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A Dovetailing Kit for Beginners

Last week I discussed the Zona Razor Saw and how it’s the ideal saw for beginning dovetailers. It’s just $12 to $15 and cuts extremely well. This saw got me thinking about what other inexpensive tools could fill out the kit for the beginner (or someone who is short on money). So here’s my best shot at this list. I’ve also included (at times) what I think is the next […]

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The Tools in the Third Till of my Tool Chest

The bottomost till in my chest carries the heavy stuff that isn’t on the floor of the chest, and stuff that doesn’t fit in the top two tills and has migrated downward. Three of my essential planes are here, as are some of my most important measuring equipment. When you keep most of your tools in one chest, little is non-essential material. Let’s begin on the left side of the […]

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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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