Woodworker's Central
Woodworker's Gazette
Gazette Archive 11/11/02

A Book Review by Robert Bradley

Title: Classic Joints with Power Tools

Jeung Chan

Published by: Lark Books
Distributed by: Sterling Publishing Co. Inc.

387 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10016-8810
ISBN 1-57990-279-0
Price Softcover: $19.95
176 color pages

This is a very fine publication covering a very complex topic in woodworking. The joining of wood for the purpose of producing a piece of furniture or wooden implement has been described by the author in a manner which enables even a novice woodworker to attempt what was once the domain of the master craftsman. The publisher has provided a very high quality publication with heavy paper, over 200 beautiful color photos, and 100 illustrations of techniques for making various joints. The author has described how to make 100 joints in a simple series of steps with necessary cautions and "tricks of the trade" hints that almost guarantee some level of success with your first attempt. However, the distinct contribution of this publication is the author's presentation of joinery techniques with modern power tools. There is no reference to the elegance of hand tool joinery over power tool joinery.

The book is organized into four major sections which will be briefly reviewed as follows:

Power Tools for Joinery
Each of the more common power tools is covered briefly in terms of use to make joints. The anatomy of a table saw blade was very informative. A router is used quite often for various joints and, for the author, the plunge router was a preference. A hand drill or drill press with a good doweling jig is useful for many joints. The square corners produced by the hollow chisel mortiser gives it an advantage over other forms of mortising. The author states that the biscuit jointer has revolutionized joinery. His presentation of each power tool includes many safety procedures and tips. The most helpful recommendation was to rehearse every cutting procedure without power.

Jigs for Accurate Joints
Four major jigs are described for the table saw: single runner sled, double runner sled, adjustable angled fence, and tenoning jig. The adjustable angled fence jig was the most unique and perhaps the most useful. A unique two-sided fence that can be used on the bandsaw or drill press was described. The best router jig was the cradle jig which can also be used on the table saw.

Preparation and Assembly
An interesting recommendation was to avoid pre-milled material and to use rough-sawn stock whenever possible. Pre-milled boards are not stored properly and may be bowed, cupped, and dented or stained. Several techniques are presented to prepare rough-sawn wood stock, such as rip stock 1/4" over final width so that if the wood releases tension, you can re-joint the edge and then rip to final width. While machining of wood provides good results, final smoothing should be accomplished with hand planing and/or sanding.

White or yellow glue can be used for almost all furniture. Before gluing, the golden rule of assembly is to always pre-assemble or dry fit parts.

Woodworking Joints
Eleven categories of joints are presented going from simple to complex. Some of the joints are very elegant and very intricate. However, in reading through the procedures for machining each joint, the reader is left with a "can do" feeling and an eagerness to go to the shop and try it. Of course, each joint has a specific purpose; simple joints are often the best for a specific use. My favorites were the Through-Wedged Tenon, the Fox-Wedged Tenon, and the Mock Dovetails. The production of each joint makes use of the jigs presented earlier at the appropriate sequence of work. This was an extremely helpful presentation technique.

While some may refer to this publication as a book, for me it is more of a manual on how to produce joints for all facets of woodworking. My other woodworking books will be in my library, this book (manual) will be in my workshop.

Robert Bradley

Editor's Note: Sterling Publishing has graciously donated several books for review which are passed on to our members free of charge in exchange for thoughtful, honest reviews. Thank You! And you can usually find their titles at a discount from Barnes And Noble

Back to the Gazette

Contact Us | Homepage
We encourage all our visitors to send us
their thoughts, suggestions and complaints.