The Shopsmith Woodworking Academy is Gone... But wait!

When I started working as an in-store sales rep in Shopsmith Inc.'s Factory Showroom back in the Spring of 1987 one of the most impressive things Shopsmith had going for itself wasn't just that they had 45 retail stores and growing, or that they published a popular national magazine titled "Hands-On!" or even that they had recently added the new and greatly improved Shopsmith Mark V model 510 to the line-up.  No, the most impressive thing to me at Shopsmith was the fact that every one of the Shopsmith retail stores had a section carved out for hands-on training by at least one full-time shop teacher, known as the Academy Instructor.  It was around this same time that Shopsmith was made aware that they were the largest private employer of full-time shop instructors!  The then president of Shopsmith Inc, John Folkerth, was smart enough to know that selling someone a tool wasn't enough, but that the tool wasn't living up to its full potential until it was being used and enjoyed and that personally guided education was an important piece of the puzzle.

Fast forward a few months I found myself the newest and youngest Shopsmith store manager as what we called the "Boston" store, in Chelmsford, MA. For the first few months of the stores' existence, we sold tools with the promise that as soon as we could find and train someone to be our Academy instructor we would begin conducting classes.  But as the months dragged on and on we discovered that what was reasonable and customary pay for an Academy in most parts of the US was ridiculously low in New England.  We actually started flying in instructors from our stores in Albany, NY and Cincinnati just to stem the flow of folks who were threatening to return their tools because we weren't living up to our promise of training and support.

It really was an exciting time! I started conducting the weekly Thursday night "Sawdust Sessions" and when one visiting instructor wound-up doubled-over sick in his hotel room for the weekend I jumped-in and conducted the "Fundamentals of Woodworking Class" by myself, while my Assistant Manager, Matt Kottman took over the sales floor. Not only did we hire one instructor, Norm Rose, but shortly after we hired a second instructor, Bill Carrol and a third expert named Bill Donahue. We became the only Shopsmith showroom that stayed open seven days a week and if Norm wasn't teaching, Bill C. was teaching, and regardless of who was teaching Matt and Bill D. and I were there offering additional support.  (See photo from Dec 1999)

Shopsmith "Boston" store team, Dec 1989 L to R (standing) Bill Carrol, Matt Kottman, 
Bill Donahue, Me (Scott Markwood) Sitting on rocking horse, Norm Rose. 
The Boston Academy was one of the few Academy's to give the Dayton Ohio based Factory Academy a run for its money. The Academy in Indianapolis, under Tom Newkirk and Tom Flack, The Academy in Cincinnati under Ted Denman and a few others were also super-busy, but we were setting company records for enrollments and tools sales every quarter. 

Norm Rose teaching turning at Shopsmith "Boston" Academy 1989
During this same time, I also become the proud owner of a Shopsmith Mark V during our showroom's October 1987 grand opening, so if I wasn't making sawdust at work I was making it at home.  In 1989 I got word that there were some changed going on at the Factory Academy in Dayton and I was asked if I was interested in seeing if I could duplicate what was happening in Boston back in Dayton.  We moved back "home' to Dayton and got things going there.  Everything was changing back then at Shopsmith. They had grown to 50 stores and were about to launch an ambitious transition from exclusively Shopsmith branded tools to a concept called "Woodworking Unlimited".
Me and Matt working the Shopsmith booth at a Home Show in Woburn, MA Jan. 1988
If you've been in a Woodcraft store in the past 20 years you may have been standing in one of those very Woodworking Unlimited stores.  Yeah, there were a lot of changes going on during the mid-90's, not the least of which was a flood on stand-alone Tiwaneese and Chinese woodworking tools. On top of that, home centers were becoming popular, the internet was taking off and retails woodworking stores like Woodcraft and The Woodworkers Store (Now named Rockler) were also starting their expansion.
As they expanded, Shopsmith shrank.  Probably a bigger threat than competitive tools was the flood of Shopsmith's own past production that was finding its way back into circulation via eBay and later Craigslist. No longer were owners of their tools forced to return to the mother ship for parts and accessories, but rather they could purchase them used online.  Lord knows they are built like tanks and rarely need servicing.  That's right, Shopsmith became a victim of their own quality!
Scott Markwood, 2019
Shopsmith began selling off some of their more profitable stores to Woodcraft, many of which simply changed the sign over the door and continued on as usual. Then they closed their non-profitable stores and eventually even closed down the showroom and academy at the factory.

