Hand Tools Archive

one of the things that...

David Weaver
i had to quickly remind myself of when doing this test was not to adjust the mallet strikes to be anything other than equal.

I would say on something like a 5/8" wide half blind in cherry , it would be not that common to strike a chisel more than 3 or 4 times per leaf. This test in maple is far different. It's much wider, it's a much more resistant wood, plus the width, and on top of that, I need to be consistent. That means if the stick is one small blow away from going through, I have to hit it anyway and let it go into the substrate.

We make all kinds of adjustments while we're working - i tend to make adjustments that make wasting half blinds the fastest, which is working as fast as the chisel will tolerate without taking unnecessary damage. As long as the drawer front or case top being half blound (how's that for a word?) will tolerate it.

This test is intended to be something that provides a material method. It's not intended to have randomness so that materiality can't be discerned, and it's also not created so as to be so precise that you can't tell if you need such a level of precision to get the material differences. I'm comfortable with it. The only thing I wish it did was test the strength of corners on chisels, as low bevel limit pushers will lose corners on chisels. They crumble off on soft chisels, and can be lost spectacularly on overhard chisels, especially when the angle is too shallow.

Removing material with side wood is different than released wood or just an end less than full width here, and I didn't want the extra variables. This is literally just to tell if we're gaining cutting ease, losing it, or staying the same. It does that.

(i recall hearing that folks who worked in factories basically cut drawer joints with the same number of blows for every step - that becomes important if you're going to start a rhythm and never stop to think, only adjust mid work. Most people don't do that. Still, these strikes are pretty brisk and you'd be fighting other things if you tried to go much harder - such as the chisel diving inward during the cut).

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