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The well-known saying “If you see it, you can be it” along with the famous phrase “I think I can, I think I can” from The Little Engine That Could, are just two examples of positive thought that are served up many times during our lives.

Dr. Norman Vincent Peale spent years preaching this message and wrote a number of books on the topic such as “The Power of Positive Thinking: A Practical Guide to Mastering The Problems of Everyday Living” (Running Press, 2002) and “How to make Positive Imaging work for you” (Revell, 1982)

I was drawn into this thought process when faced with having to use hand-cut dovetails in reproduction furniture. I’ve chronicled my journey with dovetails earlier in this blog (click to read) so, here’s a short version. I fought the idea “tooth and nail” for as long as I could before succumbing. After fighting dovetails for a good number of years, I woke up. I knew how to create pins and tails; I had cut the joints many, many times. So, I should not have any problems creating this joint. I came to believe that I could dovetail without issue and from that day forward I completed hand-cut dovetails with ease.

A while back I found another area in woodworking where that same idea holds true , cutting glass. I have always cut the glass I wanted to use in the cupboards and other pieces I’ve built. I like the look of old wavy glass that I buy new from Bendheim Restoration Glass known as full-restoration glass. I buy it in sheets and cut to the needed sizes.

One day I was struggling cutting the glass for a secretary door, breaking a number of pieces along the way. I was about to exceed my patience quota when I said to my Dad, who was trying to keep me from pitching the entire mess in the trash, “I’ve watched stained glass artist on HGTV’s show “Modern Masters” simply grab a glass cutter, draw on the glass like they’re using a pencil then snap the piece exactly on the cut.”

I then proceeded to pick up the cutter and demonstrate the technique. Danged if the glass didn’t snap exactly where I had the cut line. The proverbial light went off in my head and I connected the dots. It was positive thinking. I believed I could cut the glass that easily and I did just that.

Ever since that day I’ve had no problems cutting and fitting glass into my furniture. Who would have thought that dovetails and glass cutting had so much in common? There are a few secrets, a few techniques that I’ve picked up over the years. If you would like to have those secrets exposed, drop me a note or leave a comment. Maybe next week I’ll delve into glass-cutting 101.

, Glen D. Huey

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  • twosome

    Yes Mr. Huey, it would be of great interest to learn of the tricks and methods you employ to get your dovetails and cut glass right the first time. I look forward to seeing your future publications. Colin Pearson.

  • Steve Spear


    Would enjoy hearing your tips on cutting dovetails.
    Please don’t keep us in suspense for too long.


  • david herzig

    As a doctoral student in chemistry, I often had to cut glass and do glass blowing to make some equipment. I was taught that one made a single strong mark, spit on the line and then snap the glass. It really worked. No break! One suggested possibility was that the cut heated the glass slightly at the mark and the spit not only cooled it rapidly, but that the surface agents in saliva helped form a micro-crack. It may have all been voodoo, but one never challenged the gods.

  • Noel Christmas

    As a professional cook, I’ve been through this many, many times also. Food, much like wood (or glass, apparently) smells fear. It will take advantage of just about any hesitation on your part. Cooking at home, I’ve often been stymied by sauces and such, but in my restaurant kitchen, they come out easily. Equipment? Better ingredients? No–just confidence.
    If you’ve never made a mornay sauce–or a dovetail–it won’t come out right just because you want it to. You need the requisite skill; too often, we have the skill but not the confidence to apply it.
    Thanks for the post–I hadn’t equated my poor dovetails with a botched cheese sauce before!

  • John Borgwardt

    I for one would appreciate any help you can share with glass cutting. I enjoy your blog entries. Please keep up the great work. AFFW. John

  • Alex Moseley

    Hey Glen, this is great stuff. I’ve heard from many woodworkers (and creatives in all areas) who get bogged down when things go wrong, and let the psychology get the best of them, envisioning failure instead of success.

    This was a great reminder that right mindset is just as important as sharp tools.


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