George T. (Terry) Chapman

Terry Chapman is a Professional Engineer (Civil) and Land Surveyor who lives south of Atlanta. He has done woodworking for many years and particularly enjoys bowl turning and making Windsor Chairs. He currently works as Site Development Manager for a local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity and has one son who pastors a Church in Connecticut. You can email him at

Oct 242016

The Holidays are upon us and I think many wood workers are looking for things to make as gifts. One thing I like to make and which can be done quickly and easily is a wooden pen.

All the Pieces

All the Pieces

My favorite this year is the “bolt action” pen.  As you might infer from the name,  the point is extended by a small sliding rifle type bolt near the clip of the pen. The bolt handle locks the pen point in place while you write and then snaps back to hide the point. It is remarkable in its action and appearance.

Wooden pen blanks are easily available for a few dollars for a five inch piece, enough for two pens, or you can use any scraps lying around the shop.  Pen kits can be had for under ten bucks and with a few specialized tools, making a pen is quick and easy. If I focus on what I am doing I can make a pen in about 30 minutes, start to finish.

Pens make a nice gift. You can add a wooden case for a few dollars, and for the bolt action pen, there is even a small gun case available. Typically, wooden pens sell for upwards of $30 and I have a friend who bought a bolt action for a Christmas present last year and paid over $50 for it.

You are going to need a lathe of course, and a couple of other special tools, but not too many things.  Pens are quick and easy and make nice gifts.  Give them a try.

Finished Pens

Finished Pens

Want more information on pen turning? Check out this penturning article and a video on how to turn a pen.

Terry Chapman is a Professional Engineer (Civil) and Land Surveyor who lives south of Atlanta. He has done woodworking for many years and particularly enjoys bowl turning and making Windsor Chairs. He currently works as Site Development Manager for a local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity and has one son who pastors a Church in Connecticut. You can email him at

Aug 032016


Well, that settles it! I’m getting one of those amusement park ride signs saying “you have to be this tall” before you can come in my shop. Let me tell you why.

Like the rest of you, I am proud of my shop and jump at any opportunity to show if off. Twice in the last several weeks I have invited friends with children to come over and see what I am working on and what I have made lately. Some kids have questions about woodworking and tools, and sometimes parents want to see the shop after they have heard me talk about it.

First family came over and the older child, about 11, was fascinated by carving tools. We set up a piece of soft wood in the bench vise and she tried out the draw knife (don’t pull it too far towards you, that’s what happened to my half-brother! (took three times to get the joke)(Thanks Roy Underhill)).  She tried my spokeshave, and was just enthralled with being able to cut wood with hand tools. In the meantime, her five year old brother was loving the round ship’s wheel on the leg vise. He must have turned that thing a thousand times. His Mom was concerned that he might mash a finger in the vise, but I assured her that it was a once in a lifetime occasion because if he did clamp up his finger, he would never do it again. Later she winced as most Moms would when he picked up something sharp and I pointed out the box of bandaids. We got through that day unscathed, thank goodness.

A couple of weeks later another couple came over with their four year old daughter. I invited them all into the shop and told them to look at anything they wanted, but make sure to not turn on any tool. They had an old dining room table to re-finish so we set the center leaf on the table saw to decide the best course of action. Kid is wandering around the shop with all of us thinking we are watching her while we work on the leaf. I stepped away to find some stain and while I was in the corner of the shop, to my abject horror, I heard the table saw start up. The little girl had come up next to her Dad and could not resist punching the button right in front of her face. Thank goodness, the blade was retracted below the table or it could have been really, really bad.  Talk about dodging a bullet.

I’m putting the sign up next week!! Cavalier attitude and all the good will in the world does not exactly cut it. Safety first!

Get more woodworking safety tips from

Jun 202016

I have a bad habit of starting a book and then moving off and getting interested in something else. I have a stack of books with bookmarks in the middle that are always pending and I think it is safe to say that pending stack is my summer woodworking reading list. Maybe I’ll get distracted again and start to build something out of one of them again.

Why We Make Things and Why It Matters

Why We Make Things and Why It Matters by Peter Korn.

Don’t you always wonder why you make things? It’s kinda odd, isn’t it, that you can’t stop making things. Read this book and see why you make things. And then on top of that, you may be able to find out why it matters.

Coffin Making and Undertaking edited by Paul N. Hasluck.

This may seem a strange choice, but then I’m a little weird sometimes. My family has a long history in the funeral business and the genesis of that is likely my Great Grand Father who built buggies and wagons for a living. I am sure that when a casket was needed in the little town where he (we) lived, he was the one who was called. Things like making caskets do not change quickly, and this book first published in England about the turn of the last century is very likely similar to the way GG Father made caskets. With a chapter on lead caskets and another on how to move a casket down a narrow stairwell, this little book should be very useful if the need ever arises.

