Category Archives: Technique


Wraparound Dovetails – How I Fit Them

Most of us are familiar with the techniques for fitting dovetails during construction.  You cut the pieces to size, mark your dovetails, and cut away.  Even if you machine-cut, the process is basically the same.  Everything is measured from the end of the board.  However, there are times when this approach doesn’t work.

This blanket chest is a perfect example of this.  Christopher Schwarz’s Anarchist’s Tool Chest is another.  In both cases, a base or dust seal wraps around the basic structure of the chest, and is dovetailed into place.  The problems start to arise when you realize that the pieces cannot be precut to length, but must be fitted to the existing structure to ensure a good fit.  No, measuring with rule is not a substitute for a good direct measurement.  Of course, your measurement doesn’t tell you how far past the end of the casework the board should extend for the overlap that will give a good, snug dovetail.  This is how I do it:

Dovetail Tuning 1

Start by dovetailing one corner to act as a reference, leaving the board overlong.  Then, with the assembled dovetail snugged into place, mark the corner of the casework on the other end.  A marking knife will work, but I find that a pencil will angle into the corner more easily without wandering.

Dovetail Tuning 2

Next, stand the opposing board (or an offcut of the same) on edge on this board, with the inside edge flush with your pencil line, and mark the location of the outside face.  This measurement isn’t really critical – you just don’t want to be too short.  Next, crosscut the board to just outside this last line to establish the rough length.

Dovetail Tuning 3

Now comes the trick.  Take your marking gauge, which you already set while cutting the first dovetail, and place it against the sawn end of the board.  There will probably be, as shown above, a gap between the knife/pin and the pencil line.  Simply plane away the excess with your shooting board (you do have a shooting board, don’t you?) until the marker touches the far edge of the pencil line.  If your marking gauge was set correctly in the first place, you should now have the correct amount of overlap to yield a dovetail that wraps snugly around the casework.

With a little thought and modification, this technique will also work with dovetailing jigs.  Simply set your marking gauge to the base of the first dovetails, and proceed as above.  Since all you’re doing is effectively cutting a board to length, the dovetailing method is really irrelevant.  Give it a try!


Blanket Chest – Molding Fitting

At last, the time had come to fit the cove molding to the frame-and-panels.  Most conventional wisdom says to cut the trim to precise length, and then miter the ends.  While this works up to a point, I’ve found that a modified version is easier for me.  This is how I do it:

Blanket Chest 27

I start by cutting a piece of molding to just slightly oversize, and then saw to this length.  As you may recall from a couple of posts back, I marked one face of the molding to keep any asymmetry coordinated, and reduce any irregularities between pieces.  I now take care to keep this mark oriented against the frame, not the panel.  The white on the panel is primer, applied to reduce any chance of bare wood peeping if the panel shrinks.

Blanket Chest 28

Rather than trim square to precise length, I go ahead and cut a miter on one end using the miter shooting board, continuing until the piece fits in place in the frame.  The next step is to miter the other end just to a point, keeping that good fit.

Blanket Chest 29

The photo above shows how the mark on the back helps keep the pieces oriented during the various manipulations.

Once the first piece is in place, I repeated the process with its neighbor, starting with the end that butts into the first piece.  Then, I shot the miter on the other end to fit.  I’ve found that, even if you cut all the pieces to precise lengths, their interactions with each other inevitably require a bit of further shooting to get everything to play nicely together.  For me, it’s easier to fit as a single operation rather than two distinct steps.  The pieces are small enough that shooting requires very little effort.  Just don’t forget your wax!

Blanket Chest 32

Once all the parts are settled into their respective places, I applied glue to just the side facing the frame, not the panel (remember the black mark?), and then held it in place with 23 gauge pins until the glue dried.  (Haven’t I heard that somewhere before?)  That way, the panels can expand and contract freely without trying to take the molding with it.

Blanket Chest 33

With all the molding in place, the time had finally arrived.  The joints were glued, and the assembly went into the clamps.  Suddenly, the group of flat panels was starting to look like a blanket chest.

