Hand Tools Archive

Subject:
Re: Fair enough (I like that table)

Sgian Dubh
"Fair enough, an application where glue is likely to fail(is that the reason for pinning?)"

It's the main reason Bill because that table is made of air dried European oak, and here in the UK air drying seldom brings wood below about 20% MC, unless the initial air drying (outdoors) is supplemented by further drying in a covered shed. Secondly, apart from an initial wipe over with boiled linseed oil when new just to make the appearance 'prettier' for the snap, the table has never had any kind of finish applied since. The joinery was glued with polyurethane glue which is about the only glue that works on wet wood, i.e., wood with an MC >20%. But how durable polyurethane glue is likely to be over 20 or 30 years is uncertain.

If you look at garden, entry way and farm gates, stiles and the like the joints are commonly reinforced with either trunnels (pegs) or with wedges. The same applies to large architectural joinery of things like barns, old Elizabethan and Tudor houses/ buildings of various sorts. You'll see lots of large M&Ts, chunky dovetail type joints, scarfs and so on, again mostly pegged to help lock it all together, especially to cope with subsequent shrinkage as the wood dries when it's become part of the internal structure of a house.

The architectural door maker you mention probably expects the doors they make to be painted or varnished, which does help protect the wood, so it's not necessarily a good comparison.

Looking at antique and old internal furniture I suspect much of the draw-boring or pegging done was initially inspired by large architectural woodwork as described briefly above. It may also have supplemented less than stellar glue performance, especially in cruder country style furniture knocked out by 'joyners' who frequently doubled as coffin makers, wood frame barn makers, hurdle makers, etc - and not all old hide glue was especially effective. Further, furniture makers over the centuries weren't all innovators, and I suspect much of the pegging that went on in later centuries was done because "We've always done it like that". Slainte.

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