Dovetails, doughnuts, and popsicles.

Well after 23 hours and 1700 miles in the car, I am back home from a great week in North Carolina. Last week I was one of the lucky ten who was able to spend 5 days with Roy Underhill, Christopher Schwarz, and Megan Fitzpatrick at the Woodwright’s School building a tool chest.

This was my second trip to Pittsboro after taking the sawing class with Chris last summer. I had a hard time deciding between taking this class, the woodcraft week with Roy, or a chair class with Elia Bizzarri. I ended up choosing the tool chest class for lots of reasons, the main two being I wanted a full size chest and I couldn’t pass up the chance to hang out with two of my biggest woodworking heroes.

The week was pretty much like this:

  • A quick primer on Chris’s ideas behind the book, The Anarchist’s Tool Chest.
  • A lesson on how he dovetails.
  • Cutting dovetails for the carcase.
  • A look at vintage tool chests.
  • Cutting more dovetails for the carcase.
  • Attaching the bottom boards to our carcases.
  • A lesson from Roy on turning handles.
  • Cutting even more dovetails for the bottom skirt.
  • A lesson from Roy on frame and panel construction.
  • Cutting tenons for the lid stiles and using an awesome vintage mortiser for the rails.
  • Sleep.

By the end of the class everyone had a carcase with bottoms, the bottom skirt, and the components for the upper skirt, lid, and dust seal. I had to leave my bottom skirt off to get it in my car but was able to at least get all the tenons and mortises cut for the lid rails and stiles.

Somewhere in there we managed to find time to goof around, eat donuts, muffins, cake, and popsicles, and visit Ed Lebetkin’s tool store upstairs. I got a nice Sandusky wooden jack plane and Simonds No. 10 26″ crosscut saw. Oh and a nice hat like Roy wears. On Wednesday night we stayed late and ate pizza at the school. Every other night was ended by a trip to the City Tap around the corner from the school.








I had a great time as could be expected. Roy is such a treat. The man has such a knowledge of woodworking and knows how to demonstrate it in interesting and entertaining ways. Chris was a very generous instructor who was always gracious and never condescending. He had his tool chest there and let everyone dig through it and use his tools as needed. I once again got to use his Lie Nielsen No. 4 which I absolutely love. I also tried out the No. 8 which is a monster. Megan was the surprise guest instructor of the class. She was there on her own time to help out. She gave people pointers on sharpening and cutting dovetails amongst other things. She helped with glue-ups and cut stock for the skirts and lid components for everyone. And she added another element to the comedy show that is Roy and Chris.

As with last time, the people in the class were from various states. Myself representing Michigan, there was also Connecticut, D.C., Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and of course North Carolina. This was a great group of guys ranging from someone who had never cut dovetails to guys with several projects under their belts. There was even a classmate of mine from the sawing class.

So if you have the means, I think anyone interested in hand tool woodworking owes it to themselves to get down to the Woodwright’s School and take a class. The experience is one you will never forget. You’ll meet great people, get to try out all sorts of vintage tools, and spend time with an icon of woodworking.


By the way, check out both of Chris’s blogs and Megan’s as well. He has pictures and videos up from the class. I think Megan will eventually as well. She at least has one about Peter Ross, who I forgot to mention stopped in to drop to visit. He also gave Chris the giant Roubo holdfast Chris blogged about.


About messimerwoodworking

I'm a hobbyist woodworker. I live in a two bedroom apartment that I am fortunate enough to have a workbench in. Hand tools, lumber, time, and hopefully some acquired skill will produce some respectable furniture. We'll see...........
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2 Responses to Dovetails, doughnuts, and popsicles.

  1. Jamie Bacon says:

    That’s awesome! Looks like you had a great time. I’ve only been once, for 2 days of classes. I would love to be there for a week. Roy really is a woodworking legend. And one of the most knowledgeable people you’ll ever meet; and not just about woodworking.
    Oh, your Sandusky fore plane looks like a keeper too. Ed’s got great stuff at great prices.

  2. Iain White says:

    Nice summary of the week – I really enjoyed the class and it was great to see a familiar face from last year’s sawbench class.
    I picked up a couple of old beading planes from Ed’s that i think should work out well with a bit of sharpening.

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