Hand Tools Archive
"Two examples I've recently become aware of are Paul Sellers dovetail setup, and Richard Maguire's Bridle joints. Does anyone know of any other instances where a typical worker might have made things easier on themselves than we would notice at first glance?"
Do you have links, it is impossible to keep up with everything.
If you have looked at Franz Klauzs' Dovetail a Drawer, you will have noted that he quotes 20 minutes per drawer in making a drawer with hand cut dovetails, that includes marking and dimensioning stock from the opening, through to fitting the drawer. The drawer in the video is commercial grade, not fine woodworking, however FK's hand work would have produced a drawer that could have gone into many studio furniture pieces or fine antiques, those details would just be extra.
20 minutes doesn't sound that long to me.
One can learn to cut dovetails as he does, direct from the video (and videos on Youtube by FK). It is not only a good way to make them, but an efficient way to practice as so little time is wasted with layout. In particular the exact way he chops out is hard to beat.