In “Ron Herman’s Joinery Challenge,” Ron discusses, lays out and cuts different half-lap joints, including a dovetailed half-lap. The  joinery wasn’t new for me, but there were a few things tossed about that opened my eyes. Glen Huey is a former managing editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine, a period furniture maker and author of numerous woodworking books, videos and magazine articles.
Thanks for sharing the tip about folding rules–can’t wait to get home and look at mine and figure out what I have, since as of this moment I am unsure! Christopher Schwarz has helped many of us solve some pretty frustrating problems over the years.
Which is to say: When you look at most campaign chests, it’s unclear how they were constructed.
After you examine a couple hundred of these chests, patterns begin to emerge and their construction becomes evident.
I grew up with campaign chests owned by my grandparents where the carcases were assembled with half-blind, sometimes called half-lap, dovetails. Either arrangement of this visible dovetail joint exists, but it is somewhat uncommon in campaign furniture in my experience. For details on this joint, see Glen Huey’s article on the desk in the November 2011 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine – that explains it. Before you scoff at this joint, let me tell you a little secret: Most people say that through-dovetails are easier than half-blind or full-blind dovetails. The more surfaces you hide, the less persnickety you have to be to achieve dovetail awesomeness.
Chris is a contributing editor to Popular Woodworking Magazine and the publisher at Lost Art Press. Question, how do you layout either the pins or the tails for a double blind dovetail without a jig? It appears from the Sketchup pics that the pins are on the sides of the case and the tail on the top and bottom. Using modern glues that produce a joint that is stronger than the surrounding wood (in long grain joints), the strength of the joint is primarily a function of the total long grain glue surfaces. If full-blind dovetails are stronger and easier to cut than half-blinds, then why weren’t all of the joints done with full-bllinds?
I think that half-blinds are easier to cut then through-dovetails, but I know not everyone agrees with me.
Frankly, these sorts of projects are a great opportunity for chickens like me to start using dovetails. Most Asian furniture is joined in such a way as to hide and bury end grain, leading to more use of full-blind dovetails than in western furniture styles.
Frank Klausz and other European woodworkers say that pins and tails that are equal in width are the strongest. Like any joint, and this goes back to Moxon, the joiner must consider the material and the dimensions to equalize the strength between the two members of a joint. When the idea to write about all-in-one countersinks was suggested, I was somewhat amused – as I’m sure you might be. An all-in-one countersink consists of these three parts: a drill bit, countersink and stop. A properly drilled screw hole should have the recess at the top, followed by a clearance hole that extends through the upper stock and a pilot hole drilled into the lower stock.
Also keep in mind that some countersinks are designed for screws with different angles on their heads. However, there are also woodworkers who say the soap is caustic or attracts moisture that will corrode screws. Even if you properly countersink your screws there’s a possibility that the top piece won’t draw tight to the second piece. The difference between tapered and straight countersink drill bits is obvious in this photo. According to Leonard Lee, the founder of Lee Valley Tools, tapered countersink drill bits were designed for use with cut-thread brass screws. Today, most screws have their threads rolled into the screw’s shank and the screw maintains a uniform diameter until the tip.
And second, a tapered hole allows additional thread contact as the screw travels toward the bottom of the tapered pilot hole. A third advantage that the staff found in side-by-side testing that the tapered bits have deeper flutes and cut faster and with less effort. Given our experience and testing, we recommend countersinks with tapered bits because they cut faster and result in stronger screw connections. But instead, I was one of the first to line up for the kit offered by Jameel Abraham and his partners in Benchcrafted. I’ve had the hardware for the Benchcrafted Moxon vise for several months, but I’ve been too busy with teaching, writing and other woodworking projects to build the vise – even though it is only three sticks of wood. The Moxon vise kit from Benchcrafted is $149 and the parts are made entirely in the United States. I wish to the dickens I’d had this double-screw vise when I wrote the book “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker” with Joel Moskowitz.
In a recent ww forum post Derek Cohen took issue with the chamfer because it sacrifices the use of the full width of the top of the movable jaw as a reference surface for leveling the floor of half-blind dovetails (pins board).
He also suggested that there’s no danger of sawing into the front jaw with the pins board properly placed. After using your vise with the chamfer, do you think that there are merits to Derek’s points?
I think they’re a neat detail, but I very rarely see them on new furniture these days.
This vice is next on my list simply because I love dovetailing and I love my leg vice, and sometimes the two don’t mix well.
I really like the idea of the chamfer and the lambs tongue is a beautiful way to transition it.
