Two of My Top Ten Gripes

Woodworking is a great way to make a living. There are, however, problems with even this career. This week I’m posting two of my current top ten gripes.

Bump-cutNumber one on my list – this specific gripe stays at number one or number two throughout most of the year – is the safety police. If this is you, please know that it is not your job to constantly point out things that you consider too dangerous. The fact that I don’t have on safety glasses and ear protection as I work at my table saw or run a router is not the end of the world. These particular violations have been pointed out so often that we all know the rules. If you feel you need to wear glasses every time you step into your shop, then do so.

Number two this week are those that hear someone state a woodworking rule, but do not hear or understand the exact meaning of that stated rule. Case in point: Don’t use your table saw fence in conjunction with your miter gauge, and never glue cross grain.

This past week I posted on the Popular Woodworking Magazine (PWM) blog about bump-cut tenons. This technique has been used for years and years – someone commented that they had seen Norm Abram use this on New Yankee Workshop. The rule that should be followed is that you should not use your table saw fence in conjunction with your miter gauge IF YOU ARE MAKING A THROUGH CUT. That last portion of the sentence is the real message. If you’re not cutting through, use your fence and miter gauge as you see fit.

Another rule is that if you glue cross grain your board will split. I ran into this problem way back in another post on the PWM blog dealing with case sides in lowboys. It has also surfaced when working on the returns around slant-lid desk lids. Both can and often were glued fully.

IMG_1060Take a look at the this photo. What you see is a torn-apart bookcase side that I assembled in 1977 or 1978. (It was a bookcase for a high school sweetheart who broke up with me before I finished the top section.) These boards have been stored in a stone-walled basement of an old farmhouse, been moved from house to house in six moves and have been stored in my garage for the last 20 years. This week I went to re-purpose the wood to knock out a couple small drawers. I tried to knock off the blocks with my hammer, then tried to hook the claw of said hammer under a corner to split the pieces apart. No luck. Finally I drove a screwdriver between the two pieces and the split was made.

In the photo you can see that the regular yellow glue did not fail. What failed was the wood. While this glue-up was across only about 8″, I think it shows that it’s possible to glue in this manner and there are certain circumstances when it is OK to do so. You just need to know the rule – the exact rule – and when you can bend it. (I always glue the first 4″ to 6″ of moldings I use on my projects.)

Please don’t blindly follow what you hear or read.

Build Something Great!



Filed under Back to Basics, Shop Tips

11 responses to “Two of My Top Ten Gripes

  1. bbrown1

    Often, so-called safety glasses, when scratched, dirty, or full of fine dust, present their own safety hazard. Blurry vision and woodworking are not a great combination. I have seen kids wearing the ‘mandatory bike helmet’ that was practically over their eyes?

  2. My Hero! Young men know the rules, old men know the exceptions.

  3. My solution for safety glasses was to purchase a pair of prescription safety glasses. Now I only have one surface to keep dust-free, and I never have one of those “Oh, crap, I should have had my safety glasses on to do that” moments.

    I’m also irked by “absolute” rules, like, “never wear gloves,” “never wear long sleeves,” or “never wear a hat.” The contractors gloves I wear while working with rough wood and materials like melamine have saved me countless nicks, cuts, and slivers. While not dismembering, those are also injuries. You’ll just have to trust me that I keep them well away from any moving parts on power tools.

    • Another glove-wearing woodworker? Oh my. (You know, I was once called a moron because I wrote about wearing gloves in the shop.)

      I have numerous pairs in my shop.

    • I agree…
      I think gloves have their place… and, used accordingly, are great…
      For close hand work, I hate them because I need to be able to FEEL what I am working with.

      As far as long sleeved usage goes, I hate long sleeves ANYTIME, unless it’s super cold… In woodworking, if I wore long sleeves, I would probably be getting glue all over them, catching on tools or corners of wood or something, driving me nuts… I can see them flopping over or into a blade too (but if wore them, I know I would be EXTRA cautious to keep them away from blades)… I personally just leave them OFF… It’s more of a Personal point to me…
      But, when I see someone wearing a floppy long sleeve while ripping a board on a table saw, I feel the willies… LOL

      When it comes to gluing end grain to end grain, I saw an example of it being done not too long ago and special care was taken to be sure to enough GLUE got into the end-grain… coat ends… let it soak in & wait a few minutes… apply more glue… let it soak in & wait… apply some more… then, glue the pieces together… Supposed to work just fine! (I have not tried to prove it yet, but it looks & sounds good to me).

      Thank you, Glen, for shedding more light on the subject…

  4. Charlie

    SawStop anyone ?

  5. a49model

    I do what I think (or know) is right for me. I do almost everything left, the rest of the world is screwed up. Many years ago there was an article on how “I” should use a tablesaw. I had to stop before I hurt myself. For over 60 years I have adapted and did things my way. And I can still count to ten without removing my shoes.

  6. Charlie

    Just to be clear, I’m not a SawStop fan at all.

    • a49model

      I have a right tilt Uni-Saw that I bought in 1995 and am very happy with it.
      Was the SawStop designed for people that shouldn’t be around sharp, and sometimes dangerous, tools?

  7. Charlie

    A49, I would say that there is some truth to that. A woodshop is not a place to be in a hurry, or for wandering minds.

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