So that leads us to today. The factory is still chugging along slowly but steadily in Dayton, and there are more and more used tools to choose from on the second-hand market. But where can a new owner go for reliable information on the safe set-up and use of these tools?

Conducting a class in LA 2018
For the past twenty years, I have been a corporate trainer for a German cabinet hardware manufacturer, and while I love training people about hardware and LED lighting I just can't get enough time in my shop with my own Shopsmith tools. During this time I have had the desire to conduct classes on Shopsmith equipment, but I just travel too much on business for that to be practical. So I've searched for a platform to conduct online classes and after Youtube's recent "Adpocalypse" and Patreon's nebulous changes I was thinking that I'd never find a suitable platform, but then my son introduced me to what just might be the perfect platform.
Working in my shop with my sister Lisa (AKA "Lysol")
So that's where I have to leave this for now, but if you'd like to be kept in the loop on the upcoming launch of our online Shopsmith-centered woodworking school "MyGrowthRings", please subscribe to our mailing list below.  More to come! Scott 

Update Jan 2024: the new has launched! Check it out now. 


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Meet Nick Cupps, the new owner of Shopsmith

On Thursday, October 5th, 2023, 84 Shopsmith fans descended upon the Shopsmith factory just north of Dayton, for a two-day long even to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Shopsmith tool's creation. Yes, we did miss the actual 75th anniversary, which was in 2022, but we were pulling out of a world-wide pandemic, so we put the meet-up off by a year. 

Anyway, immediately following the introductions of the company staff, Shopsmith's president, Bob Folkerth, added:

"And there's one more person I'd like to introduce you to. This is Mr. Nicholas Cupp, who as af last week is the new owner of Shopsmith."

Shopsmith Oct 2023

I had the privilege to interview Nick a few days later, and I'm sure you will find his vision for the future of the company as interesting as I did.

Wood is Green.

"Wood is Green".

When we hear the word "green," images of lush forests, vibrant leaves, and thriving ecosystems often come to mind. However, the concept of "green" goes beyond the color of foliage during the growing season. In today's understanding of sustainability, the use of wood as a material is an excellent example of how something seemingly simple can be incredibly "green." While trees may turn green with chlorophyll during their growth phase, wood, in the context of sustainability, is also a vital part of creating a greener future.

The Role of Wood in Human History:

Throughout history, humankind has relied on trees for more than just their green leaves. Trees have provided us with sustenance in the form of fruits and nuts. They have also offered shelter, giving us shade and protection from the elements. Additionally, trees have been harvested for their lumber, enabling us to construct our homes and furnish them with wood products.

The Circle of Sustainability:

What's truly remarkable about wood is its role in the circle of sustainability. When we harvest a tree for its wood, it's not the end of the story; it's just the beginning. By responsibly managing our forests, we ensure the continual replenishment of this valuable resource. When a tree is felled, it opens up space for new growth. This act of harvesting is just one part of a natural cycle. When we take a tree, we can give back by planting a new one, continuing the cycle of renewal.

Wood as a Renewable Resource:

Wood is, fundamentally, a renewable resource. Unlike non-renewable materials, such as fossil fuels, wood can be continually replenished through responsible forestry practices. Sustainable forestry means that for every tree cut down, another is planted. This not only helps to combat deforestation but also ensures the longevity of our forests and the many benefits they provide.

Carbon Sequestration:

Another remarkable aspect of wood is its ability to sequester carbon. Trees naturally absorb and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow. When we use wood in construction or furniture, we are essentially locking away that carbon. This makes wood a carbon-friendly alternative to other building materials, reducing our carbon footprint.

In a world where the term "green" is synonymous with sustainability, wood stands out as one of the most environmentally friendly materials we have. Its historical significance in human survival, along with its renewable nature and carbon-sequestering capabilities, make it a standout choice for a greener future. By using wood responsibly and planting new trees in its place, we can ensure a sustainable and vibrant planet for generations to come. Wood is not just green in color; it's green in its contribution to a sustainable world.