I love this vise, but cant wait to make the Joinery bench that Shannon Rodgers made with his kit! I currently have a 5′ bench so when the moxon is clamped up I dont have much other space on the bench. While I made a wooden screw version last January the wood movement in the summer made it a BEAR to use. Recruiter, if you go to the link below, in the second picture you’ll see what looks like a heavy washer that the wheels tighten against. Thanks Dean: When I went to the site, I saw the picture you referred to, but thought it was part of the handwheel.
I can speak from experience on that point: I just finished building a Moxon vice using the BenchCrafted kit and some hard maple. Last month the entire staff of Popular Woodworking Magazine (PWM) trekked off to Senco‘s manufacturing facility to take a tour with four of the five grand prize winners from our Senco Event held in the PWM shop in the Spring.
Senco manufactures most of their nails and staples right here in Cincinnati – and the factory is cool in the extreme.
We started right at the beginning of the process – where the raw materials enter the plant and are stored until they’re needed.
The prize winners from the event got an insider’s view of the effort and quality the employees at Senco put into their products.
Although I’m not personally much of a staple user when it comes to woodworking, the process of making them was interesting for all to see.
I want to thank Bethany Ritchey and all the folks at Senco for not only coming out to the PWM shop for the event and providing a host of incredible prizes, but for so graciously allowing the staff of the magazine and a select group of readers into their home to see how things are made.
Chuck is a former senior editor of Popular Woodworking, and has 30+ years of experience as a high-end period furniture maker and woodworking teacher. Here’s the truth: Any dry-grinder can remove the temper from your tools and soften the steel.
Hand-cranked grinders are widely available, fairly inexpensive and they accept modern grinding wheels.
The Norton wheels (and others) come with plastic rings that shim the wheel in a variety of sizes. You could cut a wood ring to fit the inside diameter of the wheel with a hole drilled for the diameter of the shaft–this would be used instead of the plastic ring. And then I proceeded to use the grinder for the first time and as Chris suggested – burn the chisel.


I started using one of these (and a treadle version too) while volunteering at a period museum this past summer. I guess you don’t subscribe to the approach Deneb Puchalski suggests in some articles?
Grinders are fairly easy to find with a bit of dedicated looking a flea markets, garage sales and estate sales.
I wonder if anyone has tried to use re-positionable spray adhesive with sandpaper instead of the expensive sandpaper? I still use sand paper on a granite tile for plane blades because I have a tough time free handing a consistent bevel on the grinder.
No Kidding, glad I bought mine BEFORE it got Schwarz pricing, wishin I would have bought several. The only thing I dislike about teaching at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking is that I’d rather be listening than talking – especially if Doug Dale is my assistant. While teaching a class on trestle tables at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking, I got into a conversation with Doug at a chop saw station about mistakes and injuries. It’s common safety advice to avoid daydreaming while operating machinery, but Doug’s statement goes a step beyond that. If you can empty your mind (it’s a lot like meditation) and block out everything except the slippery present, you will find a calmness and confidence that will escape you at the moment you start worrying about the next task, or you start beating yourself up for a mistake in the recent past. Jameel Abraham – another amazing woodworker and toolmaking guy to listen to – has another way of putting it. Jameel’s sage advice may be the key to success in nearly any endeavor, woodworking or otherwise. 1-Safety First – If it doesn’t feel right, seem right, or feel safe -> STOP and find another way. He went on to point out that otherwise we would complete our life task by dying without enjoying anything! The bench plane has three jobs in the woodshop: to straighten the wood, to smooth it and to remove it.
Add into the mix all the new bevel-up bench planes that are available in the catalogs now, and it’s bewildering enough to make you want to cuddle up close to your belt sander.
Believe it or not, there is a way to make sense of all the different sizes and configurations of bench planes out there and to select the few that you need in your shop.
In this article, I’m going to walk through the entire line of forms of the metallic-bodied bench planes and describe what each tool is good for.
You can actually get your hand comfortably around the tote and work the controls with great ease.
This is a terrific guide for anyone wanting to get an idea of what they need and why (or why not), especially for anyone starting out. I also learned that my #6 isn’t as mysterious as I thought it was (and now, to find a scraper insert for it!). Given that this was posted over four years ago, I’m really surprised that no comments have been posted yet. This past week, Monday was a day filled with learning – I spent the day with Ron Herman as he filmed the first of two new DVDs. There are bridle joints in the form of slip joints and a running tenon joint used in the exercise. As you fit the joints at the end, each has to be square and accurate or the four-quadrant divided design doesn’t go together. The shims are used for a number of tasks such as setting up the depth of cut at a miter box. The lower case is joined entirely by half-blind dovetails in a way that the joinery is not evident when the two sections are stacked together.
