Contact Matthias Wandel

Before contacting me...

I get a lot of emails, and many of those are questions I have received before.. So I thought I'd spend the time typing up good answers to questions I get often. There is a good chance that your question is already answered here or on other parts of this website. So before sending me an email, please try entering your question in the search box below.

A lot of emails request something or other that would require a fair bit of my time. Time, unfortunately is in short supply, so the answer to something that takes a lot of time is likely to be "no".

I don't have time to make a set of printouts and mail it, build your favourite project, make a custom plan just for you, etc. I don't mind hearing about your suggestions for a project because it helps me gauge what sort of projects people are interested in, but I have more ideas of my own than I have time to build.

And if you want to start a dialog with me, asking a question that's been asked many times and is already answered on the website is not a good starting point :)

So... If you didn't get a reply. Please search my website and read the FAQ below. The reason I didn't answer is because you can get the answer easily enough with a search.


If the answer isn't there, send me an email:
(you'll have to type that in)

Answers to frequently asked questions

Do you take guest contributions?  I'm a writer and would like to contribute an article

If you have built a project, send me pictures and we'll take it from there. You don't have to be a good writer, I can edit your text to fix it. If you have not built an project then I am not interested. No need for professionally written repetitions of established facts. I'm only interested in contributions based on your original work.

What's your day job?

My "day job" is editing video, writing for this website, running the website, answering emails. That takes up the bulk of my time, so it's as if woodworking is just a hobby. My hope is that by writing this document, I can get a little bit of my emailing time back. More about what I do here and here

Can you build a CNC router

I often think about "if I had a CNC machine, I would use it to do X". the problem is, there are very few instances of x that I could actually do any faster with a CNC machine than without. Hobby CNC machines are very loud, dusty, slow, and limiting in terms of what they can do, so I'm not interested in one. There are many websites about CNC machines out there already. These websites are usually not as interesting, because these people spend disproportionate amounts of time working on their CNC machine, and making stuff by CNC is just not as fun. Also see Bandsaw vs. CNC.

That said, a CNC machine is very useful for cutting signs and letters, but I don't do a lot of that. A CNC can also be useful for cutting intricate joinery. To eliminate the need for a CNC for that, I designed the pantorouter, which cuts most joints that a CNC machine could cut, but faster, and without a computer. My 3d pantograph is also useful for doing some operations that would conventionally require a CNC router.

I was wondering if it was just my limited imagination that kept me from thinking of good uses for a CNC router, but with Inventables sending X-carve machines to many YouTube woodworkers (they offered to send me one as well), it seems I'm not the only one who has hard time finding uses for one. Everyone makes the obligatory assembly and impressions video, then one project with the X-carve, maybe another one for storing it away, and that's often the last we see of the X-carve. I think that proves my theory that a small hobby CNC is not very useful for normal woodworking.

You should get a 3D printer

3d printers are great for making small plastic parts very slowly. I have not yet come across a problem where I can't solve it with the means I already have. I just don't have much of a need for small plastic parts, and 3D printers take up an awful lot of the user's time to make 3d models and prepare for printing, and even more time to print, and I just don't have the time for that.

Are you on Patreon?

Here's My patreon page (as of Sepember 2019). I'm not fully sold on this whole patreon thing, but fact is, people have been buying some of my woodworking plans and software to support me, but it seems Patreon has become the default for that sort of support. I also get the occasional email from people suggesting I should be on Patreon, so I finally relinquished and made a Patreon page.
A big reservation I have about it is if I take monthly contributions, it feels like I am obligated to produce content regularly in return. But I only produce when I feel like it. I could of course make the contributions per video, but then if I release a video that isn't that good, it would feel like I'm milking the patrons with sub-par content.

What do you think of the shaper origin?

I don't have one, and at $1500 USD it's too expensive for me to consider getting one. It makes sense if you have the money but not the space for a CNC router and don't mind holding it while it cuts. But I'm not into CNC. I think for most things, it would be less time consuming to print a template and cut that out on the bandsaw.

Have you seen this musical marble machine

(this one). Yes, I corresponded with Martin when he started building his first one in 2014 and watched the videos as he built it, and posted his final video on facebook and google+ when it still had 50 views on it. I definitely know about it. It's awesome. I don't need to be told about it.

