A Clever (re)Discovery
I’m editing an article from Jeff Miller for the February issue, and, without giving too much away, it’s a simple setup for cutting perfect tenons on curved and angled workpieces (and it also works gangbusters on straight shoulders).
Jeff came up with this idea, then discovered a similar solution in an old catalog from La Forge Royale. Not only does Jeff’s article present an elegant solution to a problem, it’s an excellent reminder that sometimes answers are right under our noses…though only if we have access a really good library. Here’s the intro:
The graveyard of obscure and forgotten tools is large, densely packed and many layers deep. Many of these tools richly deserve their pauper’s burial. But once in a while you come across a tool that does things that are quite remarkable, and you wonder why it ever disappeared in the first place.
I didn’t go rooting around for an old tool to dig up and bring back to life. I was simply trying to find a better way to cut tenon shoulders for some of my more complicated chairs. Cutting accurate, well-aligned shoulders even on a straight tenon is fairly difficult; cutting them on these chairs, where I had curved parts and angled shoulders ,was especially so.
I devised a solution, and then discovered that earlier chairmakers – of course – had long ago faced the same problem and had come up with a rather elegant solution. But elegant or not, the solution went the way of so many techniques.…
With these easily made tools, it’s possible to cut straight (or angled), perfectly-aligned shoulders on even curved workpieces. It’s worth noting that my adaptations are not attempts at a perfect reproduction. They were my attempt to make useful tools for my specific needs. But I have been surprised by how generally useful these tools are.
You’ll find the rest of the article – which includes step-by-step instructions on making the tools – in the February 2014 issue (it mails to subscribers just before Christmas, and will be on newsstands in early January).
— Megan Fitzpatrick
p.s. If you like vintage woodworking stuff, you might like to hang a Plate 11 poster (the one with the now-common workbench) from “L’art du menuisier” on your workshop wall (one of these days, I’ll get around to making a suitable frame for mine).