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The Renaissance Woodworker

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So Many Projects, So Little Time...
Updated: 58 min 35 sec ago

How to Cut a Dado on an Assembled Case

Fri, 02/09/2018 - 6:17am

Cut the Dado the Same Way You Would if the Case Weren’t Assembled

Yep, its that simple. There is no special technique for adding a shelf into a case you stupidly already assembled because the hand tool approach is to take the tool to the wood. This means you just need a way to hold the case while you saw and chop away the dado. So really this video should be titled, “How to Cut a Dado”.

Lots of Ways to Cut Dados

The method shown above is probably my go to, most common method. But there are always other ways to get to the same place. Have you seen a dado or stair saw in action? You might want to these out:

Categories: Hand Tools

How to Cut the Maloof Joint by Hand

Fri, 02/02/2018 - 7:11am

A Blind Rabbet and a Tenon Walk into a Bar…

When thinking about how to cut the Maloof joint by hand you need to step back and examine it for what it really is. Its a notch that has rabbets cut on opposite faces. The leg part of the joint is 3 dados. Suddenly this iconic joint becomes a lot easier. The cut a notch in the seat, we saw out the extents and fret saw or chop out the waste in between just like a dado or dovetail pin. The rabbets are blind so a bit more complicated, but really almost identical to a hinge mortise. Finally the leg dados are just sawing the extents and chopping and router planing to depth.

But as with any complex joint, the actual cutting of it is a minor aspect. In fact the success of the cutting is based upon strong layout. So I spend a fair amount of time in this demonstration laying out both parts of the joint and taking care to use dividers to transfer dimensions instead of relying upon actual measurements. Still I think some efficiency could be added into this process and that will come with time as I cut a few more of these.

On the whole, whatever your feelings for this joint, it is a great sawing and chiseling exercise.

More How to Joinery

Some of the other popular joinery suggestions I received were for the Rising Dovetail and the Blind Mitered Dovetail. Both of these I have cut in demonstrations for my Apprenticeship students at The Hand Tool School. So I have pulled these lessons from the vault and made them available for individual purchase.

how to cut a blind mitered dovetailhow to cut the rising dovetail

Categories: Hand Tools

Fixing a Mistake on an Assembled Case

Fri, 01/26/2018 - 11:40am

Where this Chisel is Going, It Won’t Need Roads

As posturepedic as having the leg tenons poking an inch out of the seat, I think it will feel better and look better once I have pared them flush to the seat. On the center leg this isn’t a major deal because the pommel creates a convex curve, but the back tenons fall into the scooped out area. Certainly if you have some carving gouges you can tackle them with those, but I find that a regular old bench chisel used bevel down and quickly and precisely pare them flush and beautiful.

RWW Live Next Week

Tune in to my YouTube channel next Wednesday, February 1st at 6 PM EST for a special Joinery Roulette. I will cut a joint of your choice and discuss how I do it and anything you want about it. Suggest a joint in the comments below, feel free to try to stump me or just suggest something that might actually get used in a future project.

Joinery Roulettte

Categories: Hand Tools

How to Saw Straight

Fri, 01/05/2018 - 8:10am

Sawing Straight is Getting Out of the Way

Learning to use a hand saw and sawing straight isn’t a thousand hours or practice thing. Honestly a well tuned saw really wants to saw straight and we have to really fight it to make it deviate. So rather than spending hour after hour making practice cuts, focus on aligning your body and getting out of the way. Focus on relaxing and actually working less and the saw will do its thing. Within a few minutes of this you will be getting straight and plumb saw cuts. It is the initial set up and alignment and relaxing that is so important. Going through that set up is what this video is all about and I address several different types of saw cuts and how to prepare and execute the straight saw cut.

More Sawing Tips

    I referenced both of these videos during the session so make sure to check them out. Additionally I have a lot of sawing related content here on my site and do a little searching or looking under the techniques menu will find you some additional gems.

Categories: Hand Tools

Hand Tool Q&A Live: Shoulder Planes, Lathes, and Tool Cabinets

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 7:54am

Live Hand Tool Q&A

Thanks to everyone who came out and asked questions. Its always a lot of fun. Mostly I get questions about tools so I’m still waiting on someone to ask about a technique so I can actually do some woodworking in these events instead of just talking the whole time! I guess we all love tools right?

