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Hot on the Web

Woodworking products online

This column originally ran in ComputorEdge on January 2, 2004
(Issue 2201, Viruses, Worms, Trojan Horses)

Every year I try to do something different, that I've not done before. This past year, it was taking a woodworking class at Palomar College.

And while there are hardware stores all over, the types of tools, adhesives, abrasives and wood you need for making fine furniture aren't going to be found at the local Home Depot.

So if you want to do woodworking right, you learn to drive around a lot – or use the Web.

Living in San Diego, the Web is a more realistic option than sitting in traffic all day trying to get somewhere.

There are generally two hunts that woodworkers engage in for each project: Do I have the tools I need, and do I have the wood I want for this project?

For finding tools, here are some good online resources:


Rockler is as close to one-stop shopping for woodworking as you'll find. From router bits for decorative edging to exotic woods for carving to hand-scrapers that allow you to avoid heavy sanding, Rockler is a very dangerous place for your credit card balance.

And is nearly as good as going to one of their stores. You can order anything they carry in their stores – and they ship next business day.

Woodcraft Supply Co.

Woodcraft Supply Co. is almost as cool as Rockler. They're a bit more oriented toward plans for building specific projects – doll houses and clocks in particular.

And the neat thing is they carry some different brands of tools than Rockler; so between the two companies, you can look at different chisels and band saws and lathes, and find the one you really want.

Highland Hardware

Highland Hardware doesn't have as large an overall inventory as Woodcraft or Rockler, but it does have some very nice, high-end tools. Joiners and chisels, clamps and dremels – you can spend a fortune at Highland very easily. And they carry camellia oil, a Japanese product that helps keep your hand tools rust-free.

~ ~ ~

Okay, you've now got all the saw blades and hand tools and routers bits you'll need to make that new book case, grandfather clock or guitar. Now you need some wood to make it from. Here are some places to find the kind of distinctive woods that can set your project apart:

Western Wood Doctor

The Western Wood Doctor carries a very limited line of products, specifically waxes, oils and finishes. Perfect for hand-made or unfinished furniture, or restoration work, they carry their own line of finishing products and the Howard's line as well.

Exotic Woods Co.

For those who custom-build musical instruments, the Exotic Woods Co. is a blessing. They organize their online catalogue by instrument – violin, guitar, dulcimer, mandolin. The also carry books with kit plans for making instruments.

Exotic Wood Group

Another site that carries various types of wood you won't find at the local lumber yard is the Exotic Wood Group. They specialize in burls, and don't carry a lot of the other popular woodworking types.

Exotic Woods Inc.

Confusing enough, this and the above Exotic Woods Co. And while they are competitors, Exotic Woods Inc. carries a far broader variety of woods.

Yet another specialty house that caters to woodworkers rather than the construction industry, carries both lumber and turning stock.