This puzzle mallet is seemingly made by magic.
by Roy Underhill
From the April 2012 Issue, #196
It can’t come apart, but, problem is, it can’t go together!
Legend has it that Abraham Lincoln invented this mysterious mallet. The trouble with ordinary mallets, in his time as now, was that they kept “flying off the handle.” President Lincoln, having the same problem with his fractious Congress, created this presentation mallet with a head that could never come loose. The handle joins to the head with a central tenon and two shallow dovetails passing up the sides. The taper of the dovetails makes it clear that they can’t be retracted. Obviously then, they must have been sprung in from the sides – yet a quick look at their ends shows them dovetailed against that possibility as well! Not only can the head never come off – far worse, it can never go on! So proud of it was Lincoln, that he mentioned it in his second inaugural address, uttering his famous phrase: “With mallets towards none.”
Article: Read Roy Underhill’s article on cutting a single rising dovetail.
Web site: Take a class with Roy Underhill at The Woodwright’s School.
Article: Read woodworking historian Stephen Shepherd’s 2001 article on making a puzzle mallet.
Videos: The 2011-2012 season of “The Woodwright’s Shop” is now available for online viewing.
In our store: “The Woodwright’s Guide: Working Wood with Wedge and Edge.” Read more
A welcome ‘voice’ from the past.
By Roy Underhill
From the February 2012 issue #195
Buy the issue now.
Satellites beep around the globe, kids scream about the band from Liverpool, and after 41 years you’re about to hang it up. Before you do, there’s one more length of rosewood on your bench, one more steel blade – one more try square to complete.
WEB SITE: Visit The Woodwright’s School.
VIDEO: Watch Roy use his passer drill.
IN OUR STORE: “The Woodwright’s Guide: Working Wood with Wedge & Edge,” by Roy Underhill. Read more
Amaze your friends with quadrilateral and rising dovetails. By Roy Underhill Pages: 38-39 From the November 2011 issue #193 Buy this issue now An ordinary day in the shop, but suddenly, you’re dovetailing through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. You’re on a journey into a woodworking land … Read more
A woodwright translates (and channels) the 18th-century French Master.
By Roy Underhill
From the February 2011 issue #188
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Translating André Roubo’s instructions from the 18th-century French is a delight, for he speaks to you as if he’s just stopped by your bench. The level of detail assures you that this is something he has done himself, and the money-saving tips remind you of his early days as a poor apprentice. Even the way he often leaves out the first thing you should know until the very last gives you the sense of a mind overflowing with knowledge.
This little bookstand from plate No. 331 of “L’Art du Menuisier” will give you a quick dip into the torrent of his genius. It’s a modest but appropriate introduction to the man, because books truly bookended his life story – as we’ll see when we first walk a few miles in the boots of Monsieur Roubo.
Video: Watch select episodes of “The Woodwright’s Shop” online.
School: Discover Roy’s “The Woodwright’s School.”
In Our Store: The eight benches in Roubo’s shop are pictured in Plate 11, which we offer as a poster suitable for framing.
In Our Store: “The Woodwright’s Guide: Working Wood with Wedge & Edge” and other books and articles by Roy.
Blog Post: “Use a SketchUp Model to ‘Get It’
Blog Post: “Another Way to Do It”
Not too big, not too small. This chest is a handy size for a basic set of tools. By Roy Underhill Pages: 32-39 From the June 2009 issue #176 Buy this issue now It’s the modern joiner’s dilemma. An old house over in the next county has missing mouldings on the mantel, a kicked-in panel … Read more
A boring task turns into a history lesson. By Roy Underhill Page: 64 From the April 2010 issue #182 Buy this issue now One day in Williamsburg, a message reached me at the carpenter’s yard that the cabinet shop was shorthanded and needed help. I figured it was some high-end task like dovetailing a chest … Read more
By Roy Underhill
From the August 2010 issue #184
Buy this issue now
I ran out of mutton tallow this morning! I searched my tool chests, under the benches and in the drawers hoping to find just enough white magic to ease the passage of the big jointer plane up and down the long shooting board. But all the grease boxes were licked clean – the cupboard was bare. Must … find … tallow!
It was a set of smelly black British planes that started me down the slippery slope of the tallow trail. Unlike American planes, British planes are often black from ceaseless soaking in linseed oil and relentless rubbing with tallow – a practice that was perhaps not so good in the long run. Aside from linseed oil turning planes black with age and dirt, the royal armorers at the Tower of London have recently discovered that the walnut stocks of the Brown Bess muskets that they have been rubbing with linseed oil since the time of King George are getting a bit soft. They now recommend that you switch over to wax after 250 years or so.
Video: “The Woodwright’s Shop” episode in which Roy makes his dovetailed puzzle grease box is available free online.
Blog: Kari Hultman (“The Village Carpenter”) makes Roy’s puzzle box.
Web site: Take a class at “The Woodwright’s School” in Pittsboro, N.C.
To buy: Roy’s latest book is “The Woodwright’s Guide : Working with Edge and Wedge.”