The same applies to any woodowrking related video that has gone viral. Just assume that I have already seen it.

We are a YouTube multi channel network and would like to work with you...

I am not interested in YouTube MCNs. "But we are not like all the others". Actually, saying that makes you just like all the others. If you said you were like all the others, that would be truly different. But the fact that every MCN tries to distance themselves from the rest suggests there is a big problem with MCNs overall, or at the very least, a reputation problem.

Can you make a sit/stand desk?

This is something I have been thinking about, but have not come up with an elegant solution that can be made out of wood. It needs a sturdy compact mechanism to raise the desktop and contents up and down. Either it needs counterweights (bulky and heavy), or springs (lots of force, not ideal for wood), or telescoping legs with screws in them. The screws need to be synchronized with gears or a chain, and motorized or come to a crank. All this involves a lot of metal working, so it's not really a woodworking project. Maybe at some point I'll make one out of steel. But there's a reason why these are expensive to buy.

Can you make a ___ for me?

Sorry, I don't take commissions, and I don't build items for sale. Sorry, that means I won't make something for you either.

I challenge you to build an ___ / Can you build a ___?

If you want a yarn spinner, or whatever, it's up do you to figure out how to build one. I don't have a need for a yarn spinner, or a whatever ___ myself. I spend a lot of time looking into what projects might interest people, and I have a long list of projects that I would like to build, but don't have time for. With all the writing and video editing, that leaves very little time to actually spend in the shop, so I have to pick my projects carefully. I prefer to spend time on my own ideas and ideas that I think interest a lot of people. Also, I only build things I will actually use.

Which CAD program do you use to make your plans?

Should be pretty obvious, I mention it many times. But if there is any doubt it's SketchUp (the old version 8 from 2012). See my SketchUp tutorials

What brand of power tools do you recommend?

It's your skills, not the brand of tools that matter. Personally, I just buy relatively cheap ones, which are not the best, but good enough for me. I don't have a lot of experience with name brands, so I can't make recommendations. But when I do start recommending one brand over another, you will know that somebody paid me a lot of money to do so :)

What tools do you recommend I start with? How do I get into woodworking

See beginning woodworking

Can I be your apprentice? Can you give instruction?

Sorry, I only spend on average about 1 day a week in the shop total, and when I am in the shop, I'm often filming. I really couldn't use your help, nor do I have the time to teach you. Most of the interesting stuff that happens in my shop ends up on YouTube, your best option is to just watch the videos.

What sort of education do you need for this kind of work?

School is not conducive to doing this type of work, so my recommendation for formal education is "as little as possible". Learn by doing instead. Generally, people who are good at this sort of thing are good at it because they have been doing it for a long time.

Can I buy some wooden hinges?

Sorry, I only wrote about making them. I don't make these for sale.

How can I buy a marble machine?

It takes an awful lot of time, by a skilled woodworker to make a marble machine. As such, it would be necessary to charge thousands of dollars for one, but people would, at most, be willing to pay hundreds. This is why you can't buy marble machines like this, from me or anywhere else that I know of. You can however buy some kits for simpler, laser cut marble machines. Just do a Google search.

Where can I buy the marble run blocks?

Recently (March 2019) I received an email from a guy in the czech republic who hand-makes blocks based on these for sale here:
He has some sets permanently glued together (no changing the track), others held together with magnets instead of marbles.

Where did you buy the marbles for the marble machines?

The marbles are standard 16 mm or 5/8 inch marbles. I bought these at a "dollar store" (where cheap things are sold), for about $2 for a bag of 50.

Why don't you use a riving knife on your table saw?

I don't use a riving knife because my table saw is not designed to take a riving knife. Adding a riving knife is a major design change for a table saw, so you can't just "add one". (see how much trouble hector went through to add a riving knife to a saw he built himself). But even if my saw did come with a riving knife, I'm not sure if I'd use it, because I change saw blades quite often, using different sizes and thicknesses of saw blades all the time.

My saw did come with a splitter, but that can't be used for partial cuts or with a table saw sled, so it's not useful.

Where in California do you live?