Under Shopsmith Steel Storage Cabinets

At some point in the mid 2000's Shopsmith introduced a line of steel storage cabinets (or toolboxes) that could be used in several different configurations, but most conveniently they would fit under a Mark V and were able to roll on included casters.  Below is a screen capture from in 2008. These cabinets have long since been discontinued and are shown here for historical purposes and to aid folks in buying or selling on the used market.  

Steel Storage Cabinets roll snugly under your MARK V to hold your Shopsmith Accessories

Designed specifically to work with your MARK V and help you gain control over workshop clutter. Choose from three 16" w X 14" d (front-to-back), 20-gauge steel Cabinets that you can use individually, connect together side-by-side (they fit perfectly between the legs of your MARK V) or stack.

Sturdy drawers support up to 60 lbs each and open on ball bearing glides that feature a gentle locking detent to alert you when closed.

The full width drawer handles are flush with the Cabinet front when closed and hold write-on label strips, with see-through covers.

Each Cabinet comes with four 2" diameter rubber-tired, ball bearing swivel casters...two of which lock with a quick step of the toe.

Outside Cabinet Dimensions: 16" w X 14" d X 17-1/4" h (+ 2-5/8" h Casters).
Inside Drawer Dimensions: 12-14" w X 12-1/2" d (Drawer heights vary)

Connect all three together horizontally with drop-in L-Pins (included) or use the caster mounting hardware to bolt them together vertically. Each Cabinet also includes two steel Handles plus all required hardware.

1 + 1 + 1 Drawer Cabinet
Drawer heights*: 3", 4-3/4" & 6-3/8"

Price $169.99 Sale Price $152.99
Status: Item may be on BACK-ORDER, or is made upon ordering.
Please call 1-800-762-7555 if you have any questions.

2 + 2 Drawer Cabinet
Drawer heights*: (2) 3" & (2) 3-7/8"

Price $179.99 Sale Price $161.99
Status: Item is available.

3 + 1 Drawer Cabinet
Drawer heights*: (3) 3" & (1) 4-3/4"

Price $179.99 Sale Price $161.99
Status: Quantity is low.

All Three Cabinets
Price $474.99 Sale Price $427.49

*Heights are to top of Drawer front. Drawers will close if stored items protrude slightly higher than Drawer front.

Contest to win some COOL Parallel Jaw Pliers!

In an amazing coincidence, I've been looking on Amazon for a couple replacement parallel jaw pliers to replace the pliers that I used to use for clock repair but have gone AWOL, but the Youtube channel "Pask Makes" has not only posted a video showing how he made a similar plier, but there's even a chance to win one. The last time I shared a link to a similar giveaway I wound up winning the contest myself! So, jump into this contest and give me a run for my money: 

Also, here's a link to the pliers that are in my Amazon shopping cart: appears to be the exact same pliers I purchased back in 1982!

So, how does this blog work?

This blog features links to Shopsmith woodworking tools and items that are related to Shopsmith tools which are for sale on the web.

We've been adding a BUNCH of FREE scans of historic Shopsmith articles and ads, and if you happen to have something we should add we'd love to hear from you. Most of these can be seen Biggie-Sized by clicking on them.

Speaking of clicking, if you'd like to enter a comment about one of the posts, please feel free. To do so just click on the bold title line (For example, this post is titled "So, how does this blog work?" If you click on the title it will open that post on its own page. There you can enter a comment, and after I moderate it, you'll see it there for all the world to see and comment back!

Please do me a favor. If you have a blog of your own or are a member of an Internet newsgroup and decide to flatter me by quoting from the text of my entries, please honor me by posting a link to this blog. Thanks and good hunting! Scott

Shopsmith Mark V model 510, 520 and Mark 7 Floating Tables

Video link:

In the video below I discussed the introduction of floating tables for the Shopsmith Mark V model 510, 520 and Mark 7 and their evolution over the years since their introduction in the 1960's as part of the original Mark VII. The modern version of the floating table was introduced in the mid-1980s with the launch of the Mark V model 510, which along with improved dust collection, better guards, a riving knife that stays tight against the blade, and T-slots in the miter gauges that improved cutting and jigs and fixtures, the floating tables added to the support system when working with large stock.

In my opinion there are some limitations to the 510 floating tables, primarily being inability to put the fence on the floating table. While this is debatable, and Scott even lands on both sides of that debates, there is a greater chance that the table and the fence rail tubes can be out of parallel with the blade, so care needs to be taken to measure the fence from the front and back in relationship to the blade to make sure that the floating table is locked on properly.

