Woodworking Projects

STL249: MDF on a jointer?

Bob Van Dyke joins Mike and Ben to discuss story sticks, cooling glue to get more open time, spring joints and admits to milling MDF on his machines!

Sep 10, 2021

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Question 1:

From Bob: I’ve been watching some of the older podcasts and #35 discussed story sticks. I was wondering when you make them. Do you make a story stick up from the drawing before you start the project, or do you make them up as you go through it? In other words the 1st leg you cut, mark out the story stick, then cut all of them. Then make a front apron, mark the stick, then cut the second apron.

Preserving The Drawings of Philip C. Lowe – GoFundMe

Question 2:

From Luca: I listened to the podcast with Mike Mascelli where he mentions that warming up varnish before applying it would be a way to work around the problem of having a cold shop environment in the wintertime. This got me thinking that I could probably cool down white or yellow glue to extend the open time during summer when it’s hot in the shop. What are your thoughts?


Bob: All time favorite technique – using a wedge in the back of a door pocket to keep an out of square drawer flush.

Mike: Smooth move – Accidentally cutting a students tenon off instead of just trimming the shoulder

Ben: Favorite technique – Holding drawer fronts in place with hot melt glue just long enough to get the pulls screwed on.

Question 3:

From Tom: I am building a dining table that has a 4′ x 7′ x 1 1/8″ top. It is composed of 6 boards with the two outer pieces being live edge. I have routed a groove for a spline, mostly to help alignment. I have made the spring joint with a #8C Stanley hand plane. 7′ is bigger than my 6″ jointer or I can handle and the #8 is the only plane that would cut both pieces at the same time. When the top is dry fitted loosely, there is a gap in the middle of each joint of a little more than 1/32″ as measured by feeler gage with ends nice and tight. I have read just about every spring joint article in FWW, mostly by Gary Rogowski and Bob Van Dyke, that I could find after multiple searches. Rogowski comes closest in his Nov/Dec 2003 article, but…

I am having trouble getting the one center clamp to close all the gaps when dry fitting. I have checked the dados and grooves for enough clearance. I can make joints close nicely when clamped one joint or two at a time. I really doubt that I can do 5 joints in one glue up and will probably do it in three or two.

I am afraid that when I do multiple glue ups, the last joint will not close no matter how much force I put on it. And I do not want to crush the live edge.

Question 4:

From Dean: When flattening or edge straightening a board on a jointer is it better to take a moderate 0.046 to 0.093″ or perhaps greater cut (3/64 to 3/32 for the non-machinists) or multiple thin 0.010 to 0.015” passes? This critical element is not addressed in videos, articles, or blogs that I have discovered.

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 shoptalk@taunton.com 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.

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