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Podcast 09 – “Perfection in Woodworking” with Jim McConnell

  During Jim’s visit a few weeks ago, we recorded this new episode (listen above) in which we further explore the topic of Jim’s article from Issue Three: “On Perfection: Both Practical & Practiced”. Jim talks about how this topic developed in his own life and what happened when he enlisted others to contribute their own answers to a series on his blog. Jim was surprised to find different perspectives on perfection in woodworking which eventually inspired his M&T article. In this podcast, we dive a little deeper into this topic of perfection in woodworking.   Items Mentioned in the Podcast:  Issue Three featuring Jim’s article “On Perfection: Both Practical & Practiced”  Jim McConnell’s “Perfection” blog series  

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A Trip Back In Time

While Joshua and his family ventured across the country for his week-long class at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking a while back, I decided to stick to this coast and take my family south. Several future M&T projects converged to create an opportunity to visit Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. Plus, our kids are focusing on American History this school year, and there are few places that bring revolutionary history to life like CW. I was a bit over 4 feet tall when I last visited, and the memory resounds strongly. I was looking forward to seeing the place with new eyes, and through the eyes of our children. Driving through snow as we left home, springtime gradually crept in...

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M&T Shop Building: The Stairs

This week, we got the stairs to the second floor designed, built, and installed. Even though we’re not yet finished with the flooring, we decided to prioritize stair construction because during the week after next Jim McConnell will be using this place as a guest house. Jim will be with us for the better part of a week sharing ideas, discussing the vision for the magazine, and making shavings. The stairs were designed around three boards from our vintage sheathing supply. Because the maximum length we could get out of this material was 12’ 1”, we spent the better part of a day figuring and refiguring the best solution for this space. The factors we considered included minimal footprint, maximum...

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Torrefied Oak Try Square

During one of my visits with Jim Tolpin a couple weeks ago, a student delivered a small board of torrefied maple to Jim for experimentation. Torrefaction is a process in which wood is heated beyond the combustion point in an anoxic environment (so that it doesn’t actually burn). This process is like an accelerated aging process by removing the volatiles that usually take many years to oxidize and mineralize. The natural mineralization of the volatiles inside the wood makes it so that so that moisture does not pass through as readily. This is the reason antique lumber is more dimensionally stable then new wood – it’s pores are clogged. Today, torrefaction is being used to reproduce this natural aging process...

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Podcast 08 – A New (Old) Way of Working Wood

  This new episode of our podcast (listen above) was recorded after two weeks of traveling to meet inspiring craftspeople of many different specialties. Mike and I share some of what we learned on our trips and discuss how learning hand skills is essential to surviving in a hyper-consumerist culture. Joshua also discusses his recent explorations into a pragmatic approach to wooden planemaking. Items Mentioned in the Podcast: Packing party blog post My recent Port Townsend workshop Steve Voigt's PW Planemaking Article Photo of textured flooring Colonial Williamsburg Issue Three Will Lisak Our “Apprenticeship: Tables” video Issue Four Thomas Thwaites “How I Built a Toaster – From Scratch”

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Deal with Real

  When I first got a smartphone I was resistant. I had seen what social media turned some people into – mindless vegetables hunched over poking at the glow in front of their eyes while the world around them soared by. I was embarrassed for them. When I started Mortise & Tenon 3 years ago, my relationship to this technology changed because I wanted to connect with like-minded folks around the globe. I knew Blue Hill, Maine wasn’t going to support its own woodworking magazine. During my first couple weeks with the phone, I remained suspicious and used it sparingly. I posted a few blurry photos on Instagram and not too much happened. But then, over time, my photos got...

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A New (Old) Way of Working Wood

I just got back from Washington where I taught a 5-day “Table from Rough Boards” workshop at Port Townsend School of Woodworking. As I was catching up with Mike and spring cleaning my tool chest yesterday, I’ve had much to think about regarding this class and teaching in the future. I loved my week in Port Townsend. It is a quaint and beautiful town and the weather was perfect during my stay. If you haven’t been, I highly recommend PTSW for woodworking education. They are one of the few schools that provide a full razor sharp kit of tools for every student and the staff is attentive, friendly, and talented. My teacher’s assistant, Raphael, is an especially wonderful asset to...

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M&T Shop Building: Second Floor Complete

We finally have a usable second floor. This afternoon, Mike and I finished laying the subfloor layers upstairs in the shop. The 2”-thick vintage barn flooring that we had reserved for this has a beautiful underside which will be seen as the ceiling of the first floor but the top side was quite chewed up (presumably from animal hooves). Not only were there deep gouges and fibers that were ready to jab you but the wear was so extreme that hard knots were full thickness but the area around them was worn down to 1” thick in some areas. Because we appreciate the charm of an old worn floor, our initial thought was to sand the daylights out of the...

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M&T Shop Building: Installing the Second Floor

This week was all about two things: clean up from the packing party and begin installing the second floor. We are using reclaimed 2”-thick barn flooring that Luke brought up with the frame. This stuff has lovely patina that fits in just perfectly with the rest of the shop. Despite its beauty, we pretty quickly realized that there were weaknesses throughout the boards that we didn’t trust to hold our weight. To overcome this, we decided to lay this material as subfloor (and, therefore, first floor ceiling) and then bridge the wild variations of the worn top surface with tongue and groove OSB before laying new wide pine top floor. This will enable us to use the original boards untouched...

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Issue Four: Labor & Delivery

Issue Four is now sent out in the world. This past Friday and Saturday, a bunch of our friends drove up from all over Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York to help with the special wrapping and packaging. Leading up to the big event, Mike and I did massive construction clean-up, we set up our shipping materials, and I spent at least a day and half printing postage. There are always a lot of pieces to this event. Because Friday morning started out around 25° F, I woke up at 4:30 to fire up the propane heaters. This much-needed calm before the storm enabled me to get in one last vacuuming and set out all the food. By the time...

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