Wednesday evening I taught the fourth class at the Close Grain School of Woodworking, simple joinery. This covers rabbets, grooves, dadoes, full and half laps, and tongue-and-groove. Once again my students were Reeve Goodenough and my daughter Shelby.
Reeve sawing down the wall of a dado while Shelby uses the tonguing plane.
I showed them how to cut rabbets and fillisters (end-grain rabbets, although I've seen conflicting terminology on this) with a wooden skew rabbet plane, with just a chisel, and with just a backsaw. I showed them how to make dadoes with chisel only, with saw and chisel, and with saw, chisel, and router plane. Then I showed them how to make lap joints, essentially wide dadoes, and half-laps, with two ways to remove the waste. I showed them cleanup with small and medium shoulder planes. Finally, I showed them how to use a matched pair of tongue-and-groove planes.
Why show multiple ways to do the same thing? I prize versatility above all else. Your favorite tool for doing an operation may not always be available, and sometimes the conditions of the wood or the workspace may not be conducive to your favorite method. Some methods may just appeal to you more than others.
Knowing multiple ways broadens your abilities so that you can tackle an unusual variation easily. It's nice to know how to do it with both the most limited set of tools as well as the fullest set.
This was a lot of information, so I told them to pick the things that interested them most and try them out, then try additional variations as time allowed. Of course, the key to getting these skills down is then to practice them repeatedly at home. Doing a joint once just gets you started, and it's slow going. You don't really get comfortable with it until you've done it 10 or 20 times.
The tonguing plane produces beautiful little ribbons of wood.
Reeve chiseling out the waste in the dado.
Cleaning up the floor of the dado with a router plane.
Hogging out the waste in a half-lap with a chisel.
Shelby tests the fit of her dado joint: snug enough to lift the dadoed piece up and hold together without glue.
The next class in the series will be mortise-and-tenon joints. If you're interested in taking a class, you can sign up for one of the pre-scheduled group classes, or schedule a private class.