Fair Woodworking

January 26, 2017

5 Dovetail Techniques and Tools You Don’t Really Need. 

As the Undisputed Dovetail World Champion, I feel that I have a duty to give back of myself to the dovetail world. It’s the least I can do to with the position I now hold.

Ha, ha. Ya right.  Just as soon as I’ve finished getting my nails done.

Really I’m just thinking back to when I first dreamed of the day I’d be a real woodworker that knew the “Dark Art” of dovetails. It’s funny now how mystical they seemed at the time. One of the reasons they seemed unobtainable was that it seemed to require so many tools. I’d attended the demonstrations, watched the videos, and I’d sat through the sales pitches. I did the math on what my first set of dovetails would cost in tools, and at over $800.00, I’d still be without a workbench, a marking knife or even a mallet.

It took a few years to be able to afford all the tools in the “beginner” set, but along the way I managed to find an affordable mallet (no longer available), and a marking knife. $500 later I had a usable workbench as well.

All told, it must have been about 5 years from the day I discovered the idea of dovetails to the day I cut them, and that’s just silly.

It didn’t need to be that complicated.

  1. You do need a workbench, and if you don’t have one, I’d highly recommend downloading The Naked Woodworker video. Had I just had access to this one resource when I first started, I’d be years ahead of where I am now as a woodworker.
  2. You will need a vise, or holdfasts like are shown in Mike’s video above.
  3. You need a Dovetail saw. Duhhh…. You can’t go wrong in product or price with the Veritas Dovetail Saw
  4. You need a Chisel. Ya, just one chisel, if you have a set already, please don’t throw the rest away, but if you don’t, just get one 1/2″ chisel. That’s all you really need to get started. Again, you can’t really go wrong with Narex if money is tight.
  5. I like using a Fret saw to remove the waste. Rob Cosman sells a pretty good one on his web site,  although I’d personally pass on the Hockey tape…
  6. You need a square. Would you believe you can lay out your dovetails with just a square? Ya! I’ll show you how later, but even the angles can be laid out fairly accurately with just the tip of your finger and your average square.
  7. You need a pencil. I like using a mechanical pencil because the mark it leaves is uniform. It never dulls, so it fits everywhere the same, line after line, after line.
  8. You need a mallet. NOT a carvers mallet, and NOT a hammer. I like a larger mallet, or even better, a mini sledge.

Oh and one last thing…. You NEED flat and square material. As a beginner, this should be the most challenging thing to get your hands on, but the flatter and the squarrrr’errr your material, the better off you will be.

That’s it. That’s all you really should need to get started, but there are other tools you will see out there, all of them I use regularly, that you don’t really need to have to get started.


  1. Dividers – Dividers are great, but they add steps to your layout. If money is tight, you can get by for now without them.
  2. Rebate plane – First introduced to me as the “140 Trick” it’s used to make a shallow rabbet on the back of your tails. This aids in holding them against the pin board so it doesn’t slip while transferring the layout. It’s a really good trick when done properly, but Rebate planes are tricky to set up, and learning to use them well can be a hard learned skill. Again, it’s a great trick, but if done incorrectly will make learning dovetails all the more difficult.
  3. Marking knife – I found using the marking knife the most difficult skill to master with dovetails. It’s a real trick to mark all your lines accurately without accidentally moving the tail board out of alignment, and really that is a big reason people use the 140 trick. If you just want to cut some dovetails, the transfer is way, WAY easier with a pencil. You can learn how to use a marking knife later if you want.
  4. Dovetail marker – Remember how I said you can layout your dovetails with just a square? I’d much prefer to use and Dovetail marker as it is way easier, but if you don’t have one yet, don’t let it stop you.
  5. Marking gauge – You use a marking gauge to create the base line for your dovetails and also your pins. I have a few of them and they are great, but lately, for through dovetails, I’ve just been using my chisel.

Again, they are all great tools to have, they are all very, very useful, but you don’t really need them to learn how to cut your first dovetail.

