Chris Schwarz's Blog

The Good Kind of Wedgie


If you ever decide to delve into traditional woodworking, you quickly learn that wedges are your friend.

Build chairs? You need to wedge all the joints. Traditional doors? Wedge your through-tenons. Workbenches? Wedge everything you can. But where do wedges come from? There’s no wedge store or magical government wedge repository. You don’t want to buy wedges from the home center. Those wedges are usually pine and can’t take the beating required for furniture joints.

Me, I like wedges made from white oak. Not red oak (that’s an ugly weed). And not other cabinet hardwoods such as maple, walnut or cherry , they split too easily when you hit them. And not other tough hardwoods, such as hickory or locust , those are too hard to split to the right shape.

For me, white oak is the perfect wedge wood. It’s tough. It rives cleanly. It’s readily available.

So once you have a good chunk of white oak, you might wonder how to make good wedges. I wondered this myself many years ago. All the written accounts really sucked eggs. It wasn’t until I started asking people and taking classes that I became a wedgie master.

To make your wedges, you can go all hand tool or all power tool. Both techniques work great. And if you know what the heck you are doing, both are fairly fast. One method uses a band saw. The other uses a handsaw.

One quick tip. Make lots of wedges when you have the time. I make dozens at a time and split them (using a chisel) to the width I need for the joint at hand. I store them in Ziploc bags (yes, I’m anal retentive) and whip them out when wedgie duty calls.

Watch the video above for the methods I use to make wedges.

- Christopher Schwarz

P.S. The video above was shot by Narayan Nayar.

 

We have a lot of books and DVDs on workbenches in ShopWoodworking – including downloads of my first two books on the topic at a special price. Plus a DVD that follows me as a I build an 18th-century Roubo bench by hand.

9 thoughts on “The Good Kind of Wedgie

  1. steveanddevon.myopenid.com

    Chris,

    Nice video and tutorial. I use a similar method for making wedges on the band saw. One thing that someone might not notice at first is that the first wedge cut from the end will only have half the angle of the desired wedge. For instance, you are making 4 degree wedges in the video. The first wedge to fall off the end will only be a 2 degree wedge.

    By the way, I’m really liking the new Popular Woodworking Magazine. Keep up the good work.

    Steve
    Romans 8:1

  2. Charles Davis

    I too am enjoying the videos. Interesting topic and treatment oh Wedgie Master. While I’ve read about many builds that have used wedges I don’t believe I’ve ever read details about creating the wedge… good info about angle, grain direction, species.

    Seems like a good tip to make extra wedgies and store them off. Probably a good idea to make from multiple species so that you can "pick your wedgie" of choice down the road (sorry, had to do it).

  3. Richard Dawson

    Chris,

    I went through a woodworking program where we were taught to use a table saw and a shop made jig held against the fence to make wedges. I always felt uncomfortable with that approach due to the proximity of saw blade and hands and the fact that it required more concentration and a certain touch. Using a band saw is clearly much safer and doesn’t require the trouble of making a jig.

    It seems to me that a block, clamped to the band saw table, could serve as a positioning stop and eliminate the need to align the piece being cut with the saw blade, making the operation a little faster and more consistent. This is the same concept that is used for repeating small cuts on a table saw, where a stop block is clamped to the fence.

    I agree with Swanz, the video is excellent and very helpful.

    Thanks,

    Richard

COMMENT