Cutting Angled Dovetails in SketchUp

Recently I had an e-mail from a woodworker who is trying to model a tote box similar to the one shown here. The tricky part for him is creating the dovetails. The dovetails for a typical case or drawer box with square corners are generally pretty straightforward because you can use the native Push/Pull to create the pins and sockets. With both sides meeting at an angle like they do in this project, the dovetails require a different approach. I’ll show you in this video how I go about modeling the sides of the box, then laying out and cutting the dovetail joints.

Although the joints could be modeled with native tools, I used an extension called Joint Push/Pull to speed things up. If you don’t already have it installed and plan to get it. Make sure you also install LibFredo6.





Sign up for eletters today and get the latest techniques and how-to from Fine Woodworking, plus special offers.

Get woodworking tips, expert advice and special offers in your inbox


STL194: New-Fangled Finishes

Danish Modern Desk with Tim Rousseau

Question 1: 

From Devin:
Over the years of listening to your show, reading Fine Woodworking, and watching instructional videos, I’ve heard a million different suggestions for how long to let a glue-up sit before you take the clamps off. Ranging from “a little while” -whatever that is?- to overnight, and everything in between. Do you guys have any good rules of thumb for drying time?

Question 2:

From the Fine Woodworking forum by forum member NewAndGreen:
I’d like to apply a water based topcoat to two white oak chairs I’ve sanded. I was interested in using General Finishes water-based topcoat, but don’t know if I should go with the flat or the satin finish. I have read that GF’s satin is shinier than most. Is that true?  (I put a coat of Minwax Satin Polycrylic on one and liked the look, but I’m looking for a better product .) I know I don’t want to start mixing. (I’ve already over-complicated the process!) I also know I don’t want a glossy look and not a totally matte look. Ugh. Pictures of two parts of chair attached for reference. Thanks in advance for your advice/thoughts to this new and green refinisher!

Question 3:

Also from Paul:
I  have not heard Rubio Monocoat or Osmo mentioned on the podcast. Have any of you tried Monocoat? Being in the industry professionally myself, and, seeing what other pros are using, Monocoat and Osmo seem to be the two go-to products that many professionals use as their primary oil finish (they’re like the BMW and Mercedes of woodworking it seems). Any experience and/or recommendations there?

Price of Osmo Polyx Oil at time of broadcast: .75-Liter=$58.56

Segment: All-Time Favorite Technique of All Time

Mike: Tom McLaughlin’s “cut some off and glue it on the other side” technique

Anissa: Steve Latta’s hinged flips stop

Ben: Using metal files to shape difficult woods

Question 4:

From Brendan:
I can’t draw by hand at all.  Not even a little. My 3rd grade drawings look every bit as good as my current attempts. On STL180, you talked about design for about 30 minutes without mentioning cad as a design medium.   I know it’s a scary topic but as a resolution at least one of you should try to design a furniture piece down to the jointery on your computer. The learning curve can be steep but I find that designing on the computer allows me to virtually build the piece without creating any sawdust.

And from Paul:
I don’t know that I’ve ever heard Fusion 360 mentioned on the podcast. I used Sketchup for several years and loved it… however, a few years ago a landed a very complicated project (with cnc work involved), and came to the realization I needed something more sophisticated. Fusion 360 is now such a huge part of my business and can’t imagine ever going back to Sketchup. Having parametric capabilities now seems absolutely necessary. Have any of you ever tried it?



Anissa – Ted Talk – Rives: The Museum of Four in the Morning
Ben – The Woodworkers Podcast and luthiery podcast Omo


Every two weeks, a team of Fine Woodworking staffers answers questions from readers on Shop Talk Live, Fine Woodworking‘s biweekly podcast. Send your woodworking questions to [email protected] for consideration in the regular broadcast! Our continued existence relies upon listener support. So if you enjoy the show, be sure to leave us a five-star rating and maybe even a nice comment on our iTunes page.


Sign up for eletters today and get the latest techniques and how-to from Fine Woodworking, plus special offers.

