Darbin Orvar

Girl in a Shop - Darbin Orvar on Youtube!

Darbin Orvar - Girl in a Shop

My adventures in building, diy, construction, testing and finishing.

Getting a Froe & Making a Mallet

I'm not sure exactly where I first saw a froe in use... probably in some video where they made old fashioned shingles by splitting a log like a cake in many pieces, positioning the long blade across the log and banging on it with a large mallet. The froe is an L-shaped tool, with a long metal blade attached to a wooden handle. The wood split quite easily, and the froe seemed like such a clever and simple tool. Unlike an axe or a hatchet, you're not actually swinging the froe, you keep it in place and excerpt force on it with a mallet instead.

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Oregon Maker Meet-Up May 14th

I'm happy to announce that I'm organizing a meet-up here in Corvallis, Oregon on May 14th for makers, fans, YouTubers and artists alike.🎈 I've been wanting to connect with more people in the area - others who also like to make and create things - or fans who watch the videos and who would like to stop by and say hi in person.

Location: The meet-up will take place at Sky High Brewery, located in downtown Corvallis, Oregon @ 160 NW Jackson St. 

Parking: There are lots of available parking all over downtown Corvallis, and it's a very walk-able town. If you don't find a spot right outside the restaurant, try a few streets down. 

If it is very busy in town this map shows where lots of free parking is available just a couple blocks down from the meetup.

Time: The meet-up will start at 2:30. End time? Hard to say - we'll be there for a while :)

Can minors come? Sky High is a brewery, however people under the age of 21 are welcome in all areas of the restaurant except the bar.

Who's the meet-up for? Makers, youtubers, fans and anyone who'd like to stop by and say hi! If you're located in the general area, come by - I'd love to meet you!

About Corvallis!

Corvallis has a very picturesque nice downtown, perfect for walking around and checking out stores and coffee shops.

Every Saturday there's a Farmer's Market on 1st street (right next to the brewery) which ends at 1 pm, and it's always very lively and fun with food and music.

Great lumber stores in the general area:

  • The Hardwood Centre, 29855 on Highway 34 going towards Albany (nice slabs and a great hardware selection)
  • Mikes Bargain Center, 33993 Texas St on Highway 34 going towards Albany (great prices and a nice selection)
  • Spaeth Heritage House, 137 N 13th St, Philomath (architectural salvage)

Building an Articulated LED Task Lamp

This project is all about building a useful task lamp with led strip lights that are really easy to work with. In this build I use baltic birch plywood but any wood will be fine. Below are some links to the products I either used to make this project or tools that were very helpful.

Parts Used in this Build

Are you as special a woodworker as you think? (+ Woodworking Tag)

Woodworking Podcast Tag 

(Feel free to answer these in your podcast or video!)


  1. Oak or walnut?

  2. Polyurethane or lacquer?

  3. Dream shop or dream home?

  4. Pencil or computer?

  5. Blank paper or lined paper? 

  6. Dovetails or box joints?

  7. Craftsman or Chippendale?

  8. Sawstop technology - overrated or underrated?

  9. Hand tool importance - overrated or underrated?

  10. Youtube as a teaching tool - overrated or underrated?

11 Maker & Building Podcasts to Listen To

Recently there has been a big increase in the amount of podcasts created by and for makers. My podcast, appropriately called "the Darbin Orvar Podcast" started a few months ago, and there are so many topics we're excited to talk about - including building but not limited to business, culture, philosophy and everything in between. I like how this format allows for free-flowing thoughts and how you can get ideas across in a more in-depth way, which video doesn't allow in the same way.

Personally , I think podcasts are great to listen to when working in the shop, or when walking the dog for example. Sometimes however, I think these various podcasts are a little hard to find, or keep track of since they don't all exists on the same system, unlike YouTube videos. So to make it a little easier to find these shows, I thought it would be useful to make as complete a list as possible, so here goes. If you have any podcasts you'd like to add, please leave a comment!

