Mt Zion - Andrew Brant

Andrew Brant

Writing from Andrew Brant on Woodworking and Craft

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Timber Framed Sliding Dovetails

After the Dutch tool chest class at Lost Art Press, I really wanted to finish up my Roubo workbench.  It was amazing to actually work at not just one proper Roubo, with proper holdfasts, leg vises and the like. 

I already had the top laminated up, and last weekend I flattened it by hand, with a scrub plane, a #4 Stanley and a #5 low angle plane. 

This weekend, it was time for the legs.


I realized on my practice piece that I did not have a saw deep enough for these joints, so I used my band saw. I would have loved to have used a big ole bad axe Roubo Beastmaster, but I didn’t want to wait, and I also wanted the accuracy on my first go. i mostly wanted to do it this weekend. 

It worked ok! I got it done but there will still be a lot more cleanup than I was expecting. This little benchtop band saw doesn’t have a lot of power against this end grain, and I need to learn to set it up better



Once I made all the bandsaw cuts, I took it back outside to cut the tenon cheeks with a crosscut saw. Not just because the sun was out, but even just on two saw benches the weight of this bench really makes it so much better to work on. It just doesn’t move.



Chiseled the ends out.  I was able to take vertical strike along the base line and split the grain on the way down. I may try this on my regular dovetail, since I’m still having trouble coping out the waste perfectly. Chiseling is amazingly intuitive to me. 




Repeat three more times, and good to go!

This feels a lot more like timber framing, which is kind of awesome. A friend who works the trail crew in the Sierras visited a while ago, and my “tiny little tools” were cool and unique to him. It’s fun to work with such massive size in softwood. And after Megan Fitzpatrick’s class, I’m a hundred times more confidant to make journey, especially dovetails.

The Soul of a Machine

Machines have been on my mind lately.  While I have been so, so lucky to finally have a detached workshop to make furniture in, the space has been tempting me to getting more power tools.

My first 'shop' four years ago was an unfinished closet off the deck of an apartment building. My second 'shop' was two yeas in a Brooklyn apartment, using a jury-rigged bench made out of old growth, salvaged oak.  It was heavy, but it would tip.  I had to clamp 2x4's to the legs so I could work side-to-side. 


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But, my inner voice says, 'Now you have space!' and in the other ear 'You worked long and hard enough with vintage hand tools that you were never even able to tune up properly. You've gotten close to precision but it's never been machine-precise. Allow yourself this'. 

So I bought a band saw. A small one - 1/3rd horsepower, and it sits on a bench top.  It cost less than a Lie Nielsen hand plane. 

So for the past few months I've been getting used to what it can do, which is some things but not everything. One thing it does well is cut curves, but I have three different coping saws that can do that already by hand. 


So what I want to compare this week is some tools - power tools vs coping saws, and how to make small cutting board using a half dozen tools, powered and not. Stay tuned and check back later this week for more

-Andrew Brant