My store-bought chisels were either too wide or too thick for some of the narrow mortises in the horseshoe chair, so I made several small chisels for the job. (See photo, left.)

I ground the blades for these chisels from commercial hacksaw blades, which are made of high-speed tool steel. I attached maple handles with rosewood ferrules. The first handles I made were round in cross section and tended to roll around on the bench. The newer versions, with oval or rectangular handles, stay put. I've found these miniature tools so handy that I now use them for marking and layout work. (For construction details, see "Shop Knives/' AW #32.) — Y.C.

Square Corner and Hugging Shoulder Joints

"IT he chair's seat frame is joined at each corner with a mortise-and-f tenon miter joint called a "square comer" joint. The tenons are locked into their mortises with wedges (not shown).

Only after the joints are fitted and assembled are the holes for the rear chair post drilled in the mitered seat-frame pieces. The seat frame then slips into place over the posts.

Each seat rail is joined to the leg with a double-tenon joint called a "hugging shoulder." This joint was more commonly found in cabinets and tables than in chairs.


Thin-kerf work. Chan uses a Japanese ryoba saw to cut the tenon cheeks on a chair rail.

Wedge Nail Joint

The chair's back rail is made up of five pieces of wood sawn to a curve and joined end-to-end with "wedge nail" joints. A tapered wooden "key" locks each joint together. Chinese woodworkers probably developed this joint because much of the wood they used was not suitable tor bending. The wedge nail joint is very strong but must be made precisely, because its strength and rigidity rely on a good fit.

In the groove. Chan uses one of his custom-made narrow-bladed chisels (see sidebar, pane 54) to cut the bottom of the tapered keyway mortise in the wedge nail joint.


(Dalbergia odifera), a variety of rosewood. Furniture for the common people was often made of various indigenous softwoods, then finished with a semitransparcnt lacquer to provide a uniformity of color. Very few examples of early Chinese softwood furniture survive today.

Studying the furniture at the museum and recreating these authentic joints has given me an even deeper appreciation of Chinese joinery. There is no reason these joints should be relegated to antiquity. They arc just as useful now as they were in the days of the Ming emperors more than 300 years ago. These joints could easily find applications in contemporary furniture design

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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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