I also discuss the changes that were made to the floating table over the years, such as the holes in the face of the main table tubes being replaced by welded threaded studs and the steel tubes being swapped out for aluminum extrusions in the 520 model.
I conclude by saying that the floating table is an interesting idea to be able to have an adjustable table that moves with the main table, but it does have some limitations. He also mentions that he will show more about the evolution of the floating table in an upcoming video.

Shopsmith Crosscut Sliding Table

Video link:

In this video we discussed the Shopsmith Crosscut Sliding Table, which in part was inspired by similar jig used by Norm Abram on the New Yankee Workshop, as well as the "Dubby Jig". The Dubby Jig was a popular tool among woodworkers in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and many customers of the popular brand, Shopsmith, were asking for a similar tool, so Shopsmith obliged.

These are designed to aid in cutting larger pieces of stock. The traditional miter gauge has a small face, only about six inches, which can make it difficult to guide larger pieces of lumber or sheet stock through the blade accurately. This jig, however, has a long aluminum fence that can be aligned to not only 90 degrees, but also to various angles. Additionally, the wood is sliding on a table that moves with the wood, which reduces friction between the wood and the table.

To align the table, the miter bar has a little bit of play when the three cap screws that hold it in place are loosened, allowing for adjustment. Once it is close, it can be locked in place by adjusting the fence. A good square or drafting triangle is a great tool for this.

One issue that can arise with this setup is that as the stock is being cut, it may want to sink down on the opposite side of the blade, because it is not supported on that side, causing a potential kickback at worst or at least a little unwelcome tear-out. To solve this problem, I added a piece of stock to the opposite side of the blade for support. Shopsmith's engineers took this idea one step further and added the ability to lock the support into the miter slot, making it a top-selling accessory.

Overall, this table is a great tool for woodworkers looking to make accurate cuts on larger pieces of stock. The long aluminum fence, ability to rotate to various angles, and added support make it a versatile and effective tool.

I have to admit that I was surprised to learn that the Dubby is still available! Find it here: 🟢 Here are links to my favorite 9" long T-handle "Shopsmith Toolbox" 5/32" Hex Wrench: 🟢 If you are interested in the Shopsmith Cross-Cut Sled you can find them used on eBay: or new from the Mothership:

My most challenging project to date

If you caught last night’s chat on the “Let’s talk shop with Russ” show you heard me talking about the most challenging project I’d ever made, which was a prototype for a triangular pool cue that a fellow in the Dayton area paid me to make so he could submit it to the US Patent Office. I never did see if he was ever granted a patent or not so I went searching this morning and found it! You can see it in full here:

If you missed the chat you can watch it here:

most challenging project I’d ever made, which was a prototype for a triangular pool cue that a fellow in the Dayton area paid me to make so he could submit it to the US Patent Office. I never did see if he was ever granted a patent or not so I went searching this morning and found it! You can see it in full here:

If you missed the chat you can watch it here:

Something NEW from Shopsmith? The Mark 4!

Over Labor Day weekend, 2021 Shopsmith posted this cryptic meme on their Facebook page and I'm sure folks are anxious to know more.  The answer is the launch of something old and something new: The Shopsmith Mark V Model 520S and the new Mark 4.  What's the difference between these tools and the current Mark 7? Let's start with the Mark V 520S:
The 520S marks the return of the classic mechanical headstock. This headstock has taken the back burner in favor of the electronic variable speed PowerPro, but thanks to the worldwide semiconductor shortage that has been brought on by the pandemic, Shopsmith will bring the mechanical headstock back to the forefront.  This machine will sell for $3795 USD.

The Mark 4 (Shorty)
Featuring the carriage, main table, and fence rails of the Mark V 520, 

The biggest change from the previous Mark V's and Mark 7 is that the Mark 4 will come with shorter bench and way tubes. That means that the machine really won't be usable for turning, so it's not even provided with turning components. The shorter tubes mean that the drill press will likely be lower. 

