You're right to question the logic behind using two smaller tenons in place of one wider tenon. Although one wide tenon is a poor solution, as it could expand and break out the top of the stile, two tenons don't really solve the problem. They still expand, and the top of the stile is still at risk. And the rail itself may split in the middle.
The best-balanced solution to this situation is a haunched tenon. The haunch allows the wood to expand without endangering the top of the stile, yet you still have a good-sized tenon to make a sound joint. If your rail is very wide, say 10 in. or so, you could break it into two tenons, but you would still want to haunch the one nearest the outside.
James Krenov Cabinetmaker Fort Bragg, CA
Making Your Own Tack Cloths a fir,
• dust off a piece between coats of finish, but their cost is going up, and they are getting hard to find. Does someone haw a method for making tack cloths?
john kindseth Lodi.CA
A When I was an apprentice in
• Central Europe in the 1920s, the boss' wife made about five tack cloths at a time, a supply which lasted for three to four years.
She began with worn sheets or old shirts, which she washed and cut into handkerchief-sized rags. To keep loose threads from working out of the rags, she hemmed them on her treadle sewing machine and then rewashed them.
Instead of thoroughly drying the rags, she squeezed out all the water she could and spread them out on newspapers to absorb a little more moisture. Meanwhile, she mixed five parts turpentine with one part slow-drying varnish and xh-toVa-parts cooking oil. (Corn or safflower oil would work well.)
The boss lady stuck her fingers in the mixture and spritzed it on both sides of the cloth. The apprentices picked up the cloth and worked the mixture into it with both hands. When finished, our squares were pleasantly moist and our hands were terribly sticky. The boss lady folded the squares, rolled them and stored them in an airtight glass jar, and released them—one at a time-as the shop needed them.
GEORGE FRANK Woodfini slier Venice. FL
Routing With a Drill Press
QI'm equipping my shop on a
• limited budget. I'm thinking of buying a drill press and having it double as a router. What uvuld you suggest?
Boynlon Beach. FL
• in your drill press will damage your project and may also damage the drill press. Router bits are designed to operate at speeds ranging from 20,000 to 25.000 RPM. A drill press develops a maximum speed of less than 5.000 RPM. Running a router bit at such a slow speed results in an extremely rough cut, with lots of chipping and tear-out.
The bearings in a drill press are usually designed to take only vertical loads. Putting a lateral load oil the bearings during routing may wear them out prematurely.
My advice is to buy a router. In our shop we use the router for shaping. cutting grooves, mortising, and cutting edge profiles. It is a much more versatile machine than a drill press. Then, when your budget allows, buy an electric hand drill it you don't already have one, and you will be well ahead of the game.
James Van Etten
Cabinetmaker Perkasie, PA
The Right Stuff for Letter Openers
Ql want to make some \\x>oden
• letter openers with handles made of a synthetic countertop material called Corian. The problem is
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