If you would like to see how you can cut a reasonable dovetail with just 8 simple tools, I made yet another dovetail video.


January 30, 2013

How (not) to hold a chisel

Filed under: chisel,Fair Woodworking & Hand Tool Blog,Picture issues — fairwoodworking @ 6:46 pm

EDITORS NOTE *** This post is experiencing 3rd party photo hosting “issues”, that will be addressed as time allows. ***


It’s not my thing to tell anyone else what to do, so sit quiet listen to what I have to say.

I’ve been on a bit of a quest to find the best way to hold a chisel while chopping out the waste of dovetails.

I originally learned to hold a chisel from Rob Cosman, and his method has some really great benefits. You place the wood with the baseline at 90 degrees to your body, this position allows you to hold the chisel in such a manner that you can visibly see if the chisel is pointing straight down. In the picture below, I watch to see that I don’t lean the chisel too far to the right and create a hump in the middle, but also not lean to the left and cause an under cut.

I also find holding the chisel this low, gives me great control in placing the chisel exactly where I want it. My pinky finger is always in contact with the bench or the work, and my forearm rests on the bench. Even if you have shaky hands, this grip gives you tons of control. The problem is also the grip. I’m holding the chisel between my thumb and pointer finger. It wouldn’t seem like it, but I find this very fatiguing, and I have to stop and shake the cramp out of my hand too often. The other problem is the part of the chisel I’m holding. My grip is on the sides of a beveled edge chisel. The side lands are very narrow, and with long use, it can feel like they are cutting into your finger tips. If you are an owner of the new Veritas PM-V11 Bench Chisels,  the lands are almost non-existent to the point of being almost as sharp as some low-end chisel ends, and this could be a real problem.


So, how else could you hold the chisel?

Well, you could turn your work and the chisel 90 degrees.

This way you still have great control of the chisel, and the sides of the chisel can’t cut you, but now you can’t see if the chisel is plumb to the cut, and the base line is behind the chisel where you can’t see it. This grip also does nothing to help against cramping up.


Or you can go old school, and hold at the top of the handle. Your hand is again safe from sharp edges, you can see the base line, and you can see if the chisel is plumb (note that in the picture I’m leaning too far to the left). This grip is easy, I could hold a chisel like this all day.

But getting the chisel point to land exactly where you want it to, will require an awesome sense of dexterity. The temptation is to put the mallet down and guide the chisel with my right hand, then pick up the mallet again. That seems inefficient.

Well, you could choke up on the chisel a little. This helps some, but control still seems to be an issue. A chisel tends to wander in the direction of the bevel when you strike it with a mallet, and I’ve always noticed that the further up the chisel, the more this would happen.

If I move my grip all the way back down to the end of the chisel, I can hold it with my middle finger against the palm of my hand. Further up, the chisel rests against my thumb between the two knuckles. This grip is surprisingly comfortable. It seems to be an absolutely natural hand position.

Placing the chisel is a snap, as I can pivot on the side of my hand.

I’ve never seen anyone else hold a chisel this way, I don’t think it could be considered historically accurate. It seems to me that most times that we drift from historical examples we take on bad work habits.

If there is a down side to this grip, I haven’t found it yet, and lightning hasn’t yet struck. I think I’m going to stick with it until one of the two happens.

May 14, 2012

You’re once, twice, three times the chisel…

Filed under: chisel,Favorite tools,Strong opinion warning! — fairwoodworking @ 2:35 pm

EDITORS NOTE *** This post is experiencing 3rd party photo hosting “issues”, that will be addressed as time allows. ***

“If you can’t tell the difference between skunk and mink, why buy mink?”

Israel Sack

Recently I was asked if I thought it was really worth spending 3 or more times the price of an entry level chisel to get one of the high end chisels.

This question gets thrown around a lot on the forums, and I really have to wonder what planet some people are on.

Let me back up a bit.

