LJ Challenges #12: >>>>>FREE DRAW!!!! <<<<< deadline Jan. 31/14

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Blog entry by MsDebbieP posted 01-23-2014 12:13 PM 2782 reads 0 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 11: >>>>>FREE DRAW!!!! <<<<< deadline Jan. 31/14 Part 12 of LJ Challenges series Part 13: >>>>>FREE DRAW!!!! <<<<< deadline Feb. 14/14 »

Hendrik Varju is a well known furniture designer/craftsman who operates “Passion for Wood” near Toronto, Canada. He also offers woodworking courses and seminars and has been widely published in woodworking magazines in Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and Australia. In 2007, Hendrik started producing DVD courses and he has offered to provide some of them as prizes in Lumberjocks’ contests. You can see the full list of all of Hendrik’s DVD courses here: .

This week, the prize is Hendrik’s fourth DVD course called “Wood Science & Design”. It is almost 6 hours long and focuses on the science of wood movement and how to incorporate it into your furniture designs. It also has a long and detailed bonus section with a furniture tour to study several of Hendrik’s designs, explaining how the wood science meshes with real world, practical design considerations. You can read more about this 3-DVD set here: It is valued at Cdn. $79.95 + taxes and shipping.

To enter to win this contest, just post a comment giving your answer to this question: “What is the best advice you could give a newbie woodworker about wood science and how it impacts the way furniture ought to be built?” Post a comment by Friday, January 31/14 and Hendrik will choose his favourite answer. Then we’ll let you know how to claim your prize. Hendrik will ship it directly to your home at no cost to you.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

25 comments so far

View Kaleb the Swede's profile

Kaleb the Swede

1993 posts in 3424 days

#1 posted 01-23-2014 12:27 PM

I’m a newbie and wouldn’t know. So….I won’t answer that question. In other words ask someone who knows

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View John's profile


341 posts in 5253 days

#2 posted 01-23-2014 01:04 PM

not sure if they reach the level of wood “science,” but:

A) learn about wood movement, in fact use some cheap notfullydry pine to glue up a stool or box with cross-grains and watch where it fails, the lessons will be much more valuable than the sacraficed wood

B) some sawdust is very dangerous, like black walnut, nasty stuff. Always use breathing protection for power work.

-- John - Central PA -

View hoosier0311's profile


706 posts in 3480 days

#3 posted 01-23-2014 01:15 PM

I will be interested in hearing what some of the folks on here say about this. I really never gave much thought to the science involved other than orienting the grain so stuff doesn’t look stupid or break off. How exactly is furniture “supposed” to be made? 20 people will more than likely create 20 different answers. I build stuff I like, is there a faster/slower, more effecient,,,,,,,”better” way to do what I did?,,,,,,,,,,,probably. I am in the same camp as Kaleb, don’t feel like I should be giving anyone advice other than be careful, your fingers,eyes,etc are far more valuable than anything you can build.

-- atta boy Clarence!

View DIYaholic's profile


19921 posts in 4130 days

#4 posted 01-23-2014 01:27 PM

Another uninformed noob here….

I would post a considered design here on LJs and ask for advice, from the seasoned craftsman that surely know more than me, for potential pitfalls! Then, I would search the interweb to further my knowledge. This would also include researching available learning sources.

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View cdarney's profile


104 posts in 4485 days

#5 posted 01-23-2014 01:42 PM

- Wood is an inherently imperfect medium.
- Leave measurements smaller than 1/16” (perhaps 1/32”) to working with metal. Wood can change those dimensions in a matter of minutes.
- Acclimate the lumber (preferably in the area where the furniture will ultimately reside) prior to milling and dimensioning.
- Mill and dimension roughly then let it rest for a few days before final milling.
- Become familiar with lumber cuts – Flat sawn, rift sawn, quarter sawn – and the properties of each.
- Wood WILL move. Expect it. Plan for it.


View Steve Kreins's profile

Steve Kreins

358 posts in 3086 days

#6 posted 01-23-2014 01:50 PM

You can do it!
You also don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Ask lot’s of questions, I’m a Newbie and nobody has laughed at me yet. is a great place to start your learning experience! Most all Woodworkers from Newbies to Master Cabinet and Furniture makers have one gene in common in their DNA. They love to help others learn!
I have liver cancer and have started Woodworking, with zero experience, for the therapeutic Qualities of the craft. The teachers, encourages and people who just plain care have literally come out of the Woodwork to help me! I am blessed and you will be too.
And finally, as you learn, watch the Masters and always ask yourself “WHY”. Why did he use those types of joints? Why did he angle the legs the way he did? Why did he use the finish he did? Why that type of wood or woods?
Then….............. use and hundreds of other resources to ask, “WHY”.
That’s what I’ve been doing and it’s working great for me! Oh yea, and have fun, woodworking is good medicine.

