More along the lines of, “A difference that makes no difference is no difference”. I recently received a set of bits for my brace from my father, most of them look never to have been used, so its like having a brand new antique. But I wanted to compare the speed of the brace compared to a cordless electric drill for drilling the waste on my cabinet side mortises. Well, no difference really. Not in speed, I do find it easier to drill a hole where I want it without a bunch of drift compared to twist and Forstner drills. The obvious advantage of the brace is being able to work quite carefully and deliberately.
I also compared chopping the mortise purely by chisel or first drilling as much of the waste as possible. Interestingly my speed was also almost exactly the same. The difference was in ease, that to be fast chisel mortising requires a good deal more sustained effort that paring back to the line on a mortise after drilling. Do the math too, nine minutes a mortise, twenty-two mortises. I drilled the mortises.
That said, I don’t regret all of the chisel mortising I’ve done. That practice is simply indispensable to developing the smooth technique that leads to speed and accuracy. And there is still work that I would chisel mortise, such as the blind mortises on shoji stile (though I drill a single hole for kumiko mortises in the rail/stile).
My knowledge of how to use this router for accurate work to the line is still quite limited. As opposed to trying to set up my straight edge as a fence and possibly botch the cosmetic stopped dado for the shelf side I stayed behind the line and used the router to remove the bulk of the waste and deck the bottom surface. By the way, the incremental adjustment on this ryobi router, not made to try hitting tolerances of .004″.
Used my widest chisel to chop back to the line, this White Ash works quite nicely by chisel.
Here is the connection for the top shelf, stopped dado on either end. Because I went ahead and cut this shallow cosmetic dado I’ll have to mark directly off of it and cut the outside edges of the top shelf back to the shoulder line before I can get it seated in the cabinet side to mark the tenon locations. Even though I have a story stick made up for these mortises I’m still marking directly to produce the tenons.
I considered trying to rig up some kind of diagonal workbench to saw these dovetails from above, but had already cut the top miter on the cabinet side and some joinery up there that I did not want to risk chipping an edge on the ground. So I cut my tails in two steps like a tenon, starting first from the inside face.
There was a time where I would have knifed every surface of the joint, sawn wide by a margin and then pared painstaking back to the line. Now I use ink and saw directly to the line because I can actually see what the hell I’m doing and get better fits to boot.
My trestles are high enough that I finished the cut sitting beneath the work.
This is a good fret saw and it was worth every penny. Instead of saying it was expensive, how about saying it cost its worth?
Transferring the tails to the pin board was worrying to me right up until the point I came to do it, and had just enough room. The edge of my paning beam which the pin board is clamped to was jointed flat and square to the face, and did a good job of flattening the slight cup of the panels (The humidity in my shop is a wild affair at the moment with the change of the seasons).
More ink for finishing layout of the pin board. One mistake I make more than any other is cutting the wrong side of the line for the pin.
Lets see some good technique with dozuki noko, index finger pointed and laying flat across the top. It hurt the tendons of my hand to do this at first, but I’m glad I stuck it out. Its too easy with a club grip to push the saw too hard in the cut. I care much less about where along the length of the handle the saw is held, the grip is everything.
And of course, the proper way to end a long day is patching a cut on the wrong side of the line…It does take skill to cut such a thin patch with the saw, but this is not one I’m going to brag about.
Now, this is something I’m making for the house, its not a commission, so I can see it as a piece of skill development and lavish my time and attention. But it has got me to thinking about the economics of it all. What does it take to sell fine handcrafted solid wood furniture?
You first have to ask what the size of your market is. No amount of rainbow farting unicorns (thanks for that one Jack Spirko) can produce a market large enough to make a full time living merely because you will it to exist and the work suits your soul. The funny thing about the custom furniture business is that you’re producing something that under normal circumstance you’d never be able to afford. Perhaps something that you’ve never even looked at or seen available in a store. In my case I don’t even know anyone that owns a well made piece of cabinetry I didn’t make. Its not just every day that one wonders into a fine furniture show or gallery. So then why is this desire to make furniture so prevalent among woodworkers, why is it not expressed as the desire to weave baskets or the like?
Part of it comes down to the tools. I know for myself, thinking back on my teenage years constantly perusing tool catalogues, dreaming up wish lists for the perfect shop, it was really apparent that the tools held value, that there is an innate value present. And the prices bear that out, do they knot? Price quite often correlates to value, but that is not to say that most of the work we want to do can be accomplished with tools of more modest origin, I prove that every day with my tool set. But what I’m getting at is that craftsmanship in present society often develops as an aspirational search for personal catharsis, one available with modest means and honest hard work.
Perhaps that belies the number of people I know have tools far to good for their skill, but that is all to the good, is it not? I’d much rather somebody buy the tool that can appreciate it but not use it, to take care of it and one day lovingly pass it on, than see the tool not made at all.
The real revolution in carpentry is what is produced in an individual around ethic. And I think to articulate this it is easiest to refer to the prime directive and ethics of permaculture. Namely:
A)We must take responsibility for our lives and those of our children.
1)Care of earth.
2)Care of people.
3)Return of surplus.
I’d love to explore a bit further how permaculture relates to carpentry, what you might consider a sustainable permaculture business.