Monthly Archives: April 2009

356 Hand Applied Staining

As promised here is the regularly scheduled Hendrik episode for April, 2009. In today’s episode Hendrik discusses hand staining your project.

Many of us struggle all the time to get even, unblotchy results from stains and in the process find ourselves frustrated and angry. Hendrik offers some great ideas about minimizing that frustration and also answers some listener’s questions too.

Don’t forget about last week’s episode where we talked about Hendrik’s upcoming seminar all about “Starting a Woodworking Business”…something that is near and dear to many of us. The seminar occurs June 6th so make sure to drop Hendrik an email to get more information

And last but not least!! Vote for our good friend Marc Spagnuolo in his efforts to beat out all those other bloggers on the Home & Garden 48 Hour Challenge. Voting starts May 1st and you can vote once per day…so let’s show all those other home and garden bloggers what woodworkers are really all about…THE MONEY!!!

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How to Stop Windows from Shutting Down [How To]

Reader John writes in with a tip to prevent Windows from continuing a shutdown operation—very useful for those times you want to shutdown but you accidentally chose restart.

John's tip is nothing new to the more tech-savvy readers—you can simply use a switch to the built-in shutdown.exe utility to actually tell the system to abort the shutdown. You'll have to create a new shortcut pointing to the utility, which is normally located in your Windows folder so you'll need to modify the path accordingly.

C:WINDOWSsystem32shutdown.exe -a

The -a switch tells Windows to abort the shutdown, so you’ll need to hit the shortcut quickly if you want to stop the shutdown in time. It’s a very simple tip, but it’s the type of trick that could come in handy under certain circumstances.Thanks, John!

If you want to prevent Windows from restarting because of automatic updates, check out previously mentioned ShutdownGuard—or you can learn how to shutdown, restart, or sleep Windows Vista from the keyboard.

Sharpening: Here’s What I See

I’m fairly well convinced that my ears are different than yours. The music I like
isn’t going to sound the same to you. It’s almost impossible for me to share with
another person what the Heartless Bastards sounds like to me. Language is too imprecise.

Same goes with the eyes (and tastebuds). How you experience a Paul Klee or a Hebrew
National is impossible to share with me.

The problem is that our senses are tied to our big, dumb brains, which process and
filter the waves of information our organs receive.

And so it makes me crazy to explain how to sharpen to people because it involves so
many senses (except taste I think) that are processed. And there is so much information
that comes in through our eyes, fingers and ears that beginners cannot focus on what
is important.

So here is what I see when I sharpen a plane iron. I’m going to show what it looks
like on the unbeveled side, which I call the “face” and others call the “back.”

Above is what the face of a smoothing plane iron looks like when it is fresh from
the wrapper. The vertical scratches are deep and are left behind by the manufacturing
process. These have to be removed. So I begin by abrading the tool on my #1,000-grit

After a short time on the #1,000-grit stone the metal gets a scratch pattern that
looks like this. I move the iron back and forth diagonally on the stone and examine
it every couple minutes. I’m looking for where the deep vertical scratches go all
the way to the end of the iron. That’s where the metal is weakest and the edge will
begin to break down. The arrows point to where I see problem scratches. When these
scratches disappear at the end of the iron, I can move on to the next grit – #4,000

Usually #4,000-grit stones start to give me a good polish. And so the #1,000-mesh
pattern is generally replaced by more of a polish. Some #4,000-grit stones don’t do
much polishing, but most do. Try working the iron in one direction – this brings up
the polish faster.

If I can see the deep vertical scratches, I might need to drop back to the #1,000
grit. In the drawing above you can see some #1,000-grit scratches and one deep manufacturing
scratch at the right that are problems. Usually I’ll drop back to the #1,000-grit
stone here for a few minutes to get that deep scratch out.

I’ll also start to see faint horizontal scratches left behind by the #4,000-grit stone.
When the #1,000-grit scratches and manufacturing scratches are gone, move to your
next stone. For me, that’s the #8,000-grit waterstone.

This stone should bring up a nice mirror-like polish. You might have some horizontal
scratches from this stone, but those generally aren’t a problem. Look for any #1,000-grit
diagonal scratches (as shown with an arrow above). Keep working until all the vertical
and diagonal scratch marks are polished away right at the cutting edge. Don’t worry
about the scratches that don’t make it to the edge.

I’m sure all this looks different to other experienced sharpeners, but these crude
pencil drawings are about as well as I can explain it without coming to your house.

— Christopher Schwarz

Kill Frozen Windows Apps Easily [Windows Tip]

If you've used Windows for any amount of time, you've already had to deal with the dreaded (Not Responding) frozen application—so instead of using task manager, why not create a shortcut to auto-kill them?

