Tight joinery made simpler

Tight joinery has always been the mark of fine work, Photo by Lie-Nielsen Toolworks.

A few years ago I was teaching a class at Marc Adams and a student who shall remain nameless chided me for choosing hand tools over powered versions. He argued that power tools were more accurate. I had to scrape my jaw off the floor before replying to that non-sense. I’ll concede, my Unisaw is more accurate at crosscutting than an axe, but it’s only slightly more accurate than a good backsaw and neither power nor handsaw will produce perfect joints that don’t require a little fussing to close tight. Then as now, I’m not interested in fanning the flames of the power tool versus hand tool debate. One thing is for sure, tight joinery is one of the marks of good work regardless of how one gets there. Results are what I’m interested in, and for making fine adjustments to achieve tight joinery I rely on hand tools and especially hand planes. They offer the ability to slice off a controlled shaving. As little as a half thousands of an inch at a time if need be. The human eye can pick up a gap in a joint that’s only two or three thousands wide (a human hair is aprox four thou thick), so to achieve really tight joinery there’s no match for a well tuned plane.

My old shooting board in action mitering small parts. I'm about to trade in this old reliable Rambler for a Tico Vogt Super Chute.

I often use a shooting board to square up the ends of stock even if it’s an apparent square crosscut fresh off my Unisaw. Before cutting dovetails or tenons it helps to begin with a dead square end.  Recently Tico Vogt has been working on an improved shooting board that has my attention. Seems he has re-thought how to make the design as rock solid and smooth as possible to achieve superior results. Here’s the best part, he’s building them for sale. I look forward to adding one as an accessory to my workbench and taking my own joinery up another notch. Check it out. In interest in disclosure I have no commercial ties with Tico. I’m just excited someone is building something that allow me to focus more of my time building and less fussing and fitting to achieve tight joinery.

 George R. Walker

About walkerg

Woodworker and writer
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2 Responses to Tight joinery made simpler

  1. Dan says:

    I was amazed when I first discovered a shooting board. It enabled me to have much cleaner joints by cleaning the saw marks and adjusting by very small amount. The problem I find is making sure the shooting board is perfectly square.

    • walkerg says:


      David Charlesworth put together a nice video on using a shooting board you might find helpful. It’s available through Lie-Nielsen Toolworks.

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