Always, Always Something to Learn

TMac_BoxOne of the main reasons that I’ve been building furniture and writing about woodworking is because there is always something to learn. After more than 20 years at woodworking and growing up in a home-building family business, you’d think that I would seldom find a new technique or setup that floored me. It happens a lot. It recently happened while I was making a guest appearance on “Rough Cut: Woodworking with Tommy Mac.”

On the show, slated to air during the next season which begins Fall of 2015, Tommy and I are working through building a spice box like the one shown above. As we get to string inlay, Tommy tells me about a table saw setup that’s perfect to rip thin parts. I’m sure that I looked at him with my best “quizzical dog” look. You know, head tilted to one side, ears up and glazed-over eyes. You could almost see the cartoon caption above my head with the word “huh” typed in bold.

TMac_SetupAfter taking a ribbing about how often I watch his show, Tommy set up the table saw and demonstrated the technique. Damn! All these years and I hadn’t seen this. Ever. Mark this day as another day that I learned something valuable in woodworking.

The setup involves an accurately positioned fence on the infeed side of the blade, and a second fence with a mitered end aligned with the outside edge of the blade. The trick is to switch your pressure to the second fence as you move through the cut. If you want to see the technique – more than simply a photo snatched from the “Rough Cut” ITunes podcast – check out the Season Four Federal Hall Table episode. (You can watch it here on youtube.) To see the technique in action is soooo much better than reading about.

And if you want to see the spice box build, be sure to catch the upcoming season of “Rough Cut.” (I’m sure I’ll remind you again as the air date gets closer.) During the show I think you’ll get the opportunity to see, in its entirety, the string work go into the center of the door. Yes, it will be sped up. Otherwise, you’d not see anything else.

Thanks, Tommy. This is a technique that I’ll use often.

— Glen D. Huey

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6 thoughts on “Always, Always Something to Learn

  1. Its funny you never seen or heard about this technique. I guess its just the norm in the New England.

  2. Oh I forgot to mention Jason French the marquetry and inlay maker who was 2nd generation craftsman came up with this method. Its pretty cool.

  3. Glen,
    Not sure I will still be around in 2105, I will only be 155 years old, but accidents happen. (grin)

    1. Thanks, Mike. I would be an old fart when that show ran. But it’s good to know that woodworking and “Rough Cut” would still be around.

  4. Glenn, I watched the video of the thin slice on the table saw and was very impressed. Very neat! The only thing I might change is the width of the wedge shaped fence so the strip would not have to bend as much.

    Thanks, Elmer

    1. Elmer, your are correct. The video is from a few years back. When Tommy showed me the cut – I’m not sure it will be part of the show after final editing – the wedge he used was much smaller.


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