But I knew if I was left on my own, with just a few pointers, then I would still be about to make a mess of things.
Luckily for me, I wasn’t on my own. I had a teacher guiding my every step. Not doing any of the work, but instructing and identifying my beginner’s weaknesses.
Rather than cutting lots of joints, I repeated the individual techniques I was shown on separate boards, and focused more on the ones I struggled with. After a good few hours of tuition I was hitting home my first hand cut dovetails, straight off the saw.
The fit was snug, and once I’d planed over the surface (which panicked me seeing all that end grain), I could see the joint had seated home without any gaps.
This was curious.
I didn’t feel impressed, because I felt so adamantly that my first attempt at cutting dovetails wouldn’t look like this. Richard must have made a switch?
After a good break, I came back to attempt a second set of dovetails on my own. I took my time, but was finished in half an hour. Considerably quicker than the first.
The result was the same.
Not Just Beginner’s Luck
I’ve been cack-handed at most tasks I’ve approached in woodworking, so I know that I’m no natural.
My ability to cut a dovetail is entirely down to Richard’s guidance, and the fact that he knows the joint inside out.
The most valuable lesson seemed to be learning which areas needed to be made perfect, and which ones didn’t really matter.
There are many forms of education, and we all learn at different rates, but I struggle to see how I could have achieved better, or faster results from having a browse through a textbook. One day (far, far away) we shall complete our barns, and I will try twisting Richard’s arm so that he will offer tuition in the workshops.