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Guest Posts
Pennsylvania Spice Cabinet – Part 08

March 27, 2015

This is a Guest Post from fellow woodworker, Jeremy Pringle.

If you have any comments or questions, feel free to use the forms below this entry.

Thanks for sharing your project with us Jeremy!

As promised, this week is all about dovetails. For some reason, this topic generates more interest than almost any other hand tool topic. More ink has been spilt, YouTube videos made, woodworking show demo’s, woodworking classes attended, and blog entries have been written about this one topic than ever before. I don’t understand why. It’s just a stinking dovetail.  What’s all the fuss about?

Yet here I am, perpetuating the problem by trying to cause a disturbance in the woodworking force. I have heard: people to person, at woodworking shows, in videos and books all talk about having the dovetail in their back pocket or in their bag of woodworking tricks.



Is the dovetail a trick? 

Or “Step right up, step right up folks!  Come and see the Amazing Soandso cut Dovetails… BY HAND!!!!!  You won’t believe your eyes when you see it!”

Like some Circus gimmick.

I have read lots of old pre-war woodworking books, and none of them come close to calling a dovetail a trick or a gimmick. In fact, quite the opposite.  Most of those old books gloss over the fabled joinery technique as if it is just some basic… meh… thing that everyone already knows how to do. Yet here we are, where lots of people have this fear of cutting them. Fear?  You ask me. Yes. Fear! I cannot count the number of people that I have talked to that have told me some version of the following statement.“Oh, that’s far too complex for me to do.”

Because I have heard that so many times, it leads me to the conclusion that someone… somewhere.. is perpetuating the myth that DT’s are difficult to cut my hand. (My money is on the Cylons)

I tell almost anyone that will listen, “Anyone who tells you hand cutting DT’s is hard, is selling you something.” Now don’t get me wrong, I have no issues paying for things that I see as being valuable. Woodworking classes, books, DVD’s all make that list. My issue is not with the product, it’s with the unsaid conditioning that it’s hard to do, and that there is something special about them. My favorite group of people to teach hand tools to are young high school aged kids. They have not been exposed to the woodworking fear mongering that exists in our little circle. Now, I apologize that this entry did not cover the drawers for the spice cabinet like I hinted last week. I got carried away, and as long as I don’t get carried away myself, I will cover the drawer construction next week. But I felt that I needed to express my thoughts on the subject as I see them.

I teach several classes a year, and this topic comes up in EVERY class, so it is a message that I am passionately trying to get across to a larger audience.

Dovetail’s are not a trick, or a gimmick, and you should have no fear in working them into your own repertoire.

So here is my question for you: What ‘fear’ have you had to overcome to make yourself a better woodworker?

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