Last year I found myself yet again at a Rob Cosman Dovetail demonstration. I’d like to think I’ve got dovetails down for the most part, but it was something to do on a Saturday morning. I also wanted to give his often criticized/praised Dovetail Saw a try. Always the salesman, I knew he would offer it up for a test drive, and I was first in line. The saw felt heavy in my hand, but no more than some of my larger back saws. I’dunno it seemed fine enough…

What really surprised me was when I approached the bench, I found Rob’s bench is very different from mine. It’s much taller than mine, I’d guess at least 6-8 inches, even though I’m taller than Rob.(I don’t think I’ll be building a moxon vice any time soon.) He also uses a shoulder vice, that you have to reach over. His bench forced me into a standing position that I never use for sawing. As a result I was completely out of sorts in trying out the saw. The rest of the people had never really used a hand saw any, so they couldn’t understand why I was having so much trouble.

That day I learned that I really know what I like in a bench design for sawing, and I instantly knew something was not right.  As a new woodworker, you don’t get that feeling very often, because everything feels new, different, or simply not right.

So do I know what I like in a chisel? On the forums you will read about how the higher end chisels are better balanced than their cheaper counterparts.

This one makes me laugh.

Have a look at both of these pictures, and notice that with both sets of chisels, they are all about the same length. They do get a little shorter as the width of the chisel decreases, but not much. One thing for sure is, all sizes have the very same size handle. So how can a 1/8″ chisel be “balanced” and a 3/4″ chisel be equally “balanced”. It could be my lack of experience, but this balance thing sounds like arm chair woodworker speak for “them chisels sure is purdy”.

So what of the metal? Surely the LN’s are clearly superior? I’ve been using both sets a lot lately, and I’ll be darned if I can tell the edge holding difference between the two. Again, it could be that I’m just that dense, but I’m starting to think it will be years before I’ll be able to tell a difference. Anyone else that is at my experience level that can tell a difference is clearly gifted, and superior to me in every way. I really can’t tell the difference.

All that stuff is still too subtle for me to pick up on, but anyone can pick the clear winner on looks. One looks like a Ferrari and the other looks like a Datsun. I’ll admit it, the big reason I bought the LN chisels is for the looks. They really are awesome to handle, and I do believe it is what spurs the unfounded arguments above. They ooze a Mystical sense of beauty, and power over the hands that hold them. I think to some degree their beauty can make you a more confident woodworker, and that may make you a better woodworker. Who knows..?

The LN’s have very neat and clean lines. On the other hand the Narex had a hard edge where the flat of the chisel meets the round of the neck.

I found this immediately unacceptable.

With a rotary tool, I ground it flat.

Both on the front and the back. On 8 chisels that’s 16 sides that had to be addressed.

So does this justify the Narex chisels being 6 times less expensive than the LN? What is your time worth, and do you have a rotary tool?

But wait, there’s more.

I bought the original Narex chisels. They call them “beveled edge” but we all know they are not. It’s more of a raised panel top, with square edges. The LN’s display the correct bevel we have all come to admire. The new Narex version is beveled “correctly”. The bevel is critical for removing the waste out of dove tails, and it seems that over the years this concept was lost. I should mention that the proper bevel is ONLY needed for chisels that will used for paring between tails. You could use a Mortice chisel to pare between the pins.

In the old days, I’ve been told that before you used a new chisel, you would add the bevel yourself. I did it, again with my rotary tool. With the LN’s they did it for you at a price.

After a long session of chiseling waste, I noticed something between the two chisels. The “correct” bevel of the LN’s made my fingers sore. When I hold the chisel I grasp it by the edges. With the bevel on the sides it makes for a  sharp edge to hold on to.

With the modified Narex, the wide edges were much more comfortable to hold, yet the modified bevel on the end still worked fine for the task.

Hmmm….  editors note. I’ve addressed this issue in another post HERE.

As I’ve said/shown, the Narex chisels require some work to make them properly usable. Another issue I had with them was for sharpening. When I bought them, I didn’t know how to sharpen. I started off with a sharpening jig, and found that for many of them, the jig seemed to struggle getting the edge to sharpen square. This drove me nuts! What I found was that the backs of the chisels were not necessarily square to the fronts of the chisel. Since the jig mounted with the front towards it, the bevel would always be out of square.