Next time, I’ll add the bottom.  Stay tuned!

Blanket Chest – Creating the Coves

Now that the side assemblies were glued up, it was time to apply the cove molding trim to the edges of the panels.  I chose a cove because, well, out of the four prototypes, it was my wife’s favorite.

Blanket Chest 24

The actual molding would have a cross-section of 1/4″ x 1/4″, to allow a 1/8″ rabbet where it joined the frame (as shown in the above linked post).  The first step was to rout a cove of the desired size in the corner of a board.  The rest was simply a matter of cutting off the molding with two intersecting cuts.  Normally, this would be a job for the table saw.  However, I needed to use it to rip the edge smooth again after cutting the molding free.  That would mean resetting the saw after each cut, and trying to keep all the individual moldings cut that way the same size.  Was there a better way?

Blanket Chest 25

I decided to use a variant of the technique used on the feet of my sawbench.  By setting the plow plane for 1/4″ and making intersecting cuts as shown above, the strips of molding could be cut off with only a bit more effort.  You’ll notice in the above photo that one leg is a bit thicker than the other.  This was a result of having the core-box bit set a bit lower than I thought, and rendered the molding asymmetrical.  This is almost inevitable to some degree, and must be allowd for.  More on that in a minute.

The stock in the photo above was fairly thin, and I could only get one molding per edge.  However, I later used thicker stock that allowed cutting two moldings at once, which reduced waste considerably.  In either case, once the molding was cut away, I went to the aforementioned table saw to rip the edges smooth for the next evolution.

Blanket Chest 26

Eventually, I was left with a pile of moldings in two lengths, which would fit the two different panel dimensions with a bit of room to spare.  You will notice black marks on some of the molding.  In fact, all of the pieces have that mark.  This designates the side where the freeing cut was made into the face of the board.  By placing the side with this mark against the rail or stile instead of the panel, I can keep any asymmetry in the molding coordinated, so that the corner joints will line up as they should.  As long as you get that correct, the rest will go unnoticed.

Next time, I’ll fit these pieces to the frame-and-panel assemblies.  Stay tuned!

Blanket Chest – In the Groove

Since this blanket chest has frame-and-panel construction, the next step was to make the grooves to hold the panels.  As I mentioned in the post on cutting the tenons they, and their corresponding grooves are not centered, but offset to the inside face of the chest.  This means that the old tablesaw trick of running a board through, then flipping it end-for-end and running it through again to get a centered groove won’t work.  However, there’s an excellent way to get a groove without having to dig out the dado set.

Blanket Chest 8

A plow plane is an excellent alternative for grooves.  While not as fast as a dado, it can be set once and left on the shelf (much like a marking gauge), to be picked up as needed.  This leaves the tablesaw with its combination blade in place for such other jobs as may arise as the project progresses.  And, once set up and adjusted, the plow plane isn’t as slow as you might think.

With the 1/4″ blade installed, I set the plow plane’s fence to plow a groove in line with the tenons, and 1/4″ deep.  Notice in the photo above, the letter “I” near the tenon shoulder.  This stands for “inside”, and marks the face with the 1/4″ shoulder.  On the opposite side of the shoulder is an “O”, which stands for (you guesssed it) “outside”.  Placing these marks on every joint affords me a much better chance of staying oriented with all this asymmetrical joinery.

Another trick, as shown above, is the use of a cabinetmaker’s handscrew to keep the board vertically oriented.  I use this same configuration later when boring mortise starter holes.  Handscrews are generally underutilized by modern woodworkers, but this is just one of many uses they have in anyone’s workshop.

Blanket Chest 9

Once the grooves were plowed, it was time to layout for the mortises.  By gang-clamping matching pieces together and marking all of them at once, I was able to cut down on error.

