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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Look ma, no exposed joints!

Meeting with the client for this current project was a great eye-opener for me, reminding me that what we as woodworkers appreciate are often not features customers appreciate.  For example, I offered several options for joining the case and the box top, including hand cut dovetails and box joints.  But she wanted little or no exposed joinery, clean lines, and even requested that no brass be used on the piece.  Try finding box hardware in anything other than brass - I dare you (I'll show you the unique solution I used in an upcoming episode).

In any event, it reminded me that the average buyer is often looking for something much different than we might build for ourselves. For instance, this case has all mitered corners to give a nice clean look, but that meant I needed to reinforce them without showing the joinery.  So an inside spline was the best choice.  However, that required me to build a new jig since I would rarely use this joint in a spec piece.  But now that I have a better understanding for what the market wants, maybe I'll use this jig more often now!

  Right click to download the HD version of this video


Ken koch said...

Very nice sled. What are the advantages of this sled versus tilting the saw blade to 45?

Anonymous said...

"But now that I have a better understanding for what the market wants,...."

I think what you have is a better understanding of an "odd" individual customer, the likes of which you may never see again. I hope you charged enough to make it worth your time, if you have been paid at all yet.


Rob Bois said...

The advantage to using the sled here is two-fold. One, the entire surface of the miter is supported by the saw base. And secondly, it allows me to exactly register the mitered surface against a stop (the base in this case). I could have built a sled with a mitered stop on the blade side that would have accomplished this, but as you'll see in the next episode I have a similar sled design to this for the outside spline kerfs on the top, so I just stole that design.

As for the comment about the "odd" customer, I've found that most of my female customers under the age of 40 have an aversion to gold and brass. Those over 40 like it (not sure why). But this is definitely not a "one-off" customer request. And yes, I always charge 50% up-front and feel I'm getting a more than fair price for the work.

Anonymous said...

there is one other option you did not discuss for hidden strength - the concealed mitered dovetails. I think Pop woodworking had a a blog post on this.

Nice job so far. Enjoying the videos.

David (runningwood)

Rob Bois said...

Yes, the concealed mitered dovetail would have also worked here. In fact, I sat in on Chris Schwarz' session on that in Woodworking in American last year. But for this project, I needed to be as efficient as possible. As it stands, it looks like I will have this complete with virtually no time to spare ;)

Marty said...

Nice presentation.

FYI, checkout the GRR-Ripper if you haven't already. I have two and use them all the time for ripping small pieces, as you were doing for the spline material. It's clear that you're a precision type of guy, and that's what I like about those push blocks - total control and confidence in working small/narrow stock.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it have been better to run the grain of the spines across the joint? It'd be stronger, plus you wouldn't see the end grain, one of your client's goals.

Olivier Cornu said...

Hi Rob,
Thanks for the videos. Great job. :-)
I had three questions, but an anonymous comment right above asked one of them already. That leaves me with two:
- Why not a "stopped kerf", so as to make the spline invisible (at least when seen from the top of the case)? Iow, isn't showing these splines going against the initial customer request of no visible joinery?
- Why so deep a spline kerf?
Thanks again, and hope to see you in your shop soon!

Rob Bois said...

A few interesting questions here.

As for running the grain across the splines, that would indeed create a stronger spline (once glued) and also keep all the wood movement in alignment. However, it turns out during glue-up that driving the splines in once glued takes some force. I'm worried the splines would have a tendency to snap if the grain ran that way. But I'll have to try that in the future.

As for the stopped kerf is definitely an interesting idea. It would likely require using the router table to cut the kerf though, and then using a chisel to square off the stopped end, or rounding over the spline. Probably more work than it's worth - and I felt that an exposed spline inside the lid was still OK, as no end grain is exposed with the box closed.

As for the depth of the kerf, I just made a kerf deep enough to allow for a wide spline, but not so wide as to risk snapping the corner off the miter joint. Honestly I didn't use any formula here, I just did a few test cuts and ran with it.