One of the things I love about my work is the constant learning. Whether I’m researching the life and work of a less-known maker of English Arts and Crafts furniture or making my way around a new machine, I find myself challenged on an almost daily basis, which is rewarding. This week I experimented with some tweaks on familiar joinery and finishing techniques, drawing on articles and advice from a few people I know: Mike Pekovich, Chris Schwarz, Kelly Mehler, and Tim Puro (in the order in which they appear below).
I’m finishing up a wall cabinet that will be a project article in Fine Woodworking. (Don’t ask when it will appear; we don’t know yet.) The sides of the little cabinet are joined to the floor with dovetails. After nearly 40 years of transferring tail positions onto pin boards the same way I was taught at the Isle of Ely College in Wisbech by dear old Mr. Williams and curmudgeonly Mr. Slater, I decided it was time to try the Pekovich blue tape method. It worked like a charm. (Jump to end of post for evidence that Mike has a sense of humor.)
Another enhancement of my dovetailing life comes from Chris Schwarz, who recently recommended sawing closer to the baseline when cutting pins. I’ve always stayed well away from that line and chopped the rest with a chisel. No more.
As for that auxiliary bench, several years ago, while teaching a class at Kelly Mehler’s School, I asked Kelly about his benchtop bench. He gave me a copy of the Fine Woodworking article with Jeff Miller’s plan; even though I’d been reading and subscribing to the magazine for years, it was the first project I built based on a magazine article. (I pretty much design what I build, but where technical accoutrements such as this are concerned, I’m grateful that someone else has worked out the bugs.) This little workhorse is a boon to those with aging backs and eyesight.
Because my bench is 38″ high, the benchtop bench ends up a few inches higher than ideal for me. Last week I found the perfect solution: I dragged the semi-useless toolbox that I made as a dovetail practice project in 1979 over to the work area and turned it into a platform.