Sofa Server: Episode 1

Sofa Server Episode 1 Keyframe

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With the prototype under his belt and the stock prepared, Paul gets to work on the dovetail layout. Once the tails are laid out, the tails are sawn and chopped then transferred to lay out and cut the dovetail recesses.

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30 Comments

  1. David B on 20 June 2018 at 2:34 pm

    OK, I have only watched the first minute but already loved seeing that you prepared all of your stock from rough milled wood. While I don’t know if that is always the case (I kind of hope it is…), as some have speculated that you often prepare your stock with a bandsaw and other power tools. Whether that is true or not, it is comforting and inspiring to see a project come together from the roughest of raw materials using the basic hand tools that folks like me have access to.

    Paul is a great teacher and the videos (and the excellent film and editing work that goes on from the rest of the team) are really well done. It’s often the little nuances that I notice on the second or third viewing…or simply after having viewed dozens of woodworking videos, that can be so inspiring and instructive. Thanks guys!

    • stefandingenouts on 20 June 2018 at 4:09 pm

      Paul makes no secret about using a band saw and the like, he mentions it in several videos. Especially for classes there is a lot of material to get ready, and they often do that mechanically. At least the rough sizing. Getting it exactly square and to size is done during classes with hand tools (you almost always need to clean up machined wood anyway, because using machines often leaves marks).

      He also likes to show how to do it by hand because most beginning woodworkers won’t have things like a band saw. They have to do it by hand (whatever you buy in store, it’s rarely straight and square), so that’s what Paul shows. Same reason they have the garage film-set now; it’s what most people have. Squaring and dimensioning your own stock is also great practice 🙂

      It’s not like Paul is anti-machine, just against using exclusively machines while hand tools are often much more appropriate. E.g. people spending hundreds of dollars on jigs to get tools to do something, or spending 15 minutes to set something up, while it’s easily accomplished with a saw and chisel in a few seconds/minutes if you’ve developed the skill.

      I’ve seen the same ‘problem’ at my own workplace. Even for cutting a corner from a 4cm thick board half of my colleagues will get a powered saw, fiddle around with putting the right blade on, look around for an extension cord, hunt for an available power outlet, put it all together and finally make 2 very slow, very noisy cuts because the machine is actually meant for cutting straight into walls where you couldn’t reach with a saw (and they often neglect to find earplugs, protective glasses, etc. like they should). Even make a video of themselves and show it of to all other colleagues because they think it’s so cool they managed to cut something relatively straight with that machine. That’s while we have handsaws available and it’s only 2 cuts, and it normally doesn’t even have to be that accurate where I work so skill isn’t an issue (not having to be accurate is a good thing because the handsaw would’ve been a cleaner cut than the machine even without any skill)… They’re screwing around for 10-15 minutes while it could’ve been done in half a minute with a decent hand saw. Of course one reason why they don’t use hand tools much is because they used all of them for things they’re not meant and they’re all blunt or covered in epoxy resin now, and most can’t be sharpened and if they could we’ve got nothing to sharpen them with (except rotary sanders anyway). The amount of times I’ve wished I had my own clean, sharp tools available to just quickly do something…

  2. cabanon on 20 June 2018 at 2:46 pm

    Pablo is an excellent craftsman of the few that remain. He knows a lot and it is a great blessing that he transmits his knowledge to us over tools and this knowledge, for me it is the essential and Paul has it clear. Thanks Pablo for the answers to my questions and the whole team.

  3. allaninoz on 20 June 2018 at 3:01 pm

    Would have loved to have seen and heard a bit more of the process of getting the dovetails to come together.

    • ticktockman on 23 June 2018 at 6:30 pm

      Paul has many videos on the paid and free sites on his dovetail technique. Check them out. Well worth it.

    • Derek Plattsmier on 31 December 2018 at 3:13 am

      I would have also really liked to watch how Paul fit that troublesome joint. Watching a master craftsman trouble shoot is an excellent & highly valuable learning experience, in my opinion.

  4. David B on 20 June 2018 at 4:46 pm

    Also–what was the reason/rationale for going bevel-down with the chisels on the dovetail cuts–did that have to do with the nature of the wood? A change in technique? Thanks!

