Simple Shop Technique

IMG_2183The base unit on the Penn. Desk on Frame currently in progress in the 360 Woodworking shop has pegged mortise-and-tenon joints at the leg/apron intersection. Accurate placement of the holes and pegs should be properly aligned. It’s hardly essential, but it is easily noticed if the holes are not. And this small detail should not be what catches your eye when you look at the desk.

Generally, I use 1/4″-square pegs, but this time the pegs look slightly smaller, so I decided to drop down to a smaller diameter, 7/32″. I know that doesn’t seem like it’s enough to make a difference, but it does – try it in your shop and you’ll see what I mean. With the new diameter determined, I discovered that I didn’t have a brad-point bit at the needed size, but I did have a twist bit that was almost brand new.

IMG_2184The problem with twist bits, whether you’re drilling into metal or wood, is that they’re a bit squirrely and can move about as the hole starts. To dissuade any movement, I needed a starter hole. Yeah, for my birdcage awl from Czeck Edge Hand Tools. (I’ve written about these tools before. The tool feels great in your hand and works as it should.) You could, of course, use any awl to do the job, too.

Plant the awl in place, then with a few twists of the wrist you have a small divot just right to guide the drill bit into the leg.

Plus, don’t forget the tried-and-true tip of using masking (or blue, in my case) tape to set the depth you’re drilling. I hole on the inside of the leg block isn’t all that attractive even if it’s filled with a square peg.

Build Something Great!

— Glen D. Huey

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2 thoughts on “Simple Shop Technique

  1. Doesn’t Chuck recommend not lining up the peg holes exactly so as to avoid splitting the wood? Something about historical presedence.

    1. Acually, Mitch, there’s historical precedent for both methods – in line and offset. When possible I like to offset, but quite often the pegs need to be aligned because the stile is too narrow or the tenon too shallow. In the case of Glen’s legs (or more accurately the desk legs) I would have lined them up like he did.

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