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The Best Dovetail Saw for Beginners

I get asked all the time about which dovetail saw is best for a beginner. It’s a difficult question because saws now come in a crazy variety of prices and configurations, from Japanese dozukis to premium handmade Western saws to well-manufactured mid-range saws. So I usually duck the question and suggest the person try out the saws in our shop and decide for themselves (which is still good advice). This […]

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The Tools in the Second Till of my Tool Chest

The second till of my tool chest sits right below the top till and is almost exactly the same size. My trips to this till are infrequent. This till holds the small items I don’t use every day, including the spare bits and blades, a few specialty chisels and a bunch of tools for dealing with nails and screws. There are also a few specialty layout tools here that I […]

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Tools in the Top Till of my Tool Chest

I am asked on a regular basis about the hand tools I keep in my tool chest. In fact, when people visit my Covington, Ky., workshop during the days we are open to the public, some people have photographed every tool in my chest. I’m going to list brand names. But I want to be clear about something: This is not a sponsored post. All my tools are my own, […]

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Reviewing Saws (and Automobiles) is Kinda Dumb

First, let me say that I am guilty of the behavior that I am discussing below. When I reviewed tools for Popular Woodworking Magazine for 20 years, I fell into the trap I’m about to describe. After decades of woodworking, I have achieved a bit of wisdom. And I think this entry is some of it. Here we go. Reviews of new cars are generally crap. Most new cars drive […]

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Experiment: Plastic Rotting Strips

One of the important features on tool chests are what I call “rotting strips” – pieces of wood between the chest and floor that protect the bottom of the chest from water. And, if the chest does get wet, these strips rot before the bottom of the chest. I’m in the middle of building a couple of tool chests for customers. And one of the customers wanted to add casters […]

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Why Build a Tool Chest?

During the last six years, I’ve built a lot of tool chests for customers. To many woodworkers, this might seem odd. Why not build one yourself? The answer is simple. Why not build your own handplanes? Your chisels? Forge the steel for your tools? Mine the iron ore and learn to transform it into steel? We all have a point at which we’ll say: Someone else can do that job. […]

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Crosscutting Sled – Just 5 Pieces of Wood

The sled we use the most in our shop is the one shown here. I built it five years ago, and it is as accurate as the day I made it. I built it in response to my frustrations with fancy sliding tables, Jim-crack miter gauges and other silly devices used to crosscut wood at 90°. This sled and my panel-cutting sled handle all of my crosscutting needs. Here’s how […]

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Dovetail Angles are Style, Not Substance

For dovetails, I use what I call a “redneck slope” – 1:4 or 14°. I like this slope because I’ve seen it on a lot of vernacular pieces I’ve studied. It says: Dovetail y’all! And not: Ill-defined box joint. But that’s just what my eye sees. Truth is, dovetail slopes are more about fashion than their mechanical properties. When I started woodworking, my head was injected with a lot of […]

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A Dovetailing Trick for Beginners

I don’t think I’ve cut a single dovetail for eight months – my work has been mostly chairs and casework that relied on other joints. So I’m a bit out of practice. When this happens and I need to cut dovetails, I quickly default to the method I use to teach students to dovetail. This method helps build good habits when sawing and helps you fix any mistakes. This method […]

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Panel-cutting Sleds – Just 3 Bits of Wood

There are a lot of people who don’t see the point of having a panel-cutting sled, which is a sled that has its fence on its leading edge instead of on its trailing edge. The better solution, I’m told, is a giant sliding table that can handle a 4×8 sheet of plywood and have a stop system for repeatability. That approach is correct if you make kitchen cabinets for a […]

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