The machine will function as a table saw, a disc sander, a drill press, and a horizontal boring machine and will be able to operate all the standard SPTs.  The machine will be upgradeable with longer tubes and all the lather accessories should an owner desire to upgrade. All this will set you back $3499 USD, though it can be purchased as a stripped-down model for $2778 and you can add each of the basic features on an al la carte basis.  Learn more here:

Here's a quick rundown video. 

Sears Craftsman Excalibur Elite Adjustable Carbide-Tipped Dado Blade

I can't believe this, but I have been waiting over 20 years to get my hands on an Excalibur Elite dado!

This think is really interesting! The Excalibur dado set was originally a two-blade wobble dado, but the "Excalibur Elite" features three blades, each with carbide teeth around the parameter and a couple offset teeth that work like chippers for the "in between" sizes. You use the two outside blades for cuts from 1/4" to 1/2" and you add a third blade to the stack for cuts from 1/2" to 13/16". The weird thing that took my brain some time to get around is that none of the blades are wobbling, and one might assume.

At the bottom of this post you'll find two videos, one of me opening the dado after receiving it from the eBay seller and the second explaining what I learned studying the manual and the US patent.

Also, I've found very little info about this funky dado set, but as I uncover more I'll add it here.

Please consider joining the 102(!) other channel members in supporting the channel and get access to perks: Here are links to a few of the products I used or discussed in this video: 🟢 Interested in the Excalibur Elite Dado Blade? You can find them on eBay here: Be aware that because these are often mislabeled that this link will show both the original two-blade Excalibur dado as well as the three-blade Excalibur Elite. Take a careful look at photos and descriptions before jumping in. 🟢 My favorite 9" long T-handle "Shopsmith Toolbox" 5/32" Hex Wrench: 🟢 Shopsmith Molder / Dado Arbor on eBay: 🟢 Shopsmith Magna Dado for sale on eBay: (Very light activity) 🟢 Shopsmith Dado Insert for sale on eBay: 🟢 Here's my favorite 6" dado stack set: 🟢 Here's my normal go-to 8" dado stack set: Join this channel to get access to perks: Visit Follow on Instagram @MyGrowthRings I also blog at and http://shopsmith-tool-hunter.blogspot... A few viewers have requested I provide affiliate links to help them find the products I use and as a way of supporting the channel through commission. If you purchase a product or service with the links I provide, there is no additional charge to you. I always recommend shopping around for a better price. Thank you for supporting My Growth Rings! #SearsDadoBlade #ExcaliburElite #WobbleDado

Here's the history of Vermont American:

More to come.

Should a Shopsmith user also own a Track Saw like the Festool, Makita, DeWalt, Mafell or even a clone?

I've owned and used a Shopsmith Mark V since 1987 and over the years have developed a a pretty clear picture of what operations make sense to do with the Shopsmith and which are better handled by some other hand tool. What may not be intuitive at first is the fact that when cutting a large piece of  lumber or plywood, no matter how large your table saw is, it's often easer, more accurate and safer to take a portable saw to the wood rather than the wood to the saw.  

Just think about the space you'd need in your shop (or driveway) to rip down the 8' length of a sheet of plywood.  That's 8" ahead of the blade, 8' behind the blade, and whatever space you'll need for yourself and likely a helper. That's somewhere around 20+ feet of clear space! 

Now, think of that same cut being made with the wood in a stationary position with the saw gliding down its length. Get the picture?  It just makes sense to use a hand-held circular saw to rough cut our stock into reasonable sizes, and then we can move to the Shopsmith for joinery, if needed. 

So have you tried to make accurate cuts with a Skill saw? Yeah, me too. Based on that experience I have been drawn to the European approach of a plunging circular saw that follows an extruded aluminum rail, that itself has a non-skid backing and can also be conveniently clamped in place with clamps that integrate below the track.  These plunge saws were originally brought to market in Germany in the 1980's by the company now known as Festool (formerly Festo), but now that the patents have expired and are now in the public domain similar tools have flooded the market. 

Whether they are called a "plunge saw" or a "track saw", the advantage of these saws over what our dads used is that not only are they guided laser-straight along the rail, but the edge of the rail features a sacrificial strip that supports the edge of the cut, right where the blade is exiting the cut and where otherwise we'd be looking at tear-out. 

