Molly Bagby

Jun 142013

These days woodturning is probably the fastest growing specialty interest among woodworkers. One reason is how easy it is to get hooked on the instant gratification that woodturning makes possible. For instance you could start a project this afternoon and finish making a beautiful wooden bowl by suppertime.

Inventor Craig Jackson designed Easy Wood Tools to eliminate the need to constantly be stopping to resharpen the tool edge, which is common practice when using ordinary HSS turning tools. He’s also simplified use of the tool so that you can begin getting great results right from the start.

Since Easy Wood Tools are on sale for Father’s Day, we have a great video our buddy Morton made that demonstrates what Easy Wood Tools are all about and how to use the mini-version of the tools. These are especially good for woodturning on one of the many small lathes that have become so popular.

Here’s another video produced by Craig Jackson, the inventor himself, that offers some additional details on getting started using Easy Wood Tools.


Jun 122013
A few weeks ago we began blogging about Highland Woodworking owner Chris Bagby and his wife Sanne’s progress with the installation of  a Little Free Library in their front yard in Atlanta, GA. The Little Free Library is a nationwide community movement project that involves the creation of a birdhouse-sized structure that is placed in your front yard and then filled with books that can be shared with others in your neighborhood. Sanne has been keeping track of their progress through her own blogging and we wanted to share an update on the installation of the drawer and the door.
We’ve been busy putting our Little Free Library together! Chris used a scroll saw to cut out a window in the door of our cabinet. Using a ball-bearing-guided router bit, he routed a rabbet all around the inside of the opening, then squared the corners with a chisel so that we could imbed a rectangular piece of plexi-glass into it.  Passers-by will be able to see the books inside, an additional way to invite them to explore the contents of the Little Free Library. We used a 3/32-inch thick piece of plexi, cut to size for us by our local ACE Hardware store. I sanded, primed and painted the cut edges inside the opening before installing the plexi, which fit perfectly. We used screws and silicon adhesive to secure the plexi; it’s quite secure and waterproof now!
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I sanded and painted both of the shelves that came with the cabinet. We will only need one shelf in our library, so one of the original shelves will serve as the new “floor” of the cabinet, separating the drawer cavity from the main compartment of the library. Ignoring the old wood brackets that originally held the shelves, we mounted a new set of shelf supports and used the remaining shelf to serve as the cabinet’s only shelf. The books for adults will be in the upper section and the children’s books in the lower section.

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Click HERE to continue reading the entries in this project series, with The Roof Addition.


May 312013

This is a continuation of our interview with Bishop Frank Allan featured in a blog post last week. CLICK HERE to read Part 1 of our interview with Bishop Frank Allan, where we discuss Work of Our Hands, an organization he founded that brings arts and craft resources (including wood turning facilities) to “persons marginalized by socioeconomic, mental health and intellectual challenges.”

In this blog continuation we learn more about The Mikell Folk School, another organization founded by Bishop Allan that helps give people from all background the opportunity to learn a new craft they may never have thought about trying before.


carpenter-sign-300x225Highland Woodworking: How did the Mikell Folk School start?

Frank Allan: In 2000 we thought “let’s try a Folk School at Camp Mikell!” During one weekend in our first year, we hauled all of the equipment  in several vans from Emmaus House up to Camp Mikell in Toccoa, GA. We took it up on a Friday and then brought it back to Atlanta on Sunday evening so it was ready for Emmaus House to use the next morning. I decided after awhile it was sort of crazy to do the hauling back and forth, and thought “why not just have a full separate facility in Toccoa?”  So we went out and raised money and we built the St. Joseph Craft Center up at Camp Mikell. Again, we got all of our equipment for this center from Highland Woodworking.

At our Camp Mikell Folk School we offer Wood Turning, Pottery, Weaving, Photography, and Felting. We have a lot of people sign up for weaving and wood turning and  they’re our most popular classes. We get a lot of volunteer teachers who have also been teachers at the John Campbell Folk School. We often bring up a full bus load of people from both Emmaus House and Holy Comforter for these Mikell Folk School sessions. We get a wide variety of people from all different backgrounds to come. A lot of fairly well-to-do people. A mixture of black and white, rich and poor. People who have mental disabilities, people who don’t. We all come together for one weekend, twice each year. Our Spring session is for about 120 people while our Autumn session is for about 50 people, and is a little more specialized with fewer offerings, which is why there are fewer people.

We’ve recently started to offer copper enameling, and that is really popular. We didn’t have anybody to teach it, so Elizabeth, my wife, went off to Chastain and learned how to do it. Then a lot of artists came in to take it and they have become pros and they sell it online and in their shops. Our idea is for people to discover their own creative gifts and that they can do things. A lot of people say “Oh, I’m not an artist.” I can’t say that I am either, but they can make beautiful things and then they can sell them.

