In Shop Blog, Techniques, Woodworking Videos

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What makes woodworking fun for me is that I learn something new nearly every day. This past week, Monday was a day filled with learning – I spent the day with Ron Herman as he filmed the first of two new DVDs. The project for the day was a joinery exercise that walks through nine joints; one is a pocket hole joint and the other eight involve hand tools. This was an exercise that Ron had to complete to move from an apprentice to a journeyman.

In “Ron Herman’s Joinery Challenge,” Ron discusses, lays out and cuts different half-lap joints, including a dovetailed half-lap. There are bridle joints in the form of slip joints and a running tenon joint used in the exercise. And he demonstrates a couple different mitered joints.

Here’s the deal: you work the joints in a specific order that crisscrosses the project. As you fit the joints at the end, each has to be square and accurate or the four-quadrant divided design doesn’t go together. Also, you cannot depend on glue to hold things tight – it has to be held by the joinery. In fact, you should be able to, after all the work is complete, toss the project to another woodworker without it falling apart in mid-air or as it’s caught.

The  joinery wasn’t new for me, but there were a few things tossed about that opened my eyes. I learned something about 6′-0″ folding rules that I did not know. When I worked in the housing industry, folding rules were so old-school. Tapes were used. Did you know there are two different types of folding rules? One is used for layout work and another is for cabinetry. Do you know the difference? It’s this: both rules are laid out beginning at zero and moving to 1″. A cabinet rule (Lufkin X46F), when flipped to read the second side, also begins at zero and moves toward 1″. However, a layout rule (Lufkin X46), when flipped to the back side, is backward in that it begins at the 72″ mark and moves downward.

Also, Ron has a very cool shop-made accessory. He’s created a group of shims of all different thicknesses. The shims are used for many tasks around the shop, but what makes these  cool is found in the lengths. Ron’s shims are one length for 1/16″ measurements and a longer length for 1/8″ thicknesses. That way if you have the shims laid out on your bench, you can more easily find the thickness you need.

As with all our video woodworking instruction, “Ron Herman’s Joinery Challenge,” and his second DVD, “Saw Sharpening Methods,” will be available on DVD, or you’ll be able to watch them at our new streaming video site: Shop Class On Demand ( There, you can watch all the woodworking videos we’ve recorded (and we’re adding more all the time!). Check it out.

— Glen D. Huey

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Showing 3 comments
  • jseabu

    Great article. I was curious about the shims though? The 6′ rule I have has a sliding scale on it that can be used for a additional 6″. That is my question for the shims what is their use as it looks like the rules you have pictured have the sliding rule as well?


  • Ed Furlong


    Thanks for sharing the tip about folding rules–can’t wait to get home and look at mine and figure out what I have, since as of this moment I am unsure!



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