Dovetails continued – eventually…

My health hasn’t been up to snuff lately so the shop has been on standby.  Back in July (IIRC), I laid out and sawed the tails to one side of the carcass of my Dutch tool chest.  Yesterday, I got to chop out the waste.  I was afraid, at the time that I’d bungled up cutting near the baseline.  When I went back to them, I was glad to say that it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had envisioned.

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Frustratingly, I had to take a rest day today.  Tomorrow I hope to finish paring and get on to the pins.  No wonder it takes me forever to get anything done in the shop!


The Essential Woodworker by Robert Wearing

What he said.


I have spoken quite a bit to anyone that cared to listen about how easily frustrated you can get trying to learn this craft on your own.

I’ve gone on about how what is out there on television, in magazines, and online really assumes someone has some knowledge already, and how there’s a need for material that makes this craft accessible to people that are curious and want to find out if it’s something they’ll enjoy.

Heck, it’s essential for the future of the craft.

Here’s what I wish someone had told me, no later than the second time I went on about this:

“Shut up already and quit your whining. Go buy The Essential Woodworker by Robert Wearing.”

Somewhere yesterday I ran across another accolade for this book, decided I’d heard enough good things, and bought it. I’ve only had time to read through the first twenty pages or…

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East versus West

When I started hand tool woodwork I was convinced that Japanese tools were the answer to my flagging physical strength. I started out with a 6mm nomi and a small ryoba. I struggled.  I couldn’t saw to a line and setting the hoop and sharpening the chisel didn’t turn out just so.

Then I got a Bad Axe hybrid tenon/dovetail saw. It was sharp out of the box and glided through the wood.  Of course the wood was poplar but still…

Over the next few years I learned I could struggle with any tool; I often did. East or west, the tool needed input from the user. I also learned that if I persevered that I could do better.

This was brought into sharper focus today as I worked on roughing out the pieces of my milkman’s workbench.  I worked ripping down the 8/4 cherry I’m using.  I was struggling with my very nice Wenzloff rip panel saw.  I decided to give my larger ryoba a try. It worked quite nicely.

For me, I’m coming to the conclusion that I like both sets of tools depending on which of my muscles are working on a given day.

For everyone else? To quote an old supervisor and mentor: “practice makes better.”  There is no magic tool that will transform us into A world class woodworker; patience and perseverance just might. It will at least help us along the road.


New Project: Milkman’s Workbench

Not long ago I blogged about the backlog of projects I had in my workshop.  I decided to ‘just do it’ to steal a slogan.  My solution – of course – to start a New project.  I got out some 8/4 cherry I had randomly added on to a wood order a while back and started to lay out the pieces for a Milkman’s Workbench.  I don’t drink a lot of milk (nor deliver it) but I guess the current title sounds better than a ‘half-dead old Soldier’s workbench’.

Why did I pick this particular project.  I was reminded of it when I was virtually thumbing through some old Popular Woodworking magazines.  My biggest challenge thus far in my woodworking journey has been work holding.  I’ve managed to kludge together solutions ranging from a workmate to a Moxon style vise.  I’ve employed my commercial workbench thus far but I’ve been hesitant to drill holes into it.  I want to return it to it’s original general garage/auto purpose without looking like Swiss cheese.

And thus enters my newest project.  A bench I can clamp onto my other bench and have all the luxuries (I hope) of a ‘real’ bench.

Here’s a Link to Christopher Schwarz’ blog entry about it…