Necessity is the mother of invention–and tool hounds. Say you've got to cut curves into some huge oak timbers that weigh 400 lbs. apiece. Your bandsaw is out–or is it? Not if you're Mark Orwig and Dennis Smith. The two master carpenters loaded their bandsaw onto a dolly and moved the saw–not the beams–to shape them for a large Tudor house they built.

The carpenters devised another invention when they had a bunch of 10x10 porch posts to mill. Most carpenters expect green timbers to check and twist; Smith and Orwig figured the timbers wouldn't check as much if they dried the material from the inside out and the outside in. They needed something that could hollow out the inside of each post.

First, they elongated the shaft of their 3-5/8-inch self-feed bit by welding a 4-foot length of 3/4-inch pipe to it. Then they built a jig to guide Orwig's T-handled drill straight through the post. Drilling slowly from both ends to the middle, they cored the posts like apples to let air into the center for more even drying.

Smith and Orwig aren't ones to brag about their problem-solving skills. They're quiet guys whose craftsmanship does the talking on everything from artfully designed homes to church renovations.

Their latest challenge? Finishing a 10,000-square-foot house with molding details that could send a trim carpenter to therapy. Every 1-inch dentil in the crown above is three pieces; the scroll-cut block is nailed up into a coved block that acts as a capital. So the capital's profile continues to the next scroll-cut dentil, they built a jig and coped the middle piece like a window mullion. This saved cutting hundreds of inside miters for the middle pieces. They skipped a ton of work this way, but it's still enough to put you in therapy.

Mark Clement

Submitted by Mikael Horsman of Denmark

Mr. Horsman spends many of his weekends helping friends with masonry repairs and projects. One day, over a drink, Mikael promised a local entrepreneur that he would cut his grass for all of 2005 if he could make a "mortar removal thing" that would:

  • Guide and steer the movement in a mortar joint
  • Evacuate dust into a vacuum cleaner
  • Move in vertical and horizontal directions
  • Drill into masonry and score 2-3 inch trenches

Well, Mikael lost the bet because his friend came up with tool that met all of his criteria. Happy lawn-mowing Mikael!