Archive for July, 2012

Who took the “ugh” out of Doughnut? – Yes, woodcarving related

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Back to woodcarving. We’ll do donuts in a minute.

But first, who took the “ugh” out of doughnuts. Dunkin Donuts, that’s who. My wife, the linguist, studies languages, how they merge and get tangled up, and how they change over time. Donut is a perfect example. Within most our lifetimes, the word has evolved, losing the “ugh” which was silent anyway. Thank you Dunkin Donuts. :)

photo of woodcarving featuring two donutsIt doesn’t take long for a woodcarving newcomer to find that wood has grain and that it’s important to understand how to treat the grain. One of Mary May’s begining exercises is a donut. It’s great for teaching how to handle grain. After lowering the background to leave a nice ring of wood, the donut is divided into 4 segments and each segment is marked for the optimal carving direction. There are 8 markings to remember. If you can only remember fewer then 8, too bad. If you fail to remember them, or fail to learn them, your woodcarving experience will forever be like rubbing a cat’s fur the wrong way.

Do it a second time, and it is much quicker. Do it a third or fourth time, and you’ll  know the right directions without needing to mark them first. Do it once a day for a week (it really doesn’t take long) and you automatically start handling grain easily.

Mary has just opened her online “School of Traditional Woodcarving.” The online school is a membership site featuring video lessons from one of the few woodcarving masters that teach. The Donut exercise is one of her beginning lessons. The new school opens with 21 lessons ranging from this simple donut to a variety of carvings on furniture and architectural pieces.  Go on over and take a look. The first 3 days of a new subscription are a no-risk trial period.

Back to Woodworking – a Rip Off

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

What do you call it when an inventor surrounds his invention with 83 patents? Can’t get his invention into production because of the royalties he expects? Goes into business producing the product himself? Gains favorable import tariff legislation by contributing to legislators? Has a hard time selling the too-expensive product to consumers? Then, elbows his way into the market through legislation that mandates use of his invention?

Robert Lang at Popular Woodworking Magazine has done a yeoman’s job of chronicling the entire table saw safety story. His long and complete coverage has been very neutral in tone, probably because he’s a great guy, and is also because he’s clearly interested in providing unbiased information to a broad audience of readers.

Today, Robert tells us that California is on the verge of passing a law that mandates flesh sensing technology on table saws … and the only current producer of such saws is SawStop.

crony handshakeI heartily welcome ANY technology that makes table saws safer. Most woodworkers know how dangerous table saws are, and far too many suffer injuries with them. The SawStop technology certainly makes table saws safer. Yet, I can not stand quietly by while aggressive use of patent law, failed attempts at rational technology adoption, and outright CRONYISM gives one company a government sanctioned monopoly.

My suggestion is to require that any such legislation also include language that requires product availability from 5 or more firms before the law can be enforced.