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Foundational Course Part 2-Day 1

It’s different working in oak than softwoods like pine. More consistent, less twists and turns in the grain, even texture, no knots if you pick prime grades and such. People use the term “hard as oak” quite a bit, but its easy to chop mortises in and you get really crisp edges that pop right out if you use my mortise chopping methods. It takes only 4 minutes a mortise hole for a 4″ long, 3/8″ wide by 1 1/4″ deep mortise in oak, cherry, walnut or hard maple. On my woodworking courses here at the Penrhyn Castle workshops my students are chopping mortises like a pro within minutes and the holes are almost always dead accurate. Sometimes there will be a blowout simply because someone forgot to stop, they got so carried away with chopping. Sometimes it happens because they don’t think spatially at this point the fuller awareness dimension has not yet been developed and of course that has consequences. Bit like carrying a plank when you are 10 years old. You see the end in front, but the other end behind you is in your oblivious unconscious zone.


Anyway, we had a blast all day. Hard to imagine that with the completion of this particular woodworking course they will be ready to engage with building a desk, workbench, dining table, coffee table and much more. I have trained literally hundreds of woodworking enthusiasts to master this technique in mortise and tenon joinery and it really works. Amazing. The mortise and tenon joint outstrips all other joints hundreds if not thousands to one and actually, it can be a difficult joint to master if no one shows you the right techniques. Watch this space for future teachings on making the mortise and tenon joint in wood.


Planing the oak takes a little time. We plane to remove the ugly planer marks left from machines and because it’s so much more pleasant than using orbital sanders and belt sanders. Surface hand planing takes only a few minutes and then I go straight to P 240-grit paper immediately to ‘roughen‘ my surface from the plane so that the surface has ‘tooth’ to accept the finish. How wild is that. ‘We sand rough.’ You see, because we hone to 15,000-grit, the surface of the wood is supersmooth already, so smooth it doesn’t take the finish the same. Imagine that.


We had all of the mortise holes cut by the close of the workshop at 5pm. Some were dog tired while others could have kept going. It’s quite a learning curve with all of the information that goes along with simply making. Tomorrow we start on cutting the eight tenons fr the aprons. More on tenon technique and what we craftsmen and artisans really do to make our work work. Nothing fancy, but fast and highly effective tenon cutting, fitting, mitring and haunching. Learn more tomorrow. I will be posting pictures of the finished projects so far and also stages of the table making workshop we started today. I am making mine in plantation grown mahogany because I need a mahogany one.

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