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The beauty of the double dovetail
May 27, 2010 5:11 AM   Subscribe

The dovetail joint was once the king of joints. Mechanically simple and reliable, it's fantastically strong, but it's not simple to get right by hand. Nowadays, the joint has largely vanished due to the rise of flat pack furniture's reliance on screws and glues, but it still exists in high end work and in the hands of hobbyists. Most dovetails are now done using a jig and router to reproduce predefined angles, but every now and again you find someone who goes off and creates something truly beautiful. Like this box with hand cut double dovetails.
posted by sodium lights the horizon (82 comments total) 70 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well here's another place you can be / Listen to me / Fixing a hole in the ocean / Tryin' to make a dovetail joint / Looking through a glass onion
posted by fixedgear at 5:13 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Holy moses, that doubling effect is really cool. (And flat pack furniture, despite apparently being a design student's dream, is universally awful.)
posted by DU at 5:22 AM on May 27, 2010


Can't watch the videos since I'm at work but this makes me think of Norm Abrams and New Yankee workshop. If it weren't for him I wouldn't have any idea what a dovetail joint was. And I'd still think a jig was a dance. Makes me want to make my own furniture or find a man that can make me some.
posted by mokeydraws at 5:24 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Lovely technical vocabulary -

If you look closely you can see the pins/tails are slightly proud of the side surfaces

I'd be proud too, if I was one of those pins.
posted by Major Tom at 5:25 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Fixing a hole in the ocean

If only BP could do that...

As it happens, "Glass Onion" was exactly where I first heard the term "dovetail joint": I was 12 years old. I asked my dad about it, but, he wasn't much help.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:25 AM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Here is a reference for dovetail joints. Look closely at figures 4-7. These are "secret" dovetails, which are a combination of a dovetail and a miter joint where the dovetailing is completely hidden in the joint. This kind of joint will hold a piece together extremely well without calling any attention to the joinery. Perfect when you have more time than quality glue or fasteners.
posted by plinth at 5:47 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The only issue I take with that project is his use of tropical hardwoods, which while beautiful, are probably not the most ecologically defensible choice, and I wonder if he could not have achieved something similar using a more common species.

That said, the technique and overall effect is phenomenal. Speaking as someone who's firmly rooted in the "MDF and drywall screws" school of carpentry, it always blows my mind to see what kind of results some people can achieve using little more than hand tools.
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:50 AM on May 27, 2010


Wonderful. Thank you, sodium lights the horizon.
posted by unliteral at 5:50 AM on May 27, 2010


I assumed "dovetail joint" was some sort of archaic drug slang for years, again because of "Glass Onion".
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:56 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I understand people have been conditioned to think rare tropical hardwood = bad, but the tiny amount used for hand made woodwork is a triviality. If you are spending a hundred hours making something, get the rare stuff, the unusual and impressive stuff.
If your Indonesian factory is cranking out container loads of $49.95 lawn furniture made from wood strip felled to grow palm oil, that's a different kettle of fish.
posted by bystander at 5:56 AM on May 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


Wow. The skill, talent, and patience involved in that project is pretty impressive.
Having attempted to conquer the simple dovetail joint and failed miserably, my mind reels at this.
I'm so glad to see that such artistry and craftsmanship is still practiced.
posted by newpotato at 5:56 AM on May 27, 2010


"every now and again you find someone who goes off and creates something truly beautiful. Like this box with hand cut double dovetails"

News at 11.

yeah ... these people are called woodworkers ... or cabinet makers ... or wooden boat builders ... or bored people with a saw and a ruler (and a chisel, and a file).

My grandparents do dovetails, the guys I used to sail with do dovetails.

Impressive is the people who can do it by eye, without a ruler ... yes, they exist (my cabinet maker friend was apprenticed to one who does ... although probably long since dead now). But they don't publish blogs about it.
posted by jannw at 5:59 AM on May 27, 2010


I assumed "dovetail joint" was some sort of archaic drug slang for years, again because of "Glass Onion".

Chicago 90s alt-rock band of the same name, too, if memory serves.
posted by joe lisboa at 6:03 AM on May 27, 2010


Having been taught at school how to do dovetail joints with a chisel, I dips me lid when I see an old piece of furniture with dozens of perfect, flush joints.