The only solution was to try to square up the front to match the back. At this point I realized that these chisels were giving me an introduction to free hand metal work. It took some time, but just like the other modifications, I manage to get it right.

On a side note, after seeing that I was capable of fine tuning my chisels free hand, it occurred to me that free hand sharpening would be a snap in comparison. I’m pretty sure that was the last time I used my sharpening jig.

So I guess I’m saying that while the LN’s are clearly better chisels, but you could live a long and happy life with the Narex.

In closing, I’ll offer something very subjective. Chisel sizes.

To me anything larger than 3/4″ is a carpentry chisel, not a woodworking chisel.

The Narex set of 8 includes a 1″, 1-1/4″, and a 1-1/2″. The 1″ is handy for installing door hardware on unmilled door slabs. The 1-1/2″ is great as a glue line scraper. The 1-1/4″ has never been sharpened or used.

This leaves me with a set of 5 “Woodworking” chisels.  1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″, 5/8″, and 3/4″. I like narrow pins for my dovetails. In many of the wood thicknesses I use, when cleaning out between the tails, the 1/4″ is just a wee bit to wide. At $76.00 for the Narex set, the sizes are it greatest limitation.

Many woodworkers recommend newbies buy just 1 or 2 chisels to start. I’m glad I didn’t. In fact my favorite thing about my LN’s is that there are 9 of them between 1/8″ and 3/4″. I use them all, but think I use the 3/16″ the most for paring the tails, followed by the 1/4″. Occasionally I screw up a cut and find the 3/16″ is too wide. The 1/8″ is my safety net.

Editors note 04/25/16. This post is now 4 years in the past. I’m still very happy with both sets of chisels, but will /admit that I have way, way too many chisels to keep track of. Sets are pretty, and improve your chances of getting the ones you really need. (well sometimes) If you can figure out the sizes you really need, you can save some money and confusion. Oh, and on the topic of can I tell the difference between the two steels? Yes, the A2 holds its edge a little longer than the Narex, but I like the steel of the Narex better. I like O1 steel. A2 steel is stupid. I hate it. It sucks, and I wish LN would stop using it.


So if you are looking for some chisels, I can’t tell you what is best for you, but I hope I’ve given you another useful perspective.

Lie-Nielsen Beveled edge chisels link

Narex Bevel-Edge Chisels link  These are the ones I own. At the time of writing, these chisels are discontinued, but when I checked for availability, it shows as backordered until May 29th.  They are less expensive than the newer versions listed below, and if you like the idea of having a wider edge to hold onto, and are not afraid to modify the ends, you may like these better. Grab ’em while you can!

Narex Classic Bevel-Edge Chisel Link Same as the ones above, but with fully beveled edges, and a slightly higher price tag. Why anyone needs a 2″ chisel with a fully beveled edge is beyond me…

May 7, 2012

I’ll take it as a win.

Filed under: chisel,Picture issues,Sharpening,Skill development — fairwoodworking @ 2:01 pm

EDITORS NOTE *** This post is experiencing 3rd party photo hosting “issues”, that will be addressed as time allows. ***


In the spirit of craftsmanship of risk, you have to be willing to take the good with the bad. More often than not I’m getting my butt kicked to some degree, so I’m taking a sec to celebrate a very small win.

Ya, I know it doesn’t look like much, but it you have to know what to look for in this one. I was just chopping out the waste here, and rather aggressively at that. Chopping 1/8″ to 3/16″ at a time, in a wood that is some kind of ultra soft pine. A common complaint is that pine crushes too easily under an edged tool. To my amazement despite my aggressive approach, it wasn’t crushing at all….

Huh…. I guess I’m getting better at this sharpening thing….

I’ll take that as a win.

