Archive

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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2 Table Saw Sleds (Part 1)

No, you have not entered an alternative dimension. Today – on this blog that focuses on handwork – we are going to talk about table saw sleds. When I do production work – processing hundreds of board feet of lumber for a class, for example – the table saw is an important machine. Table saws are great for ripping, but they are kind of crappy for crosscutting. Manufacturers have devised […]

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News: It is Time to Buy Hardware

After the death of Nancy Cogger of Londonderry Brasses, Horton Brasses acquired the company’s stock and is selling many existing pieces at 50 percent off. Orion Henderson estimated there are more than 23,000 pieces of Londonderry hardware now for sale on the Horton site. If this is all the information you need, get your credit card out and load up. Here’s the link. I swooped in and bought about 50 […]

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How to Rivet Furniture Parts Together

I built a folding bookstand (above) for an upcoming issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine that uses traditional copper rivets to join the components and allow them to pivot. After posting a few photos of the bookstand, a lot of people were curious about how to use copper rivets. So here is a quick tutorial – full details and measured drawings will be in the June 2018 issue of the magazine. […]

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When the Machine’s Guard Becomes Dangerous

Machine guards are supposed to protect us from harm, but there are times when they can turn against you. The worst injury I’ve ever received from a machine was cutting my hands on the anti-kickback pawls while installing my table saw’s guard. Yesterday I ran into trouble on my jointer with disastrous results. The collar that controls the height of the guard vibrated loose. The tip of the guard contacted […]

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Make Your Own ‘Drawing Bow’

If you design furniture or work a lot with curved parts, it’s difficult to function without a “drawing bow.” This simple jig – a stick and a string – allows you to lay out precise and large curves with only two hands. Before I could afford a commercial one (Lee Valley Tools makes an excellent one that I recommended in my 2017 Anarchist’s Gift Guide), I made my own. While […]

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Handplane Maintenance (That Most People Forget)

Metal-bodied planes require so little maintenance (aside from sharpening) that it’s easy to forget that they do need some love every year to work smoothly. Recently I borrowed a friend’s smoothing plane to demonstrate a cut and was struck by how easily her iron adjusted. It was like silk. I thought my plane was in good shape, but I was way off the mark. So as soon as I delivered […]

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The Strength of a Chair Comes from Imperfection

If you’ve ever used a hand-cut rasp or a hand-filed saw you know how their tiny imperfections from handwork make the tool cut smoother. When it comes to making chairs, the small handmade imperfections are what give it its strength. If you build a lot of casework, I am sure you are grunting in displeasure. Accuracy makes all your pieces go together easily and tightly, right? Well in chairmaking, that […]

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