I was absolutely shite, and not for want of trying. Spakfilla to the rescue!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:05 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Roy Underhill would approve of this post, and rightly so.
posted by drezdn at 6:05 AM on May 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Impressive is the people who can do it by eye, without a ruler

Well, heck, I'm impressed with the folks who do 'em with rulers, too.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:05 AM on May 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


As I grow older, I'm getting this urge to create furniture. I've knocked together a few shelves and such, but I love bespoke furniture like fitted bookshelves and the like, which can become heirlooms in time. Looking at the beautiful box in the link does not diminish that urge.
posted by Harald74 at 6:07 AM on May 27, 2010


Rush Limbaugh snarks the the most beautiful thing about a tree is what you can make with it... and when I see work like this I can almost agree with that fat bastard.
posted by three blind mice at 6:12 AM on May 27, 2010


The box is offensively showy in its joinery. I'm a woodworker and I appreciate craftsmanship, and this is merely technical wanking. The best craft never calls attention to itself, it simply vanishes into the artfulness and utility of a perfectly created object. The box here is just as bad to my eyes as a purple prose or (shuddering) 98% of all tonemapped HDR photography. Wank, wank, wank, wank.

I miss Sam Maloof.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:15 AM on May 27, 2010 [11 favorites]


the joint has largely vanished due to the rise of flat pack furniture's reliance on screws and glues

I would also blame the use of veneered particle board / plywood. A joint that exposes the end grain is no good if there is no end grain.
posted by smackfu at 6:17 AM on May 27, 2010


I've always found dovetail joints to be quite beautiful.
posted by HumanComplex at 6:18 AM on May 27, 2010



If I had that box I wouldn't put anything in it. Just display it in a fine glass illuminated case.
posted by notreally at 6:19 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I imagined a double dovetail joint would be one where the pins/tails are sloped not just along their length but also across their width. It would have the advantage of being very secure as it can't slide apart in any direction even without glue. And the disadvantage of being physically impossible to actually assemble, barring the availability of a teleporter in the shop.

Fortunately, about halfway through the article in the last link, the light went on and I realized what was actually meant by a double dovetail joint. Neat and very nice-looking, but not the physical impossibility I had hoped for.
posted by FishBike at 6:21 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


If I had that box I wouldn't put anything in it. Just display it in a fine glass illuminated case.

Like, in a glass illuminated case. with glass dovetail joints. Then you'd have to put that into another fine glass illuminated case, and... it would never end.

until you'd fixed that hole in the ocean
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:24 AM on May 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Seanmpuckett... is the "utility" of this object merely a box? Or is the "utility" it's ability to cause people to think differently about wood/furniture/objects/craftsmanship?

I remember when a friend, a pretty fine woodworker, taught me about dovetail joints... we then taught groups of Scouts how to do them with just a pocket knife to make a number of useful little items...the kids loved it (and so did I!)
posted by HuronBob at 6:24 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hong Kong's Chi Lin Nunnery was built entirely without nails, screws or bolts -- only wood.
posted by bwg at 6:26 AM on May 27, 2010


this makes me think of Norm Abrams and New Yankee workshop

Roy Underhill would approve of this post, and rightly so.

Norm with his big fancy router and jigs ain't nothin' compared to Roy Underhill, who has been doing his PBS show "The Woodwright's Shop" just as long as "This Old House" (maybe even a couple of years longer), and does it all by hand or with human-powered "power" tools.
posted by briank at 6:29 AM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Roy Underhill would approve of this post, and rightly so.

My friend managed to find the entire (?) series of Woodwright's Shop online. The video quality isn't great and poor Roy has to really rush through most of the projects in 25 minutes, but it's still pretty cool.
posted by DU at 6:31 AM on May 27, 2010


I always liked how Roy Underhill's workshop looks like a real workshop, with every available surface taken up by parts of other projects, previously used tools, wood scraps, and so on. It looks so messy compared to the usually pristine TV workshops, and he's always having to move stuff out of the way to demonstrate the next step on camera. But it looks like every home workshop I've ever seen.
posted by FishBike at 6:33 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


He is one very skilled woodworker. You cannot believe how incredibly difficult it is to hand cut dovetail joints, just regular ones, and he got these double dovetails just right. Amazing.
posted by caddis at 6:34 AM on May 27, 2010


Huh. I need to raid my grandfather's tools again and see if he had a dovetail jig. Need to figure out something to do with all the ancestral cedar he left me.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:35 AM on May 27, 2010


That box is stunningly beautiful -- especially the showy inlay around the joins.

