In some high technology circles there is an expression they use when engineers move too quickly to launch a project. They have “go fever” and are willing to overlook horrible mistakes in order to launch a product.
When teaching woodworking – especially casework – I find that most students need to take down their protective netting, dip themselves in cow’s blood, learn some suggestive mosquito mating dances and contract a serious case of the “go fever.”
Those dovetails on the underside of the casework do not need to look like they stepped out of a Thomas Moser catalog. They need to go together. Today.
I know this sounds like I’m saying: Be sloppy. I am not. Most woodworkers are far better than they give themselves credit for. They have worked very hard to learn to cut and pare to a line, but they have no idea when the joint will actually go together. So they pare and fuss and evaluate and test and think.
And most of the time the joint is already great. (And fussing with it will probably make it worse.)
There are lots of times in woodworking where the less you fuss with a joint or an edge of a board, the better it will be.
So before you mess with a joint, see if it fits. Before you adjust a moulding, see if it looks good as-is.
Trust your gut. And your mallet.
— Christopher Schwarz
Want to cut dovetails crazy fast? Check out Charles Bender’s DVDs on the topic. I don’t cut the joints the way he does, but he is way better than almost everyone else I know. Check them out in the store here.
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