Darbin Orvar Podcast (Linn & Matt)

MakerCast (Jon Berard + Guests): 

Making It (Jimmy Diresta, Bob Clagett & David Picciuto): 

Modern Woodworkers Association (Dyami Plotke, Sean Wisniewski, Chris Adkin):

Garden Fork (Eric + Guests): 

Wood Talk (Marc Spagnuolo, Shannon Rogers & Matt Cremona): 

Matt's Basement Workshop (Matt Vanderlist):

Faking It (Andrew Aragon, Andy Birkey, Rod Reyes & David Waelder): 

Woodshop 101 (Drew Short & Jeremy Crawford)

The Dusty Life (Brian McCauley, Kyle Toth & Sean Rubino):

The Woodworking Podcast (Jay Bates, April Wilkerson, Nick Ferry):


Ideas About Creativity (Podcast 04)

It seems like it is more important than ever to be creative. Everyone wants to be seen as creative and most try to do all they can to encourage it. I am in the same boat. I need to be creative for my projects and videos, and it is a constant pressure to continue this, but while it is a pressure I think it is a great pressure to encourage learning. Learning is what I think is at the base of creativity, well that and practice. Those two things together, continued through life are at the heart of both happiness and success.

Many people have come up with strategies to keep creative, and many books have been written to help with that, but I wanted to list a few things I think help creativity along.

Before you can be creative you must have some knowledge though. Lets take toys for example. Most people like Lego, and most people think it has something to do with being creative, but what? If we make a bit of an algorithm, one that make creativity, than what do you need to be included in it?

Lets say a tool, and the knowledge of how to use that tool is necessary to be creative. Well that is Lego in a nutshell. It is a tool, with very little learning required to get it going. Blocks just snap together, there is not a whole lot of learning necessary to use it. But learning and tools are just two of the things necessary to be creative. So lets put that in our algorithm, and figure out what else is needed for you to be creative with Lego.

It seems like knowledge of the outside world is necessary too, otherwise you would just snap together pieces and make large walls that are not too useful to anyone. This is perhaps why this kind of toy comes with instructions about how to use it. The picture on the box is what most would make with it. If you compare this to woodworking, which is not so easy to do as snap together pieces of plastic, you realize that the more you know of the real world, and how people actually live, the more interesting and relevant your creations will be. So lets add a little bit of practical real-world experience to the algorithm.

The real challenge to completing this algorithm of creativity is that you must continue to learn and refine your knowledge, practice with the tools and techniques, and that you are thinking in terms of the real world. I suppose it is also good to realize that it never stops, you are only as creative as your next idea. This is definitely a pressure, and many may not look at this as a good thing. Devising strategies to keep learning and practicing are really critical to continuing to be creative, because if it was easy everyone would be creative.

Women in Woodworking (3rd Podcast)

Itunes: https://itun.es/i6Sx4jF

Sound Cloud: https://soundcloud.com/darbinorvar

RSS Feed: http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:153407357/sounds.rss

In many ways, ever since I began woodworking seriously I have been wondering why there weren't more women involved in making things. I mean woodworking, but also building anything with metal, cnc and engineering too. 

I don't think it is a surprise to anyone that women are not generally associated with woodworking. I mean there are examples, but for the most part women are bunched in with the softer crafts like sewing, cooking and home décor. If instagram is any indication though, there are a lot of women giving woodworking and design a new life that is both nuanced and practical.

I think the focus here in my mind is where are things going from here. I try not to pay too much attention to the past, I am future-oriented and am really excited to see where the new-found freedom in building, engineering and design goes. I come from one basic perspective, people behave based on what is around themselves. If you expose men and women, boys and girls to building many will be interested, if we do not then they are unlikely to think about it as a way to express themselves.

