Don’t get your feathers ruffled

June 22, 2011 Leave a comment

*** This post is courtesy of Tom Iovino of Tom’s Workbench ***

At my day job, I have given hundreds of hurricane and disaster preparedness talks. Big groups. Small groups. Companies, churches, neighborhood association meetings … you name it, I’ve gone there and spoken. For me, it’s all old hat now.

Tom Iovino

But, that hasn’t always been the case. When I first started out, I was told by my boss at the time that I needed to not run my talks free-form. Instead, I was encouraged to build a PowerPoint presentation, rehearse my material based on cues from what was on screen and NEVER deviate.

For my first few talks, this worked well. I never forgot a single point. I always put the emphasis on the key message I wanted to convey. I went from success to success, clutching tightly to the security blanket of my canned presentation.

Then, well, it had to happen. I went one place to talk, and blammo – no outlet was convenient for me to set up my projector and laptop, and I didn’t have access to an extension cord. Boy, did that ruffle my feathers.

The same thing happens when we are in the workshop. When we have our table saw tuned up and ready to make a cut, we become comfortable using the equipment. But, if you need to cut something on edge or try something a little out of our comfort range, it’s easy to get flustered – and worried – by the operation.

“That’s where feather boards come in,” said Dan Walter of Eagle America. “These simple jigs give you much more control – and confidence – over your operation.”

Feather boards are very useful jigs that help hold your work down to the table or against your fence to ensure a more accurate cut. And, they also can help prevent kickback, improving safety.

“The classic way to make a feather board is to fish a piece of scrap out of your wood stash, cut a series of parallel angled fingers and clamp it down to your saw,” said Dan. “And, you know, there is nothing wrong with that. It’s a cheap, practical shop solution.”

But, Dan also told me that commercial feather boards offer more versatility, are more durable and don’t take valuable shop time to make. Eagle America carries an extensive line of feather boards – each of which has special features.

“If you need feather boards for your cast iron topped table, band saw or other ferrous metal work surface, the Magswitch featherboards offer incredible convenience and flexibility.” Using a special magnet users can switch on and off, these feather boards can mount anywhere on the table, independent of the miter gauge slot.

Jessem’s Paralign models allow users to align them parallel to the work piece while they are clamped in the table. “In router tables, this is a very handy feature that allows you to skip all of the trial-and-error fidgeting to get the set up right.”

Milescraft’s dual slide motion feather boards feature large ergonomic handles for tightening them in place. “What a boon for people who may have limited hand strength. The ability to set these into place and know they will be rock solid helps ensure accuracy in cuts.”

Feather Bow’s offerings feature a traditional looking feather board finger design on one side and an innovative bow hold down on the other. Shaped somewhat like the leaf spring in a car, this focuses the pressure exactly where you need it without applying it across the entire length of the fingers. “These babies work very well on router or shaper tables where it’s critical to get proper bit or cutter contact to ensure a flawless shaping job.”

And, Kreg’s True Flex models not function as either a feather board or a stop block. “Their locking system also relies on a wedge to get a solid lock in a miter slot. That’s going to help ensure nothing slips when you are pushing the board past the blade or cutter.”

Dan also pointed out that many of these commercial feather boards can also be stacked together to give you control when resawing, cutting raised panels on a table saw or other functions. “I’m always surprised when a company comes out with a new and innovative feature on such an old power tool standby. There are some creative minds at work!”

My speech in front of that group sure threw me for a loop. But, it also taught me to look beyond just that one tool in my public speaking toolbox. Today, when I go out to talk, I know that I can adjust my presentation style to meet the needs of the specific group I’m addressing.

And, it allows me to stop obsessing over what could go wrong during the talks and start enjoying my time off in the shop a whole lot more.

Final Rocker blog

June 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Tom, one of our Eagle America woodworkers writes: 

The rocker is assembled complete, three coats of polyurethane have been applied, and it has been delivered.  And, most importantly, Adam is happy with it.  And it is out of my basement!!!

 A few final observation..  The rocker measures close to 30” from side of armrest to armrest.  Since most doors are just less than 30” wide, this presented a problem.  So the armrests are mounted with screws.  There is a screw threw the tennon at the back of the rocker.  The screw is hidden by the armrest.  I tried to offset the hole in the tennon and the holes in the rocker a little as if I were trying to use drawboring.  It worked partially.  I did not offset it much, probably not enough.  But I was thinking that the metal screw would not give like a wooden peg.

 The armrests are held to the back support with a pocket hole screw drilled up from the bottom of the back support.  And that back support is held to the back slats with two screws.  I was not really crazy about these solutions, but could not come up with better.  Those that can be seen are only visible from the back, which is some consolation.

 It was fun building and I learned a lot.  Next time though, I am going to build some directly out of a magazine with complete instructions.

