Category Archives: Books

Woodturning Books & Dvds

Steel By The Numbers


Click here or on the photo for a PDF file.

Everyone knows about “cold rolled” and “stainless” steel. When you want something else you need to order steel by the numbers. 4140, 1215, etc steel. The steel industry uses a standard set of number to tell you all about the properties of a chunk of steel. How hard it is, tensile strength, easy or hard to machine, etc.

When I am looking around on the McMaster-Carr web site (www.mcmaster.com) for a nice piece of steel. The web site sometimes shows me a nice table that does a great job summarizing the different kinds of steel. (See above photo and PDF.) Other times I can get the web site to show me this table to save my life. I forget I need to search on “about steel” or “about tool steel”.

Steels I Use

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Essential Books & DVDs for Students

Updated: 5/24/2018. Add “Project Books” section and Jordan “The Aesthetics & Properties of Wood” DVD.

Here are the books and DVDs I recommend to students when I teach a class.

You may be able to get these books from your local library, otherwise purchase from  Packard Woodworks Inc or  Craft Supplies USA or Amazon. I often save money by purchasing used books via Amazon.

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Projects at Woodturning Magazine

I recently discovered that the Woodturning Magazine from the UK has some nice projects on the web.  Some of the projects are to simple or clumsy for me, but others are very nice.

Three Spindle Tazza from Woodturning Magazine
Three Spindle Tazza from Woodturning Magazine

I really like the “Print This Page” link at the bottom of each project page.  It allows me to print out all of the photos with captions.   This allows me to take the print outs down to my studio and give them a try.

Under the “Projects” pulldown menu on main page there are  good sub categories for faceplate work, hollow forms, etc.

Note: I don’t like the way their web page links use a database number like “page.asp?p=1943” rather than a page name.   When they change things around the links in this post will probably stop working.  Ugg!

Hard Versus Soft Maple – The Wood Database

The Wood Database - Differences Between Hard Maple and Soft Maple
The Wood Database – Differences Between Hard Maple and Soft Maple

It seems like people always put the word “Hard” before the word “Maple”. So when people tell me they have a nice “Hard Maple” log, I think it is really probably “Soft Maple”.  Because that is what I find when I cut into the log.

Real Hard Maple needs to be species Acer Saccharum. Which is commonly known as Hard, Rock or Sugar Maple. Soft Maple is Silver, Red, Striped, Bigleaf Maple or Box Elder.
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Woodburners & Pyrography

Here is my response to an e-mail asking about woodburners.

I currently own and use a Detail Master Excalibre (the silver one with 2 ports) with lots of different Fixed Tip Detail Master Vented pens (the silver aluminum ones). I also have a couple of Razertip Tips sets that I mount in a Razertip interchangeable tip pen.

If I was buying a new system today I would purchase a Burnmaster Eagle (the red one with 2 ports) with Burnmaster Replaceable Tip Pen and Tips. The 10 tips available from Burnmaster are good for beginners. In the long run you can add more tips by purchasing sets of tips from Razertip.




Currently the $259 Burnmaster Eagle Package available fromwww.packwoodworks.com and other retailers for roughly the same price looks real good to me. I like having 2 pens and only need one set of 10 interchangeable tips.

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