    • harry wheeler on 20 June 2018 at 7:04 pm

      He’s working on top of the bench and if he turns the chisel bevel up with a normal shallow angle, the board wants to go flying across the room. Look at the chisel angle when he’s splitting out the waste with the bevel down. It’s much more vertical so his work piece stays pretty much in place.

      • David B on 20 June 2018 at 7:25 pm

        Great explanation and it makes perfect sense now that you explain it. Thanks, Harry!

    • robert nixon on 28 October 2019 at 6:27 pm

      he has an explanation as to the tendency of the chisel when bevel is down, in his latest project bread stow, But i believe he said that it splits the wood only down to the depth of the perpendicular chop, (episode 2 if you would rather hear it from the horses mouth.)

  5. courcour Pi on 20 June 2018 at 6:14 pm

    Nice to see an intro at the beginning of ep1, we know better where we’re going.

  6. rajavikrama on 20 June 2018 at 8:03 pm

    Loved this episode. The dovetail adjustment is very educative. Amateurs like me don’t get the dovetail right most of the time. I have no clue on adjusting for a right fix. I learnt that now. Checking for square in the pins and paring down one dovetail at a time was very nice.

    • joeleonetti on 21 June 2018 at 4:58 pm

      I completely agree. It was actually a nice montage that explained what he did to solve the problem. It showed that he had to try a lot of little things. I’ve gone back and forth as to if having voice-over would have added value. I think the video itself was enough and didn’t need voice-over.

      I actually like it when Paul runs into some challenges, we get to learn a lot of little tricks. I hope this cherry with character rears its head again during the build.

  7. Tom Davies on 20 June 2018 at 10:54 pm

    Any reason not to use a coping saw to remove most of the waste between pins and tails?

    • harry wheeler on 22 June 2018 at 2:01 am

      I’ve seen Paul use a coping saw to remove waste . I think it was in soft wood, and I saw one U-tube video where he did a couple of dovetails with a coping saw in under two minutes and never touched either piece with a chisel – perfect fit. Paul’s method is very precise, not that using a fret saw can’t be, but having tried both methods many times, I think I can do it the way Paul does faster than when I use the saw. Either way works. I think it’s up to you.

  8. cabanon on 20 June 2018 at 11:26 pm

    a great video for teaching, I heard opinions that it was an easy project. Not at all easy, it seems but in depth and as a whole it is not so much, after doing so many projects and being one of the oldest members I must say that I have not stopped growing with the projects of Pablo, I know that it is still a lot and Pablo sure that agrees but is that this wonderful art is the closest thing to playing chess, no game is the same even if it seems. a greeting.

  9. jasonz on 21 June 2018 at 3:51 pm

    Enjoyed the video, but have a question. I’ve run into problems with overly tight dovetails and have always worked the tails and pins. What was the rationale for taking the shaving off the back of the pins?

    Thank you

  10. joeleonetti on 21 June 2018 at 4:53 pm

    Thanks Paul for this video as well as the tressel video. Both of them showed showed new things/ways of doing things.

    In the tressel video, it showed you working without a bench and how to do things. Though I will almost always be using a bench, it is nice to see how to do this “bushcraft” style. By sitting on the floor and butting a thinner piece of wood against the floor, you essentially created a plane stop so you could plane your piece of wood. Obvious once you see it, but I wouldn’t have thought of it.

    For this video, I liked the bevel down approach you used to removed the waste wood. I also like how you showed us to make a knife will on the end grain. That will really help me with my dovetails. Thank you.

    As for your “showing off” when you transferred the lines. I don’t think it was showing off. I see it as you showing us a way that as we get more skill we can work more quickly. Thank you.

    In fact, I would greatly appreciate it if there were future videos that contained some of the essence of the tressel and this video in which you show us ways/tips we can work more quickly or unconventionally if we are not able to work at a workbench.

    I don’t have much interactions with other woodworkers. Studying under someone isn’t a possibility. In those settings I’m sure many of these little tricks of the trade would be shown. I would be grateful if you could help us learn them as well.