I've been playing with a Festool plunge saw at work for several years and finally have decided that in the coming weeks I'll be taking the plunge (#SeeWhatIDidThere?) and will add one to my shop. Which one? You may be surprised, but I've decided that I'm going to buy a WEN saw! WEN you ask? Yep. After much research I believe that for the amount of use most DIYer's are going to get from a track saw it's wise to stay below the $200 investment threshold, including the track.  I'm debating between these two models and may actually buy them both just to get a true comparison.  What do you think? 

WEN CT1065, which uses a 6.5" diameter blade

WEN CT1272, which uses the popular 7 1/4" diameter blade

Keep watching the "My Growth Rings" Youtube channel for more. 

A few of my favorite things "My Growth Rings" 5000 Subscribers Giveaway

5000 subs! Now that's something to celebrate! In this video, we'll first cover the questions from the last video, which was on using Google to perform searches of US Patents, which as the patents for Shopsmith tools, and then we'll conduct a drawing for a few of my favorite shop tools and products that make my time in the shop easier and more enjoyable. Don't forget, if you are selected as a winner, email me with your name and shipping address to ScottMarkwood(at) Thank you ALL for your support! If you would like to learn more about what the 92 other channel members already know about supporting the channel as a channel member, please check out this no-obligation info: Here are links to a few of the products I used in the previous video: 🟢 This is the 2" caster upgrade I use: 🟢 These are the pair of LED lamps that I use: 🟢 Here's the 9" long, double-ended 5/32" Hex Wrench "Shospmith Toolbox" that I prefer: 🟢 This is the double-sided "SpecTape" that I use: 🟢 Here's my center finder: I wish every small tool was this color! 🟢 This is the remote control switch I now use on my shop vacuum: 🟢 The sliding T-Bevel I showed is very similar to the one I inherited from my father-in-law, and it is handy because it locks from the bottom, which I find is less likely to move when tightening: 🟢 This is the mechanical drafting pencil I'm moving back to: 🟢 Here's my 6" Engineer's Square: 🟢 This is the 6" Freud Dado Set that I endorse: HOWEVER.... 🟢 If you are interested in a great 8" dado set, here's the one I use: 🟢 Finally, this 8" Freud set is a fine compromise. Not as many chippers and fewer teeth on the outer blades, but it's a very good set for occasional use:

Short notice of a 50% Shopsmith mug sale

 I know this is short notice, but I just learned that today only the web site Zazzle has coffee mugs 50% off, including a couple Shopsmith-related designs of mine that I posted some time back. Click here and search "Shopsmith" to see them all: also the discount code is "ZAZDAY1DEALS" so be sure to enter it in the discount box at check-out. At 50% they are only about 17% too expensive!

Shopsmith Aluminum Bandsaw Table Upgrade GAME!

 Lets' play a little game, shall we? what differences can you name between the original Shopsmith aluminum bandsaw table upgrade (Circa 1989-ish) and the current version? How about the accessories you can see and the bandsaw itself? Lots of changes to spot, so have fun and comment below. 

A 1950's Shopsmith Mark V PowerPro Headstock

I recently stumbled across a pic from several years back of my sister "Lysol" in my shop working on one of my Shopsmith Mark V 510's that had the beta test 1950's "Greenie" headstock. As part of the beta test, I was asked to add the PowerPro upgrade to the old headstock, and while that process alone was interesting, once the retrofit was done I was instructed to "use it like I stole it" so that any issues would be uncovered prior to the product's public release.  

The most interesting part of the retrofit was the fact that headstock casting of the very early Mark V's was sand-cast, so the walls were super-thick and varied somewhat in thickness from one spot to another. 

I really have to hand it to the engineers at Shopsmith, who not only brought the Mark V into the 21st Century but also made sure that even the earliest Mark V's could come along in the evolution. 

The EZtension bandsaw blade tension gauge and the Shopsmith Bandsaw

In this video, I talk about the new EZtension bandsaw tension gauge and its use on a Shopsmith Bandsaw. I highly recommend this gauge if you own a non-Shopsmith bandsaw, but if you own a Shopsmith bandsaw you owe it to yourself to watch this video first.

Here's the video: The EZtension bandsaw tension gauge is available here: (Not an affiliate link, but tell him I sent ya!)

You Aint Seen Nothin' Yet!

If you happened to land on this page via a Google search, you aint seen nothin' yet! Click the title at the top of this page to see this blog in it's entirety.