Day 1 at Kelly Mehler's School of Woodworking - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Day 1 at Kelly Mehler's School of Woodworking

 In Arts & Mysteries Blog, Woodworking Blogs

Kelly Mehler graciously invited me to teach a class at his school. We put our heads together and came up with a basic 18th c hand skills class. Kelly’s well lit hand tool only second floor shop (machines are on the well lit first floor) has been a comfortable work and demo space.

We examined stock preparation techniques, using images of period furniture and primary source documents to guide us. When we say “hand tool stock preparation” I think hand planes come to mind for most people. But of course in the 18th c, hand saws were as big a part of the process as planes were.

We spent fully half of the day working with long saws; We haven’t gotten to back saws yet. I was worried that this part of the class, a necessary facet of period woodworking I think few besides myself and maybe Chris Schwarz truly enjoy, wouldn’t go over well. From what I could tell, I was wrong. There was a lot of interest in sawing and in the few hours we spent together the improvement in basic ripping technique was dramatic. I think a little instruction and a sharp saw are all that is really required. And I think of the two, the latter is the more important.

Thanks to Kelly for having me. Thanks guys for coming!


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  • Adam Cherubini

    Thanks Jerome.

    For everyone else, what Jerome is talking about is something I’ve figured out "coaching" sawing. Previously unbeknownst to me, I raise the saw’s toe at the end of the stroke and get a bit more oompf out of my blade. In addition to putting just a few more inches of saw blade to work, the teeth in this region are usually very coarse. These two things combine to greatly increase the effect of each saw stroke. The effect is almost dramatic enough to be labelled a parlor trick. I can sometimes cut 2" in a single stroke for example.


  • Jerome Bias

    I second Josh’s comment that it was an awesome day. Thanks Adam for the instruction.
    By the way have those teeth on the last three or four inches of a rip saw always been there? I have never been able to get to them before.

  • Josh Parker

    The class has been an awesome experience. I never knew a rip saw could be fun (no fear in using it now). We deconstructed quite a bit of Kelly’s lumber.

    Yes I am the one in the awkward pose in the photo. Thanks for showing my best side Adam.

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