Several readers have asked for a video that shows how I trim wedged through-tenons flush to a seat. So I guess I’m taking requests that aren’t “Piano Man” or “Free Bird.” Be sure to leave a tip in the jar….
Some notes: Usually I perform this operation as-shown in the video. I use my weight and my knee to hold the chair in place. This is safe. I have never cut myself (see also: using a drawknife). If it’s your first time, clamp the leg in your face vise, as shown in the image above.
After I trim the tenon and it is almost level with the seat, I finish the job with a scraper or sandpaper.
Another note: This is also how I make the faceted through-tenons. I simply stop about halfway through the process. Then I level the top of the tenon with some #220-sandpaper stuck on a flat stick.
Final note: I did not invent this technique, but I don’t remember where I learned it. It was a long time ago – maybe with Dave Fleming in Canada.
This, and other processes, are shown in “The Stick Chair Book.” Here endeth the commercial.
— Christopher Schwarz
13 thoughts on “Movie: Trim Tenons with a Scorp”
One of these days I’ll visit the storefront in person and when I do I’m going to ask about that infamous drawknife incident.
There’s not much of a story. In the 1990s, I cut open a finger while sharpening a drawknife (sharpening them is FAR more dangerous than using them). My accident was covered by worker’s comp. But they didn’t have a state-approved “code” for “drawknife” when filling out the reports. So my biggest claim to fame is that the state of Ohio had to create a code for “drawknife” because of me.
That is wonderful.
I once got a nice gash on my forehead from the pointy end of a sliding bevel. It was set on a seat for a leg angle, and I leaned forward to check something and impaled myself on the tip. The good news was that the bevel held its angle.
I too have sliced the far out of my hand while sharpening a drawknife. In my case, I was actually drying it off and it sliced through the rag and my hand .. yep it was sharp at that point!
I know they’ll end up under your fanny. But do you ever do something decorative with seat through tenons? Or it it simply flush and smooth?
I’ve left them a little proud. You can’t feel them. Even with my bony butt.
It’s not widely known, but I was the original inspiration for “The Princess and the Pea.”
Good video. It’s fun to see a presentation that kinda states in the action, do it like you’d do it if you were doing it.
But to be fair, I’ve had the benifit of seeing a few different processes that get to the same destination so I shouldn’t get too high on my horse.
This all makes sense, and obviously using the scorp on a curve that was made by the scorp makes sense too. I noticed it looked like you almost used the back of the bevel as a lever of sorts through the cut. Or at least that’s how it seemed. Out of curiosity, when doing a similar operation with a bench chisel on a flat(ter) surface, would you use a related motion by using the chisel bevel down and using that as a lever? I’ve always used it bevel up and used the corner of the chisel to eat away at it gradually while the flat back was resting on the surface. Thanks!
When using a chisel to level the tenons, I tend to use it bevel-down. That allows me to make small adjustments to the angle of attack. And I don’t have the seat’s shape guiding me (for better or for worse).
Most chairmakers use a shallow-sweep gouge for this operation, which works really well. I like to keep my tool kit as small as I can.
That’s what I figured. Thanks for the clarification!
Hey Chris it’s pleasant to see the old motto back. Thank you.
Just a suggestion one may want to try for a more authentic look. After shaving the through tenon, use a smooth faced hammer to lightly beat the remainder of the slightly raised tenon remnant. It removes the facets & gives the tenons a burnished look that’s authentic to the look of antique examples. All bets are off if one mistakenly uses a milled face hammer instead.
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