Get woodworking tips, expert advice and special offers in your inbox


Tool News: Oneida Air Systems New Deputy Deluxe SD Cyclone Separator Kit

Article ImageArticle Image
Photo: courtesy of Oneida Air Systems

From Oneida Air Systems:

Oneida Air Systems introduces the newest offering in its Dust Deputy® family of products—the Dust Deputy Deluxe SD Cyclone Separator Kit. This kit combines the patented Dust Deputy SD cyclone separator with a portable 14-gallon airtight dust bin to turn any wet/dry vacuum into a high-capacity, two-stage dust control system. It’s ideal for any industrial environment where wet/dry vacuums are regularly used.

Photo: courtesy of Oneida Air Systems

The Dust Deputy SD cyclone removes over 99% of dust and debris from the airstream, containing it in a mobile 14-gallon dust bin before it reaches the vacuum—virtually eliminating filter clogging and suction loss, and dramatically extending filter life. Its unique bag retainer system allows the use of plastic liner bags, which can be tied off when filled for easy, mess-free waste disposal. The cyclone and dust bin are made of industrial-grade, static-conductive resin, making the Dust Deputy Deluxe SD Cyclone Separator Kit an ideal solution for wide-ranging applications, including those for which static buildup is a concern. The kit’s molded dust bin is easily portable on five non-marking, free rotating, locking caster wheels and is topped with a metal lid that seals airtight when in operation.

Currently available on at an introductory price of $399 through July 31, 2019, the Dust Deputy Deluxe SD Cyclone Separator Kit has a regular retail price of $429 and includes the Dust Deputy SD cyclone, 14-gallon metal lidded dust bin with caster wheels, bag retainer system with five plastic liner bags, and five feet of static conductive, crush resistant hose.

About Oneida Air Systems

Headquartered in Syracuse, New York, Oneida Air Systems is a manufacturer of award-winning Made in USA dust collection systems and components. For more information, visit

Sign up for eletters today and get the latest techniques and how-to from Fine Woodworking, plus special offers.

Get woodworking tips, expert advice and special offers in your inbox


What’s the Lead in Your Pencil?

Article ImageArticle Image

This post may hurt some people’s feelings, but I feel it needs to be said. I really dislike mechanical pencils. There … I said it.

I don’t like the feel of them. I don’t like how the lead in them breaks all the time. Then, when you try to use them, the lead slips inside the barrel and then you have to click, like, 1,000 times to get the broken piece out. I just don’t like them, nor do I trust them, so I don’t use them.

And that’s just on paper. They are even worse on wood, so I’m a big believer in the good old wood-cased pencil. To be fair, I’m a bit of a stationery nerd. I love pens and pencils and pencil sharpeners and highlighters and 3-hole punches. I’m really picky about what pencils I use in the shop. I’ve tried almost every pencil on the planet, and I’ve narrowed it down to three favorites. I am also prone to hyperbole so keep that in mind.

In my shop, pencil lines come in three sizes: thick, medium, and fine. Thick lines are what I use on rough lumber to mark out parts that will come out of a board. For this, I use what has been mistaken in the past as a mechanical pencil, but it’s not. A lead holder does just that. It holds a long, thick piece of lead to make it easier to mark with.

Now, I know that some of you are already rolling your eyes and remarking that I’m cracked. What’s the difference between a mechanical pencil and a lead holder? The difference is that I don’t use mechanical pencils, but I do use a lead holder… back to the story.

I use a soft lead (4B) and it leaves thick, dark lines on most woods, making it perfect for the task. The diameter of the lead is a whopping 5.6mm (that’s around 1/4 in. for those of you still using imperial) and I rarely sharpen it because I’m not looking for a precision line. I use this pencil in lieu of a carpenter’s pencil because I find that there is a lot of variation in the hardness of the lead with carpenter’s pencils, so they are not predictable.

My next pencil is a good old HB. I like the #2 HB Ticonderoga mostly because it is triangular in profile and has a slightly larger diameter that fits nicely in my large paw. Before any of you cry foul, I’m not receiving payments from the folks at Dixon and this isn’t a thinly veiled advert for anyone. I like the pencil, and as far as I know, no one else makes them. (However, I wouldn’t say no if a gross of these pencils turned up at my door.)

