A word on Hidden Doors and secret passageways. Have I made them? I will never tell.

Hidden doors and Secret passageways are the stuff of movie legend; the three stooges, James Bond, and others have secrets that are revealed to the audience behind a hidden door.

Secret Mirror Door, kit available on Amazon

How would you build a secret door?  Searching  “Hidden Doors” on google is where I would start. Precision and solid construction are necessary to make a good secret opening.

If you are ever in the Washington DC area, consider visiting the O Street Mansion;[1]The Mansion boasts over 100 rooms and 70 secret doors. I have been there, and it is a fun place to visit. (hint: Bring your camera- the hidden doors are awesome).
The Playboy Mansion has a secret “Elvis room”.  Not to mention the “Grotto“.
You can see a lot of images on Pinterest: Secret Rooms and Hidden Doors. and on Gizmodo: 20 Secret Passageways and Rooms Hiding in Plain Sight.

Hidden doors require some “out of the box” thinking, and need to blend into their surroundings. If you can’t find a suitable one to duplicate in your venue, you may need to consult a talented and crafty woodworker (someone like myself) to build an entryway that will be marvelously deceptive!

Edit: I just found out you can buy a pre-fabricated Bookcase Hidden Door on Amazon. Freaking amazing. Since they have already done the engineering and design, you save a lot of money buying pre-fab. (If you need a Bookcase Hidden Door).
Pre-fab wooden bookcase door
Thank you for reading my blog – I hope you enjoy it and find it informative! – Feel free to share!

What is the best carpentry toolbelt?

Alan Chenkin, Owned a Cabinet shop for 10 years, and was an AWI Member.  Still Swings a hammer (usually an Estwing)

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There is no best belt. But you have options, depending on the work you do. My personal favorite is my leather Craftsman belt, with multiple pouches, tape measure and hammer loop.
10 POCKET OIL TANNED LEATHER TOOL APRON(BELT) I use it for basic to heavy carpentry projects. I have never used shoulder supports, because I try not to load it up with too much – just basic hand tools, changing them out for different jobs. It sits in my trunk, ready to go.
I also carry a nylon rig; good for siding and roofing, it sits in a toolbox most of the time, and hardly gets used unless I have a big project – roof, shed, certain siding work. It has larger nail pockets than my leather bag. (And yes, I use more pneumatic nails than plain old nails).
Those two are just for field work; I also do a lot in the shop, where most tools are nearby and you just need to hold the basics and keep sawdust off you. So I have these:
Grizzly H2922 Carpenter’s Bib Apron (And yes, the pockets get filled with wood shavings and I do vacuum them out).
Bucket Boss Bucket Boss 80100 Duckwear SuperWaist Apron (Holds your tape measure, pencils, small hand tools and parts)
Here are some opinions from the web:
How To Choose A Tool Belt – A Concord Carpenter
Carpenter Tool Belt – Pinterest
To sum it up, the best tool belt is one that suits YOUR purposes. It should be built well, with solid rivets/stitching/etc. It should be comfortable, and have the right number of pockets and places to keep your tools handy. Ask your pals, try them on in the big box store, and consider ordering on the internet if you need specific features. My heavy nylon bag is configurable – my leather one is not. I also have a basic heavy duty belt and hammer hook, and a single bag – this gives me more mobility than a large two-bag rig.
I hope you find the best bag for you! – Alan

What is the best brand of tools for mechanics?

Best is very subjective.

SnapOn, Craftsman, Matco, and Husky all have Lifetime warranties. Trust me, tools can break, and it is wonderful to know you can get a free replacement. Here in the US, SnapOn and Matco will deliver tools and equipment directly to your shop, which is very convenient.

Some tools are “throwaways”, like 99 cent Philips head screwdrivers. and you should toss them when they break. They are made to fit a “price point”, not durability.  Keep in mind that when cheap tools break, you can get hurt; especially when they “give” suddenly.  Inexpensive toolsets are practical for intermittent (not daily) use.  The tools set in my trunk is a small craftsman set, which will give me the ability to make a minor repair on the car without being dependent on finding an open shop.

No matter what tools you have, keep them clean and store them well. they will last longer!

In my tool boxes you will see Craftsman, Stanley, Husky, and SnapOn.  Solid names, and reliable tools with lifetime warranties.  While I am an active woodworker, I maintain my saws, compressors, nail guns, drills, cars, and more.  This requires the Chenkin garage to have a good complement of sturdy tools and equipment.


Here are my favorite mechanics:
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And if you like funny stuff: The Busted Knuckle Garage

Many mechanics have strong brand loyalty, and their tool dealers respect customers who give them 90% of their business. Automotive stores and the Big Box stores all have dedicated “Pro Desks” for people who make their living with tools. Choose your brands for best quality, service, and build a relationship with your dealer. It will reward you over the long run!

Best, Alan

Welcome to the Chenkin Workshop!

Dad's Table Saw

Woodworking is a craft that is non-exclusive, and inclusive; almost everyone can do it!

My father was a woodworker, a mechanic, and a teacher.

I was blessed to have access to his creative side, and his ability to make all sorts of items, from tables and toys to additions on houses.  He shared his advice and skills, and was always open to building something in our basement workshop at home, or at his “Industrial Arts” workshop at Thomas Edison High School, in Jamaica, Queens, New York City.


When I started a career in Woodworking and Cabinetry, and opened my first workshop, my Dad was there for me.  Almost every Saturday he came by, with a project or two, and suggestions on how to improve the flow or make a better product.

I am carrying on in his tradition.  My son, a career Firefighter and Paramedic, has a great set of tools and fearlessly will tackle projects – calling me for advice and suggestions on how to build a model, or showing off the latest work in his apartment.  His son is now calling on Grandpa (Me!) to build his Desk, the hutch on top of it, and a footlocker for special GI Joe toy soldiers.  This is an honor and a calling to carry on the tradition, and see how my children are capable to build, create, and feel proud that they have furniture that will outlast their use and hopefully be used by their children.

I am proud that my daughter calls on me whenever she has to do something – and knows that Dad “has her back”, whenever tools and fixing things are involved!

Oak and Pine desk built for my Grandson

This Blog is part of the story – you can see projects in work;  answers to woodworking questions (from my family and friends, and from the Quora.com community).  I am a most-viewed author on the Quora website, and freely share my knowledge and approach to woodworking.

Feel free to read on, both here and on The Chenkin Report (My original blog).  I also appreciate any comments or questions, and will answer as my schedule allows.
Having a blog means I can publish more links to products and sources, so you can see products on Amazon and Ebay as well as my writing.
Thank you for reading, for learning a bit about woodworking, and joining me on the journey to understand, build, and create with wood.
With appreciation,
Founder of MPA Woodworking, Farmingdale, NY (1980-1999)
Elite Tasker on Taskrabbit.com
Member of the Leisure World Workshop

Over One Million Views on Quora.com
Free lance Carpenter for hire, Photographer, “Mr. Fixit”

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