Fair Woodworking

September 27, 2016

Just call me Champ

Yes I know, much has happened in the past week, and yet again I am at the center of it. I hate to brag about it since I’m sure you already know. I understand how the Monday morning water cooler talk was all a buzz about where you were, and what you were doing when you learned that Fairwoodworking became the Dovetailing Champion Of The World.

You already know about all that, so I need not mention it.


Well I’ve come to learn that winning was the easy part. The parades, the ceremonial mall openings, the charity golf tournaments and working the international talk show circuit (I’ll admit my Mandarin is a little rusty), meeting with government officials and running from all my new found dovetail groupies. It’s not a life I’m familiar with, but don’t worry.

I’m still Jenny from the block.

I’m not changing and neither is the blog.

Well.  Not much anyway.

I’d prefer it if you did call me Champ, and also please don’t look at me directly. Oh. And only speak in hushed tones.

The blog will remain fully accessible to all… that pay their subscription fees on time.

Yes it’s business as usual here at “Champion Of The World Woodworking”.

Did you guys catch where I compared myself to J-Low?

She wishes.

Are you buying this?

I’m certainly not.

While I greatly appreciate the donated prize of a 14″ BadAxe Sash Saw, I really don’t get how a 5:41 time with a 2 card deduction won. You can argue that I’m being modest, or more accurately falsely modest, but I assure you that you have misunderstood. I think my results under the gun, with people watching was fantastic. My only goal was to perform at a level that I could look back on and know I had done the best that I was capable of. Oh, and I really, really, REALLY wanted to better my good friend Neil Cronk.

Done, and DONE!!!

By the narrowest of margins (1 second and 4 point deductions) I win, and this time you can’t claim to have the nicer fit.

EDITORS NOTE – If the next time I’m spotted in public, I have shards of an award winning stool sticking out of the side of my head, don’t call the police. I deserved it…

The thing is I am not especially talented, and also anyone who has seen me work at anything knows I progress at a snail’s pace. I’ve been working on the same chest of drawers for over a year now, and I’ve yet to finish the carcass. The only things I brought to the table was the accumulation of two key skills, a well thought out game plan, and an average of cutting two joints per day for 14 days.

If there is one thing I can brag to the world about it’s that I came prepared, but by that logic, I should also be bragging that every day I manage to leave the house with both my shoes on the right feet.

I should not have won this event, and if I get the chance to compete again, I hope I am obliterated by one of you out there.

Then I’ll crack you on the head and steal your prize!

So let’s see if we can’t bring this in for a landing.

After the completion of the Handtool Olympics, I got a chance to thank Mike Siemsen personally for running the competition. As we talked I commented that as fun as it was to practice and then compete, such a rushed process has no real value to real life dovetails or woodworking. Mike very kindly stopped me right there and in words I have now forgotten, he essentially told me, “you’re wrong, you’ll see”. Since that time I’ve had some time to consider it, and I now believe him to be correct.

Even if you never compete in a dovetail race, you can learn from it, and in the next while I hope to share with you the skills and strategies necessary to cut a fast’ish dovetail.

The first two skills I mentioned above.

  1. Learn how to start a square cut free hand. (for cutting the tails)
  2. Learn how to cut straight down free hand. (for cutting the pins)

If you are looking at this skeptically, hoping that I will tell you that “You can do it big guy!!!”, don’t bother, you can’t.

However, if you are willing to try, and fail, and try, and fail, and keep trying until you succeed? Who knows what will happen.

Either way, hand wringing 101 is one blog over from here.


Additional thanks to Popular Woodworking for a great Popular Woodworking in America I hope to come again next year!









  1. ah… I knew him when.

    Comment by Jeremy — September 27, 2016 @ 3:13 pm

  2. What are you smoking. I need some !!!

    Comment by rootertooterwren — September 27, 2016 @ 6:24 pm

  3. I took some photos of an Agama lizard some years ago, slides. I gave a friend some “seconds” and he won a photographic competion with one under his name, and it wasn’t even one of the good ones!

    Comment by Tony B. — September 27, 2016 @ 7:05 pm

  4. The joy of victory must feel hollow as I refused to engage in the Olympics this year. Actually a angry rotator cuff put me on the side lines this year and believe me I was no threat in years past either. I was hanging with the man that won the drawing, what a sweet saw. Congrats you applied a systematic approach and achieved your objective. So sad you cannot enter next year and be a repeat winner according to the rules but I will need to read them to confirm that. So starting tonight I will begin training with my left arm to saw straight and steady so that next year I will end the reign of sawplicity that was displayed this year.. I am going to order a Karate Kid poster from Amazon and paste Roy Underhills,s face on Mr Miyagi’s and play Rocky’s theme song as I train in a cold garage shop sawing dovetails in sides of meat. But then again maybe not.
    Enjoy the saw

    Comment by Matt Robin — September 27, 2016 @ 7:21 pm

    • Hey Matt and welcome!
      Nothing about this has been hollow. Although a winners ineligibility clause could explain things. Either way, I am an incredibly uncompetitive person externally, but internally I am ferociously competitive with myself. (it’s all about me) I won against myself before I even left my shop. As for you? I hope you do practice with at least one of your hands, and I’d love to hear that you won. (I’ll buy you a beer if you do it switch)
      But more importantly I hope that through the practice time you learn all the subtle little lessons I did while I was practicing.
      Now if you’ll excuse me, they’re erecting a statue in my honor down by city hall tonight and it would be rude of me not to attend.

      Comment by fairwoodworking — September 27, 2016 @ 8:33 pm

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