Monday, September 8, 2008

Bait and Switch

Blog reader Jason was asking about the door frame construction on the Shaker clock I showed a few days ago. In the comments of yesterday's blog entry, Jason asked:

I just noticed the door on your shaker clock. Are you using the plans from Woodcraft to build it? I'm just asking because I thought one of the most difficult joints to make on that project was the through tennons on the doors. I spent a lot of time getting those right and was pretty proud of them when I did. When I was at Woodcraft, buying the mechanism and face for the fourth clock I made, I decided to check out their sample clock to see how theirs looked. Guess what... the doors were half-lapped together. I felt cheated. And now, I look at your door, and I don't see the through tennons. Did I do all that extra work for nothing!!!???"

I responded to Jason explaining this clock is one that I started in my class with Chris Gochnour back in April/May. With the exception of planing the rough lumber and squaring the stock it is built entirely with hand tools. Also the door frame utilizes hand cut mortise and tenon joints. However, my door frame uses "normal" M&T's as opposed to through tenons. (I just built the clock that Mr. Gochnour showed us.)

Below are some photos showing the details of the construction. Please note I have not tweaked the joints yet, so there are still some minor gaps that have to be closed up.

Wow... a blog post ENTIRELY about woodworking. You just never know what you are going to get here.

I also hope this blog entry effectively counters a fan of the blog who informed me that I was guilty of doing a "bait and switch" when they found out I was not a woodworker who did actual work. (This person suggested I limited myself to only buying tools and lumber, without putting the tools to use.)

Every time that tired old argument comes up, I have to console the inhabitants of my tool cabinet by reminding them I have had life insurance policies for YEARS that I still haven't put to use.


Praki Prakash said...


How did you create the beading?


Jeff Skiver said...

Praki, Chris Gochnour had brought along a simple molding plane that we used to cut the profiles around the door frames.

JasonB said...

Those are some nice looking joints, and obviously more difficult than my through tennons. I apologize for ever doubting you. I guess I'm still harboring some bad memories from the "Woodcraft Half-Lap" incident. And also in my defense, the Shaker clock plans I used had me create the stiles and rails with the rabbett on the back for the glass, first. So the tennons had to be cut deeper on the back then the front to fit the mortise cut in the rabbett. That will drive anyone a little crazy.

Jeff Skiver said...

Jason, I am still trying to find an example of a shaker clock with what I think of as through tenons.

In the July/August 2002 issue of Fine Woodworking, Chris Becksvoort uses "haunched mortise and tenon joints" for the doors, but they could almost be described as bridle joints.

However, I did find a Woodcraft plan that uses the half laps you described. It can be found here:

Ultimately, I don't think it really matters. I don't have the historical knowledge to know what is most authentically "Shaker." Also, I only chose the traditional Mortise and Tenons because that evil slave driver Chris Gochnour told me to.

(Actually, Chris is probably nicer and more easy going than your grandmother. I just wanted to use the phrase "evil slave driver Chris Gochnour" to see what kind of Google traffic it brings into the blog.)

JasonB said...

Here is a link to the plans I used (didn't buy the kit, just the plans).

Those plans called for the through mortise and tennon. If you look closely at the picture, you can see the end grain of the tennon on the rails showing on the side of the stile.

Of course, I just noticed that they call this a "Hancock Clock". But, I'd swear my plans call it a Shaker clock. It even has the big hole in the top to mount it on a shaker peg.

I honestly don't think it matters as long as you're happy (see my earlier comments defending your use of "nice" wood for drawer sides).

When I first saw the picture of your clock, I assumed you used a stile and rail router bit to make your doors, which on a "Shaker" clock, is grounds for being picked on. Obviously, I was mistaken.

My problem with Woodcraft's sample clock, is that the sample is supposed to represent the kit and plans they sell. But they half-lapped the doors rather than following the plans. And I think that's pretty lame.

Anonymous said...


Has your blog evolved or is this the token woodworking entry to which you will refer for years to come? I kid... I'm a kidder.

You clock looks good thus far.


Jeff Skiver said...

Believe it or not that whole business of the lost chisel was going to be more than enough woodworking related content to last us through the remainder of 2008.

However, I happened to receive a comment from someone who said that although they enjoyed the sometimes irreverent tone of the blog, "i did think you were a woodworker that made actual projects...that is a bait and switch"

The next thing you know we're suddenly discussing boring old woodworking stuff like half laps, bridle joints, haunched tenons, through tenons, and plain old M&T's.

I think I am going to go for a drive in the Benz. A high speed romp with the top down always stirs up the whacky stuff. This blog will be back to drivel in no time.

Hey...I just got an idea. Why don't all of us who follow this blog dress up like the little Droogies from Clockwork Orange and go out tracking down all of the half-lap Shaker Clocks out there. Then, once we find them, we bash them up, real horror show like.

Alright, tell the Highway Patrol to stand down. I just managed to come up with a normal Skiver idea without having to violate the posted speed limit. Apparently behind the wheel is not my only creative think place.

Anonymous said...

It was a good ride, Jeff. One day I will tell my grandchildren about the one skiver woodworking post. I'm sure they'll repeat it to impress their friends.

Jason (M)