There’s Always a Joey to Give you Trouble


Whenever possible, I try to build projects in pairs. Building two pieces doesn’t take twice as long as building one project – it seems to add only about 25 percent to the hours I log in the shop.

By building two pieces at once, I end up with a second one I can also sell. And if something goes totally south during the construction process, I still end up with one finished piece and a bunch of extra parts or firewood.

The funny thing about working on projects in pairs is there is usually one of the two projects that fights me the whole way.

This week I’m finishing two chairs for a client. But I’m beginning to think I should have made three. One of these chairs, we’ll call him Joey, has resisted my every effort to make him a chair. When I assembled his undercarriage, one of his legs busted out a huge chip on the seat when I drove it home.

His armbow split twice during the bending process, even though the oak for both was all from the same dang tree.

While assembling the spindles and arm bow I had to use a 3 lb. sledgehammer to knock Joey’s armbow into the correct orientation.


And when I began bending his crest rail, it split. Twice.

So right now Joey is in “time out” on the bench while I hack up a new log of fresh pin oak for his crest rail. The other chair – its twin – has been waiting for paint for three days now.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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10 Responses to There’s Always a Joey to Give you Trouble

  1. jpr46815 says:

    Sounds just like my son……Joey


  2. toolnut says:

    Hi Chris. Have you given any thought to a strap clamp solve your crest rail issue?
    (Free shipping through tomorrow.)


  3. Alex A. says:

    I did the same thing on the very first piece of fine furniture I built Simple Shaker End Table from the Autumn 2004 Woodworking Mag (written by some guy named Chris Schwarz). I bought enough to build t tables and three sets of legs with the hope that one table would be usable. I learned so much on that project (my cheap new Stanley #4 saved the day and started my love of hand tools) In the end I ended up with one table that used the best version of all parts and one that was less than perfect. I still have both 10 years later and I have no idea which was which.

    I still do this, my son’s rocking dinosaur has a twin that lives at a friends house, and it makes the whole process less stressful.

    Side note, when I looked up the plan for that table to write this comment I realized you wrote it so thank-you for starting me down this path. It’s a hobby that has brought me a lot of peace and happiness of the last decade.


  4. bedrock608 says:

    I see your problem! You used a 3 lb sledge! You should have used a 2.77589 lb sledge and swung a dead cat over your head during the last quarter moon!!


  5. yrmh1 says:

    One our two dogs is named Joey. I know exactly what you mean.


  6. bsrlee says:

    OK, I was looking for the young kangaroo in the photo – of course you all know that a young kangaroo is a ‘joey’.


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