The pieces shown above are four of the corner stiles, and the markings require a bit of explanation.  On the right, you see two lines.  The one on the outside marks the edge of the mating rail, while the inside one marks the end of the mortise.  On the left, there is a single line that marks the start of the mortise, but no line for the edge of the rail.  This edge is flush with the end of the stile, and the long gap indicates the haunch that will fill the groove to the edge.  It’s wider than usual due to the fact that these mortises will be hand-chopped, and I allowed extra wood on the outside of the mortise to help prevent any blow-outs of the end grain.

Blanket Chest 10

One of the beauties of grooved rails is that all of your mortising guides are already in place.  Just place your auger bit or mortising chisel in the groove, and you’re ready to go.  Of course, you still have to stay vertical.  As usual, I bored multiple clearance holes for each mortise to make the chisel work easier.  This step is especially important on mortises near the end of the board, as this helps to reduce the dreaded blow-out of the unsupported endgrain.

The next step will be to start bringing these various chunks of wood together.  Stay tuned!

Sawing Tenons the Wearing Way

This seems like a good time to digress slightly onto the subject of sawing tenons.  The blanket chest has a lot of them – 24 to be exact, and all are cut by hand.  So, I thought I’d give a quick look at how I saw tenons.

In the past, I had cut my tenons in the “normal” manner – near corner first.  But then, I read The Essential Woodworker by Robert Wearing.  This book, first published in 1988, is one of the best modern treatises on (mostly) hand tool woodworking.  This book turned a lot of my ideas on their ear, and altered the way I did a lot of things.

Wearing recommends starting on the far corner of the tenon, and then establishing a groove across the top before working down the near side.  This approach, for me at least, makes it much easier to saw accurately.  The saw follows the path of least resistance, the kerf, and is less prone to wander when it isn’t having to blaze two trails at the same time.  Of course, a picture is worth a thousand words so…

Sawing Tenons 1

Start with the far corner of the tenon.  If it helps, make a small notch with a chisel that gives you a starting point next to the line.  Normally, my left thumb would be against the saw as well to start the cut, but I’ve moved it for clarity.  Yes, the Bad Axe Large Tenon Saw is a handful, but to me it actually makes the cut easier.  The wide plate is less prone to angle away from vertical, and the weight makes downward pressure a non-issue.  It’s my go-to saw for any tenon over 1 1/2″  wide.

Another trick is to watch the reflection of the wood in the sawplate, and keep it straight in line with the actual wood so that it seems to be one continuous piece.  This will ensure that you stay square and vertical.

Sawing Tenons 2

Once you’ve established the corner,  slowly lower the heel of the saw as you cut, extending the kerf backwards across the top of the wood, staying flush with the line.  This is what establishes your path of least resistance, and makes the following steps much easier.  It’s much easier to go this way than to start on the near corner and try to extend the kerf forwards.  At the very least, that approach constantly obscures your line with sawdust.  In addition, you can see exactly how the saw teeth are approaching the line.

Sawing Tenons 3

Once your kerf extends all the way across, proceed as usual by sawing down the near face, while simultaneously connecting with the far corner.  Wearing recommends tilting the wood for this step, but I don’t find it necessary with this saw.  This allows me to do the first three steps above as one continuous cut, only stopping to reposition the stock before continuing.

Sawing Tenons 4

Once you’ve connected the corners, flip the stock around and connect the corners from the other side.  Once again, I keep the stock vertical, at least with this saw.  I suppose I could simply walk around to the other side and not have to reposition the stock at all, but working up against the bench like that is less comfortable and more awkward for me than standing off the end.  If it works for you, go for it.

Sawing Tenons 5

Now, to finish the cut, level the saw and cut the triangle of remaining wast left by your previous two corner connections.  As I get near the end of the cut, I lighten my stroke and bring the thumb of my left hand up alongside the waste (I’m cutting on the near side) to keep it from snapping off prematurely.

Sawing Tenons 6

And there you have it!  The surface is a little rough, but that’s because my technique is still a little rough.  However, the tenon serves it’s purpose very well.  In the one in the picture, I had already cut the end to width before the shot.  This was done after the cheeks were cut.