Finally, and most importantly, is the pencil I use for fine lines. These lines are used to indicate locations for joinery so they have to be dark, clear, and thin. This is where most people would grab a mechanical pencil. I find the #3 H Ticonderoga is the best for these qualities. The #3 H leaves a dark line, and the added hardness makes it so the pencil doesn’t blunt easily. You can get even finer lines out of this pencil if you use a long-point sharpener. Unless you are sharpening a mascara pencil, I feel that all pencils should have a long point – they just last so much longer that way. They will also slip into knife lines to help you see them better, a big plus if you have more experienced eyes.

The pencils I’ve mentioned are easy to find and are inexpensive so they won’t break the bank. The lead holder that I have is a pencil kit that you can easily turn to make your own custom variety. So, say goodbye to broken leads, and stringing together expletives when it happens. Whether you are making bold, inaccurate marks or fine lines for joinery, remember that your woodworking will only be as good as your marking. Take the time to find your favorite pencils but for the love of wood, leave the mechanical pencils in the desk.

2B or not 2B

by Tom Fidgen

Furniture maker Tom Fidgen shares some thoughts about this all to often, overlooked tool in the wood shop. Good design starts right here.

Get to the point already!

by Rollie Johnson

The most important skill we need to learn as woodworkers is sharpening. So let’s talk about pencil sharpening!

Layout: Pencil vs. Knife

by Chris Becksvoort

For accuracy and efficiency, you’ll need both

Sign up for eletters today and get the latest techniques and how-to from Fine Woodworking, plus special offers.

Get woodworking tips, expert advice and special offers in your inbox


Loose-pin butt hinges: a little play may be better than none

Article ImageArticle Image

I’m working on a set of built-in cabinets in cherry for a late 1920s house in one of our town’s loveliest historic districts. There are two cabinets flanking a large window, with a 7-ft.-long window seat between them. Each cabinet has a pair of doors, the design of which echoes that of the house’s original architectural doors for interior rooms and closets.

In process–doors fitted on three sides, window seat frame in place, awaiting cabinet tops, window seat lids, and mouldings.

For the past 20 years my go-to for quality butt hinges has been Rejuvenation Lighting & House Parts. Some may scoff at this choice; although I’m not an engineer or a tool-and-die guy, even I can tell that there’s a tad more play between the pin and leaves than one would hope for in a top-notch butt. (No butt jokes, people.) But given that one of my specialties is built-ins for early 20th-century homes, and my market consists primarily of middle-class professionals, most of them academics (as distinct from wealthy collectors, medical device inventors, or patrons of the arts), I’ve found that the hinges from Rejuvenation strike a good balance between quality, period authenticity, and price. They’re virtually indistinguishable from the original ball-tipped butts in many of my clients’ early-20th-century homes.

My greatest complaint about the ball-tipped butt hinges from Rejuvenation has been the disappointing quality of their screws, which I’ve found exasperatingly easy to snap off, even when I’ve drilled a correctly sized pilot hole for the root and shank. My solution is to buy slotted countersunk brass wood screws in the appropriate size from Jamestown Distributors, a source of high-quality boatbuilding supplies. If the hardware finish is antiqued brass or oiled bronze, I alter the color of the screws to match using brass aging solution.

But for such a lovely interior as this one I wanted to use top-quality butt hinges. And this is where things get sticky. My personal go-tos for top-quality hardware are Brusso, Horton Brasses, and Whitechapel. Admittedly, for this job I didn’t look at the Brusso or Horton websites but went straight to Whitechapel, because I’ve used various types of hardware from their catalog for period-style work in the past and have been happy. I sent links to the client for the Whitechapel latches and hinges (the 2-1/2 in. by 2 in., as the doors for this job are nearly 1-1/4 in. thick), and when she approved my recommendations, I placed the order.

The hinges are truly top-notch in terms of fabrication. The operation is silky-smooth, and there’s zero play between the pin and the leaves. And therein lies the rub. There is so little play between the leaves and pin that you have to hold the door in perfect alignment with the cabinet to get the pins in. Sure, this sounds obvious, but in reality, it’s not. One of the advantages of using loose-pin butts is that you can lift a door into place and start tapping the pins home, one at a time, to pull the door into perfect alignment.

