Chris Schwarz's Blog

Curse You IKEA! (And a Dovetail Dodge)


While my kids (and wife) are fans of the IKEA, I remain non-committed to the Swedish meatball and presswood furniture empire.

But today a little part of me died. I fell in love with an IKEA product.

The JANSJÖ is a gooseneck LED lamp that is perfect – perfect – for bench work. It costs $10 (made in China). It works brilliantly (pun intended). And is much less bulky than the Luxo swing-arm lamp on my current bench.

Heavy sigh.

The Port Townsend School of Woodworking in Washington state has these little buggers for the instructors and the students. They are – by far – the best bench lamp I’ve encountered. When I return home, I’m going to buy three.


Laroy is Spinning in His Grave
OK, here is a dovetail trick I’ve been too ashamed to mention until now. Maybe it’s the attendant beer that is making me spill my guts.

When I cut my tails, I always check them with a square to ensure the walls of the tails are 90° to the face of the board. If they aren’t square, I need to fix them.

I used to do this with a chisel. Now I do it with the Starrett square itself.

Yup. I turned a burr on the corner of my 6” Starrett square and use that edge to scrape the walls of my tails dead square.

Yes, I am going to hell on the express train that has Laroy Starrett as its conductor. But I don’t care. It works. The square’s blade is hard and holds that burr for a long time. Yes, I’m sure I’ll ruin the blade in the end. But all I want is tight joints – steel be dammed.

— Christopher Schwarz

27 thoughts on “Curse You IKEA! (And a Dovetail Dodge)

  1. tman02

    These IKEA lamps are great but what makes them even better is replacing the base that comes on them with a magnetic base; this makes them even more useful.

    I belong to a woodturners club and one of our members showed us this idea.

    He went to Harbor Freight and purchased what they list as “Magnetic Decor Hooks” (they come two in a package). You have to drill out the clips that are on them (and the rivet), then drill out the hole to accommodate the threaded stud in the lamps (the gripe here is since they are magnetic the metal chips stick onto the magnet so you have to spend some time picking them off).

    You also have to add a wooden “spacer” on top of these magnetic bases to make them the same thickness as the bases that come with the lamps. But once you are done you can stick these lamps to any metal surface (like all around your lathe, drill press, etc.).

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