Friday, August 16, 2013

Dovetail semi-frequently

The lure of hand work is seated deeply in my cheek and my most recent woodworking crush is on learning how to cut dovetails. But before I get to that, a little about how I got sucked in.

It all started with buying a #5 bench plane off ebay. Then I learned how to tune it up by watching +Christopher Schwarz's video on how to do so. For Christmas I received a basic set of chisels and a Lie Nielsen low angle block plane. Rob Cosman and Chris Becksvoort showed me how to cut dovetails. +Shannon Rogers showed me how to fix them. For my birthday, a Veritas dovetail saw. I am reading Garret Hack's The Handplane Book and Jim Tolpin's The New Traditional Woodworker. I pre-ordered +Marc Spagnuolo's Hybrid Woodworking. I have a hundred year old #4 and #7 waiting for some love. What's next, bluegrass playing in the shop? Oh wait, I already love bluegrass.





Right or wrong, I see hand cut dovetails as one of the highest forms of quality craftsmanship and I want be good at making them. Inspired by +Matthew Watkins"daily dovetail" blog, I have been practicing cutting them after working on the chairs. It certainly isn't daily, it's at best semi-frequently.

After a cutting a few dovetails that look more like jack-o-lantern teeth I have come to appreciate, even more so, the skill it takes to make them fit tight. And five minute dovetails?! Inconceivable. All these take me around an hour each. I can't imagine how long it would take to dovetail an entire blanket chest.


Despite how long it takes, cutting these dovetails and handwork in general have become some of my favorite activities. I have no deadlines, no (paying) customers, and in turn no stress about speed. If I could only apply that to my day job.

Thanks for reading
Jim

PS - My current music crush is The Infamous Stringdusters. This music video blends bluegrass, fatherhood and woodworking. The only way it could be better is if it starred Nick Offerman.