Lessons learnt

I’m back from a busy weekend in the shop. Lessons learnt so far:

  • The jointer at work. See those fine endgrain shavings?

    The jointer is a massive beast, and a great plane, useful for almost any purpose. And it outperforms all my other planes on the shooting board, probably because it’s so heavy. And also, because my sharpening improves with every iron, and the last iron that I sharpened is the jointer blade.

  • A single bench dog works great as planing stop. But make sure to retract it below board height, and don’t hit it with the jointer. You’ll regret it, and furthermore, you spend half an hour of valuable shop time with recovering from this mistake using a water stone.
  • When sawing tenons with a Ryoba, splitting the line on your side on the board works quite well. That, however, does not mean that you split the line on the back side as well, and, if your saw wanders off, it won’t wander into the waste side, but into the other side. Note: This only happens on those sides of the joint which will be visible on the finished piece (the plus side: splitting the line on the invisible parts means also, that it is possible to saw accurately)

    My first hand-sawn tenon. This is the inside of the tenon - by the way, on this piece, the scribe lines were sawn accurately on the other side as well, which rendered me high spirited and a bit careless for the subsequent tenons...

  • Paring tenon cheeks with a 12 mm chisel (roughly 1/2 in) is suboptimal. Someone buy me a larger chisel.

    Not too bad. Note to self: don't overdo it with paring the tenon shoulder. You'll regret it. On the bottom right, you can see the previously mentioned self-made marking knife.

  • Believe it or not, it is possible to cut yourself with the Veritas marking gauge, that one with the cutting wheel.
  • Clamping a jack plane upside down in the bench vise is great for controlled shaping of irregularly shaped stock (I tried to shape a hammer handle from a piece of birch). It is also suitable for uncontrolled removing of skin shavings.

All in all, this was really an enjoyable and encouraging weekend in the shop. The sawing turned out much better then I thought, I was actually a bit afraid of it. Considering saws: I have a Dozuki and a Ryoba, and I am quite happy with both of them. However, since I try a traditional approach on woodworking, and since  I am based in Germay, I should probably get a bow saw. As far as I know (and also as my woodworking bible from Tage Frid says), the bowsaw is the traditional all-purpose workhorse saw in German woodworking shops. I don’t think that we have those fine, large back saws in Germany, at least not traditionally. Pedder, what is your opinion on that?

So much for now, thanks for reading!


~ by Michael on March 8, 2010.

3 Responses to “Lessons learnt”

  1. Hi Michael,

    I’m fare from being a expert on German saw history. You’re probably right about using bow saws on a regular basis. From my point of experience (AKA ebay.co.uk) the big tenon saws (bigger than 16″) weren’t very popular in the UK nor the USA. There are some big back saws used in mitre boxes, though.

    When it comes to “fine woodworking tools” you won’t find much in Germany. No brass backed dovetail saws nor rosewood infill planes. I think there was and is until today a bigger basis on gentleman woodworking in the UK and the USA.

    Until today I here professional german woodworkers say: I can’t afford such a fine tool because I have to make a living from woodworking.


  2. Hi Pedder,

    thanks for your reply! That’s an interesting point you’re making here. I don’t know if there’s even an German equivalent for the term ‘gentleman woodworking’.
    So, if I think about it, I really should get a bow saw. In the basement next to mine, there are three of them hanging on the wall, and they look like they haven’t been touched for fifty years or something. I really should find out if I can buy them and render some spiders homeless.


  3. Hi Michael, sounds like you’re making some progress there. Yep, those marking gauges are sharp.

    You know, you may want to get yourself one of those Crown/Flinn dovetail saws with the gents handle and a Grobet needle file with which to touch up the teeth. You should be able to find those relatively easily where you are. This way, you’ll be able to sample a western-style backsaw for a fairly low cost (I can get them for roughly US $30-$35 here). The handle isn’t particularly wonderful, and the whole thing isn’t much to look at, but plenty of people do top-notch work with that saw.

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