With these hinges you have to hold the door in just the right position. This is more easily said than done when you’re talking about a door that’s more than 48 in. tall, 20 in. wide, and almost 1-1/4 in. thick and hung on three hinges. To be honest, even trying to get the pins back into the leaves when they’re not on the door and cabinet is a challenge. I didn’t even bother getting all the pins driven home—I was concerned about the time it would take (not to mention the potential damage to the finish of the hardware) to get the pins out again so that I could remove the doors to continue fitting them, then take them off for finishing.

First coat of oil

I ended up removing the leaves from the cabinet and putting the hinges together on the door, then screwing the door into the cabinet, which defeats the whole point of using loose-pin hinges.

One other caveat: The “fixed” ball tip at the bottom can fall out. It’s precision-threaded, but in moving the first cabinet off my benchtop to the floor, the vibration was enough to loosen two of the tips and send them skittering across the floor. They are not easy to spot. I recommend that you unscrew these ball tips and store them in a small jar or bag until you have completed the installation, then apply a dab of removable thread locker (available from most hardware stores) and screw them back in. (Incidentally, this is a good idea for any hinges with removable tips.)

Perhaps you’ll have better luck with hinges made to such close tolerances, but I can say that this experience has renewed my appreciation of those from Rejuvenation. In some cases, a little bit of play turns out to be a good thing.

Nancy Hiller is a professional cabinetmaker who has operated NR Hiller Design, Inc. since 1995. Her most recent books are English Arts & Crafts Furniture and Making Things Work, both available at Nancy’s website.

More on

Sign up for eletters today and get the latest techniques and how-to from Fine Woodworking, plus special offers.

Get woodworking tips, expert advice and special offers in your inbox


Axiom Tool Group Launches STRATUS Ambient Air Cleaner

Article ImageArticle Image

From Axiom Tool Group:

Westerville, Ohio – Axiom Tool Group today announced the release of its revolutionary STRATUS shop air cleaner. Beginning immediately, orders for the STRATUS can be placed at

Axiom’s design and development process began in 2015 with the goal of overcoming all of the shortcomings of antiquated ceiling-mounted designs. “We wanted to deliver an air-filtration system that was both elegant and effective, so we created the STRATUS,” said Todd Damon, president of Axiom Tool Group. “The STRATUS renders ceiling-mounted air cleaners obsolete by drawing dusty air down, rather than upward past the operator’s nose and mouth.”

The STRATUS is portable and rugged, and removes airborne dust created by woodworking and other industrial applications. The STRATUS Pro uses the same washable pre-filter and canister filter system as the STRATUS, but is housed in an industrial-strength stainless body and adds an activated charcoal insert that can be installed when smoke, odors or fumes are present. “Both models feature patented Twist-and-Lift filter access which makes STRATUS filter maintenance a snap,” said Damon.

“The concept of ambient air filtration is nothing new, but all previous attempts to address the problem have failed to deliver cleaner air,” said Damon. “The STRATUS is really the modern solution to an old problem.”

Both the STRATUS and STRATUS Pro ambient air cleaners are available for purchase at

– – –

Contact us for more information:
Todd Damon, president
Axiom Tool Group, Inc.
(844) 642-4902
[email protected]

Sign up for eletters today and get the latest techniques and how-to from Fine Woodworking, plus special offers.

Get woodworking tips, expert advice and special offers in your inbox


Tool Cabinets Are Overrated

Article ImageArticle Image

It’s funny how certain things become controversial. Even within the docile woodworking community, the fiery debate about pins first. vs. tails first rages on. If you don’t know what I am talking about, some woodworkers believe the pins portion of a dovetail should be cut first while others think it should be the tails. I have cut dovetails both ways and I really don’t think one way is better. To each their own, as they say.

There is, however, a topic that I have a strong opinion about. I wonder whether you will disagree. I have a problem with the idea of a wall-hanging tool cabinet. Many woodworkers believe building a beautiful wall cabinet to house and display their tools is a rite of passage and a shop necessity. To me, this is folly. How is it convenient to store tools up on the wall away from one’s workbench? Unless the tool cabinet is hung right above the workbench, where it could be in the way of larger projects, in my opinion it’s too far away.

