The Design of a Gooseneck Mortise Chisel

Recently I have been working on a prototype for a new workshop that Roy Underhill and I are going to offer at the Woodwright’s School.  This project is a standing desk, with an open leg framework below with four stretchers for support.  These stretcher mortises are narrow and deep, and for maximal support are chopped to within ¼” of the leg stock dimension depth (1 ½”).

Continue reading “The Design of a Gooseneck Mortise Chisel”

Setting Up Shop

Bill Anderson looking at his wall of molding planes in his woodworking workshop

Lots of people have posted tool lists online, describing what a starting kit should be for a beginner. However, I have been doing woodworking all of my life (69 years).  I jumped into handtool woodworking about 40 years ago immediately following a table saw accident.  There was a moment of infinite clarity as my fingers on the right hand were pulled through the blade.  I realized that I had no idea what it truly meant to be working with wood.  I joined a woodworking program at NC State Univ. and have been the better for it ever since.  Now I am needing to put together a tool kit that will allow me to do the things I love, but in a place far away from my shop. Continue reading “Setting Up Shop”

The Jig is Up!


It seems as though the term “jig” has an undercurrent of negativism when it comes up in conversation among woodworkers, particularly handtool or traditional woodworkers. Usually when the word “jig” occurs, there is some variant of sniggering, shaking of heads, with the implication that one who uses a jig in their work is not capable of doing the work simply by hand and by eye.  In other words, jig appears to have a pejorative connotation.  I am at a failure to understand the roots of this perspective or how we could dismiss some tools out of hand, but readily accept others. Continue reading “The Jig is Up!”

Accuracy is the Enemy of Precision: Part II

Error is a pervasive concept in our lives. Either consciously or subconsciously we seek to eliminate error or to manage error.  When we as a species were roaming the savannahs, error was a life and death concept.  We either ate or we were eaten.  Now, possibly, we balance error versus convenience.  You might even say that error determines the magnitude of risk versus reward.  In many ways, we choose the amount of error that is acceptable to our lives, and for the most part this choice is relative.  When setting the standards for the passage of time, acceptable error is in the millionths of a second.  For firing a rocket for a Moon landing, error might be in milliseconds.  For boiling an egg, it is in seconds.  For managing our airplane flights across the country, acceptable error could be in minutes or hours. Continue reading “Accuracy is the Enemy of Precision: Part II”

Accuracy is the Enemy of Precision: Part I

An aphorism that I have been hearing frequently is: “accuracy is the enemy of precision”. When I was gainfully employed (I am now retired) I did research at a drug company and also at the EPA.  I dealt every day with the concepts of accuracy and precision.  The reality is that one cannot divide these into separate concepts because they overlap to a very large degree.  A more correct aphorism might be “Accuracy is the Friend Precision”, or alternatively “Without Accuracy There is No Precision” or even “Without Precision There is No Accuracy”.  Continue reading “Accuracy is the Enemy of Precision: Part I”