I hope this helps pique your interest in this method of sawing tenon cheeks.  If you’d like to see this technique in motion, Shannon Rogers has an excellent video of this approach on his site, The Renaissance Woodworker.  Check it out!

Krenov Sawhorses – Through Tenons

With the mortises cut to shape, it was time to turn my attention to the tenons.  As I mentioned in the last article, I planned on 1/4″ shoulders on the ends of the tenons, but only 1/8″ shoulders on the sides.  With a softer wood, I might have needed a wider shoulder, but I wanted to see how a wider tenon would look, and hickory was perfect for this.  The question is, how to cut it?  1/8″ was barely a saw kerf, and handsaws track very badly when the wood on one side of the cut is thin to nonexistent.

Krenov Sawhorse 23

This was the place to try my new Veritas skew rabbet plane.  Since only a small amount of material had to be removed, planing would be relatively efficient, and the tool’s 1 1/2″ width would handle my 1 inch-long tenon with ease.  This approach was not without its risks, however.  While the plane is almost 10″ long, the stretcher is only 3″ wide.   The resultant small registration area meant that the risk of mis-shaping the tenon was very real.  Being aware of this, I left the tenons slightly oversize for final fitting.

Krenov Sawhorse 24

As you can see, the tenon shoulder is quite narrow.  I honestly don’t think you could do it with a saw.  If you look carefully, you’ll see the number “3” at the shoulder line.  This indicates that this is the bottom face of the stretcher for mortise number 3.  You’ve always been told to mark your pieces – this is especially true for hand joinery, where each joint can (and usually does) have its own unique character.  In this case, tenon 1 would probably not be a good match for mortise 3.

Krenov Sawhorse 25

For final fitting, I again turned to my router plane.  This technique, which I recommend highly, allows me to correct for any tilt that might have crept in from using a long plane on a short surface.  It also lets me fit each tenon precisely to its matching hand-cut mortise.  Remember what I said about marking your joints?

For the photographically-minded among you, the unique lighting in the above picture comes from a kerosene lantern.  You can see the edge of its base in the lower-left corner of the frame.  I often use a lantern for spot-lighting on gloomy days.  It also provides a wonderful soft raking light for checking a surface for flaws.

Krenov Sawhorse 26

Once the tenons were fit to the mortises, I sawed the end-shoulders on the tenons and sawed the grooves for the wedges.  I’m of the school that bores relief holes at the end of the wedge kerf to minimize splitting.  I realize that this debate is right up there with pins-first, tails first dovetails, but in this camp I come down firmly on the side of the relief holes.  It’s true that the ends of the mortise support the wedged wood, but the very fact that you’ve put a wedge in the wood means that you’ve stressed the fibers beyond the the end of the kerf, giving the potential for the split to run.  Besides, as far as I know, there’s no downside to boring the holes.  If any readers want to weigh in on this, I’d love to hear your views.

Next time, we’ll put the whole thing together.  Stay tuned!

Krenov Sawhorses – Through Mortises

Krenov Sawhorse 16

Before I attached the uprights to the feet, I needed to cut the through mortises for the lower stretcher.  As in most things, accurate layout is the beginning of a good joint.  I wanted the top edge of the stretcher to be the same height as my sawbench, so I measured accordingly, and subtracted 3″ for the height of the foot.  This gave me the distance from the shoulder of the tenon to the top of the stretcher.  Since I was going to be working on the mortise from both sides, I carried this measurement all the way around the upright.  For this kind of job, a saddle square like this large model from Veritas can’t be beat.

Krenov Sawhorse 17

Following the first mark, I made another mark to show the bottom edge of the stretcher.  This mark isn’t absolutely necessary, but it helps me visualize things.  I then marked in 1/4″ for the tenon shoulders.