I don't live in the United States. The domain ".ca" means "Canada". There's a whole wide world out there :)

Can you design a Murphy bed without expensive metal hardware?

A Murphy bed requires some very strong hardware and springs to help lift the bed up. That's why the hardware is expensive. And it's also why the hardware needs to be made of metal. I'm not set up for metal working.

I have this old motor. Can you tell me how to wire it up / reverse it?

I have several articles on ac motors and reversing them. I wrote these articles to try to help you figire out your own motors. I can't analyze your motor from here. There's no universal "this wire goes here".

Can I use a shopvac motor? A treadmill motor? A washer motor?

Shopvac motors are universal motors and run far too fast to be usable for any homemade machines. Not suitable
Treadmill motors tend to be DC motors that require a speed controller. Unless you are familiar with that sort of thing (which, if you ask this question, you probably aren't), you will not be able to use a treadmill motor.
Front loading washer motors are universal motors, also requiring a controller to run at the right speed. Again, not suitable. However, top loading washer motors are induction motors, and as long as you figured out how it's wired up before taking it out of the washer, or know how to figure out the wiring, they can be used.
More about universal motors and induction motors.

Where is a good place to buy a motor for a homemade machine?

I don't know of a good place. When I come across a motor that might be usable for cheap, I buy it and stash it for later use. More on getting motors.

Did you see this clever saw blade for making boxes?

"Easiest drawers ever". Yes, I saw the video when it came out. It is clever for a certain application. However, that blade needs to be precisely shimmed for the thickness of material worked with, and it needs to be precisely adjusted to cut almost through the material. For boxes, strength is limited by the corners, so I much prefer to use thinner material with box joints instead. for drawers, I prefer the front to be wider than the sides, and for the back, looks don't matter. Also, the bottom is best made from thinner material. So I can't think of an actual problem that this blade solves. Yes, it's very clever geometry. But to be able to use it compromises too many other aspects of making a box.

May I ask you a question?

This is a very annoying question to ask. First of all, you just asked me a question, so why ask if you can ask another one? Second, you are expecting me to commit to answering your next question without even telling me what that question is. So while you think you are being polite, you are asking me to promise to commit to something that you haven't even told me about. Don't waste my time. If you have an actual question, just ask it.

How do I set the pantograph to 1:1?

A pantograph of this nature can only scale. To do 1:1 copy, requires something like a copy carver. Yes, the copy carver is more complex. No, a simple pantograph can not do 1:1. If you are sure a simple pantograph can do 1:1, the onus is on you to prove that to me.

Can the pantograph be used to enlarge?

In theory, the pantograph could be adapted to enlarge. But the force of the router would double onto the stylus, and any imprecision and deflection on the stylus would also double. This makes the whole thing probably less precise than routing freehand.

What router did you use with the pantorouter?

I used a cheap router from Canadian tire. See here. Any fixed-base router with a 3.5" diameter body will do.
But I also, at times, used a smaller Bosch Colt (also known as Bosch GKF 600) see here. More about routers that can be used here

Can I use ___ router with the pantorouter?

My pantorouter XL is designed to accommodate plunge routers, though ideally ones with handles that can be removed. My more compact original pantorouter can only take routers that can be removed from the base.

Can I use ___ router with the 3d pantograph?

Only small "laminate trimmer" style routers can be used with the pantograph. Full size routers are too big and too heavy.

Will router ___ be powerful enough?

Whether your router will be powerful enough for the pantorouter, pantograph, or tilting router lift depends on what sorts of cuts you plan to make. If the router is powerful enough to make the sort of cuts you want to make, it will be powerful enough to make those cuts in the pantorouter or router lift as well. I don't know what your expectations are or how powerful your router is, so I don't know if you will consider your router powerful enough. For the pantorouter, cutting tenons doesn't need much power, and cutting mortises doesn't remove much material, so a lower power router should be powerful enough.

Can I buy a pantograph from you?

Sorry, I don't have time to make these for people. I only sell the plans.

Can I use the air engine to power a ___?

No. The air engine is not very powerful. Even if you used it with an air compressor. The air engine needs lots of air flow, and a vacuum cleaner will power it better than an air compressor.

Build an expanding round table (capstan table)?