March 30, 2012

‘Adequate’ is the New ‘Premium’

EDITORS NOTE *** This post is experiencing 3rd party photo hosting “issues”, that will be addressed as time allows. ***


The following is a literal Copy & Past of an old blog post by Christopher Schwarz. I have a link of it in my favorites, and find myself drawn to it more that what could be called…

Err… Normal?

Well I’d hate to lose track of the link one day, so forgive me as I stick this one on my cyber bulletin board.

‘Adequate’ is the New ‘Premium’

Sometimes I feel a tad guilty for owning tools from Veritas, Lie-Nielsen and Blue Spruce. But then I pick up my very first chisel and I get over it.

I’ve had that chisel since I graduated from college , it’s a 1/2″ chisel I bought at WalMart and it’s branded Popular Mechanics (is that an example of irony? I can’t tell. I’m American).

In any case, I think I have butter knives at home that hold a better edge and are more balanced for dovetailing than this tool. Its blade was probably 5″ long when I bought it, and now it’s been ground down to 3-3/4″. I thought about throwing it away, but I just can’t.

So I recently sharpened it up for my 8-year-old daughter and made a nice little blade cover from a business card. She was thrilled with the tool. This weekend she used it for some light chopping and paring. After about 15 minutes, the tool’s edge folded over.

If this were an isolated incident, I wouldn’t be blogging about it. So many inexpensive modern tools that I’ve encountered don’t even deserve to be in the tool crib of the store. My first miter box saw was American-made and made badly. Same with my first combination square, block plane and even hammer.

Who can mess up a hammer?

I’m sure you’re thinking: Why didn’t this idiot Arkansan buy vintage tools? Well, I stumbled on old tools all the time at the antiques fair in a tobacco warehouse that my wife and I went to every month. But to my inexperienced eye, all I could see was rust and grime. The tools at WalMart were shiny. And there was no Internet to help guide me.

As I watched my daughter struggle with a dull chisel, I concluded that I was going to stop calling these things “tools.” Tools have to work at some baseline. Chisels have to do a certain amount of work before they crap out on you. Saws have to cut wood , crazy, I know. Combination squares should be somewhat square. Anything less is just an object decorating your garage wall.

The new tools that perform these basic functions are what we now call “premium” tools. But no more.

This morning I re-ground and honed that cursed chisel-shaped object and it’s sitting on my bench. I should bring home a good tool for Katy and throw this thing away.

Or perhaps we have some paint cans that need opening.

– Christopher Schwarz

Thank you for your guiding light Chris.

The other day I was walking through my local Home Hardware, and happened to notice the rack of Chisels while looking for a drill bit. On the top row was Stanley’s offerings of Yellow and Black handled Chisels. I’ve never used this line of chisels, so to put them down is a little unfair, and this is after all “Fair” woodworking. What I do know is that although I do love and appreciate the people who run my local Home Hardware and all the work they do for me on a daily basis, their target customer is the regular working man carpenter types, not traditional hand tool snobs like myself. Most of these chisels will no doubt roll around in the back of someones truck, or get bludgeoned to death with a framing hammer. Few will ever get any kind of treatment with a sharpening stone, and fewer still will ever have owners that would think of flattening the backs of them. No, I think most of these chisels will sell because of their “Fat Max” labeling or because the black rubber makes them look comfortable to handle.

What I’m saying is, there is no demand for quality, so why would I expect that they are of any real quality.

What did shock me was the price. Over $13.00 each. Well I guess that’s not such a bad price these days, but I started having flash backs from the Lee Valley website.

Narex Chisels are in that same price range, and have become the darling of the entry level chisel world as of late.  Nobody will ever call them “premium”, but as a first set of chisels, I have never regretted them. I have no doubt that the Narex chisel is of better quality, and it goes to show you that not all well made tools are prohibitively expensive. However, no matter how much we want to save money, with many tools the best you can hope for is that you get what you pay for.

Don’t cheat yourself out of a good tool just to save a buck.

March 9, 2012


EDITORS NOTE *** This post is experiencing 3rd party photo hosting “issues”, that will be addressed as time allows. ***


Hand tools are better than power tools!

