There’s no doubt that hand tool woodworking has opened my eyes to the patterns that constantly surround me. I believe it has something to do with the level of attention that I am obliged to give in this work, and also something to do with reading George Walker and Jim Tolpin’s By Hand & Eye.

As I was reading that text it occurred to me how much I enjoyed geometry in high school; a fact later obscured by how little I enjoyed calculus. Suddenly it felt as if I were back in Mr. Dorf’s classroom considering how squares, circles and triangles could create symphonies of thought and pattern. It is perhaps needless to say, but I am grateful for that book and for the ways it has reminded me to observe the world around me.

Consider the lowly square:

Isn’t it really just four isosceles triangles?


And can’t you inscribe a series of circles within the two?



And when you start removing that material you find that a square is within a few short strokes of the chisel.

Soon enough, you’ve got yourself a mortise that can hold a planing stop.


And, because wood is slightly less predictable than geometry, I went ahead and added some oak as reinforcement here by screwing on a batten.


And now, what we have is no longer a table but a full-fledged work surface.


Mr. Dorf, Mr. Toplin & Mr. Walker; a very sincere thanks is due.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. momist says:

    Me too. I understood the ‘introduction’ to calculus, that idea of drawing a series of parallel lines under a curve to break it into a series of vanishingly narrow strips etc. That is geometry, and makes sense. The following ‘leap of faith’ into the imaginary world of deeper mathematics I just failed to make. Geometry is solid, real world, and works. Calculus is fantasy as far as I can see, even though I accept that it works. A bit like magic?
    I love geometry.


    1. Absolutely. I have great respect for the higher maths but whether it was the subject or the teachers, I never found them accessible. They sure are pretty to look at though 😉


  2. I installed the planning stop on my community shop’s Knockdown Nicholson a few weeks ago (but haven’t blogged about). I can’t believe what a difference it makes. I want to put one on my bench at home.


    1. Absolutely. Even when I was finishing and fitting out the bottom shelf I was amazed at how quickly I could work with the stop and a holdfast.


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