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The nearly 300 shrubs and trees of the ebony family (Ebenaceae) grow throughout the worlda€™s tropic and mild temperate regions.
It was once believed that ebony was a poison antidote, so rulers fearing for their safety drank only from cups hewed from the wood. The only commercial wood in the ebony family in North America is persimmon (Diospyros virginiana), a tree that for decades provided the stock for golf club heads (drivers and putters). Most ebony species in world trade are called by names that relate to their country or region of origin.
Youa€™ll only find ebony at wood specialty retail stores, by mail order, or from online sellers, and ita€™s costly.
Due to its cost and somewhat limited availability of large-sized stock, typical ebony uses only require small amounts.
If shopping by mail order or online, be sure to order all ebony of the same species unless you have the desire to mix and match. If using ebony for larger projects, it makes sense to personally inspect the wood for flaws, splits, and desired color and grain. Woodcraft Supply, LLC, is one of the nation's oldest and largest suppliers of quality woodworking tools, supplies, and plans. Reach out to the author: contact and available social following information is listed in the top-right of all news releases.
Imagine walking into a lumber dealera€™s show room and having first choice of all the best materiala€“wide slabs of walnut, quartersawn sycamore, and cherry planks milled to exactly the right thickness for your next project, all with matching grain and color. Oftentimes (depending on where you live), urban, suburban, and acreage yard trees include the usual oak, maple, and ash, as well as less common gemsa€“what I call a€?backyard exotics.a€? (See a€?Less Common Gems,a€? above) For those of you who have a variety of trees growing on your land, you may have all the woodworking woods youa€™ll ever need.
By working with a sawyer, you can determine how you want to slice the wood for best effect. Size: Most portable sawmills can handle logs between 10" and 30" in diameter, but a few will cut logs outside that range. Species and identification: Most sawyers know the local species, but all bets are off with ornamental trees, which may come from half-way around the world.
Leave the hazardous business of felling a tree to a bonded and insured tree service with the right equipment to do the job safely. Hauling your logs to the sawmill If you just have a few logs and a way to move them, you can save some money by bringing them to the mill. If you dona€™t have a safe way to haul logs and lumber, find someone with a portable sawmill to come to you, as shown on page 30. To maintain the cutting order, stack flitchsawn cuts using the a€?Europeana€? method (Photo E). The best way to keep track of the wood moisture content is to use a pin-type moisture meter, available for under $50.
The box contains two jewelry trays designed to hold a velvet ring insert and cardboard tray liners covered with velvet (inset photos). My solution was to fashion a small tapering jig that rides in the tablesawa€™s miter gauge slot and has a a€?workinga€? edge thata€™s cut flush with the blade.
A nice box deserves good hardware, which is why I used a pair of high-quality brass hinges.
This oriental-style handle could look just as nice on a cabinet as it does on this jewelry box. Instead of boring mounting holes directly in the lida€™s panel, I made a drilling jig with exact hole locations that could be placed over the panel. Shed light in a study, main living area, or bedroom, and on a special era of 20th-century craftsmanship with this classic home accent.
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You can make spacers from aluminum, brass, hardboard, or any other non-compressible material of a consistent thickness. The thickness of a tenon or tongue is usually a specific increment (1a?„4", 5a?„16", 3a?„8", 1a?„2", etc.), based on the width of the chisel or diameter of the router bit that cut the mortise, dado, or groove. Typical tenons (with their relatively deep shoulders) involve a 2-step process: sawing the cheeks, then the shoulders.
When the tenoned member of a frame is thinner than the mortised member, you can get away with minimal tenon shoulders, in which case, you can cut the shoulders at the same time as the cheeks, making for really fast work.
Frame-and-panel joinery often involves sawing the panel edges to create a tongue that fits into a groove in the edges of the frame.
Gluing splines in a miter joint is a great way to reinforce what would otherwise be a weak connection. This hard-working piece of furniture provides attractive storage space for boots, baseball mitts and plenty of other items, neatly organized beneath ample seating space.
One of the worlda€™s darkest woods, ebony was highly prized even in ancient times and frequently offered as tribute to reigning monarchs. And at one time, Indiaa€™s royalty would reign with nothing less than scepters crafted from only the blackest ebony.