Lots of topics covered in this session from types of chisels, to tool chests, to pole lathes, and shoulder planes. I even spent some time talking about my experience working at a living history museum.

The Questions You Asked

  • 1:00 What I’m working on now in my shop
  • 7:05 How big can a panel be before warping is an issue?
  • 11:40 Halfback Saws
  • 15:20 What Screwdrivers do you use?
  • 16:00 Have you used a spring pole lathe?
  • 19:12 How did you come up with the slope of the Perch seat
  • 24:40 Tool chest vs tool cabinet?
  • 29:14 Socket chisels vs tang chisels?
  • 35:20 What is working at a living history museum like?
  • 42:20 Where to find good chisels larger than 1″?
  • 45:25 What is a Firmer chisel?
  • 48:08 Used a Hovarter vise?
  • 50:10 Spill planes?
  • 54:45 Use for a Skew Block plane?
  • 59:40 Advice on a small shop bench set up?
  • 1:07:06 Dust collection for the hand tool shop?
  • 1:10:00 Is space isn’t an issue how big would you make your workbench?
  • 1:13:29 Budget clamp recommendations?
  • 1:18:50 Most useful router plane blade size?
  • 1:20:22 Which size shoulder plane do I need?

Categories: Hand Tools

Perch Stool: Trimming Leg Tenons

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 8:15am

A Regular Old Bench Chisel

As posturepedic as having the leg tenons poking an inch out of the seat, I think it will feel better and look better once I have pared them flush to the seat. On the center leg this isn’t a major deal because the pommel creates a convex curve, but the back tenons fall into the scooped out area. Certainly if you have some carving gouges you can tackle them with those, but I find that a regular old bench chisel used bevel down and quickly and precisely pare them flush and beautiful.

RWW Live Next Week

Tune in to my YouTube channel next Wednesday, December 6th at 6 PM EST for an open Q&A. I like to call theses Hand Tool Brew & A because I’ll probably have beer!

The Hand Tool School is Having a Sale

Use the code “SAWNSAVE” at checkout
Categories: Hand Tools

Perch Stool Part 4: Glue Up

Tue, 11/21/2017 - 7:08am

You Did a Glue Up Live??

Hey who doesn’t like a little bit of danger and excitement in their life? Live streaming, talking and answering question while gluing up a project is the new pastime for the adrenalin junkie!

In this installment I went over how to bore the odd angled holes in the legs for the stretchers. I demonstrated a great technique that I’ve used for my last few Windsor chairs that was taught to me by Elia Bizzarri. This is the same technique you will see the other masters of the Windsor embracing as well. It involved imposing an arbitrary angle line onto the leg and then boring at that angle while positioning the layout line parallel to the bench top. It is highly effective and really precise.


It is not how I built my first 2 Windsors. For those I bored everything by eye while the chair was assembled. In fact it was this total lack of layout and measuring that drew me to the style and largely to hand tools in the first place. So during the live broadcast when asked what advantages this boring in the vise approach offered I stumbled a bit and in hindsight I’m started to question whether going with this “more precise” route is just overcomplicating things. I know I know I’m questioning the wisdom of guys who have built hundreds and hundreds more Windsor chairs than I so I must be missing something right?

I don’t know…

You Tell Me

What am I missing here? Why would this precise angle drilling method be better than just assembling the chair and boring everything in place? Certainly boring place really is best done using extension bits and such so some additional tooling may be needed, but it does seem much less confusing and certainly easier to visualize and anticipate mistakes than a situation where the leg is separate from the assembly. I sincerely welcome some thoughts on this.
Categories: Hand Tools

Perch Stool Part 3.5 Stretchers

Fri, 11/17/2017 - 6:28am

Size the Stretchers from Your Assembled Stool

In this video I figured out the sizes and turning profile for my 2 stretcher and I even lay those dimensions onto my template board for easier turning. However, I say this in the video and I’ll say it again. You must capture the dimensions for the stretchers from your own stool as they will mostly certainly be different. For that matter they will probably be different with every one of these stools that you build. So laying out the template once shouldn’t be an excuse to turn everything to that same size.

