Some people have asked why I don’t always use the hand router plane to surface my tenons to perfection after sawing or paring. It’s a good question and soon everyone will ask everyone one else why they don’t, taking it for granted that everyone does it that way. Well, it won’t be any different than those asking why not just use a power router or a tablesaw to do this or that. Some might be surprised to know that it was non standard before I introduced it. Fact is I never saw anyone else use the method. I never saw anyone use it as a marking gauge either, or a means for determining the depth of a housing dado to transfer cut lines or shoulder lines to adjoining pieces. Whether I invented the alternate uses is immaterial, I did develop systems using the hand router for different tasks and that’s all that matters to me. So why don’tI always use the hand router plane for skimming off the surfaces of my tenons? Well, I don’t need to. I can get it right straight off the chisel alone and if I stop relying in my intuitive development I might well lose the skills.
It’s the same for using a dovetail guide or guessing distances. For decades I have eyeballed most of the dovetail angles I made when making pieces for my customers. And not just the angles, I did the sizes of tails too. Two, three, four dovetails. It is super fast and if you look at most of the dovetails on early pieces they too were often eyeballed. We live in an era when we have the liberty to make and spend even an hour cutting a dovetail, the masters of old did not.It was eyeball or miss the deadlines and that meant no pay and no pay meant no food and clothing for the kids. I can usually guess any distance up to an inch and a half within 1/32″ and often I do do that. I can set the bandsaw blade to guesstimated distances and be on the mark. So I actually do that and then use the ruler to check myself. It’s very fast. When did I learn these things? When I was an apprentice.