Am I overlooking something?

February 9, 20159 Comments

It might not come as a big surprise but over at Wood Talk we get a lot of questions throughout the year. Sometimes they’re repeats of old topics (occasionally almost word for word,) others are brand new, and once in a while they’re complete stumpers.

business man shrug

On the most recent episode I decided to take a listener’s question about glues:

“Kyle – I was wondering if there is a need to use a wide variety of different glues. I almost exclusively use Titebond 3 for everything from cutting boards to shadow boxes and haven’t seen a problem. Is there something I’m overlooking?”

It’s a pretty simple question (I like those the best) but it’s also something I ask from time-to-time when I’m standing in the glue aisle at my local Woodcraft. So I thought I’d ask it too, because just like Kyle was asking… I want to know too “…Is there something I’m overlooking?”

I won’t give away my answer, or the ensuing conversation (you can find it over at Wood Talk 218) but long-story short is that Kyle isn’t and thus neither am I apparently.

Over the last 9 years I’ve been podcasting, questions like this come up over and over, and that’s a good thing!

Most of them are asked by new“er” woodworkers just trying to wade their way through the vast amount of information floating around out there. But you may be surprised by the number of experienced woodworkers who suddenly find themselves asking aloud “Is there something I’m overlooking?”

That has to be good right? Wouldn’t it mean that rather than getting stuck doing the same thing repeatedly and never looking for new ways around old issues, people are still posing difficult (or not so difficult) questions to see if things have changed?

For example, some other woodworking topics I find myself asking this question about are in regards to things like exotic woods, complicated finishes, opposition to safety equipment, and especially to non-traditional joinery techniques.

I won’t take a hard and fast stand on these things, but some of them just seem like topics people are desperate to undertake just to make their life more complicated.

While it doesn’t work for everything, and once in a while you do have to do something different, isn’t simple just better? Or am I overlooking something?

How about you? What’s a topic you’ve been wondering all the fusses is about or why are there so many choices and why isn’t it obvious? Leave your comment below!

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Comments (9)

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  1. Aaron Day says:

    The answer is inevitably yes. You are always missing something. But the reality is that most of the time it doesn’t matter. Or at least it doesn’t matter until it actually matters.

    Most of the time if you are gluing up a wood joint using Titebond 3 is going to be sufficient. Though at some point you will likely find that you went too thick on a bead and your wood choice doesn’t compliment the color the glue dried to and you get a line. All the sudden which glue you use matters. The array of options on the shelf suddenly begins to have meaning and investing the time into research matters.

    I’ll often buy tools off craiglist for the first iteration. I’ll find something cheap (and likely partially broken) and work with the tool for a while so I can figure out how to use the basic tool. After a bit limitations of the tool will start driving me nuts or some aspect will make working with the tool difficult. At that point I know enough that I can make an educated guess of what will be handy in the replacement tool. But until I figure out what I am missing and what matters, it doesn’t really matter.

  2. Bob DV says:

    Finishing.
    Recently on WoodTalk there was a discussion on finishing. It seems the KISS method is best, just a few coats of a wiping varnish. However, as the discussion continued I couldn’t help but want to experiment with other methods. I have several books and DVDs devoted to the subject but feel I just don’t get it. Currently I have a large cherry project I need to finish. I think it will just be a wash coat of blonde shellac (blotch control?) and then Arm-R-Seal wiped on for a few layers. If is is so simple why does it feel so complicated or is it just me?

  3. Jeffrey says:

    I want to know what the real story is with pocket screws. When are they good to use and when not. Some people use them almost exclusively and others hate the things. Also, what is up with table saw blades? Are the pricier ones really worth the money or is it a mixture of marketing and snobbery? If they are worth it, which ones?

    • Matt says:

      Jeffrey this past week I’ve been playing catchup with comments and emails, but I’m thinking your questions are perfect for a more detailed look into the topics and sharing the findings in a blog post or video.

      Thanks for the ideas, I hope I can find some answers for us!