Part of our aim is we are non-profit, and non-competitive – we’re not competing against any other groups. We’re the only Folk School in GA. One of these days we would like to expand the usage of the place to other groups and programs.

HW: Is wood turning offered in both sessions?

FA: Yes, we always do wood turning because that always fills up. We get some people who have never done wood turning before and they get really into it. They come home from the folk school and will often want to get their own lathe. Generally we work on the mini lathes.

HW: Is the space still active when there isn’t a Folk School weekend going on?

FA: There are other things that go on. We often get groups of  kids from the county school system who have either behavioral or academic problems come up.  We also get special groups who come up with a specific project in mind. One of these is our stained glass group who come together several times each year. Right now they are getting ready to put up a stained glass piece in the chapel at Camp Mikell.

HW: I know the new facility at Camp Mikell is the St. Joseph the Carpenter Art Center, did you have a part in building that?

FA: Yes, we built that. That’s when we decided that rather than haul stuff up there we wanted a permanent site. We raised the money for the building and the equipment to stock it. We got the lathes for wood turning, the looms for weaving, all of the stuff that we needed. I talked Camp Mikell into doing this and then we gave it to Camp Mikell.

HW: And do you go to all of the Mikell Folk Schools each year?

FA: I do.I don’t do it as much woodworking anymore but sometimes when I’m up at the camp I help the wood turners. I’ve also taught photography. I don’t think I’m as skilled at that. They probably need somebody who knows more than I do. But it is a very fun group. We don’t have an agenda except for people to come up and learn to do things.

HW: Are the Folk School sessions a weekend long?

FA: Each session lasts one weekend. We do some things that last longer, but these Folk Schools last a weekend. Some people say “well why can’t it go on for a week?” We get some really enthusiastic people.

HW: What is the best way for people reading this article to contribute?

FA: You can donate directly to the Mikell Conference Center and designate your contribution to go to the Folk School. Every now and then we send out a letter, but we don’t have a sustained way of raising funds.

HW: Thank you very much for taking the time for this interview and it was wonderful to hear about these great organizations!


To make a tax-deductible donation to the Mikell Folk School, please click HERE and designate that the donation should go to The Folk School.

To make a tax-deductible donation to the Work of Our Hands, please visit the following link HERE.

May 242013
Doug Marples Shop

Doug Marples Shop

Today’s Follow Friday is Doug Marples, who was featured several months ago in our Show Us Your Shop column in our February 2013 issue of Wood News. Doug’s primary focus is making violins and violas in his Marples Violins shop in Lawrence, Kansas, where he makes about 8-10 concert quality instruments per year.

From his website, we learned that Doug has not always been in the instrument business, and before calling his shop his everyday workspace, he was a Doctor for 23 years. He switched careers and graduated from the Violin Making School of America in Salt Lake City in 2007, and now works full-time in instrument making. His work is inspired by the many great Italian violin makers including the Amati family, Gasparo da Salo, Antonio Stradivari, Giuseppe Guarneri ‘del Gesu’ and JB Guadagnini.

To learn more about Doug Marples, you can visit his website HERE and Like his Facebook page HERE.


Front of violin before varnish.


Back of violin before varnish.


Finished products.

May 232013

Two months ago we blogged about The Little Free Library, a nationwide community movement project that involves the creation of a birdhouse-sized structure that is placed in your front yard and then filled with books that can be shared with others in your neighborhood. Over the past few weeks Highland Woodworking owner, Chris Bagby, and his wife Sanne have been putting together their own Little Free Library for their front yard. Sanne has been keeping track of their progress and we wanted to share their process of building a Little Free Library.


photo (1)There are two Little Free Libraries in our neighborhood. I recall my delight when I “discovered” the first one. Just across the street from a little park, I spied a curious white box. I crossed the street to investigate, and much to my surprise, it was a “Little Free Library.” I selected a book and took it home with me. When I got home, I searched the internet to learn more. What a marvelous not-so-little movement! Weeks later, I discovered the second one – a bit further away but was no less delighted with it. Right then and there, I vowed to join the effort. Our block is filled with children and lots of adults who read, as well. We even have several authors!

To start my Little Free Library (LFL) I found an old bureau sitting curbside that I’d intended to gut and re-purpose as the main structure for the library, but I ultimately decided that it was too large. That same week I found a wonderful, solid wood cabinet with a single drawer that would do perfectly. My husband Chris will help with some of the carpentry, including constructing and sinking the post for the LFL. In keeping with the mission of the LFL movement, we’re determined to use recycled materials as much as possible.
The basis of our Little Free Library.