  11. deanbecker on 22 June 2018 at 12:40 am

    Jason, when you remove wood from that surface you narrow up the pins

  12. Sandy on 24 June 2018 at 8:14 pm

    I thoroughly enjoy watching and learning from these videos. Even the very simple techniques repeated will divulge new methods for fitting a dovetail or pin. I personally miss seeing all the nice tool cabinets behind Paul though I understand the new look.

    • Philip Adams on 27 June 2018 at 2:46 pm

      It’s not going to stay quite as bare as it currently is. Paul’s aim is to have all his essential tools and materials at hand, so the background will continue to evolve for some time yet.

  13. Christian Aigner on 28 June 2018 at 7:42 am

    Paul, could you explain in a short video, why we should not undercut?

    Is it just craftsman’s pride or is there another reason?

    • Philip Adams on 29 June 2018 at 2:21 pm

      We will certainly think about it for a video, but essentially the answers Paul gave for not undercutting were:
      Undercutting can develop bad habits and become exaggerated over time.
      Aiming for an exacting finish on shoulders etc develops skill and character.
      Many of the examples of old high level craftsmanship that Paul has admired over the years did not feature undercutting.
      Many thanks, Phil

  14. harry wheeler on 28 June 2018 at 1:46 pm

    One reason I try not to undercut when I’m chopping the waste out for a dovetail is just in case I slip and the chisel goes all the way through to the other side. Not that I’ve ever done that (well, maybe once or twice:) , but if/when I do I don’t want to damage the joint line on the far side. Personally, I don’t mind leaving a slight hump in the pin or tail recesses because I can easily pare that down after the waste is removed. At that stage, paring the recesses so they are slightly undercut does,’t really hurt anything and it won’t weaken the joint but dead square and no tear-out is what I’m shooting for. That’s the pride in workmanship aspect.

  15. jakegevorgian on 3 July 2018 at 9:23 am

    Great to see you smile 🙂

    Lovely project!

  16. Anthony Greitzer on 3 August 2018 at 1:52 am

    1. Why use the knife instead of a pencil when marking the pins? I’ve used the knife and ran into the same tightness issue Paul did at the end.

    2. What is the bevel of the chisel used to chop the pins and tails? Does it matter?

    3. When Paul chops the pins and tails, does he place the chisel edge a fraction away from the knife line? I’ve found that when chopping the way Paul does, my chisel sometimes moves the knife line.

    4. Any time I use a knife to mark pins or tails, I find it difficult to keep the saw blade away from it when I sawing either of them.

    • Philip Adams on 6 August 2018 at 2:23 pm

      Hello Anthony,
      1. On hardwoods, the knife leaves a nice clear mark, whereas pencil on cherry is not very effective.

      2. The bevel of the chisel will be around 30 degrees at the very edge dropping to around 25 degrees as the back of the macro camber. This gives a nice resilient edge, but something near that should work fine.

      3. This is very much dependant on the characteristics of the wood, largely learnt from experience. Sometimes you chop right on the line, sometimes slightly away and sometimes Paul adjusts his angle of cut very slightly.

      4. Using your thumb when getting with the initial saw cut is key to staying on target at the beginning of the cut.

      Hope that helps.

  17. robert nixon on 28 October 2019 at 6:30 pm

    I was wondering if there were any precautions taken or methods used when you have flipped the board over as you are cutting out the pins. I just assume that since you are cutting at a small angle chopping the full width of the of the waste continually would eventually mean chopping into the pin.

    • Izzy Berger on 4 November 2019 at 3:55 pm

      Hi Robert,

      Paul says:
      We do micro adjust the angle which may not be obvious to the camera and the chisel is not full width, although it could be on the narrower side of the recess. We definitely don’t chop into the pin.

      Kind Regards,
      Izzy

  18. eric cartman on 16 June 2020 at 3:38 am

    there’s an intriguing moment at 1:45 in which Mr Sellers is planing the board and then turns the plane 90 degrees, presumably to check for cups and bows. I use winding sticks for that, but it is much more efficient and elegant to just use the plane itself, presuming that one has a number 5

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