Trouble Brewing


It began innocently enough one ordinary weekday. It was quiet in the studio - I was planing some stock while Joshua sharpened a few chisels. I’d sat my plane on the bench and walked away for a moment to grab a pencil, but when I turned back I found that my plane was sitting on its sole. I always lay my planes down on their sides, the CORRECT way. Carefully-constructed and articulated arguments to the contrary aside, placing a plane on its side while not in use at the bench is the historically approved and most advantageous practice. But clearly, somebody in the room disagreed.

               Exhibit A. The defense rests, Your Honor.

The tension in the air was thick as I resumed smoothing the piece of pine. Joshua tried to lightly discuss some detail about an upcoming build but I wasn’t really listening. We made it through that day, but the simmerings of discontent had begun. Through subsequent weeks, there were uncomfortable conversations about the proper sequence involved in cutting dovetails – pins first vs. tails first. I had to step outside to cool off. Then it was bevel angles and tearout. The nature of “craft”. Sharpening stones (this one got ugly). Plane tote profiles.   I was realizing that hand-tool woodworking is simply too controversial to be enjoyable.

Fortunately, Joshua had been thinking along the same lines. He’d finally snapped when he considered how much easier and more relaxing it would be to set up and use a dovetail jig with special bits and collets and collars and clamps and routers and protective eyewear and earplugs and dust collection, rather than, you know, just cutting dovetails by hand.

Some big changes are in store around here.

Readers, we know that you will agree with us. Our new magazine format will reflect these exciting truths. The age of the power-tool-only purist is here. To showcase this new focus, we are changing the name of the magazine from “Mortise & Tenon” to something much more, shall we say, relevant. “Biscuit & Epoxy” is my current favorite, although that remains a work in progress. In Issue #3 we will be examining the complete and refreshing lack of toolmarks in the carcase of a 20th-century IKEA cabinet, asking the question “Can Your Table Saw Top Ever Truly Be Flat Enough?”, and will be travelling to Asia to visit a factory that winds electric motors for 8 different router manufacturers! So stay tuned – the future is now.

Incidentally, as we are starting small in making our shop upgrades, we’re looking for a lightly-used 20” jointer that someone might have for sale. Anybody looking to dump last year’s model for the latest and greatest? Let us know!

~Mike Updegraff