Oct 162008

Dear Highland Woodworking:
I have not been able to find a good stainable wood filler (or putty). Minwax indicates that their putty is, but it really isn’t. It does fill the nail holes, but I can never seem to get the colors right even when I buy the wax pencils to try to assist. Normally I use Minwax Provincial Stain on my baseboard, pine doors and trim. Could you please help? I’ll bet I’m not the only one with this kind of issue.
Thanks, Peter B.
Dear Peter,
Many of us struggle with the imperfect science of matching wood with putty. Despite the multitude of manufacturers and the wide array of colors they offer, finding an off-the-shelf product to match your wood and accept your stain exactly is a very tall order. It is really a process of getting the putty as close as possible to the color of the surrounding wood, and then further enhancing the repair through the coloring and finishing process.
As you know, putty and wood are different in many ways. Wood has side grain and end grain. Putty does not. Wood is wood, while putty is a mixture of many different organic and inorganic products. Furthermore, the density of wood is dissimilar from species to species as well as to wood putty. This is complicated by the fact that no two manufacturers’ products are the same. As a result, finding an off-the-shelf putty to match your exact needs is very tricky.
So, what should we do? It is important to get as close a match as possible with either the wood, or if staining, with the final color of the piece. Then you can do your best to “make the repair disappear” through the staining or dyeing process and the finish coat (tinted or not). You will very likely have better luck disguising the repair by applying colored topcoats of finish, or by simply painting the area with artist colors. (Be sure to paint in grain lines to match the surrounding area.)
Several years ago, a trade magazine explained how large furniture manufacturers color match their products. As no two pieces of cherry or walnut are exactly the same color (and it is important to make them be the same color as the rest of the dining room suite), the process of coloring the furniture is actually a process of coloring the finish — and multiple layers of finish at that. This allows a uniform color regardless of the underlying wood and any defects that are present. It is a little like repainting an old car, but you get the idea.
I hope this helps answer your question. We all struggle with this problem from time to time. For further reading, check out Bob Flexner’s book entitled Understanding Wood Finishing. It is a super book that covers most aspects of finishing wood.
Sam Rieder
Highland Woodworking

Oct 152008

0927leaves.jpgAs autumn leaves brighten in color, woodworkers are inevitably making their way back to the woodworking shop in their basement, garage or outbuilding to resume the work they love: making practical and beautiful things out of wood.
In these troubled economic times more than ever, possessing woodworking skills and the tools necessary to exercise them can help enrich and enliven a woodworker’s life. Besides the joy and satisfaction that comes from creating something by hand, the opportunity exists to supplement your income by concentrating on practical projects that your local marketplace needs. Tables, chairs, shelving units and cabinets never go out of style and everyone needs them. Woodturning projects make excellent gifts, and everyone will be looking for unique gifts to give this holiday season. Woodcarving is great for this too.
We welcome your suggestions for specific project ideas that your fellow woodworkers around the country might use to generate income locally or save money on gifts that would otherwise need to be purchased. If you have some project ideas to share, please describe it by posting a reply to this blog entry.
The latest issue of Wood News Online, our monthly woodworking magazine, features an excellent article by Doug Bittinger that kicks off a series on taking the plunge into full-time professional woodworking. Whether woodworking is a hobby, a part-time moneymaker, or full-time occupation for you, Doug has some thoughtful ideas that are worth considering.
Here is a link to the full October issue of Wood News Online. An excerpt from Doug’s article follows below:
Taking the Plunge into Professional Woodworking
by Douglas Bittinger
I cannot say that I know anyone who was going through life with no woodworking experience and simply said to themselves “I think I’ll become a professional woodworker,” signed up for some courses to learn what they needed to know, and then went looking for a job as a woodworker. Not to say it doesn’t happen. I just don’t know any.
All of the professional woodworkers I know discovered a talent and desire for woodworking and nurtured it. Some discovered it while young, some not so young, but they found it. Some got into it out of necessity: they wanted things they couldn’t afford to buy and decided to make them. For others it started as a relaxing hobby. At some point they said, “You know, it would be great if I could make my living doing this instead of [whatever].”
If this thought has breached in your brain, let me issue a caution: When you take a hobby and turn it into your occupation, is ceases to be a hobby. Along with this change come responsibilities that weren’t there before. Your hobby becomes your JOB.
If you possess certain capabilities and resources, it can indeed be a rewarding and fulfilling job, leading to a more pleasant life style. If not, it can turn into a stress filled nightmare. What are these capabilities?

May 202008

highland woodworking
For the second year in a row, the readers of Atlanta’s Sunday Paper have voted Highland Woodworking (also known as Highland Hardware) the metro area’s best hardware store. Coming in as runner-up to Highland Woodworking was Home Depot with its 20 metro Atlanta big box locations. Guess that really goes to show that you don’t necessarily have to be the biggest to be regarded as the best. Thanks to all our customers and fans who helped select Highland Woodworking over all the dozens of other worthy hardware stores in and around Atlanta! And congratulations to Home Depot for coming in second!
Quoting the Sunday Paper:
THE LOWDOWN: Is it the tool tutorials? The woodworking classes? The down-to-earth, helpful staff? What is it about Highland Hardware that our readers always seem to love? Perhaps it’s the fact that in the chi-chi district of the Highlands, where nothing seems very useful, a hardware store is a reminder of purpose, a monument to getting things done, a touch of the “real.”
THE BASICS: 1045 North Highland Ave. NE     MAP

May 042008

Roy Underhill of The Woodwright’s Shop television fame headlined a crowd-pleasing exhibition of woodworkers in motion at Highland Woodworking’s 30th Anniversary Celebration in Atlanta on Saturday, May 3, 2008. Hundreds of woodworkers turned out despite heavy rain to watch Roy perform on his shaving horse and treadle lathe, along with numerous woodturners, wood carvers, a timber framer, a gunsmith, as well as many other high-energy tool demonstrations.

Mar 272008

Check out this easy way to navigate the countless woodworking tips we offer for your reference throughout our entire highly-informative woodworking website. There is an abundance of interesting and useful woodworking tips here which we have compiled during our 30 years as a leading woodworking educator and tool retailer.


If you have useful woodworking tips you would like to contribute to our website and online newsletter, Wood News Online, send it to us in an email at

Mar 122008

Come meet one of TV’s biggest crowd pleasers, Woodwright’s Shop host Roy Underhill, our special guest during our big 30th Anniversary Celebration in Atlanta on Saturday, May 3, 2008. Roy will be giving free woodworking demos all day long. He will also teach a one-day class entitled Simple Machines the Old-Fashioned Way on Sunday, May 4, 2008.

Jan 082008

Bob Flexner
One of the least commonly understood aspects of woodworking is the art of wood finishing. Bob Flexner has probably done more than anyone anywhere to part the veil of mystery and confusion which surrounds this complex art form. His classic book Understanding Wood Finishing is generally considered to be the most comprehensive publication ever written on the subject.
We are pleased to announce that Bob is returning to Highland Woodworking February 2-3, 2008 for a two-day seminar in which he will demonstrate and explain many of the techniques that he has perfected over the years. Bob will show you how to identify any finishing product despite what the label states, how to predict its behavior, how to apply it successfully, and how to treat it thereafter. He will teach you techniques for dyeing, staining, bleaching and filling; for applying oils, varnishes and lacquers, and for “finishing the finish.”
If you attend, you’ll take home a thorough understanding of finishes plus the confidence to use the right finish for the right application. To avoid disappointment, please sign up early as space will be limited.
Saturday & Sunday, February 2-3, 2008 from 9 am to 5 pm
Recommended reading: Understanding Wood Finishing
Wood Finish