Chris Schwarz's Blog

How Not to Rive Oak

This week I’m cutting a bunch of half-blind dovetails in oak – oak on the pin board and oak on the tail board.

This is somewhat trickier than dovetailing softer woods, or when dovetailing a soft wood, which compresses, into a hard wood, which does not. Add to that the fact that oak really likes to rive, and you have to be on high alert when chopping out your waste.

The most difficult part for me is chopping out the waste in the half-blind tail sockets. There are times when I have to chop straight down into the socket to remove waste in the corners. If I chop too vigorously, I can (and have) split the pin board.

Moxon to the rescue.

One of the nice features of any twin-screw or double-screw vise is that you have a huge clamping surface to play with. So when I need to chop out my sockets, I secure the pin board so the end of the pin board is flush to the top of the vise’s jaws, as shown in the photo above.

Knock wood, but I have never split a pin board when chopping in this manner.

There is one inconvenience: The sockets fill with waste. So I have to unclamp the pin board at the end, raise it up in the vise, reclamp it and then do my final clean-up in the corners.

This slows me down a bit, but not as much as having to reglue a pinboard that I have cleaved in twain.

— Christopher Schwarz

The plans for the Moxon vise are featured in the December 2010 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine, which is available in ShopWoodworking.

21 thoughts on “How Not to Rive Oak

  1. DoctorJ

    It looks like the edge on one side of the board is contained within the vise and the other raised above. I thought the jaws of the vise were level with each other?
    Jim

  2. K Wilson

    A minor linguistic quibble – it should be “that I have cloven in twain”, something anyone from the 1700s would know. If you’re going to be archaic, gotta do it right. ;-D

        1. Megan Fitzpatrick

          Actually, “cleave” is among a select set of words known as “contronyms” – words that are also their own antonyms (bolt, quiddity, transparent…)

              1. K Wilson

                Well, I’m impressed! “Epeolatry”, a word I had to look up, but am probably guilty of from time to time. But is “transparent” really a contronym? Both meanings come from “easily seen through”.

                (The discussion of superior ways to make sawdust will resume presently.)

  3. Clay Dowling

    Glad I’m not the only one that happens to. Built a gentleman’s valet for my sister in law’s boyfriend, only to have the tail board split out when the fit was a tad too tight. Thankfully, the same properties that make oak rive so easily also hide glue lines really well.

  4. mdhills

    Can you get similar benefit by using a backer board? This way you can keep the sockets above the lip of the Moxon, affording better access to alternate the chopping and paring.

    (this is what I’m doing now after having one piece split… has worked so far, but don’t have enough run time to be sure it always works)

    Matt

    1. Christopher SchwarzChristopher Schwarz Post author

      A shop vacuum would remove some of the chips, but there are always some bits of waste that cling tenaciously to the acute corner. You gotta raise the board.

COMMENT