Archive

Against Perfection, Precision or Accuracy

It’s difficult to argue against perfection in woodworking. That’s because the counter argument is something like: “You’re a hack and can’t get it right, and so you say that your imperfections are intentional.” Or put another way, you can’t be too rich, too thin or have joinery that is too perfect. Here’s how I think about perfection: We now have the technology to abolish time zones. Each person’s phone could […]

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The Case Against Tail Vises

If workbenches were like automobiles, then I’d consider the tail vise to be like the heated seats in a car. They’re an option, of course, but they are by no means standard equipment, like tires. Out of economic necessity, my first three workbenches didn’t have tail vises, and so I was thrilled when I was assigned to review a full-size European workbench with all the bells and whistles, including a […]

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The Galbert Caliper and my Pigheadedness

I don’t care for gizmos, jigs and silly accessories. So even though I spend a fair amount of time on the lathe, I resisted purchasing the Galbert Caliper for many years. In its place, I used go/no-go gauges, box wrenches and traditional turning calipers (which are the worst). But while at Handworks this year, I broke down and gave Peter $60 for a Galbert Caliper. Today I put it to […]

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Be Seated: The Benchcrafted Swing-away Seat

Sitting at your workbench does not make you lazy. Many times it makes you smart. Chopping out the waste between dovetails requires endurance and patience – especially when building a large piece of casework with drawers. If you sit while chopping, you conserve energy and your eyes are closer to your chisel, improving accuracy. The same goes for mortising where exactitude is important. During the last few weeks I’ve been […]

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Taking Credit, Giving Credit and Stealing it

On the way back from Handworks, editor Megan Fitzpatrick asked me a question I get a lot: “Does it irk you when people build your furniture designs and fail to credit you when they post them on social media?” Answer: Not at all. For me, the reward isn’t that someone praises my design. The reward is that they were inspired enough to pick up the tools and build something. Building […]

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How to Make 90° Your Best Friend

One of the great things about handwork is that 90° is not the most critical angle. While absolute 90° is a holy setting on machinery, 87° or 93° is just as easy to cut with a handsaw, plane or chisel. And so sometimes hand-tool users (myself included) denigrate absolute 90° as something reserved for beginners, Arts & Crafts enthusiasts and machinists. After years of working by both hand and machine, […]

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Denning: Get it Before it’s Gone

Popular Woodworking Books has just reprinted the classic text “The Art and Craft of Cabinet-Making” by David Denning (1891) in a beautiful edition at a great price. If you are at all interested in historical woodworking methods, you should stop reading this blog entry and buy the book. It’s only $36 (with free domestic shipping). That’s a lot less money than original copies fetch, and this reprint is actually nicer […]

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