In Pete Dexter’s book Deadwood, Wild Bill Hickok’s partner, Charley Utter, is thinking to himself, “He liked having a drawer, it was a neatness you could see just sliding it open.” Making drawers requires a precision and calm missing from some other jobs around the shop. Cleaning out the dust collector comes to mind. Or hand planing some misbegotten wood like a rowed grain khaya. Drawer building on the other hand needs careful measuring, straight parts, and clear thinking to do a good job....
Think about how you look at others’ work. You don’t look for every mistake. You look at the scope of the project, the effort required. You consider the time spent on design. You see the form, the choice of wood and think about the time taken to mill the lumber. The hours spent on joining pieces together and the detail in the joinery and the weeks spent on shaping and sanding and how the hardware is hung. You step back and look at the whole piece and you know in your heart how much...
A few days ago, our neighbors asked to make a simple trellis for their passion flower vine which had collapsed under its weight. I’ve come up with what I think would fit their backyard. It is 6’6” tall, 38” wide. Today I finished cutting the parts with notches and dados for joinery and started gluing them with polyurethane glue. I want to use joinery and glue to avoid a lot of screws as fasteners because the lattice is made of thin stock to keep the whole thing ligh...
In joinery the fit of your pieces is like the fit of your shoes on your feet. If you can toss your shoes off your feet as you hit the couch, too loose. If you shoe horn them in, perfect. A good fitting joint fits snug. No pounding together but it shouldn’t fall apart either. It’s a balance you learn to achieve by sneaking up on it. Learn to use your shoulder plane and you’ll be happy no matter how you cut a tenon joint. Finesse the fit. The Northwest Woodworking Studio
HOW TO MAKE A MORTISE AND TENON JOINT WITH TRADITIONAL HAND TOOLS This video and article will simplify the process of cutting mortise and tenon joints with only a few traditional hand tools. With a little practice, you should be able to make a mortise and tenon joint in under 10 minutes! The video is a quick tutorial, but the below photos and article will clarify how to make a mortise & tenon joint in great detail: ANATOMY OF A MORTISE AND TENON JOINT: WHAT ARE MORTISE...
Human all too human to quote Fred N. Yes we makers are too human. We’re too ready to find error in our work. The voice in our head keeps repeating: Not good enough, not perfect enough. We are always so ready to point out our mistakes, to find the tiniest of errors. When our client never sees them. When another maker doesn’t see them nor care. They see the whole, the entire piece and they’re delighted. So I say, keep your standards high but learn to forgive yourself for your errors that no ...
The measure of an eye, of a thumb extended, of one cubit is seen in the result and how well things fit. We all know it when we see it. One can sense the art in craftsmanship by simply looking at the product. Some things we have made work better for the eye and hand. It is not luck. It is the experience of your efforts showing. It is the mistakes you have made along the way and their lessons learned that now inhabit your work. Confidence is gained by your error and more importantly your und...
Joinery is the art of knowing what wood to remove and what to leave behind. Reductive & simple, yet seductive in its intricacies balancing negative space with strength. Take too much wood away and you leave no strength. Take too little and you’ve compromised the tenon. You are the joinery designer/ engineer. There are several important details to know about wood and its properties. Double a board’s measure in height and it is twice as strong as doubling a board in its width. Hmm. Wood ...
I built this table for Summers Woodworking contest. I used an old ratty 2×4 stud from a demolition project. I milled enough pieces from the one 2×4 for 2 of these tables, but have only had time to complete the first so far. I have been thinking about my design tendencies lately and wanted to break out of the mold a bit with this one. I usually build tables with a structural apron that secures the top, but I decided to try to make the top structural in this case instead. I lik...
I double checked the layout this morning, fixed them. then decided to tweek the size of the dovetails to be more safe and reduce the risk of splitting. Then I set about mortising. One of my biggest limitations in woodworking in an apartment is not being an obnoxious neighbor and banging on a chisel all day with folks trying to enjoy their weekend below you. So I went ahead and used my brace and bit to remove some of the waste, but at the end of the day you gotta bang on those chisels. I ended...
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