I don't agree that we should accept the concept of gender-based behaviors as they are assumed to relate to woodworking and building. I believe things are learned, learned through our environments, and our environments are vast and complicated. Lets agree there is no “building gene”, and that lots of people would benefit from the experience and pleasure of building and woodworking, if only it was presented in a way to attract more interest.

It seems like we often impose barriers to subjects on ourselves or others all the time. Many of these preferences are because of a wrong perspective, like that certain people can do math, and some cannot. Other subjects just seem more male, which can bar women from thinking about them as an option as well. It is more likely that these environments we either create ourselves or adopt from our families are just wrong. I believe that if you want to be a good example and encourage others to learn to express themselves in woodworking, making or even science you must watch out how you yourself believe about these subjects. You are really more of an influence on others than you realize. 

How The Maker Movement Began...Maybe (2nd Podcast)

I have been thinking about the maker movement lately, where it started and where it is going. You frequently hear people talk about this subject, but I wanted to put a little different spin on it and look at it from a different point of view.

Even though making is all the rage, and there are a lot of makers out there nowadays, where did they all come from? Did they not exist before this time? First of all I really think they have always been around, but lets start with a basic assumption. Making is fun, and making is good, and the more people learning and building the better. We all benefit from innovation and that is exactly what is coming out of the movement. So where did it begin?

Well if we start at the beginning we have been making for millions of years, the birds may have built a few nests, but we have been building tools for more than 2 million years. So I think it is safe to say that it is in our culture and our DNA as much as anything can be. That seems to be the point, humans like to make things, we are active, bright and smart, and unlike other creatures on earth we are not satisfied to lie around on the grass and bask in the sun. I really love how active humans are and this new movement has some interesting characteristics that separate it from even the relatively recent movements related to human building and creativity.

We are not the first to want a more genuine connection with our food, furniture or surroundings. As recently as the 1970's there were twenty and thirty-somethings who began to reject a mass-produced disposable lifestyle in favor of relearning values of the past, while others were very enthusiastic about the new possibilities in computers and electronics. So on one hand you have Alice Waters, Fine Woodworking and Roy Underhill, and on the other you have teenagers and twenty-somethings like Steve Wozniak ordering computer kits from magazines all over the world trying to build the first personal computer and push the boundaries of what was possible.

This was making at its best, and this has only continued to the present. Those initial movements in the 1970's have really spread though. The idea of a greater personal connection to furniture and building and food has blossomed in people of all ages and skill levels, personalizing all the stuff around them. Lets not forget those initial computer tinkerers that have moved into bringing us Arduinos and Raspberry Pis, and the food deserts of the past have been replaced by the new farmers markets and organic fast-food.

There are of course differences today. Learning has become cheaper, even though education has become more and more expensive, knowledge has become cheaper. The structure around us has changed dramatically, and communication, mostly due to the web, smart phones and YouTube almost forces us to be makers. Sometimes this is just to keep up, sometimes it is because we must rely on ourselves, and sometimes we realize everyone else has become both a teacher and a competitor. Teaching has become so distributed that we are all both learners and teachers. Every blog post, video, or even tweet adds to the general knowledge which we all now have access to.

In the past knowledge was much more difficult to come by, so it was cloistered in associations, universities, trades and the like. Those keepers of knowledge often made it difficult for knowledge to come out into the open. But that is where it is now. That is why it is a revolution. Never before have the tools been cheaper and the knowledge been more available.

Not that everyone is equally enthusiastic. You can always detect this unhappiness when you hear about how experience is so important. If there is a danger to the maker movement, it is some kind of over-arching regulation that tries to institutionalize knowledge, but as long as we keep it free, there will be makers.

I have been referring to the innovation-related maker movement, but it is certainly broader than that. People don't just make things to innovate, they do so to save money, make money, express themselves, feel a sense of control over their environment and a lot of other reasons. I'll leave all that for another time, for now it seems to me that the future for this revolution looks bright and I am happy to be a part of it.

This will be the topic of my next Podcast, so let me know your thoughts.


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