… cause I still don’t like my coping saw skills.
My son Ethan, whose 6 feet tall at 12 and taller than me, came out to the shop and said “what are you doing?” I said I was chopping out tails and asked if he wanted to try it. To my suprise he said yes so I let him at it. He did a great job. I just had to sit and hold my breath so I could savor the moment. My kids, like most kids, have only a passing interest in woodworking. I don’t force them to do it, so when they show interest I just let them jump in. Worst that can happen is I have to make another pin board. Totally worth it. I treasure these small moments.
I follow the Paul Sellers method and I have ok results. Any errors are mine.
Step 1. Mark out the tails. I have a long side that didn’t fit on my joinery bench that’s up against the wall so I resorted to my scab bench. This is my first bench. It’s a scabbard together collection of 2x4s and plywood. It wobbles and squeaks, but I can’t bring myself to ditch it. I have a small vise mounted on the front and I used it to hold the pin board while the grill holds up the tail board. Hey, you use what you got. I’m pretty much of the mind to get a vise and mount it on my joinery bench, but a Record 53, which is what I’m holding out for, is harder to find than unicorn fleece.
I use Paul’s method of clamping boards to the faces to deal with the skinny pine cupping on me.
Take your time. The trick, as I understand it, is to line up the tail edges it’s a frog hair onto the tail board or you Will have a gap. I also made sure I had the faces out. It pays to triple check. I’ve cut them wrong before.
Step 2. Cleanup the marks and carry the vertices lines down to your depth mark amd then saw them out straight across focusing on staying verticle. I try to make a few swipes across to form a kerf and then keep my eyes on the vertices line as I saw. Paul says to use pencil on pine since it will compress and this will ensure tight joints. I also read recently, “if in pine, leave the line” so I’ve been repeating this to myself and focused on leaving the lines in.
I tried to make sure I had the angle without forcing a wobbly line from any variance in the tail. I then went back in with a square as a straight edge and drew in a straight line across the endgrain.
I sawed down. I’m still amazed at the little curly q shavings that come out of the cut. I don’t know why, but it usually means I’ve made a good clean cut.
Step 3. Sharpen up.
I went to my 600 arkansas stone and worked the back and then the bevel then I stropped and got back to work. This is just my procedure. It gets me shave sharp. Some folks say it causes uneccesary wear on the back and that may be true, but I do it for 2 reasons. One it’s a habit and I can do it fast without dreading sharpening. So whatever ritual you have to develop to encourage yourself to sharpen often, do it. If you need to sing a song or dance a jig, do it. Reason 2, is that I didn’t spend a whole day flattening the back of my narex chisles. Its not worth it. I just worked on the quarter inch closest to the edge, so working on the back a little every time I sharpen up seems to be getting the back flatter. I can see the flat moving ever so slowly away from the edge. I have also been forcing myself to do this freehand. I have an eclipse style jig and I use it. It’s great, but I think if I every want to be able to do a good job sharpening gouges and carving tools I need to get good at freehand sharpening my chisels. Sure there’s a whole Internet of people out there to tell me I’m an idiot and don’t know how to sharpen, but I’ll tell you this. One day when I accidentally, and I mean accidentally because I didn’t really understand sharpeneing, got a chisel really sharp it was like the sky opened up. The wood I was cutting sliced so easily. It was from then on that I knew the difference between sharp and what I had thought sharp was. It made the work fun. Anyhow, end of rant. Learn to sharpen, if people say handtools suck it’s because the aren’t using sharp tools.
I use stones because I got tired of tearing sandpaper and I didn’t want to have to flatten a water stone everytime I sharpen. I also worried that as a novice I’d end up gouging my delicate waterstone. So I ponied up 99 dollars at woodcraft for a set of 3 stones. I think I got lucky since prices seem to have gone up. If my stones aren’t cutting quickly enough in drop back to my combination India stone and work back up through the grits. Once sharp though, I rarely have to go down too far in grit. WATCH Paul’s video on YouTube on sharpening to 250 grit and you’ll be a convert. I don’t think you need 20000 grit stones. The strop with green honing compound does that for you. Watch the video. I use a mineral oil, non toxic, oil called ballistol. It’s pretty awesome. Google it.
Step last. Chop out the pins like you do the tails. Knife in lines using the actual mating side as a reference. Do the fingertip trick to line up the edges. One thing to watch out for is not chopping into the angled side of your pins. Cut from the middle out and look at the endgrain to follow your lines. Go slow and you’ll get it.
Go half way from each side.
Thanks for reading.