18th c Personality Profile Test

In my mind, I only have two choices. I either leave the line when I cross cut saw, then plane the end grain down to it, or saw to the line and deal with my mistakes.

In my experience its fairly easy to hold the line when sawing. You just lay the saw down into the kerf remember? The real trick to sawing is holding square. The old trick to using the reflection of the board’s edge in the saw doesn’t really help. I often start square and end up a few or even several degrees off at the other end of a long cut. So how do you fix that if you’ve gone under the good side? You can plane it square, but you’re going to lose the line. Which is worse? It’s a problem.

So it seems a better approach is to leave the line when you saw and then plane down to it. This is a plan for success since it ensures you’ll always end up with what you want. But its also a plan for failure since it guarantees you’ll have to plane end grain on every board.

In corporate America and the US Military, they use the Meyers-Briggs personality profile test to help fit personnel into jobs or training suited to their natural skills and tendencies. In 18th c craftshops they may well have used the existence and use of shooting boards to separate the aggressive from the timid. Clearly, sawing straight and square is best. Flipping the board over can help. But when you are looking $14/bdft mahogany in the face, what will you do? I shoot for winners and deal with my mistakes as they come. And I’ve made doosies. I look at planing end grain as my punishment for sawing poorly.

In my latest project, the upper case for my standing desk, I planed no end grain, pared no dovetails. All of my saw cuts were, not necessarily perfect, but acceptable. This is the reward that awaits the aggressive.

– Adam Cherubini

6 thoughts on “18th c Personality Profile Test

  1. Mike Rodgers

    Adam–I am a brand new woodworker and have a strong bias towards handtools, probably for many of the same reasons as you. I read your postings to the Taunton site regarding sawbenches–or are they sawhorses? Anyway, I’m looking for projects to develop skills and that will also be useful in my shop. I assume the photographs of the sawhorses you attached to the Taunton thread are the ones you typically use. I’ve seen other sawbenches on the WKFine Tools site. Any thoughts or help would be much appreciated. I am most interested in traditional American and European tools and methods. Thanks,

  2. Jerry Palmer

    One of the reasons I began using handtools in the shop was to get away from the "ultimate jigs" found in every issue of about every WW Mag out there. I wanted to make stuff and keep it as simple as I could. For that reason I was often disappointed in the results I obtained from hand tools until I made just a few permanent (or semi-permanent at least) jigs for using hand tools. Separate 90 and 45 degree shooting boards made a lot of difference in my satisfaction with hand tools. For other angles, I’ve found that using my leg vise in conjunction with the bench top suffices quite well. Mark out the angle and make it just visible above benchtop and plane away.

    Guess I’m not what one would call aggressive since any time a joint will be visible on the finished product, I turn to what ever means at my disposal to get it on the money, and shooting the joint with a plane seems to get the job done.

  3. Larry Williams

    When I started seriously woodworking, more than 30 years ago, I quickly learned I was doing something wrong if I was struggling. Rather than accept that task as some kind of punishment, I found it easier to figure out trade practice to make woodworking easy and pleasant.

    There are times, sawing tenon shoulders for example, where sawing to the line is a good approach. Other tasks, like drawer construction, accurate use of a shooting board on end grain offers real advantages.

    Use of shooting boards and similar traditional appliances depends on the task. If a woodworker’s goal is to avoid all jigs, fixtures and appliances they may want to explore Japanese tools and techniques. They can sit on the floor and hold their work with their feet to avoid the ultimate jig in a hand tool shop, the work bench.

  4. Bill Owens

    . . . pared no dovetails. . .

    On first reading that, I concluded that you must be exceptionally good at dovetailing (which I have no doubt is true).

    Later, while working on a small project that involved just eight tails, I realized something else — if it were necessary to tweak any significant number of those joints, you’d be working at the standing desk until next winter. It seems to be a combination of aggressiveness and practicality, when so many dovetails are involved.

    For what it’s worth, on my project I sawed as close to the line as I dared, and except for two pins where my saw went slightly astray (though in the safe direction) my joints fit the first time. None were all that pretty, to my eye, but they’ll do. And I can hope that the next eight will be slightly better. . .

  5. Roderick Drumgoole

    Hi Adam,

    Just curious, before you became "aggressive" with your sawing, how did you get to the point of sawing straight and square? Sometimes I can get fairly close, other times I miss; how does one nail the cut every time?

    Roderick

  6. Dean Jansa

    Long rips aside I do the same. It seems I saw better when I know I’m shooting for winners directly from the saw. Thinking back to my golf days this is no different that visualizing the shot. Yes we all fail, but you can’t be Tiger Woods by always laying up.

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