Krenov Sawhorse 18

Next, I laid out the mortise width.  I wanted the tenons to be as wide as possible, so I allowed for 1/8″ tenon shoulders.  Since I was working with 7/8″ stock, this gave me a final mortise width of 5/8″.  I set up my marking gauge accordingly, and marked the mortises as close to centered as possible.  Since I was going to attack the mortise from both sides of the board, I marked the other side to match.  When you do this, it’s important to flip the board end-for-end so that you register the marking gauge on the same edge of the board.  This ensures that, even if the mortise is slightly off-center (as is usually the case), the marks on the two faces line up and all is well.

Krenov Sawhorse 19

To remove the bulk of the waste, I prefer a brace and bit.  No other technique gives me the same level of control and ability to adjust to variables.  My sawbench and posterior give an excellent clamping arrangement for this technique.  Of course, if I were boring into the edge, I would have to use a couple of holdfasts instead.

Krenov Sawhorse 20

Since this is a 5/8″ mortise, I used a 1/2″ bit.  This allowed me some leeway for final trimming.  I bore from one side until the point of the auger breaks through the far side, stopping before the spurs break through.  I repeat this for a series of overlapping holes, the result of which you can see above.

Krenov Sawhorse 21

Now, with the board flipped over, I bore in the opposite direction, using the pilot holes to register the bit.  The result is a scalloped opening.  Note the wood border between the holes and the marked lines.  Note also how some of the scallop points have broken off with the grain.  More on this in a moment.

Krenov Sawhorse 22

The rest is simply a matter of cleaning up with a chisel.  Since the sides are parallel to the grain, this doesn’t require a great deal of force.  On the contrary, the wood is often too willing to break away, as was seen in the previous photo.  Go slowly and gently with this operation, or you may find yourself staring at a chunk of wood that you didn’t intend to remove.  As with dovetails, work towards the center from both faces to avoid surface tearout.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of a completed mortise.  However, really, there’s not much to see – a rectangular hole in a board, not very exciting.  Of course, if I had messed one up, THAT would have been blog-worthy.  Fortunately, I managed to avoid that.  Next time, I’ll make the matching tenons.  Stay tuned!

Krenov Sawhorses – A Firm Footing

With all the wood dimensioned, it was time to start the joinery.  I cut the four feet to length and laid out for the mortises at the center of each using a mortise gauge with a pair of spurs.  Having recently read Robert Wearing’s excellent book, The Essential Woodworker, I decided to use a variant of his mortising technique.

Krenv Sawhorse 9

After scoring deeply with the mortise gauge, I began by making a series of shallow cuts across the width of the mortise with a chisel using hand pressure only.  In Wearing’s example, he uses the same mortise chisel used to chop the mortise.  However, in hickory, the mortise chisel didn’t work very well with hand pressure alone, so I opted instead for a bench chisel.  The idea is to simply raise the chip a bit, forming a corrugated area proud of the surrounding surface.

Krenv Sawhorse 10

Once this is done, simply take the side of chisel and, going against the grain of the raised chips, rake them away.  This leaves a shallow rectangular recess in the surface of the wood.  This is the reason for the deep scores earlier.  You now have a pair of “fences” to ensure that your mortising chisel is properly registered, and doesn’t wander off-line.  The first cut with the mortise chisel is the most important, and defines the rest of the cut.  This technique greatly improves your odds of chopping a good mortise.

Krenov Sawhorse 11

In softer woods, I will either begin chopping directly, or bore a single relief hole.  However, in hickory, I decided to bore three relief holes in each mortise.  This extra step was more than repaid when the time came to chop.  I’m not sure my handle would have stood the strain otherwise.  Those of you who have bored relief holes with a brace and auger know how easy it is to get slightly off-center.  Once again, the recess helps by letting you lay the bit on its side with the spurs between the walls, and then stand  it up with the point in place.  It’s not perfect, but it does help.  Then, bang away!

Krenov Sawhorse 12

In fairly short order, I had all four legs properly mortised and ready for their tenons.