And due to its tight grain, density and hardness, this brownish persimmon was used to make shuttlecocks for weaving looms. Large boards are highly unusual, with the stock of most ebony 6" wide at most and rarely longer than 8' in Select & Better grade (Gabon ebony has a premium grade). Other small sized pieces and larger blocks for turnings, knife handles, pool cue butts, etc., are available as well. Remember, too, that even the blackest Gabon ebony can exhibit lighter-toned wood if bought in large batches; for pens that may not matter as much as it would for a set of ebony-handled steak knives. Its extreme hardness and density quickly dull cutting edges so they must be made of carbide to slow the effect. Gluing freshly sawn or abraded surfaces results in a good bond, but use adhesives with longer open time to allow the glue to better penetrate the surface. Ebony may also cause allergic reaction in the form of skin irritation (dermatitis), so wear a good-fitting dust mask or respirator and cover your arms with long sleeves.
In his new position, Anthony will be focusing on writing, research, editing and photography of technique, product and project stories. He owned a custom woodworking business in California for 20 years before moving to Bucks County, Pa. Just down the aisle you encounter stacks of beautiful boards of exotic native species youa€™ve never seen before. You may want to quartersaw a white oak log to mine impressive ray-fleck figure or slab the crotch wood in a walnut for a stunning accent table. Curved logs can be cut lengthwise to produce curved slabs with natural edges that make interesting benches, bar tops, and accent tables. Rely on the Audobon Society Field Guide to North American Trees as a reference for identifying native species.
Charging by the hour is the most reasonable way to deal with specialty cuts such as crotches, short pieces, and quartersawing, since they require more handling.


I generally enjoy having the customer work with me, especially when cutting unusual wood, because we can discuss the various possibilities. I schedule a log drop-off so that the customer can deliver the logs and return home with the boards all in one trip.
To help the sawyera€™s job go smoothly, pile up or line up the logs on level ground to give him plenty of area to work ina€“at least a 30' square. The bar needs to be longer than the widest diameter you will cut, and you need a special ripping chain.
I recommend a 1"-wide resaw blade with 3 teeth per inch, though 1.5 to 2 teeth per inch would work well for more powerful saws.
This wood can be challenging to work with, since you do not have a straight edge for reference, but it is a favorite of rustic woodworkers and is becoming more popular in custom furniture.
If therea€™s a nicer way to make use of small pieces of precious wood, I havena€™t discovered it yet.
A project like this lends itself well to a spray lacquer finish, and thata€™s what I used (see Buyera€™s Guide, page 66).
Fasten stopblocks to the base of the jig as indicated in the drawing, and install a clamp to secure the workpiece during the cut.
The miter joints in the frame are grooved to accept reinforcing splines and the rabbeted panel. With this design, the lid overhang provides a built-in stop when the lid is opened, so ita€™s not necessary to use stopped hinges. To make the posts, cut 3a?„16"-deep dadoes angled at 4A° in a 7"-long blank thata€™s 3a?„8" square in section. Made from quartersawn red oak, this pleasing project consists of several duplicate parts, which speed construction. Visit for your woodwork cartridge holder supscription bargain woodworking plans and techniques and play our editors. And Woodcraft annually distributes tercet million catalogs featuring more than than eight 000 items to wholly 50 states and 117 foreign countries. Woodcraft Supply LLC is one of the nation’s oldest and largest suppliers of quality woodworking tools and supplies. By stacking two identical blades together, you can reduce the time it takes to cut tenons, tongues, and other joints with parallel faces. For minimum material investment and greatest set-up flexibility for common tenon sizes, make six 1a?„8"-thick spacers.
To clean up the edges for safe handling, first mount each spacer on a 1a?„4"-diameter bolt, securing it with a nut. Clamp each spacer to a backer board at the edge of your drill press table, and widen the center hole to 21a?„32". It takes some initial fussing to arrive at the correct combination of spacers and shims for any given thickness, but you only have to do it once, as long as you record it for future reference. To set up for a test cut, mount your inner blade, followed up with spacers that total no more than your desired joint thickness. To ensure proper joint alignment during assembly, make sure to first accurately dress your workpieces to their final thickness, and mark the a€?showa€? face of every piece so you can orient it properly on the tenon jig.
