Friday, June 10, 2011

The Woodwrights School-Day 2

Sunday morning rolled around and it was time to make the now familiar drive into Pittsboro for another day at the Woodwrights School. I could get used to this. :) Today's class was Advance Dovetail Technique w/ Bill Anderson. I was a little concerned that the advance joinery class would be a little out of my league, but Bill is a great teacher and made it as easy as it could possibly be. Roy had basically said that he and Bills teaching style were night and day, actually he called it something else that was clever and witty but I can't remember now. Like Ren and Stimpy? No, that's not it. Oscar and Felix? Maybe, but I don't think so. Oh well, point is they're different. Which is kinda nice to be taught 2 different ways to accomplish the same task. Bill uses dividers to lay out his joints. A technique I had just used for the first time on my tool chest carcass.
The first thing we did was a through dovetail joint in a board that we put a 1/4" groove on the inside of both boards near the bottom of the pieces. I believe this was called a half lap dovetail. The trick was to be able to plow through grooves in both pieces and not have a little square of the end of the groove show up in the finished joint. Not too difficult of a joint. The dovetails are cut as normal through tails but on the tail with the groove in it, you remove the portion of the tail that has the groove. But before you remove that part of the tail, transfer your marks to your pin board. One thing that Bill teaches differently is to remove the waste between the tails and then transfer the marks to the pin board with a marking knife, versus Roy's method of marking with the saw before removing the waste. We cut the 3 tail sockets as normal but on the bottom one, you have to transfer the thickness of your trimmed down tail to the face of your pin board and be sure not to saw below that mark on that tail socket. Then it's just a matter of cleaning out the waste between the pins, putting them together, and wa-la, a hidden groove.
The next joint was called a half blind mitered dovetail joint. Although they were through dovetails. I guess the half blind refers to the miter at the top? This is a pretty cool joint and not as difficult as it looks. The first thing we did was determine how wide we wanted the mitered portion to be. This will be determined by the size of the profile you may want to put on this edge. Once you subtract this width from the tail board, you lay it out just as normal through dovetails. The only difference is when you saw them out, you will have the material you left at layout beside the one half pin socket. Don't saw the miter yet, mark your pins from your tail board first. Mark all your lines on the end of your pin board. Cut all your lines as normal EXCEPT the straight wall of the half pin where the extra material was left. This line has to be cut at a 45* angle, leaving the face side untouched and sawing down to the baseline on the inside. Now all that's left is to cut your 45* miters from the top edge down to the half pin on the pin board and to the pin socket on the tail board. Time for a test fit. Ahhh. So nice. :) Now we took them back apart and put a nice ogee detail on the top edge. Which is the point of doing the miter in the first place. One thing I learned, other than a really cool joint, is the joy of cutting a profile with a wooden moulding plane. It truly is pure bliss. I REALLY need to get a nice ogee plane.
We kind of ran short on time so we didn't get to execute the tapered sliding dovetail joint, but Bill explained it well enough that I'm confident I could make the joint.
I'm really glad I stayed for day 2. Bill is an excellent teacher and aside from learning some really cool joints, he also gave me a few tips that made me a much better sawyer. A very light, almost hovering touch when starting the saw and smooth, full saw plate length strokes with no downward pressure. Amazing how much smoother my cuts were after putting these tips to use. I've got my eye on a couple other of Bill's classes. The one day saw sharpening class and the 3 day make your jointer plane class. Although I'd rather make a try plane length. Hopefully some day.
As you can probably tell, I highly recommend that you treat yourself to a class or two at the Woodwrights School. It will be a great experience.


Vic Hubbard said...

Those are perfect dovetails!! I hope I can get that good.

Jamie Bacon said...

Thanks Vic! It's all in the photography. ;-) They are good teachers down there.