As an avid woodworker, I have become enamored by traditional hand-cut Japanese joinery techniques such as these Asanoha patterns used in Shoji sliding screens. I used this opportunity to learn how to create angle jigs to cut precise angles needed for joints that can hold together tightly without glue.
Inspired by the writing of Christopher Schwarz and woodworkers like Paul Sellers and Roy Underhill, I started wanted to build a workbench using mainly hand tools with strong mortise and tenons and dovetails.
After researching dozens of different of historical benches from various different cultures, I decided to recreate Will Myers adaptation of a bench at the Old Salem collection in New Salem, N.C.
It is made with hand-planed and cut joints using red oak and pine with a hard maple wood screw vice from Lake Erie Toolworks. The bench has a left-handed orientation with dog holes that accommodate 3/4" holdfasts finished with Danish oil.
This project satisfied my urge to restore and sharpen some one-hundred year old tools found at flea markets and eBay, while refining my handcrafting skills, and ultimately has become an indispensible tool in my workshop that I will use for a lifetime.
Traditional Woodworking Techniques
Along my path using traditional techniques, I learned about staked furniture. Then I discovered Swedish carving techniques such as using Mora knives, hook knives, and hatcheting, which gave me a deeper intimate understanding of how to work wood and how to embrace things like grain structure, splitting, and wood movement. This also led me on a path of building a shavehorse so I could carve and rive logs with a drawknife into spoon blanks and billets to turn on my spring-pole lathe.
Another project I worked on involved building a maker space for children in an elementary school in Chicago. This involved building custom work furniture based on architectural plans and rough Rhino 3D models offsite and then delivering the partially assembled work furniture to the space and doing final built-ins on site.