But I really wish that people would stop dissing flat pack furniture. No, it's not the work of a hand joiner or master craftsman. But I've been poor in Canada before Ikea came, and I've been poor after -- and having Ikea has so improved our lives. We can't afford thousands of dollars for furniture -- our only choice before Ikea was cheaply made crap from the Brick, which was more expensive, and of worse quality, than Ikea furniture, and more expensive to transport because it wasn't flat packed. Before you complain about flatpacked, live with a family on under $20,000 a year in a tiny apartment and with no car. (Yeah, I don't like that Ikea is a car-oriented box store, but I'll forgive them for selling me a solid table for $40.)
posted by jb at 6:39 AM on May 27, 2010 [11 favorites]


I was watching one of those woodworking shows, and was surprised that he did everything in cheap wood like plywood first, and then used the initial version as a jig for working with the actual hardwoods. Is that common?
posted by smackfu at 6:42 AM on May 27, 2010


The dovetail joint is primarily used for drawers, is that right? What's the best joint for a table leg? Anyone?

This stuff is awesome and I love this post.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:56 AM on May 27, 2010


Great post!
posted by OmieWise at 7:16 AM on May 27, 2010


My first (non-double) post, and it vaguely resembles a success. I believe the relevant interwebs term is "w00t".
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 7:20 AM on May 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


Dovetail joints are kind when it comes to bee keeping. These boxes are made with relatively thin pieces of wood and need to hold a huge amount of weight. I have tried glue and screws, but glue and dovetail is the way to go.
posted by digdan at 7:20 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have a handmade jewelry box made with dovetail joints that I had commissioned at a renaissance festival about ten years ago. It's heirloom quality and it will eventually pass to one of my nieces. It wasn't cheap, but it's one of the things I'm glad that I own. Occasionally it's worth it to own something that makes you happy to look at and touch.

(and yes, nice post!)
posted by immlass at 7:27 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


HuronBob: I think the sample joint shown inside the box component mock-up has more overall merit than the box because it doesn't pretend to be anything other than what it is: a technical demonstration. The box is fappery: "I've done it once, look, I can do it four more times!" I see competency; I don't see artistry.

Terrible Llama: typical table leg joints today are mortise and tenon (or tension bolt for knock-down tables). The table skirts have tenons inserted into mortises at the top of the legs. I've done hidden dovetail tables as well, but the return on investment isn't worth it.

The main reason dovetails are out of favour these days except for showpieces is because today's PVA glues are far superior to the hide glue of a hundred years ago. Dovetails didn't rely on glue to keep furniture from falling apart, so stuff from back then would stay together even after the hide glue crystallized. These days a mortise/tenon joint assembled with modern carpenter's glue is at least as strong as the wood itself.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:29 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The most common place to see dovetails these days is on well built drawer sides. If you ever shop for a chest of drawers or dresser or even kitchen cabinets, check how the drawer sides mate to the drawer front. All that pulling through the years will loosen almost anything but a good dovetail.
posted by bz at 7:30 AM on May 27, 2010


(I mean the inner drawer box front, not the true drawer front)
posted by bz at 7:30 AM on May 27, 2010


Like, in a glass illuminated case. with glass dovetail joints. Then you'd have to put that into another fine glass illuminated case, and... it would never end.