Quality Time (Adam’s Rocker)

June 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Tom, one of our Eagle America woodworkers writes:

Finally I have found some time to get back into the basement to finish Adam’s rocker.  In the last blog about this rocker I promised to show how I joined the cross pieces to the back support and the seat.  Compared to the rest of the construction this was very simple. 

 A note here…the location and drilling of these holes for the back assembly was done BEFORE gluing the rockers to the cross supports.  I show the bottom back support cross member in the last blog in its final drilled state. It would be very difficult to drill the holes if the rockers were glued to the cross supports.

 I used dowel centers to locate the holes and ½” dowels to hold the parts together.  I laid out the positions of the holes for the dowels in the 5 seat back slats and seat supports and drilled them.  Although I tried to get them “properly” located, I did not obsess on getting the position exactly right.  The important thing here is to get the mating hole correctly positioned in the cross braces and seat pieces.  This was easy with the dowel centers.  I clamped up the seat back slats using spacers to make sure the spacing was correct and then carefully pressed the cross braces on the center points of the dowel centers. 

This required a little finesse, but with the use of a small combination  square to check to make sure the cross pieces were square and even with the outside boards, it worked out.  I chamfered the top edge of the holes to make the back and seat easier to assemble.                                                                                                                      

I cut 1” long dowels and glued them into the holes on the back slats. 

One very important point, I did this on a drill press with a forstner bit.  I would recommend this and would discourage trying to drill these kinds of mating holes by hand.  There is too much room for error doing it by hand. 

Assembly was easy.  I started on the back by dry fitting all five vertical pieces to cross members, including the lowest cross member that is or will be glued to the rockers.  (I glued that after drilling and before back assembly, but it could be done the other way, I think.)  I rolled the back to a nearly horizontal position using clamps to hold the dry fit assembly together.  I then removed two adjacent back slats from the assembly, applied glue one and reassembled that slat back to the assembly putting clamps in the missing slat position.  I started with the middle slat and worked my way out using the same procedure for the other 4 slats. 

 The seat slats were done with their side supports in position on the rocker.  Again marking the position with the dowel centers took a little finesse but turned out well.  Gluing the seat slats to the supports was done with everything mounted on the rockers.

 I apologize for no pictures on this part of the description.  I got so excited that I was going to get this out of my shop, I forgot!!!


June 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Greetings all,

Yesterday was a rather emotional day for me here at my desk in Ohio. When I sent out my Memorial Day Tribute I was not expecting to get so many responses from our readers. I replied to each and every one of them. I thought you might want to see a sampling of some that I got.

Thanks again for writing and God Bless America!

Dan Walter



I just finished reading your email and I could not help but write and say, thank you. I understand very well the need to sell a product when you have a business. Thank you for not using a day set aside to remember our fallen heroes to make a profit from their sacrifice.

Thank you for your service to our country. I am a Viet Nam veteran and proud of it. But, I, along with many others, was able to come home to family and friends. There were 58,272 of my brothers and sisters that did not, and this day, Memorial Day, is their day, along with all the others who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Thank you again for your service.

Maxville, Fl


I don’t know if my response to your e-mail will find its way to you or just come back to me as undeliverable.  I trust it will get to you.

Yes, you are correct about our troops in harms way and what they mean to our country and our way of life.  Thank you for showing your support to all of the men and women of our armed forces.  I feel that Americans appreciate the service of the military much more today than they did for those who served during Viet Nam and for several years after that conflict.

I am retired US Army and my son has made his career in the US Army also.  It is important for all Americans to realize and understand how lucky they are to live in America, the land of the free.

Again, thank you for the note and I trust that you will have many positives responses.  BTW, I do enjoy your products!


LTC, US Army Retired


Your Memorial Day message was sincere and trueful and I appreciate it.  As a Viet Nam combat veteran, I also understand the importance of always remembering those that didn’t make it home to the USA, and that they didn’t get the opportunity to finish their shortened and valuable life in this great Country as we who came home did. Our war was not popular, but we fought with and for our brothers and for an ideal that is much bigger than any of us just the same and as was true for the previous generations who were so gallant.

The Country and culture were split in the sixties, but  it seems that the culture of today has no memory of past greatness nor an eye on the future and continuing blesssings that are available to the USA.  I do not know if we the people can regrasp the ideal which seems to be disappearing……….as the culture stumbles into self-absorbsion and entitlement mindedness with no goal of collective greatness.

Thanks for your letter. America has done us well


I was an immigrant but now I’m living far from the US now. After spending 7 years of my life living in your country I learned more than you can imagine about patriotism. I will not be able to become an American now but got lots of great memories about everything on those days. When I read this letter I really feel your words and beside that we belong to different cultures I’m with you en every word.

I really hope you have a Memorial Day full of great memories to rememorize.


The crazy carpenter from south America (Uruguay)


Thanks so very much for the heart filled letter.  I must admit the only negative side of Memorial Day for me is that the remainder days of the year the veterans are not treated so well.

