Tom Iovino from Tom’s Workbench started this thing called Get Woodworking week, which is a nice initiative to get people to do more (or get started in) woodworking.

I live in Los Angeles and when I got started a few years ago, I had no idea where to learn and didn’t have a place to do woodworking, in fact I still don’t have my own shop. But do not fret!, it seems there is an over abundance of places in the area, If you are looking for a place to get started, I hope you find this information helpful.

First let me mention the ones I am familiar with:

  • Cerritos College, cerritos college has 2 options, weekday classes are part of their furniture and/or cabinet making program, they have very qualified instructors, huge shop and a great program. If you can attend classes during the week, this is the place to go. Their other option is via the Community Education program, which is offered during the weekends, these classes are non-credit. I have taken classes from both programs, and you can usually find me there on Sundays.
  • William Ng’s Woodworking School (and club), Mr Ng has his own school, I have not taken any of his classes, but I am a member of his club, the club is a 2000+  sq feet shop with a nice compliment of machines, the club offers great flexibility in terms of work hours, (you can only go to Cerritos during your class hours). This paid club is located in Santa Ana, CA
  • Scott’s Community Woodshop in eagle rock, the space is not huge, but he has what it seems like a full compliment of brand new Laguna Tools (and a Saw Stop table saw), and a few workbenches. This is also a paid club.
  • Woodcraft in Santa Ana, friendly staff, nice selection of tools, and they offer short classes too.
  • Rockler Pasadena and Rockler Orange, I am not sure if they offer classes, I know they do demos, go check them out!

Now the places I know about, but have never visited:

  • Palomar College, close to San Diego,they have furniture making program as well as several classes related to instrument making.
  • Fullerton College, in Fullerton CA, I don’t know much about this place other than it has a woodworking program.
  • American School of French Marquetry, this is located in San Diego, and I believe the person that runs this school has been involved in the translation of Mr Andre Roubo’s tomes soon to be published by Lost Art Press, not a place to learn woodworking really, this is a very specialized school, but something to keep in your radar nonetheless.

If you live in LA; I hope this posts helps you to Get Woodworking!

I have the case of of the desk I am working on all glued up, but I needed to drill a hole for the grommet I will use for the cables. In order to avoid blow out on the inside of the case I used some plywood backing boards. A simple solution to a simple problem. Here is the procedure.

First I placed a spacer board on the inside to help me index the backing boards, then clamped them using “A” clamps.

Once the backing boards were correctly placed, I secured them to ensure they wouldn’t move during drilling. then drilled using a Forstner bit until I would see the plywood on the inside.

As I draw closer to completing this desk, it’s all about fixing the little mistakes. In this particular case I forgot to clean the glue squeeze-out on the drawers. Here is that that looks like, front and back sides of these dado joints needed to be cleaned:

glue squeeze out


There is a rule at Cerritos College about cleaning up glue with chisels and the like, don’t do it, and I had never broken it before, having used my rabbet plane to clean tenon cheeks up to this point, which it can handle really well,  but it felt like the right tool for the job and I can live with the consequences, a few minutes resharpening it.

I began by skewing the blade a bit, and then took a few light passes on one face of the joint, starting with the backside which is less critical.



Then the other face, note I didn’t not change the blade side to side, I simply changed the direction of the cut



Then I sanded it with the some fine grit sanding sponges from Lee Valley, using a “sanding block” to keep things flat.



And this is the final result, as another woodworker I know would say, good enough for government work:



I will take this opportunity to show my best hand cut dovetails so far, please note the bit of end-grain Walnut in the joint, due to a badly placed drawer bottom groove, oh well.


I was using Habari before, but unfortunately it didn’t work out for me, so I have migrated to WordPress.

Let’s see how this goes.

Today I went to a 1 day class about Woodturning at my “local” Woodcraft, I have never attended a class at a store before, one of the reasons I signed up was because of the instructor was Harry Williams, who has been teaching Woodturning at Cerritos College for several years.

The class was fun, it was focused on Spindle turning, which is exactly what I was looking for, since my intention is to turn for furniture. I am sure I will get into bowls and stuff like that, but I am in no hurry for that.

We even ended up with a little project at the end of the class, which my wife seemed to like, that’s always a plus.



When I got started with Handtools, and after much reading and research I made the decision to get bevel-up hand planes. I liked that they were simpler to master, they had few parts and were able to handle different types of grain and figure by changing blades (or grinding a main bevel at a different angle).

One of the main points against these bevel-up planes, is that you can’t (easily and precisely) make blade adjustments on the fly. I always thought, this was an advanced technique I wouldn’t need or use. I don’t work that fast anyway. For the most part, this is true of the Veritas bevel-up planes, the adjustment wheel is very low, and it’s difficult to make adjustments while planning with your pinky, in fact I don’t try it. Click on this image to look at the Veritas Bevel Up Jack Plane and see what I mean. This is the first hand plane I bought and I really enjoy using it.

However, I found out that if I want to use it for smoothing, boards need to be dead flat, because of the length of the sole, which in this plane is 15″, it can take a long time to smooth a board, since this plane will not “ride the hills and valleys” in the stock.

