Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dovetail Class With Roy Underhill

If you've spent much time reading this blog, you've probably figured out how I feel about Roy Underhill and what he does. Just in case you missed it, click here for a brief summary of his impact on my woodworking. That first time was back in 2003. Since then, and especially after he opened his school, I've been dreaming of taking a class from him. But, North Carolina is pretty far from Alaska, and now with two little ones, spending time away is not easy.

But then, last weekend the Alaska Creative Woodworkers Association (ACWA) hosted a fantastic weekend of woodworking with Roy Underhill, in Alaska! Wahoo! Thank You!

I ended up in both the dovetail class and the mystery mallet class, plus I went to Roy's presentation at the University of Alaska. All in all, it was an amazing weekend!

Here's a photo summary of the dovetail class:

The recommended tool kit (of course I took more):

We did through, half-blind, and rising dovetails, but in reverse order of difficulty. So rising came first.

I bought a set of the new Stanley 750 chisels, and was pleasantly surprised at their quality. They don't compare to either Lie Nielsen or originals, but I think they are a good deal for the price.

Yet another awkward work holding challenge solved by a handscrew clamp - with an assist by two Gramercy holdfasts - quiet a team.

The finished joint:

Still another use for the handscrew - it makes a perfect dovetail transfer jig - especially with the holdfast keeping everything still.

My first ever half-blind dovetails. Cool!

Some shots of Roy. Check out his camera tripod!

Hamming it up!


Roy is a great teacher, and it was really fun to spend time with the other woodworkers. Thanks again Roy and ACWA!

I'll post the mallet class next...


  1. And thanks to me finding YOUR blog, and your posting of the Underhill school opening up, I started down a path similar to yours.

    My family and I flew out to the school, and I took several classes out there. I've started my own blog, and have gone all Hand Tool myself.

    I had been drifting in that direction for a while, but I really mean DRIFTING. Finding your blog, and realizing that I could do it do, gave me the push to get really moving.

    I've been blogging, and learning and building my toolkit as well as my library of historical books.

    I'm really happy I did, and I'm thankful for your blogging and posting (among many others, but it was your pictures of you and Roy that really pushed me.)

    So thanks!!


  2. A post to bring a huge smile to your fellow woodworker's faces.

    I guess you have to weigh how lucky you are to live in such a wondrous place with the distance you are from woodworking schools and events. And then, joy happens. Roy comes to you.

    Beautiful images.

  3. nice post, first visit here but that looks a good half blind dovetail to me. Good teacher? good student? or both?

  4. Great stuff Dan! So glad you got a chance to commune with a true master. It is so obvious when you take a class with Roy that he is used to spending hours in the spotlight and getting his message across in a concise manner. He is the consummate showman and an amazing teacher. (Two things that ought to go together)

  5. Great weekend Dan, what an opportunity to learn from one of the best

  6. Hey Dan, how difficult would you say the mallet was to make? I see on Roy's school site that it is for "intermediate" woodworkers due to the precision of the layout and cuts.

    Am I intermediate? I have no idea! But I am interested in maybe taking that course down in NC (I'll be Stateside for a few months).

  7. Badger - You're welcome! I'm glad you are enjoying the Hand Tool only experience. I like your blog - nice Saw Bench Box! Thanks for commenting and sharing your story. I'm honored to have played a part in it.

    Anon - Yes, it's hard not to smile when Roy is involved. And you are so right about Alaska - wonderful, but far, far away from so much. Thanks for commenting and glad you enjoy the pictures.

    Robin - Thanks! Hmm. That's a hard one to answer, but I'd have to give the lion's share to Roy. Especially since I've been learning from him for years (via books and his TV show). Glad you stopped by - I've been a fan of your work for years.

    Shannon - Yes, so true! It really is a gift! Thanks for commenting.

    Rick - Yeah, it kind of puts regular weekends in the shade... Thanks!

    Eric - I'd say take the course! It is a challenge, but as long as you are willing to face seeing your mallet explode at the end of a long day, what have you got to lose? Not that it will necessarily, but many do. Seriously, if you go into it thinking process and don't get hung up on the product (which is way cool)then you can't help but have a great time. Of course, he also offers many other classes...

    My next post might help you decide - I'll be showing some details of the mallet class.

  8. Wow! thanks for sharing some new tricks to try. Must learn to think of the hand screw more often.

  9. What a wonderful opportunity, you are a lucky guy.
    Ian W


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