Careful, that way madness lies.
posted by yerfatma at 7:35 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The first video is one of the best instructional videos I have ever watched. Great editing!
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 7:47 AM on May 27, 2010


Aw, thanks for this. My dad taught me how to do dovetail joints when I was ten. It's one of my favorite memories.
posted by teleri025 at 7:48 AM on May 27, 2010


I believe that dovetails are only considered difficult by have never made them. It's basic joinery and the skill is in making them *efficiently*. Anyone with a ruler, pencil, saw, and chisel can make nice-looking dovetail joints. What separates the novices from the masters is that the masters can do it in a matter of minutes.
posted by introp at 7:48 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Something my dad pointed out was that previously dovetail joints were really important because it took a fair amount of force to open a drawer, and cheaply made drawers tended to fall apart quickly without dovetails. It takes much less force to open a drawer with modern ball bearing slides, so dovetails aren't critical. Obviously this doesn't apply to a lot of furniture, but certainly does to kitchen cabinets.
posted by electroboy at 7:52 AM on May 27, 2010


I was watching one of those woodworking shows, and was surprised that he did everything in cheap wood like plywood first, and then used the initial version as a jig for working with the actual hardwoods. Is that common?

Yep. The principle there is that on plywood, you're not wasting expensive material if you screw up - and for inexperienced woodworkers, dovetails are REALLY easy to screw up. Once you've gotten it right on plywood, you can use that as a template to consistently cut the nicer wood.
posted by deadmessenger at 8:07 AM on May 27, 2010


This is beautiful work; I really love what can be done with wood, but I have no skill with it, and I'm hugely envious of those that do. I'm better with metal, which speaks to me in pointy, sharp ways, but wood's always remained a mystery.
posted by quin at 8:30 AM on May 27, 2010


...Just display it in a fine glass illuminated case.

Like, in a glass illuminated case. with glass dovetail joints. Then you'd have to put that into another fine glass illuminated case...


'I do not often look at boxes or chests,' I said, simply, 'but this is the most beautiful box I have ever seen and I will always remember it. There might be something inside it?'

'There might be,' said MacCruiskeen.

He went to the table and put his hands around the article in a fawning way as if he were caressing a sheepdog and he opened the lid with a little key but shut it down again before I could inspect the inside of it.

'I will tell you a story and give you a synopsis of the ramification of the little plot,' he said. 'When I had the chest made and finished, I tried to think what I would keep in it and what I would use it for at all. First I thought of them letters from Bridie, the ones on the blue paper with the strong smell but I did not think it would be anything but a sacrilege in the end because there was hot bits in them letters. Do you comprehend the trend of my observations?'

'I do,' I answered.

'Then there was my studs and the enamel badge and my presentation iron-pencil with a screw on the end of it to push the point out, an intricate article full of machinery and a Present from Southport. All these things are what are called Examples of the Machine Age.'

'They would be contrary to the spirit of the chest,' I said.

'They would be indeed. Then there was my razor and the spare plate in case I was presented with an accidental bash on the gob in the execution of me duty...'

'But not them.'

'Not them. Then there was my certificates and me cash and the picture of Peter the Hermit and the brass thing with straps that I found on the road one night near Matthew O'Carahan's. But not them either.'

'It is a hard conundrum,' I said.

'In the end I found there was only one thing to do to put myself right with my private conscience.'

'It is a great thing that you found the right answer at all,' I countered.

'I decided to myself,' said MacCruiskeen, ' that the only sole correct thing to contain in the chest was another chest of the same make but littler in cubic dimension.'

posted by Iridic at 8:44 AM on May 27, 2010


I love this post so much, I want to saw it into planks and make a box from it using full-blind mitred dovetail joins, then burn "DOVETAIL" inside the bottom of the box and hide it away forever.
posted by adipocere at 8:46 AM on May 27, 2010


I wish everything had dovetail joints now.
posted by cowbellemoo at 8:54 AM on May 27, 2010


Now I want to stomp around and build shit. And learn how to whittle. Since you all schooled me I'll also be looking up Roy Underhill.
posted by mokeydraws at 9:01 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are a bunch (maybe all?) of Roy Underhill's Woodwright's Shop episodes available free on the PBS website. Also of interest is this video about creating a dovetail in 5 minutes. If that's too slow for you, there's this 3.5 minute dovetail video.
posted by paulg at 9:03 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mmmm...dovetail joints....that's what I'm talkin' about...Ikea can just take an allen wrench and go fuck a garage.....
posted by Skygazer at 9:08 AM on May 27, 2010


The box is offensively showy in its joinery. ... The best craft never calls attention to itself, it simply vanishes into the artfulness and utility of a perfectly created object.

