Hand Tools Techniques

Not even the best woodworking hand tools will do you a bit of good if you don’t understand the proper techniques for using them. The fact is, learning woodworking with hand tools can be fairly difficult – but it’s easier than you may think. The editors of Popular Woodworking Magazine have used their decades of collective experience building this library of hand tool techniques that all woodworkers can use in the shop, and also offer their expert advice when buying hand tools.

secret dovetail, miter dovetail

Secret Dovetails for the Rest of Us

I hate end grain. In my work, I take great pains to hide every square inch of it. This often means cutting joinery that is more involved. For example, on my spice chest, I could simply have used through-dovetails to join the top to the sides of the case. Like the original maker, I...


Experiments in Board Chests

For too long now I’ve been researching vernacular forms of furniture. I dislike the word “vernacular,” so I call these designs the “furniture of necessity.” These are the pieces of furniture that aren’t heralded in books or at Sotheby’s. Yet, they have remained almost unchanged in form for hundreds of years. One of these...


A Rare Rant About Threadboxes

If I wrote about all the woodworking tools out there that stink, I wouldn’t have much time to build anything. Most of the junk out there can be avoided. You can buy better drill bits, screwdrivers and hammers than the stuff you find in the $1 bins at the home centers. But for some...


Chair Joinery: Tapered Tenons & Tapered Mortises

Because chairs take abuse like a rented mule, the simple mortise-and-tenon joint is sometimes not enough. In traditional Windsor chair construction, the legs and spindles are attached to the plank seat using tenons that are cone-shaped along their lengths. So the mortises have to be the same shape. These tapered joints are clever. The...


Accuracy in Woodworking

One of the sure signs of getting old is finding out that the kid who works in the next cubicle never heard of the TV show “WKRP in Cincinnati.” Another sign is remembering something that is taken for granted today was at one time brand spanking new. Our web guy wasn’t even born in...


Exploit the Weakness of the Tree

In hand-tool woodworking, brains almost always trump brawn. For example, when I need to remove a lot of material from a localized area, I need to think like a tree assassin and exploit its weaknesses. Think about it for a minute: Trees are much stronger in the vertical axis than they are in the...