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Christopher Schwarz has helped many of us solve some pretty frustrating problems over the years. But I understand Japanese shop practices as much as I understand all the acronyms my 12-year-old daughter uses when texting.
So I’m always eager to learn about Japanese woodworking from people who have studied and practiced it in Japan. Stanley completed the furniture program at the premier North Bennett Street School as a very young man and then went off to Japan to study the traditional lacquering and woodworking trades. This weekend at the Northeastern Woodworkers Association’s annual show, Stanley was demonstrating his new Sharp Skate honing guide, teaching people to sharpen edge tools and helping people learn to wield a handplane on his Japanese bench. The bench consists of two trestle-style sawhorses that are topped with one massive slab of a top.
This particular bench was built by James Blauvelt, a Connecticut cabinetmaker, joiner and carpenter who runs the company Bluefield Joiners.
Harrelson Stanley demonstrates how the notch in the top is used to true a plane’s sole. Another interesting feature of the benchtop is a triangular notch cut into the slab up near the planing stop. Chris is a contributing editor to Popular Woodworking Magazine and the publisher at Lost Art Press. So I guess I’ll still dream about the day when my skills are up to making a Roubo, and keep arguing with myself about how much to chop off the legs.
One logical departure is that Japanese shops are small and often use specific fixtures for whatever is being made.
Some time ago, an Ace Hardware ad in American Woodworker sparked a surprising number of inquiries from readers. Glue the torsion boxes together by sandwiching the edging and the grid section between the plywood skins. Clamp the three shelf components together without glue, so you can check the fit of the miter joints. The upper ledger board remains when you remove the C-unit, thanks to the double-faced tape. American Woodworker magazine was acquired by F+W Media (parent company of Popular Woodworking) in 2014. Prized by carpenters for its amazing versatility, a sliding compound miter saw is also great to have in a woodworking shop. Top-ranked cuts were perfectly flat, showed no tear-out around the edges and had minimal tooth marks on the faces. Because of their slide mechanisms, these saws occupy a lot of space, on average about 40 in.
Each saw head tilts left and right to make bevel cuts, but the process of operating the bevel controls while supporting the heavy saw head ranges from simple to complicated (Photo 4). Hold-downs help with accuracy and general safety, particularly when you’re cutting large pieces (Photo 6). Every saw has likeable features, but the Makita LS1214F and LS1214L models come closest to getting the whole package right. The other saws are capable, but every one would benefit from a higher-quality blade, which would add at least $70 to the bottom line. You should also know that locking in precise setups for bevel cuts can be challenging on all these miter saws. Photo 1: We prefer saws that minimize side-to-side play when the head is fully extended, because they make the straightest cuts. Photo 6: A hold-down that securely locks the workpiece to the saw table is a must for safe operation.
This saw appears similar to the Bosch 5412L, especially regarding several user-friendly features.
You get all of the above with our download, plus we’ll let you in on a secret – these 3 beginner woodworking projects are not just for complete beginners. To receive your free download, join our mailing list and never miss news, tips, promotions or discounts. He came back to this country with a Japanese wife and a deep desire to spread the traditional Japanese practices among Western woodworkers. Except for the teak planing stop, all the bench’s parts are made using Port Orford Cedar, Stanley says, a durable and strong member of the cypress family that grows in the Pacific Northwest.