Krenov Sawhorse 13

I left the legs overlong.  This gave me room to repeat a tenon if I made a mistake – the excess is removed once the danger is past.  This is something I try to do whenever possible, and it has saved my bacon more than once.  The tenons were a bit rough, as mine often are.  This time, however, I had a secret weapon:

Krenov Sawhorse 14

I had seen Christopher Schwarz finish tenons with a router plane, and had wanted to try the technique.  With a new Veritas model in the shop, my chance had arrived.  The process is fairly straightforward.  Abut a piece of wood the same thickness as your piece against the end of the tenon.  This gives a support to the router, and lets you trim in the same way that you would clean up a dado.  Proceed lightly, alternating sides and checking the fit, and you’ll have perfectly centered, straight-sided tenons.  Of course, this assumes that your mortises are also perfectly centered.  If not, you’ll have to modify the technique somewhat, as I will on the blanket chest project.

Krenov Sawhorse 15

I finished up the feet by cutting away a small amount on the underside to make two contact pads on each foot.  This makes for much flatter sitting, especially on irregular surfaces.  A simple 45 degree miter on the top corners finished everything off.  You could, of course, finish them any way you like – ogee, roundover, leave ’em square.  But for me, in the end, it’s just a sawhorse.  I just didn’t want to be stubbing my toe.

Now, the feet are ready to be joined to the legs.  But first, I’ve got to do the through-tenon joinery for the stretchers.  We’ll do that next time.  Stay tuned!

Krenov Sawhorses – Getting the Bow Out

Truth be told, straightening bowed stock isn’t as hard as you would think, especially with hand tools.  Unlike power tools, no special jigs are required, only the skills you already possess.  The following is the way I generally go about it.

Bowed Board 1a

The first thing you need is a reference line.  Since there’s no straight surface to start from, a straightedge of suitable length or a chalk line is the tool for this job.  I always start with the concave edge, but that’s just my preference.  In the drawing above, the curve is exaggerated for clarity.  If I really had a board that bowed, I’d go back to the lumberyard.  Once you have a straight reference line, it’s simply a matter of removing the waste.  Conventionally, this is done with hand planes.  However, if the waste is wide enough, I see no problem with removing most of it with a ripsaw.

Bowed Board 2a

Either way, you eventually wind up using one or more hand planes to finish the job.  For initial stock removal, I like a scrub plane or jack plane, switching to a jointer plane as you get closer to the reference line.  In the drawing above, I show starting from the far end and working backwards.  However, depending on the grain, you can start from the near end and work forwards.  In either case, the body of the plane bridges the gap of the bow, and said gap grows smaller as your cut progresses downwards.  Do this equally on both ends, paying attention to the grain, and you’ll end up being able to take one long shaving the entire length of the board.  Check with your straightedge – your edge should be straight.

Bowed Board 1b

Once one edge is straight, go back to your marking gauge or panel gauge and mark a line parallel to the first one. This ensures parallel edges.  Whenever possible, mark directly from your reference edge to reduce the chance of error.

Bowed Board 2b

Convex surfaces are generally considered more difficult to plane straight than concave ones.  As shown above, a concave surface allows the plane bed to “bridge” the gap, restricting cutting to the higher areas at the end.  With a convex surface, the plane can follow the curve without reducing it.  If there’s enough room, I highly recommend removing most of the waste with a ripsaw to gain a flat area parallel to the line.  If not, a scrub plane or coarse-set jack plane will get you close.  In this case, start in the middle, establish a flat area, and work outwards and downwards, trying to stay parallel to the line.  When you get close, switch to a jointer plane.

Krenov Sawhorse 6

I mentioned earlier that all of the parts for these two sawbents comprise a series of pairs.  The last step is to clamp a pair together, and plane them to matching width.  I use small handscrews to hold them together, and then clamp the whole assembly in the tail vise.

Krenv Sawhorse 8

With this operation completed, I have a stack of matching parts to assemble two sawbents.  There are, left to right, two pairs of uprights, two bottom stretchers, two top stretchers, and two pairs of feet, all 3″ wide.  Next time, I’ll start foot joinery.  Stay tuned!

