I’ve always wondered how furniture projects that I’ve built stand the test of time. If we could see what our work looks like in 20 years, maybe we’d decide to do things differently. That’s another way we can become better at what we do. And I’ve had that opportunity.
In the current issue of 360 Woodworking, I built and wrote about a candlestand. I copied a 40-year-old project that my Dad built early-on in his woodworking career, which is now in my possession. I also had the chance to see how a piece built by my brother fared against an angry vacuum cleaner (or at least the person guiding the vacuum) – it wasn’t a pretty site.
Both of these lead me to change a few techniques as I worked on the stand. The biggest change focused on how the legs attached to the posts. In the photo below, you can see the problem associated with that connection. On the left you see a small crack that is beginning, and you can see how the leg dovetail is twisted in its socket due to a less-than-stellar fit, which is difficult because you need to undercut the area on either side of the sliding dovetail to get the perfect fit to the round post. On the right, you can see that same area has given way under the impact of the vacuum.
As I worked on the new candlestand, I built a simple jig that allowed me to flatten the surface of the post at the point where the legs joined, then cut the sliding dovetail into the post using a pair of guided router bit cuts. The joinery was too easy. You can see the jig and completed slot below.
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