The Good Kind of Wedgie
If you ever decide to delve into traditional woodworking, you quickly learn that wedges are your friend.
Build chairs? You need to wedge all the joints. Traditional doors? Wedge your through-tenons. Workbenches? Wedge everything you can. But where do wedges come from? There’s no wedge store or magical government wedge repository. You don’t want to buy wedges from the home center. Those wedges are usually pine and can’t take the beating required for furniture joints.
Me, I like wedges made from white oak. Not red oak (that’s an ugly weed). And not other cabinet hardwoods such as maple, walnut or cherry , they split too easily when you hit them. And not other tough hardwoods, such as hickory or locust , those are too hard to split to the right shape.
For me, white oak is the perfect wedge wood. It’s tough. It rives cleanly. It’s readily available.
So once you have a good chunk of white oak, you might wonder how to make good wedges. I wondered this myself many years ago. All the written accounts really sucked eggs. It wasn’t until I started asking people and taking classes that I became a wedgie master.
To make your wedges, you can go all hand tool or all power tool. Both techniques work great. And if you know what the heck you are doing, both are fairly fast. One method uses a band saw. The other uses a handsaw.
One quick tip. Make lots of wedges when you have the time. I make dozens at a time and split them (using a chisel) to the width I need for the joint at hand. I store them in Ziploc bags (yes, I’m anal retentive) and whip them out when wedgie duty calls.
Watch the video above for the methods I use to make wedges.
– Christopher Schwarz
P.S. The video above was shot by Narayan Nayar.
We have a lot of books and DVDs on workbenches in ShopWoodworking – including downloads of my first two books on the topic at a special price. Plus a DVD that follows me as a I build an 18th-century Roubo bench by hand.