The HaxAttack weblog writes up a great tip to create a batch file that automatically kills any applications with a status of Not Responding, but you can actually just create a shortcut directly, omitting the batch file altogether.

To create your own quick-killing mechanism, just create a new shortcut anywhere, using this as the location:

taskkill.exe /f /fi “status eq not responding”

Once you are done, you can change the icon, or even assign a shortcut key in the properties dialog—just make sure the shortcut is on your desktop or in the start menu if you want the hotkey to work, since Windows hotkeys don't work in the Quick Launch. Thanks, Cyrus!

For more, check out how to kill runaway processes with Task Killer, previously mentioned ClickGone, or simply use the very powerful Process Explorer.

A New Workbench Material and Experiment

When I sat down in a restaurant’s booth in early April and waited for my pan-fried
noodles, I knew that I had found a new workbench material.

For the last couple years I’ve been researching alternative materials for building
workbenches – materials that are strong, inexpensive and widely available. And for
the last six months I’ve been pestering Managing Editor Megan Fitzpatrick to build
a workbench using LVL – laminated veneer lumber.

You’re unlikely to find LVL in a home center, but it is widely available in commercial
lumberyards. Contractors use the stuff to cross long spans because it’s incredibly
stiff, straight and reasonably priced. And it comes in 60′ lengths (if you need it
that long).  

In the wild, LVL looks like a piece of dimensional stock – the stuff Megan bought
today looks like yellow pine 2 x 12s. But as you get closer you can see the edges
and ends are laminated. Our 1-3/4″-thick pieces had 16 plies of yellow pine, each
with a dark glue layer.

The stuff is pretty cheap, too. A 1-3/4″ x 11-7/8″ x 24′-long piece of LVL was just
$110. (You can also find the stuff in different thicknesses and widths, though it’s
harder to find.) But how will the stuff fare in a workshop? And will it look decent?

That last concern was Megan’s objection to LVL.

Back at the noodle bar, Megan and the other magazine’s staff members approached the
booth. I pointed to the table.

“This is LVL,” I said.

The woodworker who made the restaurant’s table ripped the LVL, turned it 90° and laminated
it up. They put a nice finish on it and it looked great. Megan’s objection to LVL
disappeared as soon as she saw the table.

Today we brought the stuff in to build an 8′-long bench for Megan. The bench’s design
is going to be a blend of the Roubo and the Holtzapffel benches (the Holtz-bo). It
will have a leg vise in the face vise position (with a wooden bench screw from
And it’s going to have a quick-release vise in the end vise position.

I’m certain the design will work. And after today I think the material will work as
well. It came into the shop fairly dry – a couple of the sections were a few points
above the norm. It jointed nicely on our powered jointer with a carbide cutterhead.
And it ripped beautifully and easily on the table saw.

Next up: The big question. What will the glue do to the high-speed steel knives in
our planer? And how will the scarf joints in the lamination fare when they are machined?

By the way, our full investigation into this material will appear in a future article
this year in Popular Woodworking.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Paragon Partition Manager Free Today, Normally $40 [Dealhacker]

Windows only: Paragon Partition Manager is a feature-rich application for partitioning your hard drive, optimizing your disks, creating simple partition backups, and more. It’s normally $40, but today you can snag it for free.

We’d almost never suggest shelling out cash for an application whose sole purpose is partitioning, especially when an application like the previously mentioned GParted Live CD is perfect for partitioning and completely free, but if you need more from your partition manager, commercial apps like Paragon Partition Manager can be useful.

We haven’t tested it thoroughly, but Paragon promises an impressive feature set, and—for today at least—you can't really beat the price. If you've used this app in the past, share your experience in the comments.

Honduras Mahogany Dresser – Viewer Project

This project is submitted by Tom. Let’s see what he has to say about it:

“Dresser is primarily Honduras Mahogany with Beech internals, Philippine Mahogany drawers and Walnut pulls. A mongrel design (I mean hybrid?)
img_2163-largeSources of design: Began with a Will Neptune article, Anatomy of a Chest of Drawers (2003 May/June Fine Woodworking). From the Summer 2008 Woodwork Magazine I loved Christopher Schwarz’ article, A Better Blanket Chest Design. That supplied inspiration for the plinth. I used dovetails rather than finger joints. Mark Edmundson wrote about NK-style drawer construction in A Better Way to Build Drawers (The New Best of Fine Woodworking). I decided to give it a try. I haven’t seen them mentioned in any other articles, on-line or in print. After making these I still haven’t decided if I like them functionally or from a construction standpoint better than others I’ve used. Any thoughts on this from Wood Whisperer fans?

img_2164-largeThe November/December 2008 issue of Fine Woodworking arrived just as it was time to figure out the door pull treatment. One of the Four Custom Pulls that Please the Eye by Michael Fortune struck me as perfect. Lastly, the top molding. Trying to decide on basic size/proportions, I held a scrap of drawer runner against the case, below the top. Eureka. I modified the “drawer runner” with chamfer and round over and was very pleased.

