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Fred williams

Fred Williams is a hands-on creator with a “learn by doing” education from his parents. He enjoys the pleasure of using hand tools with the “I did this” attitude, creating chip carving, caricatures, furniture, and quilting.

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My wife and I enjoy collecting small treasures—carvings, figurines, and tiny potted succulents to name a few. But they tend to get lost on large shelves or atop furniture. So I decided to design a wall shelf to display these items that included a good amount of shallow shelf space. 

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Check out these projects from our readers!

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Several issues ago, we published a photo of some small ash bowls I had made with off-center cavities embellished with a series of small beads (inset, right). As I was revisiting this design, I wondered what would happen if I hollowed a bowl using more than one off-center point. After playing with the technique, I arrived at the bowl presented here. It features a three-lobed cavity, decorative beads, and a two-color, dyed finish. Overall, the piece is radially symmetric in the tradition of “regular” bowl turning, but using three different center points to turn the interior creates three intersecting ridges that give the bowl a unique look. I purposefully kept the overall diameter small so this project could be made on a midi-lathe. However, off-center turning can involve a fair amount of vibration, so be sure to have your lathe mounted securely, perhaps with added weight. The bowl here is made from kiln-dried 10/4 curly maple. Using kiln-dried material allows you to complete the bowl in a single session without it distorting and with minimal risk of checking. Feel free to substitute your favorite stock, but if you intend to use dyes for coloration, light-colored woods such as maple or ash are a better choice, as they provide more contrast.

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A lot of shop accessories have to do with holding workpieces by either securing them or simply supporting them. Sawhorses fit the latter category, providing a great solution for setting up a temporary bench or portable staging during milling and other operations. My rickety commercial sawhorses and shop-made A-frame versions left a lot to be desired. I needed something stout but with a small footprint, and the strong, sleek models shown here fit the bill nicely.

Their design features durable joinery and solid construction that’ll withstand a lifetime of hard work. Plus, the top beam can be easily replaced if you happen to saw into it one too many times. You can spread the horses out for long work or nestle them together to support shorter stuff. And when the job is done, they compact together against a wall until next time.

In addition to yielding a pair of capable, enduring shop assistants, this project offers a great way to practice clever joinery techniques such as stop-guided notching, drawbore mortise-and-tenon joints, and wedged through tenons.

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Despite what many people think, a Parsons table has nothing to do with a parson or parsonage. Rather, the design was reportedly conceived as the result of a class challenge by French designer Jean-Michel Frank at the Parsons Paris school of art and design in the 1930s. Although the style does not have strict parameters, a Parsons table is generally defined as having legs that are square in cross-section with no tapers or other shaping, and a combined top/apron thickness that is visually the same thickness as the legs. Typically, the edges of the top are flush with the faces of the aprons and legs, keeping each side in one plane.

One ostensible benefit of a Parsons table is that its simplicity of form suits just about any décor. I appreciate this concept but find the look a bit too austere, so I took a few liberties. The first is that the top here overhangs the aprons by about 1-1/2", which I like better aesthetically. This also allows use of a solid wood top—the edges of which would not otherwise stay flush with the apron perimeter due to seasonal movement. Secondly, I recessed the aprons 1/2" back from the leg faces, strictly for aesthetics. Lastly, I made the aprons a little wider than tradition might demand in order to increase joint strength. I think this final design will stand nicely in just about any room.

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No matter what type of woodwork you do—furniture making, turning, carving, and so on—sharp tools are an absolute necessity for good work. And there are several motor-driven machines available that promise to help you with this critical task. I rounded up six of the more popular systems and put them through their paces to see how fast and easy they are to use, how good a job they do, and what kinds of tools they are capable of handling.
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Customize your outdoor living space and enhance your home’s curb appeal with a new landscaping plan, colorful door treatments, more furniture or a fresh coat of paint for outdoor structures. Woodcraft can help you with tools, supplies and how-to resources to create an appealing and functional family “hangout.”

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My wife comes up with great project ideas. For some time, she had been suggesting I make small cutting boards, noting how convenient they would be for simply slicing up a piece of fruit or small block of cheese when snacking throughout the day. 

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Keepsake boxes are enduring favorite projects for many woodworkers. Some of these handcrafted wooden repositories are practical in design; others are elaborate and aesthetically pleasing while maintaining their functionality. 

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