WT300 – Woodworker Guilt!

Today’s show is sponsored by Harry’s where you get low cost, high quality razors. Woodtalk listeners can use coupon code ‘WOODTALK’ for 10% off your first order at Harrys.com

And special thanks to Peter Brown, Jim Gavacs, Brian Prusa for their contributions!

On today’s show we’re talking about boiled linseed oil explosions, ripping chains, and our featured topic: woodworker guilt!

What’s On the Bench

  • Marc is focused on installing a large exhaust fan and venting his dust collection outside.
  • Matt is still working on trimming out baseboard and casing, slabbing, and introducing his wife to spoon carving.

What’s New


  • Brian has a plugin suggestion for Shannon’s website issues.
  • Kevin tells us about how he uses lower speeds on his sanders.
  • Both Stein and Aaron have important thoughts on bringing kids into the shop.

Featured Topics

  • Jason Burr is wondering why he has woodworker’s guilt.


  • Luke wants to know if he should modify his saw to accommodate a wobble dado.


  • Matt – In a recent episode you answered a question about applying finishes in an apartment workshop. You mentioned safe finishes, including Linseed Oil. Paul Sellers, in his video on restoring wood planes, states that BLO has very real risk of spontaneous combustion – not safe! What are your thoughts?
  • James – Thanks to the “new” Matt I am interested in chainsaw milling! And being the good woodworker I am, I want to over analyze every aspect of it. So tell me, what is the difference between a crosscut and ripping chain? Thanks guys, keep up the great show! PS – Don’t worry Matt. I won’t tell my wife you are the reason I want to spend more money!

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14 replies on “WT300 – Woodworker Guilt!”

Shannon is in Williamsburg in new York city
I live like 5 miles away but Williamsurg is like a really religious Jewish community what would he be doing that

Regarding the kids in the shop:
I have always held the completely uninformed opinion (I don’t have kids) that children’s lack of exposure to things like woodworking and DIY mentality is what created the buy-it at ikea culture we have today. As an example, my wife was aghast when one of her co-workers told her that he had to get a plumber in to fix the flapper on his toilet tank. At this point, I feel like I have to get my friends’ wives’ permission before I invite THEM in to my shop, and it seemed like getting kids more early exposure to concept of physically building things would be the solution to that.

However, Marc said something on that show that really resonated: “I can’t make that decision for someone else’s kid.” You’re absolutely right.
Thanks for the great show,
Aaron (not the one who wrote in before)

Have to say, I have to agree with Marc and this other Aaron.
Let me start by saying that I feel that kids should be exposed to the shop. My niece and nephew have been in once or twice but it didn’t hold their interest and I haven’t pushed the issue. (well, not hard at least). However it was with permission of their mother. Had I kids of my own, i’d encourage them too. I think we’re all in agreement on the fact that, as woodworkers, we know what the dangers are and most us feel that we will be competent supervising our kids in our shops.
However, that wasn’t the issue that started this debate.
The fact is, it does not matter whether I (or anyone else) feel that it is appropriate or safe for the kids to be in the shop. But with ANY situation that we let or place our kids get in to, it does not matter how safe you feel the situation or activity is. when it comes to someone else’s kid. If the other parent feels that it wasn’t safe for their kid, and you put their kid in that situation without checking with them first, you are opening yourself up to a world of hurt from that other parent.

The first listener who brought this up who’s name I cannot remember has already discovered this fact. The other kid was unharmed and went home happy with his experience, but his parents felt very different about the situation. Given how litigious today’s society is, he is lucky to have gotten off only costing his son the ability to hang out with a friend and didn’t also have to deal with a legal battle and who knows what else from other parents in the neighborhood. I’ve known a couple of parents who would have that day begun telling everyone they know about the ‘deathtrap’ he lets kids play in.

Yes, educating the other parents is very important. And had he discussed it with them first, and shown them that it was safe, he might have been okay. But once a mother has gone in to momma bear mode, there is no such thing as asking forgivness.

That’s exactly what I meant, Stephen. While it’s easy to say, “Kids should have more exposure to woodworking.” I’m sure as heck not going to take that responsibility on, much less do it without their parents’ full knowledge and permission.