To me, there is one simple solution. Commonly used bench tools should be stored in a cabinet under a bench, shoehorned into the bench’s frame. It doesn’t matter if you are using an old solid-core door, a slice of a bowling lane, or the most beautiful heirloom Roubo bench, tools should be stored beneath the benchtop. I realize that many features people like to incorporate into their bench may interfere with the doors or drawers of said cabinet., but I suggest if you are smart enough to install a leg vise or a sliding deadman, you have the ability to incorporate some storage under there as well. A perfect example of what I’m talking about is the Ultimate Shaker Workbench that Mike Pekovich and Matt Kenney built for the Fine Woodworking shop. Check it out; there is a video series documenting the build right here on this very site.

My traditional cabinetmaker’s bench has eight graduated drawers beneath its apron, which is home to tail and end vises. In these drawers I store my chisels, marking tools, sharpening supplies, handplanes, files/rasps, smaller handsaws, dovetail tools, spokeshaves, and the list goes on. I see a few advantages to keeping tools in this location. First, they are easily accessed via 100-lb. full-extension drawer slides. I can exchange handplanes, chisels, or marking tools without taking a step away from my bench. I find this to be extremely efficient. (If you are one who is trying to increase your step count for the day, this could be a disadvantage.) Second, if you move your bench around in your shop, the tools will move with it. Last, when planing hardwoods, sawing rigorously, or chopping joinery, you want a bench with all the weight it can get. Much like a tractor, weight equals traction (unless it’s really muddy, which I hope it’s not in your shop…).

To argue the flip side to my position, many woodworkers I look up to and consider heroes have wall-hanging tool cabinets. Garrett Hack, Chris Gochnour, Mike Pekovich, and many others come to mind. They all produce incredible work and when I watch their videos they flow pretty well in the shop. Mike also has a video series about building a wall-hanging tool cabinet for his home shop where he mentions when he opens his tool cabinet it transforms his garage into a proper wood shop, I get that. Also, perhaps something large is stored below your bench like a router table. That makes sense, too.

The point of this article is to get you thinking about the most important tool in any wood shop, the place where the most efficiencies can be gained or lost, the place where every project begins and ends—the workbench. I have made my case as to why tools should be stored beneath your bench. What say you?

I am in the planning stages of adding a twin screw vise to my bench. When completed, I will post a build video on my glorious YouTube channel where I will show the vise install and go into more detail about workbench storage. Thank you very much for reading. Until next time…

Introduction: Ultimate Shaker Workbench

Video Workshop by Mike Pekovich and Matt Kenney

Mike and Matt explain how the bench is constructed, from the big base to the top, vise, and the milk-painted drawers.

sears toolsears tool

Under-Bench Tool Cabinet

by Christian Becksvoort

Practical storage cabinet utilizes the wasted space beneath your benchtop

Divide and Conquer

by Mike Pekovich

Easy-to-make drawer dividers keep tools safe and secure

Sign up for eletters today and get the latest techniques and how-to from Fine Woodworking, plus special offers.

Get woodworking tips, expert advice and special offers in your inbox


STL193: Pocket Screws vs. Dominos

Start Woodworking Season 1 by Matt Berger, Asa Christiana

Question 1: 

From Dan:
I recently built a pair of desks featured in issue #270. I built them mostly the way Michael Robbins did, however instead of using a domino to construct the top I used pocket screws. I don’t own a domino, I opted for a hollow chisel mortiser, and  I thought it would be silly to use a hollow chisel mortise. How do you feel about pocket screws versus slip tenons made with a domino? Both tools make joining pieces of wood much simpler. One uses screws, the other uses wood and glue. One is under $100, and the other is over $1000. They are both faster and easier than traditional joinery. Am I wrong to think if I am not going to use traditional joinery pocket screws and domino slip tenons are interchangeable? I love my hollow-chisel mortiser, and if I’m gonna cheat on it, I’ll just use screws. 