If tenon shoulders are designed to be narrower than the width of the blade teeth, the joint can be cut in one pass. To prevent the freed waste from shooting out when sawing tongue shoulders, clamp a raised auxiliary fence to the rip fence for a pinch-free cut.
High-priced, factory-made versions are available, but a woodworker can achieve better quality for a lot less. And so ita€™s been throughout the centuries with the darkest wood available used sparingly for small items and parts, such as piano keys, guitar fingerboards, pegs in Greene and Greene furniture, carvings, turnings, box accents, inlay, marquetry and such.
The problem: Not all trees of the many ebony species are large-sized, and only the deepest colored heartwood has been sought by woodworkers.
African (Gabon) ebony (Diospyros crassiflora), the blackest hails from central west Africa; East Indian (Ceylon) ebony (Diospyros spp.
Note: Small store-bought pieces may be coated in wax to keep out moisture during shipment and storage. Also, because ebony is quite unstable until thoroughly dry, inquire as to its dryness and drying method (air- or kiln-dried). Ebony normally features finely textured, straight grain, but can sometimes exhibit interlocked grain. Therea€™s no reason to hide its color with dye or stain, unless youa€™re seeking to even the color or darken it.
Perhaps granddad planted a tree a half century ago, and you want to transform its wood into an heirloom bowl or furniture piece in his memory.
Still, if you have a dead or dying tree, or one that otherwise needs removal, why not make the most of it?
Many sawmills will refuse to cut yard trees because of the high probability of hitting nails and other embedded metal. Some sawmill operators have strict rules about what a customer can do because of liability issues. Just loading the log on a trailer can be a wrestling match, involving winches, ramps, and other equipment. Add to this the safety gear (chaps, helmet, and steel-toe boots), and you have a significant investment (about $1,700). For most species, quartersawn wood has a special shimmering quality, but in some species, such as oak and sycamore, the wood rays yield beautiful flecked or quilted patterns. One advantage is that pieces can be book-matched to give a symmetrical mirror-image grain pattern that creates stunning tabletops. The ideal location for air-drying wood is a level area out of direct sunlight with good air circulation.
For the moisture content to match the indoor humidity of your home, bring the wood indoors and use a fan for air circulation, build a small kiln, or send it out to be kiln-dried at 30A? to 50A? a board foot.
The design for this box began as a discussion about alternatives to corners that feature dovetail or miter joinery. When the glue dries, finish the assembly by inserting the bottom panel and joining the front and back panels to the end assemblies. All of these grooves can be cut using a single setup with a 1a?„8" slot-cutting bit on the router table.
Although hinge mortises can be cut by hand with a chisel, I decided to do the job with a simple jig that I can reuse whenever I want to make another box like this one.
A pattern for the corbels and shop-tested setups and jigs help in making the identical parts and assemblies.
Full-sized blades provide maximum depth of cut, but the outer blades from a dado head will also work. You can do this totally by trial-and-error, or you can take a measured approach, as Ia€™ll show you here, regarding the setup required for making a tenon. Once youa€™re set up, you can cut every tenon to precisely match its mortise width every time.
To prevent scoring the face of your jig, use double-faced tape to attach a sacrificial panel to the jig. To prevent the freed waste from kicking back and possibly spoiling the cut, dona€™t use the rip fence as a stopblock. Featherboards pressing the work against the fence will ensure that the tongue remains parallel to the faces of the panel.


My design offers four large cubbies and three cherry-front drawers that operate on touch-to-open slide hardware.
Famed craftsman Sam Maloof especially favored Macassar ebony for his signature rocking chairs. There is also a great amount of degrade (loss to twisting, warping, etc.) if ebony is taken too quickly through the drying process (usually air). Macassar ebony costs about half that and can be purchased as paperback veneer in a 4 A— 8' sheet of book-matched pieces for about $500. Coupling that with density and hardness, light passes in planing, jointing, and routing are advised.
After leaving the magazine, he worked as a freelance photojournalist and taught woodworking classes at shows around the country, at his own shop, and at local Woodcraft stores and schools.
Woodcraft also offers educational opportunities through classes and demos at the stores, how-to videos and articles online, and project, technique and product features in Woodcraft Magazine, which publishes six issues annually. Others take it in stride, but will expect you to pay for a new blade (around $30 for a bandsaw blade) if they strike metal.
Other charges may include transportation and setup fees if the sawyer brings the mill to you.