The basis of our Little Free Library.

I took off the double-hinged door, dismantled the two shelves, and removed the hardware from the door and drawer, then set about removing all the paint with a plastic scraper. Much to my delight, I found a beautiful wood finish underneath.  We briefly toyed with the notion of keeping the natural finish on the box, but later decided that it would be best to paint it. We wanted a bright and cheerful LFL. I was off to the neighborhood ACE hardware store to see if they had any “oops” paints that would do for us. I purchased some pearl and some lovely heather-green glossy paints at less than a third of the cost of buying new.  I bought a small can of primer and I was ready to begin. We already had the brushes that we would use, as well as some thinner for the primer, which was oil-based.
We started by removing the base in order to invert the cabinet because we wanted the drawer to be on the bottom instead of the top. I used a small sander to remove the remaining paint and finish down to the bare wood inside and outside of the cabinet. After cleaning up all the dust particles I was ready to prime. It took the entire quart of paint to complete the priming – this is some thirsty wood! Two coats of primer were left to dry overnight. The next day, I began the painting with the pearl high gloss paint, using edging painting pads to get a nice, clean finish. It was looking wonderful! I painted the insides of the cabinet and the entire drawer – inside and out, making sure that every crevice and corner was well sealed with paint. The front panel of the drawer got the green paint. This coat of paint was given several days to dry before adding the second coat.
Prepping and Removing the Base

Prepping and Removing the Base

Base Removed.

Base Removed.

Sanding all surfaces.

Sanding all surfaces.

Removing the dust.

Removing the dust.

Applying the 1st coat of primer.

Applying the 1st coat of primer.



Artwork design planning.

Artwork design planning.

It was an exciting day when our mail carrier brought us the LFL Steward’s Kit that contained our official sign. We would be LFL #5619! The packet contained a free children’s book and some wonderful tools and pamphlets offering advice for running our own LFL. It made us feel very official!
I worked on our deck whenever it was clear, moving the cabinet inside each night. We experienced quite a bit of rain for a time, so work was often delayed. Ah, Spring! Then came the ubiquitous “yellow pollen attack” that comes to Atlanta every springtime. Within an hour, all surfaces are covered in a layer of bright, yellow pollen. You have to witness this phenomenon to believe it! More delays.
Work was briefly ceased so that I could attend a 4-day knitting conference – Stitches South, and then I went up to visit my stepdaughter and her family. I spent a lot of time with my granddaughter while I was up there, and much of our time was spent at the public library. I’m ever so much more committed to getting ours into action now!
Click HERE to continue reading the entries in this project series, with The Drawer and The Door.
May 222013
Frank Allan

Frank Allan

One of the greatest things we can do as woodworkers and hobbyists is to share our passions with others. There are many organizations throughout the world that provide the opportunity to get started in woodworking and are geared toward people who either don’t have the resources to be able to get started, or who may have never thought to give it a try.

Two of these organizations are The Work of Our Hands and The Mikell Folk School, both based in Georgia and founded by Frank Allan, a former bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta and longtime woodworker and customer of Highland Woodworking. A few weeks ago, Frank stopped by our store and I had the opportunity to chat with him and find out a little more information about his wonderful organizations dedicated to furthering the art and love of woodworking within the community. Below is Part 1 of our conversation, where Frank discusses his start in woodworking and his first organization, The Work of Our Hands:

Highland Woodworking: How long have you been in GA?

Frank Allan: I was born outside of Chicago and lived some in Miami. We came to GA when I was about 9 years old during World War II. My Father was stationed at Oak Ridge and we came here to be closer to him. When the war ended he came back to Atlanta and worked as the Director of Operations at Emory, and so we stayed here.

HW: When did you first become interested in woodworking and how did you get started?

FA: I have always been interested in woodworking. My father had an old Sears scroll-saw sitting down in the basement so I got it and started doing things with it, like making toys for my grandchildren. Later I went off to the John Campbell Folk School where I did wood turning  and then my office staff gave me a Jet lathe for Christmas. I have been doing that for about 15 years. I thought I was too old to do that and then I met Ed Moulthrop who was 80 years old and still wood turning. I asked him “how much of the day do you do this?” He said “well 8 hours a day.”  He has a son named Phillip, who is one of the really great wood turners. They have a lot of their wood turning in the Smithsonian and the Museum of Art in NY. They make things you can fit a human being into. For these projects he had to make his own lathe and own tools because what they were doing was too big for the normal size tools. They also have a secret finish that they use. It is very expensive stuff.

