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elcome to the Workshop Companion, a web-based reference for wood technology and craftsmanship. We offer information on wood design, tools, techniques, materials, demonstrations, plans, and resources. At present this site is a "work in progress" -- I've posted only a fraction of the 2000+ pages of woodworking information that my team and I are preparing. It will quickly grow to become a complete and dependable reference for the core knowledge you need to be a competent craftsman. For the time being, however, I trust you'll find the information we have posted to date to be interesting and helpful.


Nick Engler has written and produced over 50 books on woodworking, plus hundreds of articles, videos, and project plans. Liberty finds that, taken altogether, there is a lot of information to chew on.

Just Posted!
Sharpening – planes, chisels, gouges, scrapers, saws, cutters, bits – just about anything that gets dull.

HOW THIS SITE WORKS
The Companion is divided into several sections. Each section communicates woodworking experiences in a different way, and each covers a wide range of woodworking topics and interests:
 
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READ. Woodworking Know-How is a compilation of information not just from the lifetime I've spent woodworking, but also the thousands of conversations and experiences that I've had with accomplished craftsmen around the world. This is not just my own woodworking savvy, but also the useful, wonderful, and sometimes amazing knowledge and know-how that others have shared with me.
 

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WATCH. Woodworking Demonstrations is a library of videos on a wide range of woodworking topics, including techniques, materials, technology, tool reviews, and craftsman interviews. These are presented in a unique "virtual classroom" format I developed especially for presenting demonstrations of craftsmanship online.
 

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WORK. Woodworking Projects draws upon the hundreds of woodworking projects that I have drafted and written over the years. These projects range from classic furniture to yard art and include not just items that I have built, but also projects from craftsmen who have shared their designs and construction techniques with me.
 

bullet DISCUSS. The Workshop Companion Forum is your opportunity to ask specific woodworking questions not just of my team and me, but also a wider audience of experienced craftsmen. If you are an experienced craftsman, this is your opportunity to share.
NAVIGATING
Because there is an enormous amount of information on this site, we've provided several navigation aids to help you find your way through it. This includes the information on this page and:
 
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Site Map which lists and links all the pages in a collapsible outline.
 

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Site Index which lists the pages alphabetically by topics and keywords.
 

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Search the Workshop Companion, a search engine that can help you locate information on this site using your own keywords.
 

bullet Navigation Bars at the top and bottom of each page make it easy to jump between sections. Most pages also offer a navigation bar in the left-hand column that shows your position on the site map -- all the pages above, those on the same level, and the pages immediately below (if any). This navigation bar also has links to the Site Map, Site Index, and Search pages.

And if you still get lost, we can help you build a wooden sextant.

OTHER COOL STUFF
Additionally, you will find several recurring features that are unique to this site. Most of these require JavaScript to operate. You must have a Java plug-in and set your browser to allow active content.
 
bullet Scraps are what I call snippets of woodworking information that aren't part of the essential "core" woodworking know-how that makes up the bulk of this site, but are just too fascinating not to share. I've set these aside in sidebars that will pop up when you click on the title. You can read them or ignore them as the spirit moves you. Here's an example, a scrap of information on shipbuilding that I gleaned while interviewing scientists at the US Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin:


 
bullet Sideboards offer information on wood species. At the top of this page and every other page that opens a section, there is a bar made up of 50+ popular commercial woods arranged from dark (ebony) to light (holly). Below the section level, however, the tops of pages show a single wood species and a small amount of information about it:


The USS Constitution, "Old Ironsides," is the oldest commissioned warship afloat. Her long life is due in part to a surprising bit of woodworking savvy.*


How the sideboards are organized.


A picture may be worth 1000 words, but by combining both a Superphoto is worth even more.

Click to enlarge.
This is an explode of the "Mule Chest" you've seen on our Home Page. To view it in Sketchup, click the 3D icon.

 

Name  Hickory
Location  Eastern North America
Texture/Grain  Medium/Open
Specific Gravity  0.82
Hardness  Very Hard
Strength  Very Strong
T/R Stability  10.2/7.0%

Click on the name of the wood (try it!) and a "sideboard" appears with expanded information about the species, plus photos of the wood in its raw form and with five popular finishes applied. Click on the photos to enlarge them to life size. This lets you see not just the color of the unfinished wood, but also allows you to anticipate how the color will change when you finish it. Surf enough pages on this site and you'll learn as much about wood as you do woodworking!

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Superphotos contain more than just visual information. If a photo displays the Superphoto" icon when you run the cursor over it, click on it and an enlarged version will appear in a separate window. Move the cursor over the large photo and text tags will appear. Some of these tags are labels to tell you what you're seeing in the photo. Others contain interesting information and valuable tips.
 

bullet 3D Illustrations allow you to view a subject from all angles -- right, left, front, back, top, bottom, even inside and outside! And since woodworking is a three-dimensional art, this can be a very useful. Our project section especially is filled with 3D drawings and plans. Of course, you can also see them as a traditional perspective drawing -- just click anywhere you get the "Click to enlarge" tag. To see them in three dimensions, first you'll need Google Sketchup or Sketchup Viewer. Both of these are available for FREE from the Google web site:
bullet Sketchup Viewer
bullet Google Sketchup
bullet Important! After installation, append your list of file extensions so that .skp files will open with Sketchup Viewer or Sketchup. In PC, you can find this list in My Computer/Tools/Folder Options/File Types. In Mac, it's File/Get Info/Open With. Once you've installed Sketchup or its Viewer, click on the "See in 3D" icon in the lower right corner.
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Virtual Classrooms bring together audio, video, text, photography, and illustration on a single page for an enriched educational experience when watching our Workshop Demonstrations. When you visit a page that shows a video, you'll see three frames, each containing a different type of information. The upper left-hand frame shows a video in which a craftsman either presents woodworking information or demonstrates a woodworking technique. We call this the "Lectern." The upper right-hand frame, the "Blackboard," shows photos and illustrations that help the clarify what the craftsman presents in the video. Scroll down below the Blackboard and you may find additional information such as plans or articles in a downloadable, printer-friendly PDF format. The lower frame is the "Notebook" and contains an outline of the video presentation to help you follow along or review. It also shows links to other place on the Internet where you can find additional information or purchase tools and materials. No other woodworking site on the web offers videos in this unique interactive format.
 

ONE MORE THING
Because this site is still under construction, you will sometimes find pages listed on the Site Map, the left-hand navigation bar, and elsewhere that have no links. This is not a mistake; these are "place keepers," and they either serve as reminders or save us time as we build this site. If  you happen across a place keeper that you were so hoping was a real page, we apologize for the frustration and are grateful for your patience.

With all good wishes,


And thanks for visiting.

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 "Abundant to all the needs of man, how poor the world would be without wood."
Eric Sloane in Reverence for Wood

 

Welcome/Guide Page for the Workshop Companion,
essential information about wood, woodwork, and woodworking.
By Nick Engler.

Copyright © 2009 Bookworks, Inc.