Puttin' on the Kilometers

Not that the summer was particularly quiet but this fall is going to be a lot of planes, trains and automobiles. September to November is going to have me rocking and rolling around the world at:

  • a Woodshow in Ontario

  • Lee Valley classes in Alberta

  • Fine Woodworking Hands On in San Diego

  • Shows and demos in England

  • A show in Naas, Ireland

With all this travel, I’m sure to stay out of trouble. This may seem like a lot, but I truly enjoy teaching and passing on what I know about woodworking. I also love talking so stop by at any of these venues and say ‘hey’. Visit the Events & Classes page on my website for the W5 on these trips.


In order to understand, you must do. - V

Vic TesolinComment
San Diego Fun
Photos by EK Bowell

Photos by EK Bowell

I’m really excited to have been asked to teach this year in San Diego, California at Fine Woodworking Hands On. The class I’m teaching is Making a Japanese-style Tool Box. I first explored this type of toolbox for an article I wrote in Furniture and Cabinetmaking magazine (issue 263) in the UK. The cool thing about this project is there are so many opportunities for learning. You’ll also discover that once you learn how to make a box like this, you will make many more for other storage tasks.

No-numbers joinery layout

No-numbers joinery layout

To start, we’ll explore design options to customize your box – no sense in building a tool box that doesn’t fit your tools eh? We’ll also explore the use of removable, sliding tills that further increase the usefulness of the box. I truly enjoy working out of my toolbox and most of that is because I took the time to design it for my needs.  

Next we’ll breakout the material and begin laying out the joinery. We’ll be cutting the joinery by hand so our layout and marking skills will be critical. I’ll be sharing all if the little tricks I’ve picked up over the years that all but guarantee success. From accurate layout to accurate sawing, our joinery is going to be tight!

Once the outer box is together, we will move on to outfitting the inside. We can use a combination of dividers and tills to maximize the storage inside as well as making it efficient to grab your tools. I’m always amazed at how much I can pack into mine which makes it my toolbox of choice – a small footprint with a ton of storage.

Finally, we’ll apply a few coats of shellac to seal the surface. I’ll show you how to prepare the shellac from it’s flake form and the best way I’ve found to apply it.

Forged nails - decorative and practical

Forged nails - decorative and practical

Throughout the build I’m also going to cover topics such as sharpening and tuning and using hand tools. We will be using machines throughout the build as well, but the final trimming, joinery and surface prep will be done with hand tools. So you’ll have a great opportunity to hone both skillsets.

Worried about how to get your toolbox home? Worry no more because we are going to take a page out of the old IKEA catalogue. If you have to fly, you can wait to do the final assembly when you get home. I’ll be doing a detailed demo on the assembly so don’t fret. There is something to be said about flat-pack eh?

Most importantly, we are going to have a blast! Sometimes woodworking can be far too serious and I always look to keep it light. If you’ve worked with me before, you know that I like to have fun, make jokes, and to poke fun at some of the general seriousness that has infiltrated woodworking lately. I promise that we’ll have fun and learn from each other the whole way.

Also, you could consider bringing your partner/spouse and make a vacation out of it. I just did a teaching gig down in Australia and my partner joined me. She got to explore Melbourne and I got to teach a fun design class down under. So why not plan a trip to beautiful San Diego and hang out with me at Fine Woodworking Live? Come on out to the left coast and have some woodworking fun.

In order to understand, you must do. - V

Vic TesolinComment
A New Writing Gig

I enjoy sharing all of the things that I’ve learned about woodworking with others. That’s why I wrote a book (working on a second) and continue to write articles for various woodworking magazines around the globe. For me, it’s a form of teaching which I also enjoy doing. I’ve been fortunate in my woodworking education and experiences to have a lot to share and I feel it would be selfish to hang on to this stuff so I put it out there.

So imagine how chuffed I was when I was offered an opportunity to write a bi-weekly blog for Fine Woodworking’s website! Ben Strano said I can write about whatever I want, so I am. It’s nothing heavy or thousands of words about woodworking minutiae. It’s short musings about thoughts, techniques and observations I make everyday as a woodworker. I poke fun at some things and get serious about others and if you know me at all, it’s with a lot of humour and good natured ribbing.

I’ve waited until I had a few published before I told all of you just in case I got sacked. Click on the links below and I will be sure to send updates as future blogs posts are published.

And remember … in order to understand, you must do. - V

Vic TesolinComment
Off to New Zealand
A pull-plane with International roots.

A pull-plane with International roots.

One of my favourite things to do in the shop is make tools out of wood. I’ve made more wooden planes than I care to admit to but I’ve learned a lot from those builds. I’ve certainly developed preferences about the use of adjusters, species of wood and style of planes. 

After learning to make Japanese planes from a friend who studies in Japan, I realized that I could pull other techniques I’ve learned from other builds into the construction of a Japanese-style plane. Using techniques like cold-press laminations (from a Krenov-style plane) and abutments (from an English-style plane) to make a pull plane makes the process a bit easier and therefore attainable for the beginner hand tool making woodworker. 

I’ll be giving a workshop at the Centre for Fine Woodworking in Nelson, New Zealand from the 13th to the 16th of August so that you can make your very own plane in a class called “When East Meets West”. During the plane glue-ups, instead of drinking coffee, we will set to work on building a wooden adjusting hammer so you have a suitable tool to adjust your new plane. Then, to top it all off, I will guide you through the making of an elegant, dovetailed box to house your new plane. You’ll even get to test out your new plane during the making of the box!

This course is chock full of skills and techniques that you will be able to use in all matters of woodworking.

It promises to be action packed, fun week that will end with two shorter courses on the weekend. On the 17th, you’ll be learning how to get the most from your bench planes and on the 18th I will be talking about Veritas as a company as well as a set of demos featuring some of the tools in the Veritas line. 

So if you live In New Zealand or are willing to travel, head for the South Island to one of the most picturesque woodworking schools I’ve ever been to.

Vic Tesolin