The Finish Line

Well, it’s not a finishing line so much as a non line we cross each time we close a project with the finish on. Each time I do that I make notes in my mind to see what I learned from the experience. Plywood tenons and how to cut tenons without splintering so thin a decorative veneer? making mortise and tenons with an undersized chisel and fat tenons that fit with perfect alignment, thickness and tightness to the point that they are interchangeable and require no further adjustments.

In some ways the project is simple, but in the building of it there are many parts that must align perfectly. You know, grooves with tenons, mortises and haunches with corresponding groove depths. And plywood is not uniformly thick throughout the sheet either. In fact, even top notch plywood can separate. All in all I was very happy with my concluding the project design in both the prototype and the finished oak version. It looks finely crafted and something to be contented with. It’s a responsible piece built to last, robust enough for a lifetime’s use and no one can buy it or get it elsewhere. In its completeness it’s my design, its unique and its unusual. For anyone wanting a challenge to master mortise and tenon cutting to cut their saw teeth on this one has 42 tenons. Needless to say it also has 42  mortise holes too. I have of course made two of them and I also liked the pine one well enough too.

Getting rid of the plastic one was indeed my intention, together with the plastic bin liner I think I was successful. I found a small company called Clever Baggers in Wales (or actually Ellie did for me). Though you can use a plastic bin liner in my bin too, I wanted a cotton one as my shavings and bits of wood and sawdust are not messy. These cost only a little over £3 and by my adding ‘eyes’ and hooks inside the bin I can follow my conviction to minimise the use of plastic in my life. The shavings go to Izzy’s chickens and to start fires in the grate or the compost bin. The Clever Baggers Ltd also went the extra mile and used a double layered brown paper outer for deliver replete with gummed paper tape so all recyclable. I was glad nit to see plastic tape anywhere. 


  1. I’m curious why you felt the need to mortice and tenon the plywood into the stiles/legs. Wouldn’t a free floating pane be fine?

    1. It would be just fine, but I wanted to lighten up on the frame because of weight. I noticed what a remarkable difference the tenons made to the whole which was my plan. Waste bins, which is what mine is for, can take some knocking in a workshop. The advantage of plastic is the lightweightness. I didn’t want to lose that. I also want people that want to develop the high levels of skill and competence I enjoy to see that it doesn’t come without the cost of rote practice. This project has all of the ingredients. Of course the tenoned ply does not have to come all the way through, but I wanted it to so I did. You would be amazed at how structurally rigid this piece is, whether in pine or oak. The pine one with beech plywood is about the same weight as the flimsy plastic one I got rid of.

      1. Hi Paul,
        Thanks for the reply.
        I think I’ll try this project… If you have a chance I’d like to see your dimensions for this bin.
        I’m not sure sure here in the USA we’d have access to your newly purchased cotton bags. I’ll probably have to come up with something else.

        1. You will need to be a member of for this one, David.

  2. I looked on the Masterclasses site and the latest video is on the square awl and the latest project is the Bathroom cabinet, on sign of the waste bin even when using the search facility. Where should I be looking?

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