In our household, we have offered the following guideline to our young girls: Words are not weapons. The only way that words can hurt you is if you let them hurt you.
So, as you can imagine, we allow complete freedom of speech within our walls (though we caution them to take great care with people outside our family). This is the same policy I follow on this blog. I will never write any words here that I would not say in front of either of my grandmothers (God rest their souls). It’s just polite.
This makes it difficult for me to discuss dovetailing on the blog. When I teach dovetailing, I use an awful expression to describe the amount of compression that the joint can and should endure where you drive the bits together. In other words, I try to explain how far away from your knife line you should saw your pins to fit the joint together tightly. Wood compresses. And we should take advantage of it.
So in an effort to describe this tiny measurement, I today asked my students for ideas (after using my foul expression). The students are British, for the most part, and should have some sense of propriety. Here are the three top suggestions.
When sawing your pins, you should saw slightly away from your line – exactly one…
1. Gnat’s firkin
2. Gnat’s chuff
3. Gnat’s nasty
I personally like No. 3 (alliteration is the mark of quality writing). Why they focused on gnats I do not know.
If someone has a better G-rated suggestion, I’d like to hear it. There could be a beer in it for you.
— Christopher Schwarz