Honestly, I discourage my friends from bringing their kids over to our pool parties because I’m afraid of endangering kids and potential litigation; there’s no way I’m letting them in to my shop!

Matt and Marc,

I have a pair of comments to go along with today’s pair of hosts.

1) Thanks for the thoughts about hand-cut dovetails and similar high-skill woodworking talents. Perhaps it just me rationalizing but I see most such issues as a choice as to whether the craftsman is more interested in process or producing. I hold those who are interested in the hand-tool process with all the respect in the world… they are dedicated to their craft and spend the hours required to hone all the necessary skills. What they produce can be magnificent. For me, I find myself to be more interested making products, and in an amount of time which won’t get me into too much trouble with the boss! I’m well on my way to having most of the furniture in my home be homemade, including my recent 7-month kitchen re-do which would have taken 7 years to do with hand tools. There is plenty of room in the hobby for the entire continuum between Norm and Shannon. Let’s celebrate it all, and appreciate the advantages and disadvantages of each of the ten ways to accomplish any task in the shop.

2) Your caller today mentioned that he had been collecting older tools, including a ShopSmith and he seemed to think that this wasn’t a ‘real’ woodworking tool. I have my Dad’s 1950’s era ShopSmith (for which I can still get parts!) which I use for just about every operation except cross-cutting (I splurged on a Kapex) and routing (you actually can rout on a ShopSmith, I just don’t). Surely it imposes certain limits (4″ jointer and 6″ max-height on the bandsaw are definitely limiting) but it’s a great tool for small spaces. I completed my king-size bed a couple of years ago when all I had was the ShopSmith, and a half-baked router table in my shop which was housed in just one-half of a single-bay garage.

Thanks for the show. You guys make Tuesdays like Fridays.

Great to hear from another ShopSmith owner!! If it wasn’t for mine I would have never started or gotten as far in this hobby with out mine. Yes, it has it’s limitations as yo mentioned but so do I.

I watched a Paul Sellers video on spoon carving, and he mentioned how the first tool he got for his kids was a spoke shave. I think hand tools are considerably safer than most power tools, and the kinds of stuff kids want to make they’re more than adequate for.

I do think there’s more skill involved with hand cutting joinery vs using a machine, and always have more respect for the skill of the woodworker who can and takes the time to cut joinery by hand, whether mortise and tenon, dovetail, rabbets, T&G, etc.

That said, I completely understand where a production environment is not the right place for the preservation of what we refer to as “traditional” methods. Ultimately I’m a firm believer in “whatever you get enjoyment out of” in the shop. If that means just getting dovetails done and having them completed, by all means use a router, band-saw, or any other way that works for you. I just happen to enjoy the more traditional methods myself.

For all those fascinated by the idea of milling their own lumber, I came across this on the web and found it interesting as it talks in depth about milling lumber in the Amazon.

Quick Highlight:
Many lesson’s became quickly obvious;

The smaller 3/8” picco chain makes a narrower kerf, requiring less power
The roller nose bar allows for greater chain tension, avoiding gouging to the side
Modern high speed engines are superior to older models of chain saw
Ripping chain is filed at a “flatter” angle than cross cutting chain
Depth gauges (rakers) are filed so that the teeth just pull the saw through the log
A smooth cut leaves a better surface than rocking the saw rig back and forth
Four Fingered sawmilling can be done by about any person with little fatigue
Cutting at an angle may speed the saw’s progress – if the bar is long enough


Heck no. I use a dovetail jig when I can and am guilt free. I screw up enough on a project so it still maintains a home grown look and won’t be confused with a masterpiece. There is enough “craftsmanship” to get a incredulous…”you made that?’ comment from my family and friends. Also, the people looking at my work would find the very operation of a dovetail jig to be somewhat of a skill in and of itself.

There’s something wrong with the way this page works. I paused the audio and came back after doing some other things and there is no resume or play button to press. No way to start listening again. I don’t know if it disappeared because I tabbed onto another page or went into my email or what…just ain’t there no more.

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