September 2017

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newsletter 22, part 1 – September 2017:

Hello everyone – I hope you’ve had a good summer [top half – UK weather notwithstanding] and winter [bottom half]. There seems to be a lot of mayhem on our little planet at the moment, both natural and self-inflicted. This newsletter has many US subscribers – I hope none of you are caught up in any of the seemingly endless succession of hurricanes currently battering parts of your country.

in this issue:

  •  autumn 2017 and early 2018 course dates
  •  some long overdue price rises [sorry!]
  •  another fine-boxes workshop open day
•  some special offers for newsletter subscribers
  •  new website
  •  some sad news
  •  progress on smartDisc and smartCorner
  •  a mystery pic


price increases:

My course and smartWare prices are going up at the end of this month to coincide with the launch of a brand new smartBoxmaker website.

courses: I’ve held these at the same level for a number of years now, and the time has unfortunately come to increase them.

  •  Weekends are going up to £330 [£295 if paid in full in advance]

  •  5 day courses are going up to £745 [£670 if paid in full in advance]

These discounts represent 10% off the full prices. It will still be possible to pay a deposit – 50% for the weekends and 30% for the 5 day courses – with the balance payable by the end of the course.

  •  One-to-one is going up to £295 a day, payment by arrangement.

NB: prices held until Sept 28th for newsletter subscribers – see below!

I hope the new prices will still be considered good value – the feedback I receive has certainly always been very positive – here are a couple of recent examples, included with permission:

          “I am still buzzing from the weeks course & the quality of the box I have made. This is of course is a reflection of your expert knowledge, skill & experience, I am truly delighted … the week has changed the direction of my life & I thank you warmly.”  Tucker T, UK

          “I particularly appreciated your teaching techniques where you walked the line between moving the activity forward while catering for the many questions and conversations that naturally come out of these sort of sessions. I know how hard it is to stay on track in these sort of situations and I thought you handled it brilliantly … “  Steve R, Australia

autumn 2017 and early 2018 course dates:

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‘Raw Material’                                                       ‘Nunnery Walks’, Cumbria. Photo, Val Corbett.

It really is autumn already – this beautiful image taken by Val Corbett is from ‘Celebrating Boxes’ by Pete Lloyd and me. Because I’ve left posting these dates so late there are no courses in September and I’m including some early 2018 course dates:


  •  October 14th/15th
•  November 4th/5th
November 25th/26th
  •  December none
  •  Jan, 2018 none
  •  February, 2018 3rd/4th
  •  February, 2018 24th/25th
  •  March, 2018 17th/18th

5 day courses:

  •  October 19th-23rd
•  November 9th-13th

  •  November 30th-Dec 4th
  •  December: 14th-18th
  •  Jan, 2018 none
  •  Feb, 2018 8th-12th
  •  March 2018 1st-5th, 22nd-26th

April 2018 is likely not to have any courses, the 2018 spring/summer season will start in May.

NB: All weekends are Saturday and Sunday, all 5 day courses are Thursday to Monday inclusive.

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To book your place at the current prices, and to get an extra 5% subscribers’ discount, click above before midnight on Wednesday Sept 27th. You will find the discount voucher code in the ‘subscribers’ offers’ section below.

smartWare prices:

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These have been at the same level since I started to work with the new manufacturer two years ago, so some increases were unfortunately inevitable.

For instance, smartHinge in polished brass will be going up from £25 to £27.95 a pair.

NB: prices held until Sept 28th for newsletter subscribers – see below!

subscribers’ offers:

So, I’m holding course and smartWare prices as they are until midnight on Wednesday, Sept 27th, so courses booked before then will be charged at the old price, with a further 5% discount on ALL orders offered to newsletter subscribers – including all smartWare and other items.

You will need to enter the following voucher code at checkout:


There’s no limit to how many times you can use this offer code, so feel free to come back and order things you’ve forgotten or decided it would, after all, be good to get. So long as it’s before Sept 28th.

Please be aware that you might not get the smartWare you’ve paid for quickly. Although everything is coming through very reliably now, I have no idea how many will be ordered. If things get out of hand I might have to suspend a particular product. In any case, if you’re in a hurry please email me FIRST.

I’m looking into a way to be able to offer newsletter subscribers a permanent 5% off everything I offer and hopefully I will have sorted that by the time the new site goes live.



I’d originally wanted the same company to make all the ‘smart‘ range – hardware, and the proposed smartDisc, smartCorner and so on. But because it’s been such a long process getting the full smartWare range up and running I didn’t want to divert valuable time and attention from the job in hand …

So earlier this year I took the decision not to wait for them and I now have another company working on these projects. I should have taken this decision long ago – anyway, I’m now being far more proactive getting these items to market and prototypes of both are in hand as I write.


The first prototype I received differed wildly from the drawings I’d submitted – the company working on this basically decided that it would be better and stronger that what I’d specified:

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A thing of beauty, certainly, but machined out of £160 worth of solid aluminium! So the cost of production was clearly going to be prohibitive if we went that route …

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I took the idea of a solid plate attached to a boss from my own 24” twin disc sander, Frank. This shows one of the the ‘bosses’ with the hefty 14mm thick aluminium plate disc removed.