They are better because they are slower, and that gives you time to ponder many things. The freedom to ponder your next step, and solve problems before they happen.

Yes hand tools are better.

In being slower, they are faster because you don’t have to fix mistakes caused by the rush, rush of power tools.

Hand tools are better…


Seems I’ve spaced my pins too close together, and my fishtail won’t fit…


Knitting is better than…

March 2, 2012

First halfblind Dovetails

EDITORS NOTE *** This post is experiencing 3rd party photo hosting “issues”, that will be addressed as time allows. ***


With new tools come new tasks.

Having completed making both a set of Skew Chisels and a Fishtail, there was no excuse not to give halfblinds a try.

The sawing is a little more difficult than through dovetails, but similar in nature to sawing mitered dovetails. Having essentially two versions of the same tool, I thought it best that I give both a try.

First I tried the Fishtail. The entire process was trial and error, but I got through it pretty well. Will need to improve the gaps along the tops of the tails. The Fishtail worked pretty well I thought, but having never used the skews I had nothing to compare to.

The second halfblind gave the Skews a chance to win my heart. I’m all for dedicated tools, so I can see an easy victory here.

I pick up one of the Skews and go to work cleaning out one of the corners. Give a little pare along the base line, and then move to trim the angle cut off the pin… Hmmmm…. The skew angle is backward…. Set down the one and go to work with the other for a sec. Now I need a square edged chisel. Put down the skew, and grab my regular. Now I need the skew, no wait, the other skew.

With all the picking up and putting down, it’s a wonder I didn’t cut myself. It really took no time at all for me to see how much more effective the fishtail is for halfblinds.  It does the work of both skews without any transition time, and still works fine as a square edged chisel.

I really can’t see ever using the skews for halfblinds again, but I’m sure they will come in handy some day .

February 29, 2012

Skew and Fishtail chisel modification

Filed under: chisel,Fair Woodworking & Hand Tool Blog,Hand tool,Picture issues,Sharpening — fairwoodworking @ 3:32 pm

EDITORS NOTE *** This post is experiencing 3rd party photo hosting “issues”, that will be addressed as time allows. ***


Last fall Lee Valley had an in store sale of some discontinued items and old stock.

One of the things they had for sale were French made MOB chisels for $4 each.

I bought 3 of them.

I’ve wanted to make some skew chisels or a fishtail for a while. Now was my chance to make both.

The first thing I had to do is get that pesky lacquer off the chisels.

And what’s a blog post without a little back lapping?

Some quick layout lines with a sharpie and we are ready to go.

The method of grinding here is the same you would use to grind out a chip in a blade. Many people seem to over think grinding, and in the process run into all kinds of trouble.  The benefit of grinders is that they can remove excess material quickly. The danger is that they can over heat your blade causing it to loose its temper.

On a side note, I was talking to some friends the other day that were discussing if quenching hot blades in water could damage them. In my opinion, if you are allowing them to get that hot, you probably are already doing something wrong. The most likely would be using your factory supplied grinding stone. All you need for grinding is a cheap bench grinder, but the supplied stone is really truly worthless and generate a ton of heat. I replaced my with a Norton Cool Grinding Wheel I understand the Blue Norton 3X are great as well. I also use a Wheel Dresser when I notice the stone is not cutting as quickly.

When doing heavy grinding like this or for chip removal. I don’t grind with the bevel. That would guarantee burning. Here I grind with the blade square to the stone so there is maximum metal behind the ground surface to work as a heat sink. Through this whole process the blade didn’t get past barely warm enough to notice.

This is totally free hand. My finger is between the blade and the tool rest, and I eye-ball as I grind square to the line I marked. You have to remember that this is just grinding. It’s not a precise action. Too many people get all worked up about how they don’t have the skill to do this. Relax, just don’t burn the blade!

With both the skews ground, it’s time to work the bevel.

You can see how one side is blunted wider? That’s the part to go after.

