The Simple Things

line_it_upIn working on my project for the mid-December premier release of presentations for this new venture that is 360 WoodWorking (have you subscribed yet?), there have been tons of little tips that crossed my mind I want to share with the woodworking world. The problem is, there are too many to include in a single presentation. Many of the tips that crossed my mind during this build come from my days of teaching classes.

When I teach classes, I watch the students intently as I demonstrate a skill or technique. The reason I watch them so closely is to learn what things I take for granted that are new and eye-opening for them. Take the photo in this post, for example, this is a simple technique that I’ve used for years that is sure to grab someone in a class as being a game-changer.

There are two parts of a case being joined in the photo. Both are rabbeted along the back and, to line up the parts properly so that once I’ve finished dovetailing them together the surfaces of the rabbets line up perfectly, I need to make sure they are aligned when I transfer my pins to the tail board (the second tip in this post is “pins first”). I’ve tried all kinds of blocks clamped in place and funky rigs to try to line things up, but they were all awkward and ineffective. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best.

To ensure my parts are properly aligned, I grab a pencil (the same one I use to transfer the pins to the tailboard, in fact). Once I’ve lined the boards up by hand as good as I can, I scribble across the joint. It’s amazing how even the smallest misalignment is translated through the pencil to the fingertips. The lesson – don’t overthink or over-complicate things. This, I’ve found, is a good mantra for life in addition to woodworking.

— Chuck Bender


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2 thoughts on “The Simple Things

  1. Hey Chuck – thanks a lot for your tips! Looking forward to the developments on this site. So far so good!
    Not quite sure I follow you on this post though. Do you mean that you use the pencil to feel if there’s a slight misalignment and then go back and realign by eye again? Are you using the pencil lines as a guide for alignment? I must be missing something… Thanks again!

  2. Brady,
    Scribble across the two adjacent surfaces as you are aligning them, the pencil point will catch on any misalignment and move smoothly when they’re perfect.

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