This notch holds Japanese planes with their soles facing up so the craftsman can dress the tool’s wooden sole with another plane. After taking a couple warm-up passes, she pulled off a beautiful shaving that was almost entirely full width and full length.
I can’t see how this rig would be used to hold wood in the three different orientations, or how it would hold up to serious chisel-chopping. They all wanted to know how to build the cool-looking shelves that appeared in the background.
This is a complex glue-up, so use glue that won’t dry too fast and a roller to spread it quickly and evenly. Box beams distribute clamping pressure evenly and guarantee your glued-up shelves will be flat. Make sure you feel ridges on both sides of the blanks as you tighten each clamp, and again after all the clamps are tight.
It’s difficult to get good results when you cut thick, hard wood at an angle, so make two passes.
They’ll allow you to clamp the miter joints effectively, without using long, heavy clamps. After the glue dries, the clamping blocks knock off easily because of the paper, and the residue cleans off completely with water. Attach double-faced tape to the ledger and slide the ledger into its cavity, using spacers so it protrudes.
For example, accurately mitering the end of a long, wide board on your tablesaw is virtually impossible, because the miter gauge is too small and the saw table isn’t big enough to support the angled board during the cut. To see if the cut ends were straight and flat, we stood the test samples on a dead-flat steel plate. Middle-ranked cuts noticeably rocked or showed daylight between the cut and the steel plate.
We prefer the top-mounted lasers (Photo 7) because their guide lines stayed on the mark through each cut. When attached to a shop vacuum, only the Hitachi and Metabo saws collected dust adequately (Photo 8).
The detents for commonly used angles are solid but easy to override if you need to shave a quarter-degree.
Blade guards that fit inside the housing were more likely to hang up on the leading edge during compound miter trim cuts.
Fine woodworking demands perfect results, so a saw’s ability to cut cleanly and accurately carried the most weight in our ranking.
The Makita saw’s blade consistently made amazingly clean cuts and saves you spending $90 for an upgrade.
Although the miter scales are good on every saw, a readable bevel scale, like this one on the Bosch saw, is rare. They independently switch on and off, so you can position the board without starting the saw. Style that does not sacrifice quality, because you want your beautiful woodworking projects to last.
Even the experienced staff members here at Popular Woodworking like to complete these easy wood projects from time to time. You’ll also learn a few things about hole saw kits, ebonizing wood and how to make a homemade drum sander. This attractive box for toys or knick-knacks will teach you how to join boards with simple notched and nailed construction. With this entry bench you’ll learn about panel glueups, curve-cutting and screw joinery. Because we’re all woodworkers here at Popular Woodworking, we generate a huge amount of valuable woodworking information that we cannot possibly cram into the printed magazine. The notches allow you to assemble the ribs into the grid sections that comprise the core of the torsion boxes.
Caution: If your shelf and miter gauge are unstable in the starting position because they hang off the front of the saw, use a sled to make this cut. For maximum strength (to hold your anvil collection, for example) glue and screw the shelves to the ledger boards. With a sliding miter saw, just position the board, swivel the blade, line up the laser guide and go.

The Makita saws, which are outfitted with a $90 blade, made the cleanest, smoothest cuts (Photo 2).
However, to make Metabo’s innovative system work, you have to buy a dust-extraction accessory ($35) or use two jury-rigged hoses.
All the saws will cut at least several degrees past a 45-degree miter on both sides, and most go to 60 degrees on at least one side. Either the scale is too small to accurately read, the top-heavy saw head is hard to control or both.
Front-mounted controls mean you don’t have to support the saw head with one hand while reaching to the back with the other to release the bevel lock. On most saws, the bevel scales are so small or awkwardly located that it’s tough to dial in fractional degree settings. Although this saw isn’t engineered as precisely or built as heavily as the expensive saws, it still makes most of the cuts they make, just not as easily or as accurately. Save your money for lumber, supplies and woodshop projects that will be necessary for your next steps in the craft.
So the newsletter and community are both great places for us to share what we know with you.
Typically, the Japanese woodworker would place a thin board across the two trestles and place the tools he or she needed on that board. Switching from crosscutting big timbers to cutting compound miters in delicate trim takes only seconds.
Comparing the results from subsequent tests with top-quality blades installed on every saw revealed which imperfections were due to the blade (roughly cut faces and surface tear-out) and which were due to the mechanism (gaps and uneven cuts). The amount depends on a number of factors, including the spacing and location of the slide mechanism’s support rails and the number and location of support bearings (Photo 1). Switching blades among the saws confirmed our findings: The Makita blade improved the cut quality of every other saw. When the saw isn’t in use, you can limit its intrusion by rotating the miter table to the left or right. On most saws, the location of the bevel controls isn’t as important as the number of steps needed to make adjustments.
Several saws use arbor-mounted laser guides that aren’t adjustable and only come on when the saw is running.
Starting out in America, I got paid low wages even though I was a Master; they tried to blame it on my language skills. Making 60-degree cuts for an equilateral triangle is simple and cutting exotic compound miters for complex assemblies is no sweat. These extreme cuts tested the merit of the saw’s sliding mechanism as well as its blade.
Switching out the DeWalt’s rough-cutting blade transformed that saw into a top performer. The saws from Bosch and Craftsman feature user-friendly bevel controls and adjustable handles.
Cutting problems are most likely on wide boards, because the amount of play decreases as the saw head moves toward the fence. Generally, we prefer metal cursors, although some are so wide they make precise settings difficult.
Both saws achieved this, in part, by dropping the blade deep into the bed of the saw so it cuts closer to its full diameter. The downside of this design is that during a sliding cut, the teeth on the blade’s back edge rotate directly up into the board. If the board isn’t firmly clamped in place, especially during wide compound miter and bevel cuts, the blade can violently kick it up.
You can eliminate kick-up on the Ridgid saw by adjusting its depth stop to raise the blade and change the exit angle of the teeth.

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