No More Crack!

What’s wrong with this picture?


I have found a number of ways to crack the stuff I am working on. Namely half-blind tail sockets in the drawer fronts. I have been chopping them out and been cracking the board. The first way I achieved this was chopping over a dog hole. So to fix that I decided to use a scrap piece of sugar pine placed under the board. The next crack came from the scrap board being out of flat, thereby causing a lack of support at certain places. The third way I cracked the board was from hammering the chisel too far into the socket. (Please see the picture above.)

This is the angle that the chisel went to. As we all know the bevel of the chisel causes it to drift in the direction of the flat part of the chisel. Knowing this I held the chisel firmly to avoid its back from crossing the nice baseline I had. Because I was over-eager in applying force to the chisel via Dave Jeske’s awesome mallets, the chisel canted to the angle shown, and I cracked the board again. Three drawers fronts done and three cracks.

To fix one crack I used dental floss to spread the glue. I learned this trick from David (Guitar Dave) Fleming the world-class chair maker in scenic Cobden, Ontario. Chris and I spent a week building Welsh Stick Chairs with him and on the flight back I dropped the arm bow for my chair. During the next leg of the flight, the crack opened up a lot. It may have had something to do with the cabin pressure, but when I got home I called Dave for a fix. He calmly instructed me to put some glue on the crack and use dental floss to work the glue into the crack. Brilliant!

This brings up Chris’s statement a while back that good woodworkers aren’t good because they know how to fix mistakes, they are good because they avoid mistakes. We know which category I am in but now I know three things to avoid when using my chisel.



— John Hoffman


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9 Responses to No More Crack!

  1. Finally! A use for all that thread I keep getting at my semiannual cleanings. Thank you for the tip!


  2. jwatriss says:

    Hey John,

    Two quick things that stand out to me:

    -When chopping multiple drawer fronts, stack them up in a stepped fashion, and clamp down the stack, preferably close to the edge of the bench. No dog holes there, and all of the boards above will be supported by those underneath. Clamping keeps the boards from ‘clapping ‘ against the bench top, and that means less energy will be absorbed by a flexing board… It all goes to the cutting. Quieter, and easier is good.

    -Steer clear of the scribed line. Get close, but not too close. Removing bulk waste is monkey’s work. The final paring cuts are for the skilled labor.

    The closer you are to the line, the easier your paring will be, because the waste is thin. If the remaining waste is thicker, it’ll steer the chisel for you.


  3. fitz says:

    Campaign chest? Nice wood.


  4. Luke Barnett says:

    a good way to fix cracks is to use gorilla glue. it has capillary action that works itself into the crack.


  5. toolnut says:

    Do you use regular, fine or extra fine? Waxed or I waxed? Is there a brand you’d recommend? Have you tried Glide? Is it too slippery? What brand does Chris use? Are you both in agreement on the best brand?


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