Many people use chainsaw mills to cut logs where they find them, which lets them move the log one board at a time. One way is to pass a manageable log over the jointer to get a good flat side, and then use the fence on the bandsaw to cut your boards. Also consider ripping them down the center before planing, and then jointing and edge-gluing them back together. Flitch-cutting is especially useful for crotch wood, as shown in Photo C, and for curved logs.
If possible, start with a layer of plastic on the ground to keep ground moisture from coming up through the stack. This also makes it possible to mill to different thicknesses, since each flitch makes its own layer. I was also interested in creating visual interest by using contrasting wood tones and grain patterns. When building your own version of this project, keep in mind that many other contrasting wood combinations are possible. When cutting the maple handle on the bandsaw, allow extra thickness so the handle can be finish-sanded to fit in the slotted posts.
These plans are the best of the woodhaven woodworking tools projects from Editors of Woodcraft Magazine. If a tenon, for example, is even .004" (the thickness of a dollar bill) thinner than its mating mortise, the jointa€™s strength has been compromised, no matter how well glue appears to hold it together. For example, a common way to cut tenons is to saw one cheek, then flip the stock around on your tenon jig to saw the opposite cheek. Whata€™s important is that the blades include some raker teetha€“which are squared across, rather than beveleda€“to create a flat-bottomed cut.
For the greatest precision, remove the sawn workpiece before retracting the jig to set up the next cut. In sanding, progress through successive grits (up to 400), or youa€™ll leave minute scratches that will show under a finish. Palmer of Joplin, Missouri, did when he hired me to mill logs he had cut from his woodlot) makes sense and is the safest way to go. The cupping makes it important to kiln-dry the wood or otherwise bring it to a moisture content of about 7% for use indoors. Then, place 4'-long 6A—6 timbers, distributed evenly on 20" centers for 1"-thick boards (Photo D).
Eventually the design evolved into what you see herea€“a composition of bocote, wenge, maple and 1a?„8" plywood that has an oriental flair. Since a couple of jigs are needed for tapering the legs and routing hinge mortises, I recommend gathering enough stock to make more than one box. Find whole your shop plans large operating theater small-scale from the Woodcraft magazine here at Woodcraft the leading provider of woodworking supplies and Woodcraft magazine.
From each one plan features step by step instructions with elaborated photographs exploded. Because cutting joints can be fussy and time-consuming, it makes sense to take advantage of any efficiencies where you can. The problem with this is that any inconsistency in your stock thickness translates into inconsistency in your tenon thickness. Spacers of 1a?„8"-thick aluminum create the gross blade offset, with shims of various thickness added to fine-tune the cut width. Many times wood dealers simply list their differing ebony stocks descriptively, such as black-and-white ebony (actually Diospyros embryopteris) or striped ebony (normally a type of Macassar ebony). This is important because ebony, once dried from six to nine percent, will remain stable in use. Use a ratchet strap between each column of stickers, and tighten it down once a week as the wood shrinks.
The Woodcraft catalog is a standard among woodworkers as the nearly complete offering of first grade products for wo.
As youa€™ll see, twin-blade joinery solves this problem, eliminating the need to fine-tune the tenon thickness for final fitting. You can use commercial dado set shims, or make your own from aluminum cans, manila folder paper, and flat board from notepads. Ita€™s important to outfit your tablesaw with a ZCI (zero-clearance insert) to prevent work from slipping downward into the throat plate opening, especially if youa€™re not using hold-downs on your jig. Remove or add shims, and recut until the test tenon fits perfectly, requiring just a bit of hand pressure to fully insert it in its mortise. Make sure your vehicle has adequate towing capacity and that the trailer is rated for the weight of your logs.
The technique is just as effective at cutting accurate tongues on panel edges for the same reason. On the return trip, be sure the load is securely strapped down and that the straps put pressure evenly across the boards. Although a different principle applies, twin-blade joinery is also the perfect approach to cutting double spline slots. They should be of the same thickness so that the stickers will lie flat to support the next layer.
When the layer is complete, place another set of stickers directly above the ones that support the layer below to distribute the weight evenly. If possible, put a tarp, metal roofing, or other material over the stack to keep moisture off.
The rule of thumb is one year for each inch of thickness, though this varies with climate and species.



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