When done, it will look like this, but I better camp here for a bit. It looks like I’ve ground right to the cutting edge. This is important…. I didn’t. I ground until I was very close to the cutting edge. About the thickness of a pen line. Any closer and there is a good chance I’d burn the edge. This chisel is now ready to finish lapping and sharpening.

Ok, I’ve finished grinding both skews. The one shown on the bottom looks a bit funny because not all the old bevel had to be ground off.

Next I did the fish tail. I left this one to last because I thought it would be the most difficult. Let me put your mind to rest. It’s a no brainer.

Just grind to the line.

That’s it!

It’s so basic, I didn’t even bother taking a picture of it. Well, that isn’t really true. I forgot to take a picture of it…

Grinding to the first line is easy. The second line takes a little more care. You see the first line is ground with the chisel handle pointing away from the grinder. The second one would need you to point it into the center, and you can’t get the right angle with the grinder motor in the way.

Solution? Grind with the back facing down.

To do this you will need to mark the angle on the bevel side of the blade, but that’s no big deal. As you grind, stop to take a look at the line on the back to see when you want to stop.

Party on, dude!


If you are interested, I took all three chisels out for a test drive. You can read about it HERE.

February 9, 2012

I hate chisel rolls!!!

Some people think they are great, and I do have to agree if you are doing site work and need them  to be portable, but in my workshop? Not many things frustrate me more than the amount of space that is required to lay the roll out flat.


Years ago in a fit of frustration, I made a box out of MDF to hold my first set of chisels. You can’t see it in this picture, but it has a  sliding lid with a false end on it that you could flip upside down and slide into grooves in the bottom. The end result was that it looked finished when open or closed. Sadly the box did not make the move a few years ago across the country since MDF is heavy, and I was paying by the pound for shipping.

My new chisels came in a very nice, but equally hated leather tool roll. These chisels needed some kind of box as well. Having just completed a short lived 30 day challenge, this project was what distracted me from it.


The first thing I wanted to try was building a small carcass, and with that build some drawers. What better project to house my new chisels? Before you ask, I’ll tell you, the screws hold the oak strips that the upper drawer will slide on. As soon as I’d done it, I’d wished I’d used clinched nails. Ah, well…

That’s a whole lot of dovetails!!! It’s made out of scraps of old 2×4 that I ripped down, dimensioned, and laminated together.


If you look closely, you will notice that I staggered the lamination’s so that they don’t line up on the joint? I don’t always remember to do stuff like that.


I also tried a number of different spacings in the dovetails. The many, many, dovetails. I guess you could say, I hadn’t stopped practicing.


The carcass has no back to it because I needed every inch for the drawers, and still fit on the shelf.


A whole bunch more dovetails on the drawers, plus my first try at grooves and drawer bottoms with raised panels. I’m not going to show them cause they ain’t too pretty!



Inside, you can see the smaller drawer is for the new chisels, and the larger is for odds and ends.


If you want some really great instruction on building drawers and fitting them to the carcass, you need to watch “Dovetail a drawer” by Frank Klaus. It’s available through both the Lee Valley, and Lie-Nielsen website. I’m sure you could find it elsewhere as well.

February 6, 2012

The other use for a chisel

Now don’t get excited, I’m not going to say a chisels other use is for opening paint cans. Last week, Rob Campbell of The Joiner’s Apprentice mentioned that he was having trouble getting his tails to seat properly on the base of the pins. I am no stranger to this problem, so I can’t say that I have any answers, but it did get me to thinking about one of the techniques I’ve picked up from somewhere. Most people seem to like to check the base of the pins with a square, but I’m far too contrary for that.

I like to lay the back of the chisel against the base and see how flat it sits. The chisel tells me a number of things. If the base is not flat across from front to back, it the chisel will rock back and forth. Then I slide it side to side. If it catches or clicks I know that it is not flat. It also makes it easier to see if my base line is consistent.

It’s not an earth shaking technique, but I like it. And besides after all the effort it took to get this picture, I had to post about it.

Ha, ha.

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