HW: What is your favorite piece that you have made?

FA: When I was younger I built a classic sailboat and I could not get it out of the basement. We had to tear out the storm shutter to get it out.

In terms of wood turning I made a chess set and turned all the pieces. I think my greatest accomplishment was the chessboard. There is a way to make it where everything fits together perfectly. My grandchildren all play with it whenever they come over. I have 9 grandchildren and will have to decide who gets it. We might have to draw straws for it. I have done some shaker projects too.

HW: How did The Work of Our Hands get started?

FA: After I retired, I thought about what I wanted to do with my woodworking hobby. I thought about my John Campbell experience and I wanted to build upon that experience. The folk school experience comes out of the Danish folk school from the 19th century. It transformed the countryside of Denmark, which was very poor at the time, and the concept brought the skills of these rural people together and they trained. And lots of people did it and people made money and so forth. So that was what I was interested in and I thought how can you translate that into an urban setting so we can deal with inner-city poor people? And so I helped start The Work of Our Hands, which consisted of two arts and craft centers. The first is The Friendship Center at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in the Ormewood neighborhood of Atlanta and the other is at Emmaus House near Turner Field in Atlanta.

At Holy Comforter we work primarily with people with mental disabilities. People who have addictions and so forth. And then we have some neighborhood people who come as well.  And at Emmaus House we work primarily with inner-city families and children. To start the programs we raised money and then bought all of the lathes from Highland Woodworking and then equipped the centers with the lathes, band saws, and a lot of other tools.  The Georgia Wood Turners also gave the Work of Our Hands a lathe for our wood turning shop at Emmaus House, which was delivered by Harvey Henson who came back every Saturday to teach the young people in our Saturday program.

My goal has been to allow these people to gain skills that are marketable. Some of them get good enough to be able to make bowls and sell them. The Work of Our Hands used to run a gallery in Buckhead where we sold the pieces that people made on consignment, and the artists were able to make money when their pieces sold.

Later instead of the gallery, some of us figured there was a better way to get exposure and sell these pieces. We started a craft show/artist market at the Cathedral of St. Phillip, which runs the week before Thanksgiving. We make more money in four days than we ever made doing our gallery. Half of it goes to The Work of Our Hands and the other half goes to the artists who submitted their work.


To make a tax-deductible donation to the Work of Our Hands, please visit the following link HERE.

And don’t forget to be on the look out for the continuation of our interview with Frank Allan next week, where we discuss the Mikell Folk School.


May 172013
Denis Hermecz

Denis Hermecz

On today’s Follow Friday we have the work of Denis Hermecz, a woodworker from Silverhill, AL, who we featured in our Show Us Your Woodcarving column in the May 2013 Issue of Wood News. Throughout his woodworking years, Denis has created a variety of pieces including cabinets, nightstands, and bookshelves, and lately he has been focusing on woodcarving.

In an interview he did with Woodworking Network, Denis discussed how he started his career in woodworking. In order to earn money for school, he worked as an apprentice boat builder, where he was able to find a passion for the craft. In college, he majored in English and like a lot of people do when they graduate, he focused in getting a career where he could use his major whether it be as a Writer or English Teacher.  He didn’t realize it right away, but once he figured out he could make woodworking into his career, he was set on his path.

Carved Mirror Frame

Carved Mirror Frame

My favorite piece that Denis shared with us is the mirror frame that he custom made for a client who had already installed the mirror that she wanted the frame to fit. The process that Denis used to carve this piece is also very interesting:

“I drew the vines directly on the assembled rectangular frame. I cut out the shapes with a Bosch sabre saw and I carved most of the shapes with a Bosch 12000 rpm side grinder–an extremely versatile tool. There is some carving done with hand held chisels out of my mixed bag of old chisels, but I try to design a big piece like this one so that hand carving is minimized. I sand a lot of the pieces like this one with Festool random orbit sanders and some with a Fein multitool sander.”

The frame takes up an entire wall at 54″x103″, and a lot of the vine work that Denis put into this piece was freestyle form, which is what I think makes this piece stand out to me.

Below are a few more pieces that Denis has made. If you would like to see more of his work, you can visit his website HERE.


Fridays on the Highland Woodworking Blog are dedicated to #Follow Friday, where we use this space to further highlight a woodworker or turner who we have featured in our monthly e-publications Wood News or The Highland Woodturner. Would you like for your shop to appear in our publications? We invite you to SEND US PHOTOS of your woodworking shop along with captions and a brief history and description of your woodworking. (Email photos at 800×600 resolution.) Receive a $50 store credit redeemable towards merchandise if we show your shop in a future issue.