There is this really ingenious expanding round table. It was cool when it was new, years ago. But people keep sending me links to it "have you seen this"?
No, I won't build one. The mechanism for one of those is not something that is not practical to make out of wood, more of a precision machining project. More on how it's made in this video.
Update: Scott Rumschlag built a simplified four leaf version, mostly from wood, seen in this video. He even has plans for sale. Go check out his YouTube channel.

Can you build a panel saw?

Panel saws are great for cutting up full 4x8 sheets of plywood. It's very difficult to get a 4x8 sheet into it without breaking it up first. That, and it's been ten years since I broguht home a full 4'x8' sheet of plywood. I find a lot of plywood on the curb, and when I buy plywood, I usually have them cut it at the store so I can fit it in my car.

So a panel saw would not get any use in my shop But here's one built by Hector.

Build a coin sorting machine?

I'm surprised how often this is suggested. It involves a lot of very precise and fine steps, and it has to not wear too quickly. I don't think wood is a suitable material for this, but you are welcome to prove me wrong.

Can you build a wooden Jointmaker pro?

People keep emailing me about building a "jointmaker pro" (Google it). But that would be silly to reproduce. The jointmaker pro could be improved on considerably by replacing the straight saw blade with a continuous rotating one. And then motorize that saw blade.
But ...
The this improved "jointmaker pro" has been available for decades, and at a fraction of the cost. It's called a table saw.
The "jointmaker" is a pet peeve of mine. "pro" is a misnomer. It's a tool for hobbyists with too much time and money. You won't see any professionals using it. The one thing I admire about the joinmaker pro is how it's presented. Very slick. I admire the guy's marketing skills.

Can you build an oscillating spindle sander?

I don't like sanding very much, so I'm not overly enthusiastic about sanding. Oscillating spindle sanders are not expensive to buy, but the mechanism for one would be very hard to make out of wood, and then there is still the problem of making spindle that clamps the sand paper. So if I wanted an oscillating spindle sander, I would pursue the cheapest option, which is to buy one. But here's a write up about building one.

But I'll probably never buy a spindle sander because I can sand most curved shapes on my strip sander or edge belt sander already.

Can you build a thickness sander / drum sander?

Thickness sanders are extremely slow. I much prefer to run wood through the planer instead. It's 10x faster. Granted, if you have expensive rosewood with figured grain for a guitar, a thickness sander makes sense. but for my projects, it doesn't, and I'm too impatient. But for that reason, I have published details about Pat Hawley's thickness sander

Can you build a wooden lathe?

I use my lathe very rarely, so have not been motivated to build one for the longest time. But I wanted to experiment with building one using wooden bearings, so I finally built one.

Can you build a drill press?

The cheapest way to get the parts to build a drill press is to buy a new drill press and take the parts from it. But then, you could just use the drill press as it is.
Hand drills are not rigid enough to be suitable, and a quality hand drill that might be suitable will cost more than a cheap small drill press.
More on this topic here and here. Also, drill presses produce a LOT of force (see here)

Can you build a thickness planer?

A lot of gearing is required for the feed mechanism of a thickness planer. Also, a cutter head is needed. The cheapest way to get the cutter head is to buy a thickness planer. Once you have bought a thickness planer, you could just use that. Yes, I built a 12" jointer, but 12" jointer will cost thousands to buy, but a 12" thickness planer can be bought for as little as $250 canadian dollars new, less than the cost of a replacement cutter head. So it makes sense to build a jointer, but not a thickness planer. However I do have an article about a reader built thickness planer

Have you thought about making a wooden screw?

Yes. I have thought about that a lot. The challenge is not the screw, but the nut to go with it, and that is much more difficult. I don't have a good solution for this problem, so have not made one. Jon Heisz has a few videos showing various thread making experiments.
Also see:
Question and answers video, May 2020
Auestion and answers livestream with John Heisz, September 2016
Frequently asked questions about the plans
Frequently asked questions about the bandsaw
Frequently asked questions about the lathe

If your question isn't on these pages page, please type it into the search box below. There's a good chance to answer is on my website

If you actually enjoy reading these question an answers, you might also like the Interview with Bob Clagett from March 2015, or the Ask me anything I did on Reddit in February 2016.

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