    • Jeffrey,
      In my humble opinion there is nothing wrong with pocket screws, but the big questions are what are you making and what do you want the piece to look like and what it says about you as the maker. If this is a shop cabinet that is a functional piece then I say go crazy with the pocket screws. They are durable and do a great job of holding cabinetry together. I have a friend who made a piece that he displays proudly and you cannot miss the pocket screws. On the flip side if you are looking to improve your joinery skills then there are many other options then pocket screws. I am not a hater of pocket screws (I own a jig) but I l like to take the extra time to not use them because every time I do not I feel I become a better woodworker.
      As for saw blades I have never spent more than $60 on a blade. That is my most recent blade and I am very happy with it. As a low budget woodworker there is a difference between a $20 blade and a $60 blade, as for the $120 I can’t say if it is worth the price difference.
      Hope that helps a little

      • Matt says:

        I agree, there is something about traditional joinery that is appealing and in some situations necessary for the project’s structural integrity and overall look.

        The key to using pockethole joinery is knowing the right fastener to use for the material, and then preferably how to hide it IF it’s going to be visible.

        The other thing to remember is that when you’re building for most non-woodworkers they usually don’t care HOW it was built, just that it works and looks nice.

        It’s the same thing as if someone who was a car nut built me a car (just a regular car, nothing crazy) and then told me about all the “traditional” parts and pieces that went into and maybe something unique they did to it.

        I’m not all that into cars, so I’d be impressed they did it, but at the end of the day all I want to know is…does it run and do want I expect a car to do?

        As for the blades, I’ve found the only really difference between the more expensive blades is that there is a minor difference in overall performance, but it’s the manufacturer’s reputation and commitment to delivering a quality product that you’re really paying for, and in our throw away society, it’s nice to know they want to deliver a product that is meant to last.

  4. Matt,
    It is funny that you are now asking us the question. I have to concur with Aaron, we always overlook something. There is not a wood worker I know who can not be found at some point in a new project with a cup of something in their hand just looking at the wood in front of them. We are all thinking the same thing…”What am I overlooking?”. It usually is not found till after assembly when you realize that you flipped the grain of a board or made a minor design flaw. “I can make that work” is usually the response.
    It is my humble opinion that every thing we overlook makes us better in the craft in the long run. That is if you can remember them all.

  5. Polly Becton says:

    I disagree with the idea you’re not missing anything using Titebond for everything. If you’re trying to make heirloom quality furniture and other projects, Titebond (I, II ir III) has some disadvantages. If you’re working on a boat, outdoor furniture or highly stressed structural projects, Titebond and other PVA adhesives have some disadvantages.

    In my work, I use Titebond (usually III) for shop furniture, tools and jigs, and either hide glue or epoxy for my work.

    Joshua Klein, http://www.workbenchdiary.com/2014/02/eleven-reasons-to-use-animal-hide-glue.html says it better than I can for hide glue. Here are the highlights of his Eleven reasons to use hide glue rather than Titebond:

    1. Hide glue is reversible. 
    2. Hide glue adheres well to old glue. 
    3. Hide glue is easy to modify/manipulate working properties.
    4. Hide glue is inexpensive. 
    5. Hide glue is is self-clamping. 
    6. Hide glue is is easy to clean up after it dries. 
    7. Hide glue is incredibly strong.
    8. Hide glue is not too strong. 
    9. Hide glue is a renewable resource. 
    10. Hide glue is safe for your health. 
    11. Hide glue is historically accurate. 

    For more details, check the blog entry link above.

    From my experience, here are some reasons to use epoxy rather than Titebond:

    1. Epoxy is very strong – stronger than your Titebond.
    2. Epoxy is structural.
    3. Epoxy is not susceptible to creep.
    4. Epoxy is waterproof and moisture proof.
    5. Epoxy is gap-filling.
    6. Epoxy is got a long open time.
    7. Epoxy adheres well to old glue.
    8. Epoxy is transparent.
    9. Epoxy is as permanent as you want it to be.

    You might want to think in terms of using the right tool for the job.

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