This rabbeted dovetail form gives immense strength, is easy to cut (really!) and the joint doesn’t show. You might be surprised how many different tools are available – and we’re not even including traditional countersinks. Take a close look at different brands and you’ll find some countersinks have a single cutting edge while others have two or four cutting edges.
The pilot hole has to be accurately sized based upon the screw’s gauge (#2 to #18) and length. This hole extends from the hole’s countersink and through the upper piece of stock and is sized to allow the screw’s shank to pass without its threads engaging the wood. Here’s a quick fix for that: After using a countersink on the show face of the top piece, flip the board and countersink the inside face slightly. With a quick glance at the different countersink drill bits, it’s the shape of the drill bit that likely catches your attention. As you set the countersink for shorter screws, the opening of the countersink around the bit increases because of the taper. After all, I’ve built six of these highly functional vises for myself and friends – not to mention all the ones I’ve built during classes during 2010. But every now and then I’d take the vise hardware out to show a visitor and spin the beautiful cast wheels on the Acme-thread posts. It’s not hard, but you do have to do some careful layout, precise boring and hand-mortising. I made a large stopped chamfer with two lamb’s tongues on the top edge of the movable chop.
Also, if you click on the Gallery link at the top of the page, and watch the Moxon video, you’ll see they slide these washers over the screws when assembling the vise. I am also using a similar clamping mechanism for another purpose (hard to explain without pictures…), this time made from ordinary 2X stock, which in this case is southern yellow pine (which is actually pretty stiff as softwoods go).
I can make either one bend if I try hard enough, but it’s a lot more work with the maple. Our guide, Steve, has worked for Senco for more than 20 years and seemed to be fully versed in every manufacturing process in the place. They’re made individually and then bonded together with either glue or some form of paper tape, depending on which product is being made. I also want to thank Rob Foster of Freeman Communications for getting this whole adventure started and keeping it all on track throughout.
In fact, I still have my first 18 gauge Senco pinner (an LS2) that works like the day it was made. Other woodworkers spend hundreds of dollars on fancy tool rests or other grinding jigs to ensure that the tool will not catch fire, steal their spouse then go on a tri-state killing spree. And now, thanks to woodworker Bill Anderson, I have a nice hand-cranked grinder as well, which will be great for home.
His recommendation is to regrind using 80-120 grit sandpaper on a reference plate with a honing guide. Lots of dealers are set up inside, but the real action is in the parking lot, starting about 6 AM. But every time I shut my yap and open my ears, it’s like listening to the Buddha (or Yoda). Many times when we are working in the shop, we are tightly focused, but on the wrong thing. I find myself doing that often because I get so intent on the project at hand and deadlines (self-imposed) and the progress that needs to happen that I am often a step ahead (in my head) of where I am. It is the journey that it is important and that every moment should be savoured and enjoyed. Because people can work wood in so many weird ways, I’ll admit that what follows is equal doses of traditional workshop practice, personal preferences (formed by years of planing) and stubborn opinion that comes from growing up on a mountain.
The traditional (but by no means only) job of the fore plane is to remove material quickly. The primary job of jointer planes is to straighten the wood, a task it excels at by virtue of its long sole (the longer the sole, the straighter the resulting work). 1 in place of a block plane – woodworkers with arthritis report that it’s easier to cradle in their hands than a block plane.
The shorter the sole, the more that the tool is able to get into localized areas on a board and remove tear-out. I had read a multitude of articles before I got started with handplanes and if I had had seen this one first, all the others would have made a lot more sense. The project for the day was a joinery exercise that walks through nine joints; one is a pocket hole joint and the other eight involve hand tools. Also, you cannot depend on glue to hold things tight – it has to be held by the joinery.


The shims are used for many tasks around the shop, but what makes these  cool is found in the lengths.
What is pertinent to the joinery challenge, is how Ron used a shim to align the pocket screw joint, a real timesaver.
You’ll also find examples with the reverse arrangement – tails on the sides and pins on the tops and bottom. As I’ve been designing and cutting the joints for my own version of a campaign secretary, I’ve marveled at how these hidden joints are much easier to make than through-dovetails.
Through-dovetails have lots more surfaces that show – both at the baselines and along the joint’s cheeks.
They were both big fans of Chinese and Japanese furniture – and 18th-century American furniture. You drill a pilot hole, then drill a recess so the screw head sits flush to your surface (or you drill a little deeper – called a counterbore – so you can tap in a wood plug). Some setups use hex-shaped shanks for quick changes while others rely on the round shaft of the drill bit only. As a result, the head of the screw pulls the upper piece tight to the lower piece as the threaded portion of the screw grabs the pilot hole. I use paste wax as a lubricant, but I must caution that if you smear the wax around the hole, some stain and finishes might not bond there. Because Jameel, his brother (hey Father John!) and his father don’t do anything unless they are crazy in love with the idea themselves. I’m so sold that I’m giving away my wooden-handled version to a woodworking friend next week.
