy way to add a dust fitting to just about any circular saw.  My Skillsaw came with a hole toward the back of the shroud around the blade where the dust shoot out.  My solution was simply to epoxy a small plastic dust fitting over the hole in the shroud.

Skillsaw with dust collection

Dust Port on Circular Saw

Adding the dust fitting to my circular saw was very easy.

Dust Port on Circular Saw

I was able to substantially upgrade my circular saw for less than five dollars!

Dust fitting on Skillsaw

OK, so the  obvious question is “how well does it work?”.  I would be lying if I said that it was as good as a one of the high end saws like a Festool.  But, a Festool will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $600.  If you can afford that, or if you use your saw very frequently then by all means buy a saw with excellent dust collection.  On the other hand, if you can’t justify big money for a saw that you use only once in a while then this little upgrade is a no brainer!