Dec 272016
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OK, so I over-pledged on the number of projects I would build in 2016. I mean, somehow I thought I’d be able to complete at least a Baker’s Dozen before the year was out. Well, things just didn’t work out as I planned. Why not, you may well ask? Frankly, a lot of things intervened, including ankle surgery that kept me out of the shop for the first quarter and bronchitis that laid me up for another month. Then there were three trips that took up another month. And finishing up my book, Choosing and Using Handplanes, took even more time. So at least I have some excuses.

What I did accomplish was significant, however. I made a major reorganization of my shop, creating a hand tool area and adding a drum sander and a better drill press. I made a good start on a Greene & Greene-inspired pantry shelf built with quartersawn sapele. I took Scott Meek’s weeklong handplane class and built three wooden handplanes. I made a set of kitchen knives using Ron Hock blades. I turned a lot of birdcage awl handles for my business, Shenandoah Tool Works, including the padauk awls sold exclusively at Highland Woodworking. And I began installation of a leg vise using Benchcrafted’s crisscross assembly and Lake Erie’s wooden screw. So, while I fell short of everything I’d hoped to accomplish, I still did fairly well.

While I know better than to load up my agenda with too many things this time, here is what I plan for 2017:

 Finish the Greene & Greene pantry shelf

 Finish installing the leg vise

 Make some more wooden planes

 Turn some bowls and hollow forms

 Build some natural edge tables

 Build a Queen Anne dressing table

 Make some small tables based on patterns in Nick Offerman’s Good Clean Fun

 Build a four-poster bed

Even with this shortened list, I think this is a bold agenda. I’ll need to be diligent if I’m to get through it, or most of it. But then, if I don’t have ambitious goals, where would be the challenge?

Norm Reid is a woodworker, writer, and woodworking instructor living in the Blue Ridge Mountains with his wife, a woodshop full of power and hand tools and four cats who think they are cabinetmaker’s assistants. He is the author of the forthcoming book Choosing and Using Handplanes. He can be contacted at

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