Biscuit joinery best practices; biscuit joint tips and tricksBiscuit joinery best practices; biscuit joint tips and tricks

Biscuit Joinery Tips and Tricks

Learn how to harness the full potential of your biscuit joiner in Part I of our two-part series

By Asa Christiana

Simple Cabinetry with Pocket Hole Joinery

Low-cost jig produces basic cabinetry joinery that’s easy and strong

By Asa Christiana

Question 2:

From Chase:
I was trying to edge-joint two 10-ft. long boards to make a wide shelf for our closet using a #7 handplane.  Typically, I clamp the boards together and plane the common glue edge until I get an even shaving across both.  I think that the length of the two boards meant there was some variation that the #7 didn’t get. I can’t imagine trying to joint these on a jointer, even if I had one.  How would you go about making this glue up work?  

Jointing Boards for Dead-Flat Panel Glue-Ups

Even if your jointer fence is out of square, this simple tip will ensure perfect edge joints

By Michael Pekovich

Segment: All-time favorite tool of all time… for this week

Mike: An Exacto knife with a brand new blade

Asa: Cordless Trim Routers

Ben: James Mursell Travisher (@windsorworkshop)

fine woodworking free plans simple stoolfine woodworking free plans simple stool

Build a Simple Stool

Fast, fun approach to making a comfortable, casual seat

#256–Sep/Oct 2016 Issue

Question 3:

From Chad,
I was just listening to episode 190, and a listener asked about which big tool to buy next, a combo planer/jointer or a band saw. I’ve heard similar questions on the show before. I’m curious as to why you never mention the idea of investing in a makerspace, shared shop, or tool library? 

There are a lot of great examples of makerspaces that give access to fully stocked wood and metal shops for a reasonable membership fee as well as not-for-profit tool libraries that are usually state funded just like normal libraries that allow for the borrowing of tools like books!

For someone who’s just getting started in woodworking getting access to a full woodshop for a membership fee that wouldn’t be enough to buy a single quality power tool might be worth considering! 

Maker Spaces:

Tool Libraries:

Question 4:

From David:
I am planning to build some outdoor chairs out of mahogany, and was wondering what finish to apply. I would like something that I don’t have to touch up every year.   Or, should leave them unfinished. How does mahogany age in the weather?

Torture Test for Outdoor Finishes

We sent five types around the country and found one favorite

By Tom Begnal #205–May/June 2009 Issue


Ben – YouTube Channel: arboristBlairGlenn
Mike –  Asa’s book – Handmade: A Hands On Guide
Asa –

Every two weeks, a team of Fine Woodworking staffers answers questions from readers on Shop Talk Live, Fine Woodworking‘s biweekly podcast. Send your woodworking questions to [email protected] for consideration in the regular broadcast! Our continued existence relies upon listener support. So if you enjoy the show, be sure to leave us a five-star rating and maybe even a nice comment on our iTunes page.


Sign up for eletters today and get the latest techniques and how-to from Fine Woodworking, plus special offers.

Get woodworking tips, expert advice and special offers in your inbox


Are You Anti-Social?

Article ImageArticle Image

Everybody has an opinion. This is nothing new, but thanks to social media those opinions are out there for public consumption. Some folks like social media and others despise it, but I think like any technology it should be used as a tool as opposed to letting it take over our lives.

That being said, I am a big fan of social media (especially Instagram) when it comes to woodworking. Unless you work in a huge shop with multiple woodworkers, woodworking is largely a solitary endeavor. We head to our shops, turn on our favorite music or podcast, and get to work. We often talk to ourselves throughout the day or perhaps a lucky shop animal gets to hear our musings and problem-solving dialogue. We don’t often get to discuss our craft or the projects we are building on a regular basis. A few times a year we may head to a woodworking show or conference where we meet up with others of our ilk to chat about what we do. For the most part, though, we are on our own.

Enter Instagram. Woodworkers on IG are some of the most encouraging and generous people. They post photos and videos of what they are working on for the world to see and comment on. They often offer thoughts on technique or cool little tips and tricks that they’ve figured out in their shop.

Personally, I follow people who inspire me. I’m always looking to poach design ideas that I can incorporate into my own work, so I follow designers and makers from all over the world. I learn cool measuring and marking techniques from someone in Japan or subtle knife techniques from a Swede practicing sloyd.

I don’t follow people based on the number of followers they have or who posts daily. I follow people who are doing cool things. I don’t really care much about the number of followers I have on my IG account, nor do I care about like numbers or engagement stats—I just enjoy sharing what I’m doing and if someone out there gets something from it then great. Instagram allows me to learn from others and grow as a woodworker.

