Dusting Off the Anvil
One of my favorite books is “The Magic Christian.” It’s about an eccentric billionaire who likes to play practical jokes. In one scene, a man busts up a section of sidewalk with a sledgehammer while another man stands by wearing a white lab coat, holding a clipboard. When a policeman comes along to question them, the man in the lab coat says “This is a test.” So the policeman leaves. My best friend in high school maintained that a person could go anywhere in the world without being questioned as long as he was wearing a white lab coat and carrying a clipboard. I’ve never tried it, but I have been tempted. You can get away with a lot of nonsense when you pretend you’re a scientist.
When woodworking magazines publish “scientific” tests that claim to prove the best or strongest joint, glue or whatever, I think about white lab coats and sledgehammers. These things are interesting, but they don’t prove much. We try to keep this in mind when we get tempted to pretend we work for Underwriter’s Laboratory, so instead of conning real scientists into letting us use their instron machine, we dust off our collection of anvils.
We’re feeling the urge to smash some stuff, now that we have a video camera and a Festool Domino. We’d like to invite our readers to suggest other joints they would like to see tested. We have a few in mind: We’d like to look at mortise-and-tenon joints that are poorly proportioned or pegged with oversized dowels to see how they compare to those same joints done properly. Maybe we should test bridle joints glued with reactive polyurethane and see if clamping makes a difference.
Leave a comment (just click on the blue line that says “Comments” below right, or send me an e-mail with your pick). I’ll tally the votes and we’ll drop the anvil in the next couple of weeks.
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