Friday, May 11, 2012


Finally, after several years of prevaricating about the bush, I've relented and joined TATHS. Suspect I'm not the only one who was lured in by the second edition of The Tool Chest of Benjamin Seaton, which has overnight no doubt relegated my first edition from "Retirement Fund" to "Bargain Bin". Not that I was ever going to sell it, but y'know, if pressed... Anyway, the newsletter entertained me, and rather than feeling out of my depth I was comfortably able to boggle that someone didn't know what GTL stood for. So that's all right. 

However, I have yet to crack the spine on Ben Seaton, 'cos I was already immersed in The Essential Woodworker. I've finally come to the realisation that I might as well buy the Lost Art Press publications as they become available, because I'll only succumb in the long run. Would that Ben were bound so nicely. Mind you, it's only served to remind me how not easy I find Robert Wearing's writings to absorb. Not difficult, just... it doesn't flow. I re-read a lot in order to make sense of it, and then get exasperated by the relevant diagram being three pages away.

One of my other irritations is the assumptions. It tells you how to plane up a piece of wood square, then doesn't tell you a word about shooting except to frequently mention doing it. It tells you what order to employ in the making of a frame and panel door (Mortise first, then groove - I always get that wrong, because I can't see why that should be. Anyone?) but not a word of advice on the joint below:

The tenon and housing combination recommended for the beginner as best for fixed shelves. Which yeah, I can see. Indeed, I've always rather liked the look and should like to incorporate it in the old arsenal. But does it give any guidance at all on what order I should cut the thing? Does it hell. I turned to Charlie Hayward (as one does) and he doesn't even acknowledge this joint's existence. Thinking about it, I can't recall anyone giving it much notice at all. Perhaps I'm just as dumb as I look and everyone else is rolling their eyes and just getting on with it, devoting the saving in worry to wondering about their zero radius intersections instead.

So I open it to the floor (with fingers crossed that there's still someone out there) - mortise first, then housing? Or t'other way about? I know which way I think, but see observation above concerning mortises and grooves and my failure to do it properly. Every. Damn. Time.


  1. Hi Alf, On the first point if it works for you then that's the right way!
    The twin tenon and housing, a beginners joint? That would be enough to put any beginner off! As the mortices are marked out on both faces this is much easier to cut before the housing ...........or maybe not!!! Wedging the tenons makes the joint stronger and is easier to assemble into a flared mortice. It also looks nicer.
    All the best, David.

  2. Maybe it helps but Chris Hall documented on his blog in Building Up My Library the use of similar 'quick an dirty' :) joints.

  3. Hi Alf
    I've built 3 benches with a similar joint but none with twin tenons. All of them were singles. I made each joint by first making the dado or housing and then chopping the mortises. The first one I forgot to mark the mortise on both sides. Doesn't make sense to me to make the tenon first and then the dado.

  4. I'm groove first - can't for the life of me see the rationale for the 'other way'.

    And I generally cut beginner's joints like those housed twin through tenons 'n tongues only as practice for the really tricky stuff like through dovetails. Or rabbets (ribbets/rebates/platforms/ledges).

    Sort of an odd book, that one. Some astonishing gems - but then there is the annoying page-flipping to deal with. And the occasional head-scratcher like cutting mortises before grooves.

    May all your plane intersections be widthless lines.

  5. I'm glad to see someone else thinks Wearings books are hard to follow as I was starting to get a complex.

  6. The lack of instruction on the housing with through wedged tennons is similar to the sweeping "remove wind" comment.

    However this is a truly great book. Where else is the beginner to find so much sound advice?

    Bob conveys huge quantities of basic technique which would otherwise be "unavailable to the mortal man".

    Best wishes,
    David Charlesworth


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