Woodworker's Central
Woodworker's Gazette
Gazette Archive 11/16/98

Software Review for The Woodworkers Website Association: (continued)

The Woodworking Companion - Multimedia CD-ROM

As with most all of the sections of The Woodworking Companion, you can print out the information and some of the illustrations for bench-top referencing. The Tool section is segmented into divisions for all of the major stationary power tools, portable power tools, hand tools and even a section on the motors themselves. This section is loaded with photographs of the tools, in use, and with detailed instructions for adjustments and fine tuning. All of the informational text is accompanied by extremely clear, close-up photos of the specific item referred to. There are even some shop drawings and instructions for building useful jigs and fixtures to make the tools even more versatile.

The Woodworking Companion will give anyone, pro or novice, a better handle on using thier shop machinery, moreso than even the best owner's manual I have ever received from a manufacturer. In the Techniques section this program takes you through the entire process of a project; project preperation, preperation of stock, an encyclopedia of joints, gluing, curves, and finishing. Here alone is more useful information than one would usually find in a half dozen books. All of this information, as throughout the entire program, is carefully cross referenced for achieving the best results on your project, no matter what materials you are working with.

The Woodworking Companion also includes a reference library in each section, for even more in-depth research or background on a particular field. There is even a glossary of terms to clarify the woodworkers "language", and help overcome geographical differences (i.e. Northeast...soffett = Southwest...furrdown {first time a Massachusetts project manager told me to run style-mark on a soffett, I went outside to see where he's wantin' it ;)}).

The Safety section of The Woodworking Companion is something we can all use. We all know to always use hearing and sight protection, but this section also addresses hazards associated with dust and vapor situations found in shops. This section is as detailed as all are in this program, with methods of preventing any health or injury problems and what to do if a problem does arise. We are given details on adequate dust and vapor removal, with formulas for different shop sizes and types of chemicals used in woodworking. There are a lot of technical references in the safety section to help prevent hearing, breathing, or sight loss,(such as decibel ratings and particulate limits), but there are also a great many common sense practices that a shop owner/manager can do to make a better work environment. But hey, none of us ever fire up the 'ol Unisaw without first puttin' on the goggles and 'muffs...do we ?

The Shop Math section is divided into four algorithms for, circles, right triangles,scalene triangles, compound miters and an all-inclusive conversion chart. Of course, there is a built in calculator, also accessible through-out the program. This section of The Woodworkers Companion holds all those formulas we learned (?) back in basic algebra and technical mathematics.

The remaining two sections, Materials List and Order List, provide the woodworker with templates, which can be printed out, to effectively organize project materials lists and ordering lists for mailing or faxing to suppliers. This is a lot more impressive to a prospective customer than a hand printed list on yellow legal pad !

The Woodworkers Companion is well worth having in any shop, whether you are just working on that "honey-do" list or turning out production work fot the new housing development. I found the program extremely informative, easy to use and understand, and quite simple to navigate around in. The wealth of knowledge contained here is well laid out and much easier to access than numerous volumes of reference manuals. ( I admit it, I have let a few bits of information drift away over the years ;)~ ). All of the articles and illustrations can be printed out, or copied to the clipboard viewer or paint as full sized pages and illustrations. Unfortunately, my lack of computer expertise, and/or software, prevented me from reducing the size of illustrations for inclusion in this review, but they are all extremely clear and concise, down to the finest detail. Bottom line, buy this program, you won't regret it, and it will take a prominent place in any woodworker's library. Anyone can benefit from the knowledge here, presented in an easy to understand format, that's simple to use and follow. In 'puter talk, this is a user friendly program ! You'll find many things that'll make you say, "oh yeah, I remember that now", or "I didn't realize it was that easy !"

John F. Knott III
J&S Enterprises

Minimum System Requirements:
IBM Compatible 386 or higher WINDOWS 3.1x or later.
(Sorry, no Mac version is planned.)
Minimum Screen Resolution:
800 x 600 with 65k (16-bits) colors [Note that the program will still work at lower resolution (i.e., 640 x 480) but only part of some images may be shown. The general appearance of the program could also differ from its original design.]
CD-ROM Drive, 8 Mb RAM, 10 Mb Free Disk Space
Cost US$25.95 + $3 Shipping/Handling
There are four ways to order the Woodworking Companion Multimedia CD-ROM:
1.On-line: Fill out and submit our on-line order form. Credit card information is processed via a secured server for complete security. So, it's fast, easy and TOTALLY safe.
2.By Phone: Simply by calling our TOOL FREE number: 1-877-WOODWRK or 1-877-966-3975 (in the United-States and Canada). Operators are standing by 24 hours a day & 7 days a week (to better serve you).
3.By Mail: For each CD-ROM requested, send us a check or money order for US$25.95 + $3.00 for Postage/Handling (Canadian residents add 7%; Quebec residents add 8%) to:
Intellectimedia Inc.
P.O. Box 86006 Brossard
QC, Canada, J4W 1Y6
4.By Electronic Mail at webmaster@woodworkinginfo.com

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