Senco produces tens of millions of nails per month and more than one hundred million staples.
The spools of heavy gauge wire are threaded onto machines that work the wire down to thinner gauges. On the tour, we saw primarily common nails being made, but Senco manufactures finish nails and pins as well. Senco manufactures standard staples that fit their own staplers as well as from many other companies. Their products are top notch from guns to nails to compressors, the quality shines through. If you can grind on a machine, picking up the skills to use a hand-cranked grinder are cake. Sadly my experience around here is all you find is junk or people that think their #5 is a rare collectors item and want a fortune for it…. It’s easy to think ahead – even by a few seconds – instead of remaining in the tiniest pinpoint of the present where the saw is cutting and you are approaching your line.
In fact, it’s quite possible to do all the typical bench plane chores with just one tool (more on that later).
It’s not as rare as its smaller and cuter sibling, nor is it all that much more useful. It is an excellent balance of sole length and cutter width to be useful for typical furniture parts. Always keep in mind though, No matter what plane you have, learning to set up the blades and sharpen them is the most crucial part of it all. I got a 38 degree blade extra for hard woods and the finished wood from shavings of this plane are smooth as glass.
In fact, you should be able to, after all the work is complete, toss the project to another woodworker without it falling apart in mid-air or as it’s caught. That is my question for the shims what is their use as it looks like the rules you have pictured have the sliding rule as well?
And some of the examples are liars – there are nails driven through the tops and sides of these beauties. But one practical reason is that wood movement from moisture is minimized if end grain is hidden, and many areas of Asia experience quite large humidity swings throughout the year, and their houses were often much more exposed to the outside air compared to the western world.
In today’s hurry-up world, woodworkers seldom take the time to make a proper clearance hole.
If that’s not amazing enough, we saw only a couple of dozen employees working on the production lines.
But that’s not all they manufacture – they also make specialty fasteners for mitered corners and tiny clamp-like staples for the casket industry (as well as other specialty fasteners for all kinds of other industries). The fact that they still make so much of their product line here in the US (and more specifically here in Cincinnati) is something to be admired and patronized. Other woodworkers use a water-cooled grinding system, which is entirely too slow for the way I work. OK kidding of course but I am looking and really am having trouble finding one that is in good working order….
But some of the stuff that comes out of his mouth sounds like ancient Eastern wisdom – even if it’s about operating a chop saw.
I can see making this a part of my routine may be the key in elevating my work from good to great. The fore plane is typically the first bench plane to touch the wood to get it to rough size. And adjusting the depth of cut is no fun either because of the cramped area behind the frog.
4 or larger plane will actually prevent the tool from removing more than a shaving (maybe two) in a small area. 4 with a 50° frog, which helps reduce tearing (a 55° frog also is available for reducing tearing in curly woods). That way if you have the shims laid out on your bench, you can more easily find the thickness you need. As for depth control, it’s critical when using a tapered bit, while a straight bit is more forgiving.
When you are cutting traditional half-blind dovetails you need to point your dovetail saw to the ceiling to overcut your baseline.
Cutting dovetails is my business, and as much as I love tinkering with tools I would rather just get to work working wood and not the tools themselves.
Add to that fact that the cutter is so narrow and you can see why you’d be working way too hard to plane a typical carcase side.
And I’ve heard from maybe one woodworker in all my years that they had abnormally small hands that were suited for a No. This is not the tool I’ll use for really tricky domestic woods or exotics – I use a bevel-up plane for that (see below). Additionally, differing materials such as softwood, hardwood or man-made material have to be considered. The chamfer allows you to get your saw in closer and get a couple more strokes without having to adjust the drawer front or remove it from the vise. Yes the steel is softer and yes, it won’t hold an edge as well, but it is still a workable tool. They’re not as fast as a 3,450 rpm electric grinder, but they are much faster than a water-cooled grinder. Only time I need to grind is to reestablish the primary bevel when honing begins to take forever. 3 for two things: smoothing small-scale parts (such as narrow rails, stiles, muntins and mullions) and for removing tear-out in very localized areas in a larger panel. A simple rule of thumb is to drop down one bit diameter (1?64″) when moving from hardwood to softwood. Don’t go out and buy the most expensive one and think its going to make you a woodworker.
A cabinet rule (Lufkin X46F), when flipped to read the second side, also begins at zero and moves toward 1″. However, a layout rule (Lufkin X46), when flipped to the back side, is backward in that it begins at the 72″ mark and moves downward.



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