Folding Trivet, Roubo Style

I was thumbing through a catalog the other day, and stumbled upon a folding trivet.  You know, the things you put under a hot pot on the table.  It was made of two pieces of plastic joined together with a pivot in the middle, and was X-shaped when open, but folded flat for storage or carrying.  I thought to myself, “Why not make one from wood?”

Don’t worry, I’m not talking about two pieces of wood with a nail through the middle.  Rather, I’m talking about a single piece of wood, using the knuckle joint loved by whittlers and Andre Roubo alike.  The basic construction is similar to the Roubo bookstand that I made some time back, but on a much smaller scale.  Once you get the knack, these are simple to make and, using nice offcuts, would make great small gifts for teachers, party favors, or what have you.

Folding Trivet 1

The process begins with cutting a piece of wood to about 3/4″ x 3/4″ and about 9″ long.  This seems to yield a finished “X” to fit most pots.  Following this, mark the center of the piece all the way around, and then make 45 degree marks to form a diamond on the two opposing sides.  Then, mark lines around the stock at the points of the diamonds.

Folding Trivet 2

Next, divide the clear faces into thirds between the outer boundary lines, and shade alternating sections as shown above.  It is crucial that the opposing faces be marked the opposite of each other, or the joint is doomed to failure.

Folding Trivet 3

After all the faces are marked correctly (you’re sure, aren’t you?), drill small holes completely through the wood at the intersection of one of the boundary lines with each of the two dividing lines.  This provides a starting point for a saw blade.  Oh, and don’t to like I did and let the nose of your chuck run into the wood – see the circles?  I’m using a deep-throat fretsaw, so the hole is 1/16″.  Saw downwards from the hole to the other boundary line along the dividing line as shown.  This defines the parts of the joint.

Folding Trivet 4

Now comes the tricky part.  Using a chisel, remove all the shaded areas.  While this requires some care, it’s much easier that the multiple-knuckled Roubo bookstand.  One way to make things easier is to use a block of wood cut at a 45 degree angle as a guide for the last few strokes.  This is especially helpful on the inside cuts as shown above.  Yes, I know I need to make one more cut on the bottom side – I got it after I shot the photo.

Folding Trivet 5

When you finish, the joint should look like the photo above.  Notice that lines have been drawn from the points of the diamonds to the ends of the piece.  These will be the cut lines for your saw.

Folding Trivet 6

I used a handsaw for this, but a bandsaw is a better choice if you have one.  I just used my handsaw to stick with the all-handtool theme.  I chose a 12pt crosscut saw instead of a ripsaw due to the fragility of the wood.  Go slowly and carefully, especially as you approach the boundary lines which mark the end of your cut.  This is the point where the magic happens, and the one piece of wood magically separates into two.

Folding Trivet 7

Or three, if you aren’t careful.  Actually, the pine for the first prototype wasn’t strong enough to take the stress.  The fact that I could have been gentler with my manipulations certainly contributed to the problem.  However, even if I had treated it like spun glass, the pine was still a bad choice.  I made the second prototype from hickory with much better results.

Folding Trivet 8

And now, for the moment of truth.  As you reach the boundary lines, the ends should separate and start to hinge.  If things are sticky, take a close look at all your cuts, and gently tweak things.  Finally, the (now) two pieces will pivot away from each other.  As you can see from the photo above, there are little bits here and there that need to be cleaned up but who cares?  You did it!

Folding Trivet 9

And here it is in all its unfolded glory.  Did I hear you say that it looks a little plain?  Bear in mind, this was a prototype to prove the concept.  Though tough, hickory is not the most decorative of woods, and would not be my choice for a production model.  However, there are limitless ways to dress the basic model up.  Exotic woods, curved or sculpted profiles, and decorative carvings are all ways to turn this basic form into something worthy to give as a gift.

Hey, even if they don’t use it for hot pots, they may, like my sister-in-law,  just spend hours playing with the cool joint.