Housed Shelf Joints

The beauty of the miter is in its continuity of form. It is still, however, a butt joint, and cannot stand on its own. With housed joints, we are back to connecting wood with interlocks. The most familiar housed joint is at the end of a bookshelf, where the horizontal shelf enters a dado, a cross-grain trench cut to receive it in the upright sides. In the simplest version, the end of the shelf spans the full width of the upright, resting in a full-width dado. As with any cross-grain work, the first cut should be made with a knife. Set the knife at one edge of the dado and slide the square up to it. Pull back and slice a deep line across the grain. If you use a paring chisel for this, let the bevel rub against the edge of the try square.

This scoring is not just for marking; it is the first cut of the shoulder. Make a second cut down the line inclined to the waste side. This makes a little V-cut with a vertical wall toward the finished edge, not only severing the cross-grain for a clean shoulder, but also giving the saw a place to ride.

The saw for the cross-grain cut must be straight from end to end so you can be sure of reaching the bottom all the way across. Walter Rose in The Village Carpenter recalled how all the handsaws in the shop were sharpened "roach-backed"—slightly convex from toe to heel to allow better bottoming in trench work.

All of this works very well if the dado crosses from one edge of the board to the other. Often though, you want to stop the housing short of the full width of the board. Because the saw is then unable to carry through and clear the sawdust, you have to bore and chisel a short trench at the far end of the cut. This gives a little clearance to work the saw in short strokes. The end of the saw blade is very likely to bump the end of the trench, so leave some extra wood as a bumper until the sawing is complete.

After the knife and saw define the sides, the chisel removes the waste. Start chiseling in from either end to be sure you don't split off too much. Begin the roughing in with the chisel held bevel down, and then finish by sliding the chisel flat across the grain like the finishing strokes of a broadaxe.

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Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

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