Two Variations On a Theme

On my present project I’m using a combination of joints alongside one another to grow everyone’s development and skill in joinery. Doing this makes for skilled woodworkers and so preserves the  craft for the ensuing generations. I hope too that it leaves an archived resource for those who see the value of adding hand tools woodworking to their working because it has worked so exceptionally well for me. Hopefully you will learn that hand skills, once mastered, become faster for much of the work, in some cases even than machines, and they are less polluting with regards to dust and noise. They can be cleaner to work with too and they allow what might be nigh on impossible by machine without spending half a day making jigs . This sliding dovetail combined with a housing dado is an illustration. Jigging up a power router and a tablesaw is quite a trick to do such a thing. None of us have hours before actually getting to the joint making and then knowing that we actually didn’t cut the joint but the machine did. For my part, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process from start to end. Also, remember i only need two of these: done, fitted and completed inside half an hour.

There’s another joint type adaption I did that you will like too. It’s a combination of a round and wedged tenon with a housing dado. The brace and bit, a knife, chisel, router plane and chisel hammer seemed as fast as anything to me. A few minutes. This and the sliding dovetail combined with the housing dadoes in both cases makes the joint mechanically sound and strong.

I did include some common through dovetails and some through tenons with rounded ends to keep you in practice. I always like making and  including these and for me they never grown old. I have cut 125,000 of each type over my woodworking life.

It takes a while to pull these projects together ready for the actual filming. Alongside all the other things I do in a week here at the shop few things compare to making. I also enjoy restoring otherwise neglected and damaged tools. It’s amazing how badly treated tools can become in the hands of an unskilled unknowing person. It’s also surprising what you can buy for almost nothing and In will be sharing more on this this coming week via a vlog.


  1. Martha Downs on 9 September 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Nice picks and post Paul. Thanks

  2. Mario Fusaro on 9 September 2018 at 1:37 pm

    I made a sliding dovetail joint with a router (electric) many years ago. It took almost a full day to set up and test jig after jig until I got the dimentions correct for the dado half. The dovetail wasn’t too hard on the table saw but it, too required a good deal of adjusting the saw to the correct angle. After almost 2 days, the joint was completed and it wasn’t worth all the effort. Now that the machines are gone I’m looking forward to trying this joint again, with hand tools.

  3. Chris Finley on 9 September 2018 at 1:48 pm

    Couldn’t agree more on finding neglected old hand tools. The other week, I picked up 5 hands saws for under $20 US. 2 are Disston saws with somewhat clear stamps and another with a stamp that I can’t quite make out with the rust.

  4. Richard G on 9 September 2018 at 3:15 pm

    Thanks Paul, after signing up for the master class, I am looking forward to working my way up to being able to create these joints. I am working on mastering dove tails right now, while it is not the easiest joint, it is one I enjoy doing. It makes my brain have to work a little that is always a good think these days.. Thanks for the blogs post they make my day.

  5. -=Todd Fox=- on 10 September 2018 at 2:19 pm

    I love the grain striping on that last tenon picture. Pine can provide such wonderful surprises like that sometimes.

  6. Collin G on 10 September 2018 at 5:34 pm

    Speaking of restoring tools, what is the preferred finish for things like saw handles?

    • Paul Sellers on 10 September 2018 at 6:06 pm

      Shellac, three coats of clear or amber, brushed on, depending on what colour you want if any.

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