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Articles by Gary Katz

Festool 4 Ft. (Stabila) Level

When I started teaching carpentry clinics at lumberyards around the country, one of the first companies I sought support from was Stabila—I used their levels for a couple of decades and wouldn’t think of switching brands. There was no other spirit level available that guaranteed the same degree of precision, whether the vials were right-side up or up-side down.

When I first started in the trades, I used an adjustable level, but threw it away after setting door jambs in a home getting bull-nose drywall. Read the full article…

Shop Class as Soulcraft

A book every craftsman should read

“What sort of personality does one need to have, as a twenty-first-century mechanic, to tolerate the layers of electronic bullshit that get piled on top of machines?”
–Matthew Crawford, Shop Class as Soulcraft: Penquin Press, 2009

I recently taught a class on Mastering the Miter Saw to a group of mixed-age students at the West Valley Occupational Center, near my home in Los Angeles. I’ve volunteered to teach classes there before. The instructors teach drafting, framing, electrical, drywall—a general hands-on course covering everything about construction with blackboard backup. It’s a great program for anyone new to the trades. But I was surprised to find the class stalled by a lack of building materials. One instructor was digging into his own pocket to keep his class going. Read the full article…

Bending Hinges

Hinges aren’t made in a mold. They’re bent or formed in a press. That means the swag or bend in a hinge is never identical from one hinge to the next. And that means the gap between the hinge leaves varies just a little, which can have an impact on the fit of your doors. Read the full article…