I had been accumulating Lie-Nielsen gift cards for about a year, and for my birthday last year I was able to get the Lie-Nielsen low angle smoothing plane, which as can you see in this picture, has a blade adjustment knob much higher, in fact, it’s high enough for me to make blade adjustments on the fly comfortably, and so I did :)

I know that comparatively these Norris-style adjusters are not as precise, or so the saying goes, but since I was smoothing, I am talking about the initial blade adjustment you make from no blade projection to enough projection to get a 0.001″ or 0.002″ shaving, and it worked like a charm.

Is this what Chris Schwarz means when he refers to doing adjustments on the fly? I am not sure, but since most people have a dedicated plane for each function, (jointing/flattening, smoothing, hogging, etc), I am not sure how much time it really saves you to make adjustments on the fly, once I have the setting I need for the job at hand, I rarely change it. Having said that, I found it useful, and it’s definitely not the difficult or advanced technique I thought it was.

The guys at the Wood Talk podcast were giving their woodworking resolutions for this year, and I figured I needed to come up with mine, so here they are, in no particular order:

  • Attend a week-long Woodworking class, or at least a show such as Woodworking in America* or Fine Woodworking Live
  • Build some kind of Chair, I might shoot 2 birds with one stone If I sign up for a Chairmaking class (see above :)
  • Build a workbench**.
  • Get started in Chip Carving.

There you have it, what are yours?

* There won’t be a Woodworking in America West this year, that’s a real bummer, but what are you going to do

** I have severe space constraints at home, so this workbench is going to be multifunction and it has be knockdown type, and most likely a Roubo variation.

On Cybermonday (the Monday after Thanksgiving) Lee Valley offers several products at a discounted price. Usually, it’s a mix of products manufactured by them or not, and those on sale manufactured by them are said to be seconds, in other words, they have minor cosmetic defects but will otherwise function perfectly. This year, for the first time, I decided to take the plunge and buy one of these “second” tools and got a Bullnose plane, the cost was around $130, while the price for an specimen with no defects goes for $169.

I know Lee Valley, like other premium manufacturers of hand tools, have very high standards of quality, but this “second” bull nose plane is in absolute perfect condition, I can’t find anything wrong with it. I will most certainly be checking out Lee Valley’s Cybermonday sale next year. Below, a picture of the plane.

This year I attended the Woodworking in America Conference West, or WIA West for short, at the Pasadena Convention Center. It was a lot of fun and I definitely recommend anybody interested in the craft to attend next year, assuming they come back, It seemed to be well attended, but I have no idea how it compares to the original WIA.

Things I liked

Most of the presentations I attended were very good, but these are my favorites:

  • Make your own simple hand tools by Yeung Chan: He attended the woodworking program at the College of the Redwoods, Mr Chan was clearly a master on this subject and his presentation was very informative, he did a live demonstration by grinding a piece of steel into the blade of a marking knife. Below, a picture of Mr Chan tool chest, filled with tools made by himself.


  • Bentwood lamination by David Marks, showed us many pictures from pieces in his portfolio and discussed the jigs and techniques he used to build them, I hope I can incorporate some of these elements in future projects,
  • The Pegged joint by Matthew Teague, it’s just a good idea, if you want to reinforce a mortice and tenon and improving the appearance of the joint, i am also looking forward to incorporating this into future projects.
  • Introduction to Campaign Furniture by Christopher Schwarz: Chris is a very entertaining speaker, it’s very enlightening how he reverse engineers not only the techniques needed to build a piece, but the reasons behind the way a piece was constructed. I must admit i don’t like his Roorkhee Chair very much yet, but it’s growing on me. Below you can see Chris Schwarz assembling the chair.


  • Roy Underhill, I didn’t get to attend any of his presentations, mostly because the topics didn’t seem of personal interest, however, I am an avid fan of his Show, and I am considering attending to one of his classes at the Woodwright School.
  • Doors, Types, Tips and Techniques by Glen D. Huey: this presentation was aimed at machine joinery for frame and panel, it was good and I picked a few tricks here and there, even though I am a handtools enthusiast, of note is the construction of a door that accept glass panels, which I will be using for the keychain display cabinet I am planing to build for my dad’s next birthday.
  • Sketchup by Bob Lang: excellent presentation, Sketchup is a great tool, and it can take some practice for a user to get comfortable with it, I will be giving it another chance soon.

Also Pasadena is a great location, there is a lot of stuff to do in terms of eating, drinking, entertainment, etc. I hope they repeat.

Things I didn’t like as much

  • I was expecting the conference to be a bit more hands on, I don’t know if this is practical or possible, but I hope it is.
  • Some of the talks felt a bit too much like sales pitches (Wood turning for Flatboarders, I am looking at you), even if the meat of the presentation was more than adequate.
  • In general, food at conventions suck, it’s expensive and of low quality, most of the time organizers have their hands tied though, as these services are provided by the convention center, so while I am not expecting a change in this regard, I hope it does.
  • The exhibit hall felt a bit underrepresented, there were no used tools and some of the makers I was hoping to see were not there (Bad Axe Toolworks, Wenzloff and Sons and a few others)

In Conclusion

If you’re keeping score, the positives greatly outweigh the negatives, and overall it was a wonderful experience that I hope to repeat next year.