I have such a great deal of respect for those who have served and have paid some form of sacrifice.  I have not purchased much from your company, but that is about to change.


Thank you Dan for serving you country and I pray your father is in a better place.
Thanks again

I’m sure that your “Tribute” Took a lot of thought ! It was very well done!!

I’m a new customer ;and it’s A Pleasure to do business with people like you.


Memorial Day Tribute

May 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Dan Walter, Eagle America’s founder writes:

Well friends, it’s that time of year again. Each and every holiday that our country honors our military has a special meaning for me. Unfortunately some of the more serious ones turn out to be a great excuse for many retailers to offer you the opportunity to part with your money. Like many of you, some I have come to accept or embrace while others I have a hard time with. Such is the case with Memorial Day. A few weeks ago we celebrated Armed Forces Day. On this day we pay thanks to all those men and women who are actively serving our country. In November, we celebrate Veterans Day, where we pay thanks to those who have served on our behalf. Today, on Memorial Day, we pay homage to those brave soldiers who paid the ultimate price and gave their lives defending our great country in order to preserve our precious freedoms.

As a young boy I was in the high school marching band. Every year we would parade down the streets of our town and I would bang the big bass drum trying to keep everyone in step. As we passed the reviewing stand, the members would stand and salute our flag. At the end of the parade route was Memorial Park where we circled a big American Flag that always seemed to be blowing in the breeze. We played a march or two for the “old” soldiers that showed up that day to hear us play. After that, the town pool was open, summer had officially begun and we were on our merry way home.

Now I am one of those old soldiers, a proud veteran who served our country during a time when war was not popular or supported by our government or the general public.

I can go to cemeteries or memorial walls and see the names of friends of mine that died in combat. I am also the son of an immigrant who came here to this country before World War II. After being here for only a few years, Dad was shipped back to Europe in an Army uniform and fought in the streets of his childhood home town for The United States of America. He is no longer here, I miss him more each day, but I still admire his service to our country.

So on this special day, I ask that you just take a moment and think about all of those who gave their lives for your freedom. You can freely start up your barbeque, jump in a pool, watch a parade and listen to the marching band, or have a hot dog with your grandson at the ball park thanks to their sacrifices. In honor of those who served to keep our country free, all I can say is thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Nakashima Auction

May 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Dan, Eagle Ameirca’s founder writes:

Well that was exciting!  There we were, Linda and I on Friday night sitting at home in Ohio watching the live auction in Philadelphia of the family Nakashima furniture on the internet. The web site was cool. They showed a photo of the item being auctioned with a digital display (similar to car odometer) at the bottom showing you the “live” bidding amounts. On the right side of the screen they showed you whether it was a live “floor” bid or “internet”. When the pace of the bidding started to slow they told you to bid faster and then gave you a warning sign when the bidding on each item was about to close. Then came the final bid and then “sold” and on to the next photo.  It only took about 20 minutes for all six groups to be sold off.

The most interesting was the slab coffee table above , a signature George Nakashima piece. Bidding started at $7,500 and quickly sold for $16,000! Needless to say, Mom was pleased when I told her the results of the auction.

Like I said in my blog post below, it was sad to see the heirlooms go. Hopefully they will all go to a family that will cherish and preserve them the way my family had done for over 40 years. My next project is find a nice slab and try to build one just like it.

Will keep you posted


Good Bye Nakashima Furniture

May 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Dan, Eagle Ameirca’s founder writes:

The family Nakashima Furniture goes to auction! It was a very sad day in the Walter Family Household yesterday. In the process of putting my mother into assisted living it became necessary to “dispose” of her fine collection of George Nakashima furniture that she has had since 1964. I have written about this furniture in a previous blog post and how it inspired me to create the Butterfly Spline router bit.

I can still remember being a little boy growing up in New Jersey, when we went for a car ride one Saturday with my parents over to Mr. Nakashima’s barn to help select an unusual piece of wood that would later be made into one of the most unique coffee tables the world has very seen.

Now I am writing this to you from my mom’s apartment. I am sitting at a portable card table. The room is bare. It reminds me of when you sell a car that you put 100,000 miles on. You think of all the good trips you had.

I think of all the great family dinners we had around the trestle table or the “cocktail hours” we had sitting on the couch eating cheese and crackers from the top of the coffee table. Mom was reminding me how as a boy my brothers and I use to get a kick out pitching a tennis ball through the big open hole in it. And then the grandkids picked that up as well.

The furniture went to Briggs Auction company and will be auctioned off on May 20th. The bidders and final proud owners will surely appreciate not only the furniture but the original signed drawings that George made of each piece along with the original bill of sales. Truly collector’s items. We have been told that they expect about 600 people to attend. I hope to be there as well.

Over the years, many of you have written to me about your Nakashima pieces. You may want to check out their web site and see how these pieces fare.

It’s funny how  pieces of furniture can be seen as good old friends of the family.

Gone but not forgotten.


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