There's a time and a place. The box in the article is woodworker's version of a Turner's Cube (prev.), captive nuts, or any number of similar projects that you can find in virtually any craft, which serve principally to demonstrate the artisan's mastery or skill. Looking at the joined box as a box is like looking at a Turner's Cube as a paperweight.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:14 AM on May 27, 2010


Sadly, Photobucket has slapped up a "bandwidth exceeded" notice on each and every one of the photos in the last link. :/
posted by me3dia at 9:42 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


My dog's name is Dado. That is all.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:49 AM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


"was surprised that he did everything in cheap wood like plywood first, and then used the initial version as a jig for working with the actual hardwoods. Is that common?"

Yes. One wants to make sure everything fits together and the production steps one has outlined actually work while not risking expensive wood. When my father was making custom furniture we had all sorts of expensive looking furniture in pine and plywood.

I've always considered the double dovetails to be more work than they are worth. I do however love Moorish Dovetails.
posted by Mitheral at 9:50 AM on May 27, 2010


I spent a few minutes reading this before I realized you were not talking about rolling joints . . .
posted by print at 9:55 AM on May 27, 2010


Since picking up my Superjig 18 I use dovetails wherever I can. My appreciation for the handcut ones was always high, but man do I ever really appreciate them now, especially when they are done in $80+/bdft exotic woods.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 10:00 AM on May 27, 2010


Okay, this is more metalshop than woodshop, but I never like to pass up an opportunity to mention the Dave Gingery books.

For those of us that like to recreationally hearken back to older ways of doing significant building and fabrication projects without having to go out and spend lots of money, Dave's attitude is like homemade chicken soup:
"...even the most economical equipment to be had at the time would have cost about $500.00. This is a significant obstacle anyone can sink his negative teeth into. At the ratio of 50 cents to $50.00, can you really hope to do the work for just $5.00? Well, I built a foundry in my backyard using scrap wood for the patterns and flasks, a ring of bricks, for a furnace with charcoal for fuel and hair drier for a blower, and a one quart iron sauce pan for a melting pot. This was reduced technology on a reduced budget, and I don't think I blew the whole $5.00. From this simple first step an entire foundry and machine shop have been produced, and it has become a constantly expanding activity."
posted by dammitjim at 10:15 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sadly, Photobucket has slapped up a "bandwidth exceeded" notice on each and every one of the photos in the last link. :/

You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!
posted by medium format at 10:45 AM on May 27, 2010


I hate to shit on people's enthusiasm, but like seanm as an amateur furniture maker I'm kind of tired of boxmakers and their showy joints. The double dovetail isn't that clever once you've seen the pattern, and it's no stronger than a normal dovetail, and how many goddamn wooden boxes do you need anyway? It's a feat of arithmetic and precise cutting, not of imagination or creativity.

On the other hand, I have made a table base with with intersecting mortices in the legs inside which I dovetailed the ends of the tenons on the rails. I cut the dovetails with an Incra jig on my router table, and they'll never be seen again, but I'm proud of them, because I solved a problem — how do you make a strong blind joint in a narrow table leg? — in a way that, though it's must surely have been done before, I've never heard of.
posted by nicwolff at 10:56 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, did you put your table leg on the web?
posted by smackfu at 11:17 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I hate to shit on people's enthusiasm. . .

Yeah, it's pointlessly showy. But it's beautiful, and if you're not a woodworker, it kind of looks like magic. It's like Paula Nadelstern's quilting or Beverly Sills singing "Una voce poco fa". Sure, if you have the raw skill, it's not as impressive as it sounds, but having the raw skill necessary to make it not-that-impressive is impressive in and of itself. It doesn't take away from your blind mortise dovetail, any more than it takes away from the beautiful technique of Amish quilting or the expertise necessary to sing a Mahler solo. But just because all its beauty is on the surface doesn't mean it's not there.
posted by KathrynT at 11:20 AM on May 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


Bandwidth exceeded, upgrade to a pro account.

How quaint.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:36 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Same page, Iridic, same page.
posted by yerfatma at 11:46 AM on May 27, 2010


"You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!"

I can email the 1.74MB of images to anyone; mefimail to request them.
posted by Mitheral at 11:51 AM on May 27, 2010


Nicwolff: The double dovetail isn't that clever once you've seen the pattern, and it's no stronger than a normal dovetail, and how many goddamn wooden boxes do you need anyway? It's a feat of arithmetic and precise cutting, not of imagination or creativity.