img_2167-largeTwo disasters: Just as the plinth was completed it fell and bounced on the rough concrete of my driveway. Ouch! The structure survived nicely. Thank you, Christopher. But a corner had nasty gouges and tears as well as a few other bashings. At that point I knew this would be a “country” piece. Later, as I foolishly stacked drawers on a rolling cart, one of them fell on that same nasty concrete. Direct hit to a drawer front corner. More sanding and acceptance of “the process being more important than the product.”

img_2168-largeProblems?: Of course! When selecting the Mahogany, I liked the look of the 8/4 offerings much better than the 4/4. So this seemed like a good time to try resawing. I used a 3/4-inch Wood Slicer. As soon as the blade exited the wood, that lovely wood sprung to open up huge cups (and/or bows) in each half. Of course I proceeded to cut all of my stock with similar results. By the time I milled the material true it was 5/8-ish rather than the 3/4 I had planned on. On the positive side this saves weight if I ever have to ship it by air. Just doing my part to lessen the carbon footprint.”

img_2170-largeConstruction Details: The plinth is a dovetailed box with two horizontal supports that are glued into rabbets. Case is screwed into those pieces (no glue). The half-blind dovetailed case has a full top and bottom allowing the show top and plinth to be created without considering case integrity. Case has dadoes for horizontal and vertical dividers with exposed dovetails the three front most inches. Horizontal dividers are mortise and tenon frames, Mahogany for front stile and Beech for other pieces. Vertical dividers, same depth as horizontal stiles on top row are separate pieces, glued in place. Beech dividers float in dadoes since the grain runs opposite of other case members. Bottom molding is simple bevel with small lips at top and bottom. Top molding, mentioned earlier, is a bit more detailed but still rather clean. Finished with five coats of 1:1:1, semi-gloss poly:linseed oil: mineral spirits and then waxed.

You can view more of Tom’s work on his website.

PocketSmith Forecasts Your Financial Future [Money]

We’ve seen plenty of personal finance tools designed to help you track what you’re spending, but web site PocketSmith is an impressive new web-based personal finance tool with an emphasis on forecasting your financial future.

PocketSmith is probably most similar to Wesabe since, unlike Mint, you’re responsible for manually adding your financial transactions to PocketSmith. You can upload your transactions in OFX, QIF, or CSV format to PocketSmith, so it’s not as though you have to enter in every line item manually (though you can create manual accounts to do just that if you prefer).

PocketSmith even integrates with Google Calendar so your important cash flow events (bills and deposits) are laid out for you.

When you set your spending goals, PocketSmith helps you track your actual spending versus your projected spending.
The thing we like most about PocketSmith is its emphasis on projections and forecasts, letting you see what you’re aiming for financially.

We haven’t spent enough time with PocketSmith to really make a full judgment call on the application’s effectiveness as a whole (that’s always a difficulty when checking out personal finance apps), but we know one thing for sure: It looks great, and we do like the apps emphasis on future financial goals (dangling the carrot is a very good thing). If you’ve spent more time with it than we have, let’s hear what you think about it in the comments.

Pronounce Names Saves You from Embarrassment [Etiquette]

Search engine Pronounce Names—perhaps unsurprisingly—contains a database of names complete with proper pronunciation, saving you from embarrassment next time you face a challenging name.

Pronounce Names is very similar to previously mentioned How to Say that Name, a site that offers only audio pronunciations of user-submitted names. Pronounce Names appears to do audio as well, but we weren’t able to find any recordings on the site (so How to Say that Name wins out on that front). However, How to Say that Name doesn’t offer any phonetic pronunciation guides (Pronounce Names does), which is annoying when the submitted audio isn’t that good or you need help sounding it out yourself. Either way you slice it, both services can come in very handy in a pinch. Thanks EstaApplesauce!

Create and Share Panoramic Images at viewAt [Images]

If you’re interested in panoramic photography, viewAt combines a panoramic maker with a Google Maps mashup so you can not only create interactive panoramas but geotag them and share them with the world.

Even if you’re not interested in making panoramic photos, just browsing the viewAt map is a visual treat. The vast majority of user uploaded content is absolutely stunning. The photos you upload can be converted into a cylindrical or spherical panoramic. Cylindrical panoramics are the ones you’re most likely to have already come across, where viewing the photo is like rotating around in a circle viewing a band of the scene before you. Spherical panoramics require more photos to be taken, but they create almost a 360 view of scene allowing you to pan up and down as well as left and right to take in everything at the site of the photograph. For more information and a chance to check out some of the spectacular panoramas already hosted by viewAt, check out the link below.

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