• Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

woodworking ideas

Uh oh, I was just thinkin’ again.

Yes, yes already, I understand the merits of hand tool woodworking (read here). Yet, we must acknowledge that pure hand tool woodworking is almost non-existent. Rather, we just have different points at which we decide that the work is best done, for whatever reasons, by putting aside machines and taking over with hand tools. For some, that point is after the wood leaves the sawmill; for others it is when the final chamfers are added. Really, there is a spectrum of approaches to woodworking that gives all woodworkers a great deal in common: we build stuff.

Router spindle locks are a ridiculous idea. Two opposing wrenches produce more torque with more comfort and safety. Some routers with spindle locks also have flats on the spindle on which you can use a second wrench in conjunction with the one for the collet nut. Manufacturers, including the one that makes yellow tools, please, stop the madness.

I’m pretty sure that you have a project in mind that is coming from your soul. It will challenge you, and give you great joy. Please, please, build that as soon as you can. And stop making another box for your chisels, or whatever.

If someone was to ask me for suggestions for getting a set of sharpening equipment from scratch, I now think I would be remiss by not recommending diamond stones for the bulk of the work. Add a CBN grinding wheel to speed the grunt work, finish off with a very fine ceramic finish stone, and you are very good to go.

Anyone of any demographic group, including women, is welcome by me, and, I believe, by the overwhelming majority of woodworkers, to come aboard and work wood. Those currently in the minority should not be discouraged by the very few fools who will only accept the historically typical demographics of woodworkers, nor by the reactions of others that are not ill-intended but come simply from not having updated one’s habits. Moreover, those currently in the minority do not need special enclaves for those in their category. Neither is coddling needed; just welcoming. Just work wood! You and the world await what you build. Now go ahead, tell me that it’s not that simple. OK, perhaps not, but I do think it does ultimately come down to just that.

Having had the Domino joiner for nine years now, my trust in the system has gone down, not up. Sorry Festool enthusiasts, the same goes for Festool in general.

Until you understand the following rule, to which I can think of no exception, you will not fully comprehend shop safety with power or hand tools. A tool edge, given the opportunity, will always move the work piece (or part of it) instead of cutting it. As examples, that is the essence of kickback on a table saw, and a drill bit or router bit grabbing the workpiece. The edge needs to be sharp, yes, but its mechanical options must be limited by the tool design, your setups, and your actions.

Believe it or not, if you need some decent red oak, maple, poplar, and even walnut, and are buying a small enough quantity so that a higher unit price doesn’t hurt too much, the Home Depot is a pretty good, convenient option. And they have no idea that the random curly board that you might find is a great buy.

Creative work is ultimately an exercise of free will to make something – a unique information set – that transcends oneself. Where does that free will come from, if not a gift from God?

Category: Ideas
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

11 Responses

  1. 1

    What aspect of domino joinery is giving you pause? The joint itself? joint-making capability (accuracy?) or something else?

    Re: borg wood…. I agree that it is convenient for an occasional piece, and I do appreciate that the local orange borg carries a variety of species. But, like most surfaced lumber, I always feel some unhappiness as I need to reflatten/plane the boards and lose even more thickness…

  2. Would love to see you expand more on you thoughts on the Domino/Festool in a future post. As a relatively late adopter of the Festool system I’d say my enthusiasm quickly diminished as the value proposition became less attractive recently.

  3. All terribly good thoughts, Rob. Thanks for sharing them.


  4. 4

    Can you expound on your Festool comment? I personally do not own any Festool equipment, but have been considering the Domino.

  5. 5

    Matt, Aaron, Dave:

    Overall, I still think the Domino is worthwhile. It does have many advantages.

    I guess I should expand this into a full post but here are a couple of concerns. The very nature of the system forces you into limited options for tenon length, width, and thickness, such that I often end up not taking full advantage of the available area in the joint for maximum strength as with a traditional M&T.

    The fence on my Domino is not parallel with the bit motion and thus with the slot created by the bit. I did not realize this for a while and wondered why some assembly were problematic. This is a critical parameter and not adjustable. It was easy to prove but Festool claimed it was within their tolerances and offered no help. Well, then the tolerances aren’t very good, and certainly not $800-good. I rigged an elaborate shim system for the fence to correct it. Yea, on my $800 Domino.

    After trying and rejecting some of their other tools, I’m not saying they make bad stuff but Festool, IMHO, is overrated and overpriced. (E.g jig saw, sanders)

    Matt: Yea, true, regarding the big-box wood or any pre-planed wood. I should have mentioned that.

    Thanks, Ethan, and all, for your comments and thanks for reading.


  6. 6
    John Jenkins 

    Amen, brother!

  7. Hi Rob-

    I thought it was me with the Domino fence. I’ve had the same problem and had to use shims (tape) to level out the fence.

    Overall, I have the ATF saw (oldie but goodie) and it has held up well. The blades are a bit expensive, but cut nicely.

    1400 Router is well worth the money spent.

    My 2 cents,

  8. 8

    Thanks, Steve.

    Huh, Festool.

    One of the most important things I assess when buying a tool is the accuracy of the components that I cannot adjust, or can adjust only with great difficulty. Festool did not do a good job in this regard with the Domino fence, in both the actual machine I have and, more annoyingly, in the accuracy specs for the product. That’s the $800, the $800!, Domino.

    I’ll bet your shimmed Domino fence looks a lot like mine.


  9. 9

    Had the same kind of issues with OF1400 and OF2200 Festool routers; there is no way to adjust the centering of the bushing guides against the router bit center. Festool was of no help since they say that there is no need to adjust this since this is already done at the factory…. Well, had to sent back one of the router which was misaligned by about 1/16″; they re-adjust it and sent back to me with about 1/32″ misalgnement. Call them back and they just say it’s convenient and that this is not covered bu the warranty (!!!) Well, I better like my Dewalt (and other brands I own) in this regard since in 30 seconds I can adjust it to perfection by adjusting the base plate screws.

  10. 10


    Thanks for the account. I wonder if Festool thinks their prices give them the right to be arrogant. My dealings with them were similar.

    Sorry Festool fans, they are good but they are overrated. And I do not think they make twice the tool for twice the price.


  11. 11

    Well Rob,

    I think you know the implictions of my problem; I can’t reliably use my Festool routers for doing pattern routing with template guides. I used to do so with other routers; for example I have jigs to make mortises and using an uncentered bit over the pattern guide imply that you have to leave the router in the exact same position for all the mortises that you have to do. So my Festool routers can’t be use realiably with these jigs if I want a perfect fit.

    But other than that, these are wonderfull routers. For example, these are the only routers I have where I can use my 6″ or 7″ long router bit (yes, I have bits that are as long as that to make very deep mortises) because they have so little runout. All my other routers are dangerous to use with these bits (too much runout).