You...you mean..the double dovetail is some sort of over-rated attention whore?

I knew this wood-working thread was going to go south.

Oh and...(obligatory): This is why we can't have nice things.


posted by Skygazer at 11:56 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sorry to step on your toes, yerfatma! (That passage still takes me to the fair, though.)
posted by Iridic at 12:13 PM on May 27, 2010


I thought of the same passage, so, you know, great minds.
posted by OmieWise at 12:46 PM on May 27, 2010


You can still see the images here: (from the original linked site's comments)

Martin,

Thank you for giving permission to add this to my website!

I finished it today!

http://www.woodworkstuff.net/MeckAHandcutDBLDT.html

Hope you like it…

Look down in the Joinery Section…
http://www.woodworkstuff.net/woodidxjigs.html

posted by Lizc at 12:47 PM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


So double dovetails are the hipsters of the woodworking world?
posted by electroboy at 1:47 PM on May 27, 2010


Though less aesthetic and technically demanding, it may be more esoteric; behold the ship-lap joint.
posted by Tube at 3:16 PM on May 27, 2010


Sure wish I could cut the same line freehand four times in a row! That's crazy that he can do that. And then chisel vertically without any reference.
posted by jewzilla at 6:22 PM on May 27, 2010


Though less aesthetic and technically demanding, it may be more esoteric; behold the ship-lap joint.

That ship-lap joint is très sexy. reminds me of the way Lincoln logs stay together.

I think the double dovetails got some competition.
posted by Skygazer at 7:24 PM on May 27, 2010


Well here's another place you can be / Listen to me / Fixing a hole in the ocean / Tryin' to make a dovetail joint / Looking through a glass onion

OMFG, fixedgear!!!

I've been a fan of the Beatles since I discovered their music on December 8, 1980 - a friend stayed over on a sleepover, and we listened to the radio all night. By morning, I was hooked. Owned the vinyl; played the White Album backwards by hand (and know its actual title)... all the jazz.

But I never understood the words in that line until now...

Thank you so much.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:03 PM on May 27, 2010


I hate to shit on people's enthusiasm, but ... [rest of paragraph: lots of shitting on enthusiasm]

[next paragraph: lots of use of the vertical pronoun]

nicwolff, your words and your actions... they seem to diverge.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:07 PM on May 27, 2010


How can this thread be this long without a single mention of James Krenov?
posted by Graygorey at 10:51 PM on May 27, 2010


Don't be too quick to condem the use of tropical exotics. Working at a cabinet shop, we once got a pallet of cheap, stinky luan plywood. The pallet was made of beautiful, huge planks of Purpleheart. Super-fine rough-cut planks a full 7/8ths thick and 2 to 4 inches wide. And three pieces 2 X 2 eight feet long. I've made boxes, knife handles and letter openers, and I still have some in my shop, waiting for inspiration. Once that tree is cut, the crime is wasting it for scrap or firewood or pallets. When it becomes something people value, it can live longer and be cherished more than it ever will be as a tree. Rather than ragging on people for cutting it down, encourage replanting
posted by Redhush at 4:10 PM on May 30, 2010


I feel like I'm coming in too late, but God, do I hate Roy Underhill's show as a recommendation for beginning woodworkers.

I don't have a 1887 side-cant wood soled rabbet plane with a moulding cutter, or whatever the archaic specialty tool is that he's using today. And I don't care. I'd much rather watch something with a skilled but less experienced woodworker teaching how it was done, how they'd do it, and other ways it could be done; Marc Spagnuolo (The Wood Whisperer) comes to mind.


Roy, the show's great for woodworking geeks, traditional woodworkers, and antique collectors, but it wasn't great for me as a beginner by any stretch. Most of us can't find - let alone afford - the antique tools you use in each and every show.
posted by talldean at 8:12 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I always figured Roy Underhill's show was like those instructional car shows on the weekend, where more than 99% of the audience doesn't actually do any of the things they teach you how to do. They're more about the vicarious enjoyment of watching someone else do the things you would do if only you had the time, and money, and space, and energy, and skill.
posted by FishBike at 7:55 AM on June 9, 2010


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