"Campaign Furniture"

Campaign Furniture by Christopher Schwarz.

I have been cycling through this book over and over. I built the three legged stool from the book and then later made the Roorkee Chair. Working with leather for the first time was a treat and both items turned out well. I will build everything in this book vicariously, I’m sure. I love the way Schwarz writes, the depth of coverage and research he does before he writes his books, and the way he makes the things he writes about as he writes about them. I’m definitely going to keep this one in the reading cycle.

Maybe someone will publish something new this summer. I always look forward to a brand new woodworking book.

Find more great Woodworking Books and Plans at the Highland Woodworking website.

May 192016

I’ve always loved those man-on-the street interviews in the newspaper where they ask what’s your favorite meal? and what’s your favorite movie? kind of questions. I thought I would do one of those for this blog. The first concern was who to interview, and so for convenience sake, I decided to interview me. Reduces the burden of social interaction, don’t cha know. Plus they always asked those inane questions. So here goes — HW is Highland, and WW is Woodworker (me):


HW: Thank you for doing this. I know you don’t grant many interviews.

WW: Glad to do it. It makes it easier when you interview yourself and know what the questions are going to be. That way there are no surprises.

HW: So tell me about your shop.

WW: I built a new building about 8 years ago — 20 feet by 40 feet with a front porch, and moved all my tools from the basement. I really disliked always having to clean off the bench or saw to do the next task. My goal was to be able to use every tool without having to clean it off first.IMG_2202

HW: Did it work?

WW: You know it didn’t. Nobody can build a shop that big.

HW: What kind of stuff do you build?

WW: Well, duh — wood stuff. This is a woodworking blog. I like Shaker stuff the best. Traditional things that endure and will look good many years from now. Clever things are not much for me. You will never see me glue up a bunch of little blocks to turn a bowl for a checker pattern in the finished piece. That is just too clever. I like Shaker, small tables, bowls, and chairs. Lately I have gotten into Chris Schwarz’s “Campaign Furniture”.

Roorkee Chair from "Campaign Furniture".

Roorkee Chair from “Campaign Furniture”.

HW: Our son laughs about the roll top desk.

WW: He would. I’ve known him since he was very young and all three of us share the same sense of humor. The roll top desk is sitting around about 80% complete for the last 20 years or so and he is always asking when I intend to finish it. Well, I intend to finish it every day, but it never happens. It is the old saw about perfect getting in the way of done. My reach exceeds my grasp and the desk is not up to par and I can’t bear to throw it away.

HW: What about all the tools? Father’s Day must be a problem for him since you seem to have all the tools that cost less than $300.

WW: That is true – I do enjoy having all the tools. Goes back to my childhood when my Dad had to borrow tools. The worst is when you buy a new tool and then find the same tool in the shop never taken out of the box. I hate that.

HW: What is your favorite tool?

Block Plane

Block Plane

WW: Little block plane. To me one of the real joys of wood working is a tiny finishing touch like breaking an edge with the block plane. I fantasize about somebody finding an edge on one of my pieces fifty years hence and recognizing the little facets where I took the time to plane it instead of sanding it .

HW: What is the worst thing about your hobby?

WW. Does anybody like sanding? I despise it.

HW: New skills lately?


Stool from “Campaign Furniture”.

WW: In the broad arc of wood working, I guess it would be chair making. The idea of making each piece of a chair to fit the previous work was a revelation to this engineer who spent his life drawing plans where you make each piece from the plans and then fit them all together at the end. Plus shaping a piece of wood freehand with a drawknife or a spokeshave was terribly liberating. I credit Mike Dunbar for that eye-opener. Lately, it has been leather work from Campaign Furniture which has been fun and different.

HW: What’s next?

WW: I always have a list of future projects. There is a plan for Jefferson’s Lap Desk floating around. I have had a set of boat plans for 30 years which will likely never get done. There’s a writing desk and a chair to be finished.

HW: Thanks for your thoughts.

WW: I enjoyed talking to you. We seem to enjoy many of the same things.

HW: Can I buy you lunch?

WW: Trying to figure how we can go together.

Apr 012016

A few years ago I went up to John Campbell Folk School for a class on carving where we were tasked with carving the head of a full size carousel horse. The instructor was excellent and brought several beautiful carousel horses for us to go by.

He gave us a pattern for the head and a roughed out block of basswood and said, all right, go ahead. And we’re sitting there saying go ahead where? We were finally able to get rolling on the task, which turned out to be a long week of eight hour days taking off little chips of wood, then stepping back and trying to see what to take off next or if we had gone too far.

Me and My Classmates

Me and My Classmates (Instructor right center)

If you have never done carving in stone or wood, the problem is once you cut something off, it is gone.  You can’t put it back like you can with clay. In fact, we laughed the whole class about looking for a “wood-put-er-backer-on-er”, i.e. something to put the wood back on after it was gone. We never did find one.

