The 5 Dovetailing Personalities - Popular Woodworking Magazine

The 5 Dovetailing Personalities

 In Chris Schwarz Blog, Chris Schwarz Woodworking Classes, Woodworking Blogs

I’ve taught a lot of people to cut dovetails through the years, and I’m convinced there are five different personality types of people who learn to cut dovetails. Here is my short list.

Morgo Will DESTROY the Instructor
Yup, I always build the project that the students are building for the class. As a result, some students want to race me. No matter what, they want to be done with an operation before I am. Yes, I have 15 other students to manage. Yes, I have to prepare for the next lesson in the class. But yes, you really kicked my butt on getting your baselines scribed.

I go at my own pace. I’m fast, but I won’t rush my work to beat you. Sorry.

Accuracy at All Costs
Some students will agonize over every layout mark and every cut. They will produce flawless work, but they will have one joint complete when the rest of the class is done with the entire project. It’s hard to argue with good craftsmanship. It’s also hard to argue with “done.”

It’s Perfect, Right?
Some students make lots of mistakes. Then they show them to me and want me to say: “It’s OK. That’s not a mistake. It will go together fine.”

Sometimes that is actually the case. Other times I see Godzilla’s dentistry.

It’s Terrible, Right?
Other students think their work is the plague and are almost frozen by their conviction. They will do anything to delay finishing the project. They will learn Sanskrit if that will help them pare to a joint’s baseline. (It won’t.)

Have You Ever Seen THIS Before?
Some students make incredible circus-style mistakes. After 20 years of cutting dovetails, I thought I had seen them all. I haven’t. Students are ingenious error machines.

But please, keep it coming.

Tonight after finishing up class at The Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking, most of the students and I went to Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria – perhaps the best pizza I have had in 10 years. We ate until we were about to puke.

Just another Thursday night.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 17 comments
  • mpn77

    I’m jealous. In “American Pie”, Peter Reinhart pretty much concludes that Frank Pepe’s is the best pizza on the planet.

  • Affinity Millworks

    Measure twice, cut once! Looks like tons of fun though.

  • richardrank4

    Hi, Chris: You mean that if I want to share your pizza, I have to build that box thingy? (type #6) Dick

  • skirincich

    Hi Chris,
    I have an off topic question. Has PW ever done a follow-up report on the performance of the Hovarter vise? Thanks.


  • muthrie

    For some reason I can’t get boiled cow pizza outta my head.

  • blindleader

    I guess everyone probably has a non-zero score in each of the categories, with one of them dominating. I’d be real strong in “It’s terrible, right?” I have an apartment full of not quite finished projects to prove it. The awful truth is that I’m usually right. Or as George Tirebiter would say: “I’m always right, and I never lie.” Now where can I get a good Sanskrit instruction manual?

  • billlattpa

    I think I might be a little afraid to take one of your classes because I’m sure that you will find a new description for me. At the least you should be happy that you haven’t had anybody who at one time or another was a combination of all those traits. You left out one though, the perfect dovetailer..don’t forget him/her…

  • mrogen

    Since I was born and raised in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn I was weaned on some of the best pizza anywhere. Remember the scene in Saturday Night Fever where Travolta puts 2 slices together and eats them, that’s Lenny’s on 86th Street where I must have had my 1st slice in the early 60’s. Great pizza in the old hood. But I have had the pizza from Frank Pepe’s and I would have to say that it was just as good as any I have ever tasted. I’m a bit jealous
    Chris but since I don’t live all that far away, maybe there’s a road trip in the near future. Man I’m really hungry all of a sudden.


    • Megan Fitzpatrick
      Megan Fitzpatrick

      I can’t make the drive to CT…but now my mouth is watering for Impellizzeri’s pizza…just 100 miles away in Louisville!

      • Peggy

        And now I want a big Edwardo’s stuffed pesto pizza from Chicago….alas, 350 miles away.

  • esincox

    “Other times I see Godzilla’s dentistry.”

    That’s pure genius right there, that is.

  • slingle

    Aw, cmon now. You warn us ahead of time about language. Couldn’t you have let us know that shot of the pizza & pints was coming so we could look away? Now I’m hungry and it’s 6 hours to New Haven!

  • Cloudy

    WHERE can I get an Anarchist’s square tee shirt??????
    Too cool!

    • Megan Fitzpatrick
      Megan Fitzpatrick

      Through Chris’s site (

  • tsangell

    Applying Boiled Cows. Best Thing Ever.

  • Tico Vogt

    Frank Pepe’s Pizza started in New Haven in the 20s and the family recently opened five branches, one in Manchester. I ate there this past May and consumed more pizza in one sitting than I ever thought possible.

    • Mitch Wilson

      Do they deliver to Syracuse?

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