Just because I’ve been at this for nearly 20 years doesn’t mean I know everything or have all the answers. To be fair, I don’t think I will ever truly “master” woodworking, but I’m determined to learn all that I can from all of you in the woodworking world. Sharing what we do and what we are passionate about is one of the great features of social media. Don’t let the trolls get you down. Share what you have; the majority of us are interested.

In order to understand, you must do.– Vic Tesolin

–You can follow Vic’s woodworking adventures on Instagram at @vic_tesolin_woodworks, and while you’re there, make sure to follow @finewoodworkingmagazine.

7 Questions with Vic Tesolin

Simple really, we ask Vic questions, and he answers them

Sharpening a Router Plane with Vic Tesolin

A hollow-grind makes a difficult task simple and fast

Shop Tour: Vic Tesolin

Vic Tesolin is known as “The Minimalist Woodworker.” You’ll see what that means when we show you how many tools he has stashed away in his shop.

Sign up for eletters today and get the latest techniques and how-to from Fine Woodworking, plus special offers.

Get woodworking tips, expert advice and special offers in your inbox


Revised: Capturing an Ancient Stool in SketchUp

Article ImageArticle Image

I need to show a revised process for capturing that ancient Egyptian Stool. My process used last month in this blog was not an accurate reproduction of the Egyptian piece. Mainly, my Push/Pull method of creating the Stool Seat resulted in a curved shape, but not one that represents the original. I also had guessed at dimensions, based on my observation at the museum (no measurements).

Not long after posting last month’s rendition, I quickly received an interesting email from George Champlin in Portland, OR.

He wrote:

“The Egyptian Stool you have in the latest issue of Fine Woodworking has been one of my all-time favorite pieces of furniture since I first saw it in the British Museum as a student in England 50 years ago. ”

He went on to explain how I had distorted the shape of the seat using my Push/Pull method, and suggested ways that I could fix that.

So we’ve been back-and-forth with several emails per day since. I found out just how careless I was in the design, and how accomplished and knowledgeable George was.

Later, another reader commented on the blog about my mistake.

So, I’m eager to now show a design that better represents the original.

This time I started with another picture found in the British Museum’s website shown below. I imported this into SketchUp as a Matched Photo. With this somewhat straight-on photo, I hoped to get a more accurate retracing of shapes. You can see the overlay of red lines and shape faces.

Below are those shapes from the traceover above. Note that the height is now 15 in. which agrees with the documentation from the museum. In my previous version, I had guessed 18-in. for the height. Now it is a matter of making these faces into real 3D components.


This next step is the major change in my process last time. The highlighted (in blue at upper right) curved ribbon will be used to create the Seat shape by using Follow Me. The shaped edge for the Follow Me is highlighted on the top edge of the gray piece in the upper back.


Here is the resulting Seat after of the Follow Me. It needs trimming to have edges that are flush with the face of the legs. Note the little extending triangles. I used “Cutting Planes” to trim off the waste.


The Top Front and Back Rails are partly made from the ends sliced off the Seat. I used the same type of Cutting Planes to create these sliced pieces.

Here I am combining that seat cutoff, to complete the Front and Back Top Rails. These Rails have sockets for Leg tongues protruding from the top surface of the Legs.


Now to slice the remaining Seat surface into the individual Seat Slats. This time I’m using a rectangular Cutting solid (that is a Group). These rectangular pieces are 1/4-in. thick so they not only cut the Slats, but also remove the 1/4-in. space between slats. I used Solid Tools for the Intersections, but this can be done with just the Intersection command (no Solid Tools).


Here are the resulting Seat Slats with 1/4-in. spacing.

Now I’m finishing up, including all the stretchers, spindles, and joinery.


Before doing this re-design above, I proceeded to build the piece based on the flawed design. You can see the flatness of the Seat shape vs. that for the re-design. Nevertheless, the building was an interesting challenge, and the result is a very useful and sturdy piece. I used milk paint as the finish. The original piece was painted white.



Sign up for eletters today and get the latest techniques and how-to from Fine Woodworking, plus special offers.

Get woodworking tips, expert advice and special offers in your inbox