Have no fear though, there is a fair amount of wiggle room here since there are no shoulders on the tenons and if necessary some additional shaping either at the lathe or with a spokeshave can finesse an errant fit.

Let's Finish the Perch

    Next Live Broadcast will be 2 PM on Saturday 11/18/17

    I’ll be boring the holes for the stretchers, assembling the whole thing and cleaning up in preparation for finish.

Categories: Hand Tools

Perch Stool Part 3: Carving the Seat

Mon, 11/06/2017 - 8:41am

The audio is a bit low for the first 20 minutes as I review questions from last week, it gets much louder after that

Digging out a Hole for your Butt

I’ve discovered that this Perch seat is unlike the other Windsor seats I have carved in that I really don’t need a lot of extra wood around the perimeter to hold on to it since there will always be a flat around the back edge and the pommel. So I did go ahead and saw out the outer perimeter using both my turning saw and a regular hand saw to quickly cut away the excess. Because there is a lot of edge work done with the drawknife it is NOT necessary to spend a bunch of time perfectly refining the outer shape right to the line or cleaning up the grain. Save that work until the bottom chamfer is cut and you will have much less shaping to do.

carved Perch seatLayout is the key to making a seemingly free form task like this seat carving into a more controlled process. Boring depth holes and drawing a oval to define the bowl of the seat will help immensely. And keep feeling the seat and removing any bumps or inconsistencies that you feel as you blend the shape from the bowl into the leg hollows. As I say in the video, when done the hollows should feel as it they were scooped out in a single pass.

The carving of this seat perfectly illustrates the concept of “coarse, medium, and fine” where rougher tools do most of the work and more refined tools come back to blend and refine the shapes. In this video I only use the coarse and medium tools and in a future installment I will come back with a card scraper to blend and smooth all the shapes. That is my fine tool. Below you will find all the tools I used as well as some alternative tools that can work. Much of the dedicated Windsor chair tools can be very specialized and if you don’t intend to build further Windsors you may want to consider using alternate methods so you don’t have superfluous tools floating around your shop.

Tools Used in Seat Carving

  • Inshave: this is your rough removal tool, easy to hog out material and easily skewed to control tearing as your work across the grain with it. Available through Barr Tools
    • Alternative: a bowl adze or even a large carving gouge (40mm #8 sweep)
  • Travisher: your medium tool used for refining the bowl shape and blending the shapes through the seat. Much like a spokeshave but better the larger size makes it better at shaping larger surfaces. Available through Peter Galbert and Claire Minihan, Elia Bizzarri also makes a nice Travisher
  • Drawknife: your coarse (and medium and fine tool depending on your skill) for shaping the convex surfaces of the seat. Available everywhere from vintage to newly made, so abundant on the antique market you will trip over them. Lie Nielsen also makes a good knife though I have not used it personally.
  • Spokeshave: your medium tool for refining the convex surfaces on the outside of the seat. Available everywhere much like drawknives. I use several vintage shaves and newly made ones. My Boggs shave from Lie Nielsen leaves a super fine surface but I’m also very partial to the shaves made by Caleb James.

Next Live Broadcast

2 PM on Saturday 11/11/17

Let’s add stretchers and assemble the stool

Tapered Tenon Discrepancy

At the outset of this broadcast I talked about how the Veritas tenon cutters supposedly are designed to match the 12 degree angle of the Veritas reamer. Obviously that won’t match the 6 degree taper of the reamer I used yet I was still getting tightly fit legs and couldn’t see much different in the tenons I had cut vs my reamer. But if you look closely at this image you will in fact see and angle difference at the top of the tenon where the Veritas cutter formed a steeper angle as compared to the 6 degree cutter I used. So the moral of the story is to be sure that your reamer and tenon cutters match each other, or just turn your tenons on the lathe. Still I am surprised at how well my legs fit despite that difference in angles so it is obvious there is a bit of wiggle room.

Tapered Tenons???

tapered leg tenons
Categories: Hand Tools