In Shop Blog

We may receive a commission when you use our affiliate links. However, this does not impact our recommendations.

Most of the time when I build a project for the magazine I’m alone in the shop, but for the past couple weeks Christopher Schwarz has been making yet another workbench so I have some company. Both of us have been working on some intricate joinery and it’s been interesting to see our different approaches. I know that my screaming loud router table work, although brief, is more annoying than the incessant pounding of mallet on chisel. I am also much more of a slob when I work. I justify my messiness with my favorite quote from Diderot: “The plate represents a cabinetmaker’s workroom, strewn with tools and materials in that state of disorder which sometimes bespeaks confident craftsmanship.” One thing we have in common is that each of our projects has involved many, many dry runs.

What you see is a loose assembled carcase side being fit to front and back frames, with the cabinet bottom in between. With a complex project such as this, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to decide the best sequence for final assemble. I want everything to fit nicely, and I also want all the parts to be as close to finishing as I can get them before I glue things together. In addition to making the joinery as complicated as I possibly can, I’ve also decided to round and shape all the edges. And the four legs taper in two directions. I had the case together and back apart a couple times with all the pieces square, and this is the first dry run with the legs shaped.

To keep the clamps from sliding down the tapers, I needed to temporarily attach some wedge shaped cauls to the legs. I didn’t have far to go, I walked over to the band saw and retrieved the off-cuts. They were right where I left them when I cut the legs late last week, on the floor beside the saw. A little bit of good old blue tape and I was ready to go. And that is why you should never, ever throw anything away until the project is finished.

–Robert W. Lang

Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

Recommended Posts
Showing 5 comments
  • Brian Gilstrap


    * This is a lesson I learned from years of "oh, crap" moments. In fact, It’s turned into a habit of saving things years and years after it would seem reasonable to do so (in case of the need to repair or recreate something).

  • Bob Lang

    No suffering here. This is a character trait much like what we in my family call nobility and frugality that some misguided souls refer to as stubbornness or cheapness.

  • Dan Miller

    I am a fellow sufferer and you have effectivly described the pack-rat mantra; "If I need that I will be upset that I threw it away"

  • Bob Lang

    It’s a caption to one of the plates in L’Encyclopedie Ebeniste – Menuisier

  • Todd


    From what work is the Diderot quote come? I too am a scrap saver (cut offs, odd fasteners, copper wire). I have found that the worst (or best) thing that can happen and perpetuate this behavior is actually having an odd piece come in handy or worse (better) yet, play a critical role in the projects completion.


Start typing and press Enter to search