-- I thank God for everything, especially all of you!

View MTMan2's profile


47 posts in 4147 days

#7 posted 01-23-2014 02:13 PM

Working with wood is not about controlling wood as much as it is about knowing what wood can do. And knowing what wood can (and will) do is about understanding that wood is a collection of fibers that hold water. Knowing how much water, and where that water is going to be later, is the biggest thing you’ll need to know to make a woodworking project become durable, beautiful, functional, or any combination of the three.

-- - The most recognized name in all of recorded history was worn by a woodworker.

View JimDaddyO's profile


680 posts in 4534 days

#8 posted 01-23-2014 02:41 PM

Wood moves, stop measuring to the thousandth.

-- You Tube channel:

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

4110 posts in 3706 days

#9 posted 01-23-2014 03:00 PM

Allow for wood movement in joinery.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View Julian's profile


1693 posts in 4145 days

#10 posted 01-23-2014 03:45 PM

As others have said, ‘Wood moves”. I have found many useful techniques in books, on line videos, and DVDs that show clever ways to build furniture and allow for wood movement. For someone new to woodworking; spend time researching before staring your project. One technique worth mentioning: let the wood acclimate to your shop for at least 2 days before milling the lumber.

-- Julian

View Bigrock's profile


292 posts in 4417 days

#11 posted 01-23-2014 04:19 PM

I think that a newbie should.
1) They should not try a real hard project the first time.
2) Read books will give you a good starting place.
3) Tools buy the best you can. I hear many say they are on there third or fourth table saw. Save your money and buy the table Saw that will last.
4) Don’t think the first project will be perfect. Only you will know where the mistakes are.
5) Always remember to be safe and have FUN.

View KayBee's profile


1083 posts in 4701 days

#12 posted 01-23-2014 06:30 PM

Wood moves, plan for it, don’t over think this. Moves more across the grain than with it.

-- Karen - a little bit of stupid goes a long way

View mr_rick's profile


4 posts in 3120 days

#13 posted 01-23-2014 08:51 PM

Because of how plywood is constructed at the mill a good grade is harder and more rigid and flat, than natural wood but strength?...go for wood. The topic is huge because one must first determine what properties are more important for the end application with regard to tensile strength, shear, elasticity, and many other values to consider. Both are controlled and quality audits ensure spec time and time again. Both go through ASTM and tested regularly for property consistency.

Many feel that solid wood is better because it is a homogeneous material and hence unlike plywood there is no question of layers coming apart. However, it largely depends on the quality of the wood and the intended end use. For reasons of hardness and rigidity, I generally use plywood for all jigs in my shop.

One other advantage of solid natural wood over plywood is that its more natural and contains no chemical resins (adhesives).

Do your research before choosing the material for your project. Strength…use wood. Rigidity, flatness, and hardness…. use plywood.

View woodworker4life's profile


1 post in 3258 days

#14 posted 01-23-2014 10:47 PM

My advice would be to not waste wood. Save wood pieces for other projects. You can build a lot of items with left over wood: butcher blocks, birdhouses, doll furniture, toys, etc. If you live in the country, like I do, and you cut down trees, please make sure you plant new trees. Also, I like the old saying of ‘measure twice and cut once’. I guess I could say that in this economy, we need to be frugal & make the most of what we have. Also: don’t make junk. Make something you can pass down to future generations.

View The Box Whisperer's profile

The Box Whisperer

678 posts in 3525 days

#15 posted 01-24-2014 01:39 PM

General advice always given: Be safe, respect the machine, be safe, if your gut tells you dont do it dont do it. Be safe. Protect your eyes and ears and lungs. Be safe.

Woodworking advice: JimDaddyO hit the nail on the head. “Wood moves, stop measuring to the thousandth.”
I might add, take a look at the project, some things, like shop fixtures and cabins, ARN’T fine heirloom furniture. Allow yourself mistakes to learn from and grow with. Not every project will be perfect, sometimes good enough is good enough.

Science advice: Explore cut types! The first time my hardwood human showed me this it blew me away. She laid out 2 pieces of Ash. One flat sawn, and one quartersawn. They looked like 2 different woods! The flat sawn had that wide open Oaken grain, and the quartersawn was long tight straight lines of grain. Gorgeous!

-- "despite you best efforts and your confidence that your smarter and faster than a saw blade at 10k rpm…. your not …." - Charles Neil

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