Summer time in Georgia is peach time. Every year I go down to Middle Georgia to a peach packing house and watch them sort and grade peaches. They have this wonderful machine which sorts, grades and labels the peaches with a computer and a camera. The machine takes a photo of each peach as it literally flies by, kicks out the bad ones, sticks a label on the rest and then directs each one to the proper tray for packing.

The Peach Packing House

The Peach Packing House

While sitting there in one of their rocking chairs, eating peach ice cream and watching that machine photograph and sort those peaches, it came to me — a solution to the “wood-put-er-backer-on-er” problem. About two years ago, I contacted the company which manufactures the peach machine and proposed to them a combination machine for carving. My idea was to set up a modification of their sorting machine and combine it with a 3-D printer. The computer/camera records the shape of each chip as it falls off the carving. Then using the 3-D printer, any chip can be reproduced and put back on the work, one chip at a time. The beauty of my machine is you don’t actually have to keep each chip because it is recorded in the computer and you can just “rewind” to a particular spot in the carving process and the 3-D printer simply adds the chips back onto your work. What genius!  Course, there is a limit to how far back you can go and with current technology and memory, it is about 500 chips.  Naturally it doesn’t work for sanding since those particles are too small and really eat up memory.

The peach machine company has promised to deliver the prototype by July 1st this year and I cannot wait for you to see it.  I have a photo, but for marketing purposes we are not ready  to publish it yet.  Price is going to be determined by the demand , but right now the initial price point is in the $16,000 range. A price that high is going to limit sales, but I am positive we can pull that down as we start marketing and demand begins to build.  Eventually I think we are looking at about $4500 each which is still a lot of money unless you need one. On the other hand, my Oneway lathe cost more than that.

I see endless possibilities.  The same problem exists for lathe work, but we will need a lot more memory and a really, really fast camera to record all those chips.  Being able to “rewind” enough to make a real difference could be a problem.

I do need a catchy name for it and if you have something I can use, post it in the comments. What about “PEBOE” or “Backer-on-Er”?

Look for it in the Fall Edition of the Highland catalog.

Dec 272015

Welcome to our 2016 Woodworking Resolutions blogger series. Every year we invite our bloggers to share their resolutions specific to their woodworking goals for the new year. Click each link below to read our bloggers’ resolutions!

It’s that time of the year for Woodworking Resolutions, so here goes:

1. I plan to make at least one other thing out of Christopher Schwarz’s book on Campaign Furniture. I love this stuff! When I see how much things sell for in the catalogs, there may be a profit to be made if I can bear to put them up for sale.

"Campaign Furniture"

“Campaign Furniture”

2. I’m going to work on leather a bit more. I tried a few things with leather in the past few months and I enjoyed it. If you get a few basic tools, leather work is pretty simple and I think I like it.

3. Like a lot of other people I may try to collect all the books published by Lost Art Press. I don’t think I have seen one yet that I dislike and the whole approach and attitude about woodworking appeal to me.

4. Still haven’t cleaned the dust out of the shop. I’m going to keep that one on the list since it only tends to get worse.

5. I’m going to buy at least one more Festool tool this year. If they would just stop issuing new ones I might catch up to a complete collection.  I bought the TXS Drill Set today, but I guess it doesn’t count for next year.

Festool TXS Drill

Festool TXS Drill

6. I am going to try to finish completely at least one project. I looked around the shop today and there are no fewer than five projects partially completed.

Plus all those other resolutions from the last few years are hereby incorporated by reference.

Dec 232015

I have always liked the names assigned to collections of creatures. It is interesting to me how the names have some social intent or nefarious motive. When I found this list over on the blog at I was tickled to see how it works.

An ambush of tigers

A glittering of hummingbirds
A bed of worms
A bike of hornets
A bouquet of pheasants
A dazzle of zebras
A descent of woodpeckers
An escargatoire of snails
A gang of turkeys
A gaze of raccoons
A hover of trout
A kettle of circling vultures
A kindle of kittens
A lamentation of swans
A mess of iguanas
A parliament of rooks
A pitying of turtledoves
A plump of waterfowl
A scream of swifts
A stubbornness of rhinoceroses
A tower of giraffes
An unkindness of ravens
A wisdom of wombats

A murder of crows

A congregation of alligators

Do you see what is missing — Woodworkers!! What do you call a bunch of woodworkers? A dustup of woodworkers? A cutoff? Loners? Shoppers? A beard of woodworkers? A dust cloud of woodworkers?

Read through the list above and get the sense of where this is going and then let’s have your suggestions in the comments. If I see one I really like, then I will use it here from now on out with proper credit given. Pallet of woodworkers? Toolbox of woodworkers? Note that all of the ones on the list have a large amount of connotation associated with them. A one car garage of woodworkers?  A dank basement of woodworkers?

Let us hear from you.

A Store of Woodworkers

A Store of Woodworkers