In Shop Blog, Techniques

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I can be a bit obsessive-compulsive at times. And woodworking sure doesn’t help my malady.

family would be much better off if I’d just lick a few light switches
or check 63 times to make sure the stove was off. Instead, I’ll build an
entertainment center. Then I’ll strip the finish. Strip it again. Then
I’ll trash the whole thing and start over.

The only thing that
keeps me in check are the deadlines for this magazine. I’m even more
freaked out about deadlines than I am about fussing with furniture.

right before our Woodworking in America conference I had to finish up
building an English Layout Square for the December 2010 issue. I met my
deadline. The square looks pretty good. But I was not happy.

got the bridle joint bang-on. But the two lap miter joints were a
different story. There are 16 visible intersections that all need to be
perfect. I got about half of them looking nice and tight. The others had
small gaps that I couldn’t remedy and still meet my deadline.

last week I decided to build another square, and this time I was going
to dye the square red to look more like the mahogany original that this
is based on. The lap miter joint kicked my tail again. I only got about
14 of the intersections looking good. Two of them are still mocking me.

this morning I started rummaging through my stack of maple again.
Perhaps if I built the square using all mortise-and-tenon joints it
would be easier to manage the fit. Or perhaps I should stop cutting my
pills in half.

— Christopher Schwarz

Like to Make Your Own Tools?

Earlier this year we published plans for Roubo’s try square. You can
download the complete plans – with extensive step-by-step instruction
for $4.99 from our store.

• The August 2006
issue has great plans for making a “libella,” an early form of level
and square. This tool is still on my list of things to build.

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.

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Showing 8 comments
  • Lea


    Three questions. 1. Is it square? 2. Is it flat? 3.Does it work the way it is supposed to? If the answers are yes, yes, and yes – IT’S DONE! Go build a rolltop desk with secret drawers or something. 😉

    Seriously, the perfect is the enemy of the good, and this square looks very very good. Time for the next project!

  • Ron

    WooHoo! Saints be praised! Uh, not that I’m implying you are a saint. Especially what Meagan as let slip…….

  • Christopher Schwarz


    The clear maple version of the square will be in the December issue — on it’s way to the printer this week!

  • Ron

    I am very keen on building this (wasn’t it supposed to be in the latest mag?) when the article comes out so I hope you come to grips with your gaps. :^)

    Personally I’m hoping you leave some in there so I don’t have such a high standard to live up to. 😛

  • Trevor Walsh

    Hey Chris,
    What kind of stain did you use on this?


  • Eric R

    I’d be proud to hang that nasty jointed sucker over my bench.

    (And you mean you’re NOT supposed to check the stove 63 times before going to bed?)

  • Glenn Madsen

    There’s a reason for that dosage…

  • Dang, looks good! From the overhead pic, all the joints look really tight and well placed. Keep up the good work. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go lick my light switch…

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