This machine is still running absolutely true 50 + years on – and the bearings are still so smooth that when switched off it takes 50 minutes to stop.

Don’t tell HSGM!

If this format is good enough for a big old solid 60s machine like this, then it’s good enough for me.

And for my customers …

So the next prototype will be far closer to this:

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What’s going on below will be revealed in NL22 – part 2, along with progress on the fully functioning prototype, hopefully out before the end of the month.

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This jig, of course, has already been produced by Veritas, although it was branded Lee Valley as it wasn’t designed in-house by Veritas, but rather by an outside interloper. More on this in my November 2011 newsetter. I should have followed my first instinct when I’d made my own first prototype [way back in 2009] which was to get it made myself.

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Anyway, there’s a prototype of this due in a few days as well – it’s only about half the height of the veritas one, mainly because it doesn’t have to use the Veritas chisel.

I will update on progress in part 2 – but I certainly hope to have this available again within the next couple of months.


new website:

The new website offering courses, hardware and other items to box makers was going to be called This a long established domain of mine, and is certainly a good generic domain name.

But I’ve now decided on with a view to promoting the ‘smart’ range, preparing the way for a number of other items branded under that name. See below under the smartOtherthings heading. Assuming I don’t get sued by the makers of ‘smart cars’ before then, of course. Mine’s a completely different ‘smart’, of course, being bold, italic and red.

So everything will be under the same roof – in retrospect it was crazy to have different websites for the hardware and the courses …

The new site will be going live on or around Sept 28th, to coincide with the following advert appearing in the November issue of Furniture & Cabinetmaking, no 263 – hitting the streets on that day:

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open day and new website launch:

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smartBoxmaker workshop open day:

October 8th, 2017

This follows the very successful day back in March which was basically to ‘launch’ the smartLock, and therefore the start of being able to offer the full smartWare range at long last.

But despite my best efforts I wasn’t able to get the number of locks I needed for that day so I ran out, of hinges too! And very soon afterwards the manufacturers ran into unforeseen problems producing the locks, so there was a substantial hiatus in supply. Bad timing indeed!

The locks are now coming though very well – consistently, beautifully finished and, at last, in suffucient numbers for me to be able to promote the full smartWare range as I’ve always wanted. So there had to be another open day, of course …

This time it is officially to launch the new smartBoxmaker website which will have gone live a few days earlier.

And in any case it’s perhaps better that this sort of launch happens just past the equinox and as the evenings are closing in, rather than when everyone is gearing up for spring and summer and outdoor activities.

I will also be showing off progress to the new smartDisc and smartCorner prototypes [see above] and taking pre-orders …

I’ll be keeping the current prices as they are for visitors to the open day, despite it being after the changeover date. There will also be some very special offers just for that day – to be decided. If I run out of anything I will still honour the offer price as long as the order is paid for on the day.

If you want to attend you MUST email me. Not least I need to give the workshop address – NB: not Glebe Farm – and I need an idea of numbers.

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As before, a free polished brass smartWare set worth worth £67.90 to the first three to confirm they will be attending!

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Roger Bean:

Roger Bean, the US author of the very popular iPhone documentaries available on the smartBoxmaker website, died on June 22nd.

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Roger visited me twice in the UK and it was a privilege to spend time with him – our conversations ranged far and wide as he was knowledgeable, and very accomplished, in a wide range of disciplines.

Here’s Roger in my workshop, I think in 2011. He was kind enough to credit me with some input into his box making. I’m sure there was some, but he was a skilled woodworker in his own right and had the type of enquiring mind that loved solving problems.

He also had the generosity to share his solutions which he did freely and often on the US based woodworking forum, Lumberjocks.

The quality of the work Roger left behind is testament to his enthusiasm, curiosity and endeavour. His page is still active on the forum here – a browse through his projects will give an idea of the quality and variety of his work. He clearly had many friends on Lumberjocks – incidentally the best, biggest and most diverse woodworking forum out there. He will be greatly missed.

Roger’s iPhone documentaries: his three informative and beautifully produced iPhone documentaries are still available on the website here. He was kind enough to pass the copyright to me, but I intend that from now on all proceeds should go to a charity to be chosen by his wife, Lynette.


mystery pic:

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Haven’t had one of these for a while …

This is a view of the back of my workshop. It’s actually not a mystery as such, an anomaly perhaps – certainly something out of place! I doubt anyone who hasn’t been to my workshop would get this, although there are clues for the very eagle-eyed!

Anyone who HAS visited might work it out … a free polished brass smartWare set to the first one with the correct answer …


in NL22 part 2:

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part 2 in a few weeks:

  •  Linley update
•  more website culling
•  mystery pic solution
•  rhodium plated smartWare?
•  some flute cases
•  smartWare production and quality control
•  a call for submissions to my new smartWare users gallery
•  keys
•  screws
•  smartDisc and smartCorner progress updates
•  workshop extension?!

and finally …

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I know cats clean themselves regularly and thoroughly, but this is ridiculous!


thank you!

Thanks for reading, longer than I intended, as always!

Don’t forget to email me if you want to come to the Oct 8th open day.

Part 2 with more updates in a few weeks.

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Andrew Crawford