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Articles by Gary Katz

The Sells Mansion – Columbus, OH

A few years ago, I was riding on a plane to Columbus for JLC LIVE. I was working away on my laptop, oblivious to the fellow sitting beside me who was reading every word I wrote over my shoulder. When he asked if I was a carpenter, I may have exhaled audibly. I was sure that he’d start telling me about his most recent remodel, the molding he installed in his dining room, or the screen door he hung on the back porch. I couldn’t have been further off the mark. Read the full article…

Kaizen Foam

An answer for organizing tools

I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of drawers in my shop that are crammed with tools. It’s difficult to find stuff when I need it, and every time I open a drawer, I’m always worried that my sharp tools are banging around, getting dull or chipped. Especially my new lathe tools. Read the full article…

DeWalt DW 745 10-in. Portable Table Saw

A second portable table saw with a riving knife!

Ever since portable table saws first appeared on jobsites, carpenters have been throwing away the guards, and for good reason: They’re difficult to remove and re-install; after they’ve been used for a few months, you can’t see through the plastic shroud, so it’s impossible to align the blade with a measurement mark; you have to remove the guard to make narrow rips or rabbets; and carpenters have always suspected that the splitters cause more kickback than they prevent. Those are a lot of reasons to set aside a saw guard. Read the full article…

Book Review: A Carpenter’s Life

Soon after Larry Haun published his book, A Carpenter’s Life, I overheard someone complaining that the book was ‘repetitious’. They said: “Larry just keeps saying the same stuff chapter after chapter—take care of the earth, don’t be greedy, care about your neighbors. I thought the book was going to be about carpentry!” I didn’t have the courage to speak up then, but I will now, from the safety of my desk. Yes, Larry Haun’s final, and perhaps most illuminating, book is repetitious—and it should be. Read the full article…

Closet Shelving Layout & Design

When I started out in the building business, interest rates were low, money was easy to borrow, and custom homes were the way to go. But six years later, in the early 1980s, that all changed. Interest rates went over 15%. No one could afford, let alone qualify, for a loan. Economics and demand dragged us into multi-family housing—we started installing finish work on apartment complexes, condominiums, and townhouses. The work was hard, the prices competitive, but the profits were good if you had your act together, if you were fast and didn’t make mistakes. Read the full article…

Building Custom Gates

Between 1980 and 1994 I moved ten times—one fixer after the other, and a few rentals, too (fixers aren’t always profitable, even for a carpenter). When I moved into my current home, I promised myself I’d stay a while, and one of the first projects I wanted to tackle was replacing the gates. I accomplished the first goal, but it took a while before I got to the gates. Read the full article…

Keith Mathewson & Seattle Fine Woodworking

A “From the Road” Shop Tour

(With Keith Mathewson and Tom Brewer)

Last summer, while Tom Brewer and I were doing Roadshows in Washington state, we stopped by and visited with Keith Mathewson at his shop in Seattle. Keith specializes in custom woodworking, and he shares his shop with a few like-minded woodworkers. Everything that goes out the door of Seattle Fine Woodworking is a one-of-a-kind custom creation. Read the full article…

The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades

Education with a purpose; where no one is left behind

In the modern world, we value college degrees over trade-school know-how; and our educational system—and our country—pays the price. The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades is a good example of effective education, education that actually works, where, truly, no child is left behind; and where success—both for educators and students—is easy to track: at Williamson, nearly every graduate who wants a job gets a job, and that is a great measure of success. Read the full article…

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