Sunday, May 18, 2008

Handcut Lap Joint

Cutting lap joints by hand takes a little while if you are as slow as I am. To cut just one half of a lap joint took me....well, let's just say that if I were to charge $30/hour for my time, this joint alone would cost $5 million.

There are a number of ways to cut this joint, and other ways to speed up the process, but here is one way to do it:

Layout the cut with a bevel-edged pencil, marking knife or exacto blade. Use a chisel to define the shoulder. Handsaw kerfs within the waste area. The more kerfs you saw, the easier it is to chip out the waste. My kerf marks are rather far apart because I get tired pretty quickly with handsawing. Use a beefy chisel to chip out the majority of waste then clean up the bed with a router plane or paring chisel. Because this is a wide lap joint, remove the waste from only half of the joint at a time and leave a section of wood in the middle to support your router plane as you clean up the bed. Remove the center waste section with a chisel and/or plane.

Now it's onto the next one!


Unknown said...

Off subject, it simply amazes me you have finger nails.

Woodfired! said...

Nice work VC. I'm very impressed with the finish your router plane leaves cross-grain. I have to admit that I have never tuned mine to work that well but I might just try to find the time now. (After I've caught up on my backlog of posts of course.)

Wyldth1ng: that's why we have tools - so we don't have to claw the wood put with our hands :-)

Kari Hultman said...

Wyld, probably if I didn't work so slowly, they might be more dinged up.

Mark, my router plane worked like that right out of the box (Lee Valley). I did have a little tear out, but I was trying to remove too thick a layer with the finished pass. I try to take light passes the last 3 times and then there's not much tearout.

Frontier Carpenter said...

VC what book is in the background?

Kari Hultman said...

FC, that book is: Pennsylvania German Arts: More Than Hearts, Parrots, & Tulips, by Irwin Richman.

Images of the sawbuck table, the ephrata cloister cupboard, and the PA German hanging cupboard I'm building are found in that book.

Ethan said...


Nice router work. When I get around to picking up a full-sized one, I'll probably go the LV route (hehe - pun totally intended) for that very reason. Right now, I just have a little #271, but it's useful for inlay work and such.

I probably could get it pretty soon here, but I think I'll stick with the decision to buy the LV plow plane.

That's a great looking slicing gauge, by the way! Home-made or purchased? How well does it work?

Kari Hultman said...

Ethan, you'll have to let me know how you like your LV plow plane once you have it. I tried one at a ww show and loved it (like I love all things LV).

I made that slicing gauge in a class taught by Steve Latta. It is his original design and I wrote about it in a post on December 2, 2007. It is the very best slicing gauge I have ever used. He should really make them to sell.

Anonymous said...

I'm starting to get won over by my hand tools. I was building a panel cutting sled this morning, had everything together well, completely square...but the runner was a bit too wide. I broke out the shoulder plane i bought 2 months ago with some money my grandfather left me. A few seconds to set up...Swipe swipe! perfect fit! I love my shoulder plane! i wandered around the shop trying to find something else to tweak.

Kari Hultman said...

Uh oh, Sean, it's a slippery slope from here on out. Welcome to H.A.A.! (Handtool Addicts Anonymous) :o)

Anonymous said...

It strikes me you are using the modern preferred method for handtooling lap joints. But what about the skewed rabbitt plane to hog out the waste before using the router to clean up the bottom of the joint? A nice tuned wooden skewed rabbitt would do the trick or even (gasp!) a #78.

You might not make as much money but you would get to take some pictures of another wooden plane at work.

Kari Hultman said...

Alas, Gary, I do not have a skewed rabbet plane. : (

Did the "old timers" only use planes to hog out the bulk of the waste, instead of a handsaw & chisel? Seems like it would take longer.

I do have a #78, though. Maybe I need to try a lap joint showdown! Thanks for the idea. : )

Anonymous said...

As I understand it, skewed rabbit planes were used for hogging cross grain material , particularly the wider width planes. The large mouth, curved escapement served to allow the coarse cross grain material to be ejected without clogging the plane.

The outline of the lap was sawn to the line, the waste was hogged with the rabbitt plane and finished up with a chisel or if narrow, with a router. Let the 78 be a doorstop...

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to comment on using the LV router plane (I have one too, boy is it a great tool or what!). If gap is too wide for the router plane you could always make a secondary base for it. Just use the two screw holes in the base to attach it.


Kari Hultman said...

Thanks, Matt!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kari,

Thank you for the post. I found it useful.

Kari, is that a Veritas router plane, please?

Thank you and best regards.

Kari Hultman said...

Anon, yes, that is a Lee Valley Veritas router plane. I love it and use it often.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kari,

Thank you for replying on the plane info. I am going to get one too.

Best regards,

Be Hai Nguyen.