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Are You Ready for the Hand Tool Olympics??

9 years ago

By now I’m sure many of you have read about the Hand Tool Olympics coming to Woodworking in America in August. If you haven’t, then head over to the Popular Woodworking blog and read all about it. Basically it is a series of events designed to test the woodworker’s ability to dimension and try a board all the way to cutting a dovetail joint. Here are the events taken directly from the Pop Wood blog.

1. One Meter Dash – Step away from your table saw and venture back into the 1800s. Each contestant is required to accurately rip a 36″ piece of 2 x 12 stock using a handsaw. We hope you practiced the pointers doled out in Popular Woodworking magazine’s “Arts & Mysteries” column. This event is judged mainly on time, with points deducted for going way off the line. (A kinked saw will result in immediate disqualification.)

2. Shooting Sports – Use a jointer plane to straighten and square the edge created during the One Meter Dash. That’s right – you have to do it completely by hand. Crazy. Judging, with a test bar of aluminum, a feeler gauge and an engineer’s square is for straightness and accuracy.

3. Crosscut Extravaganza – Hold your finger straight to sight down the saw (or simply channel your inner square) to accurately crosscut a piece of 2 x 12 lumber. This event is judged mainly for time with points deducted for going way off the line. (A kinked saw will result in immediate disqualification.)

4. Brace Yourself For a Hole in One – Before the advent of electric and battery-powered drill/drivers, carpenters and woodworkers used a brace and auger bits to bore holes. The challenge: Bore a 3/4″ hole in a plank, straight and square to surface of plank (no squares or other aids allowed). It’s not as boring as you might think! Judged for speed. Points off for major blowouts on the backside and any degrees out of square.

5. Pins First or Tails First – You make the call on which method you prefer; we’ll track the numbers to see which is more popular. Either way, you have to complete a well-fit three-pin dovetail joint on a 1×4, using hand tools. Goodbye jig. Judging is subjective – but we know it when we see it. If the competition gets close, we may call in a jury.

6. Greco-Roman Tenons – Produce a 3″-long, 3/4″-thick tenon on the end of a piece of 2×4 stock. Your attempt has to fit into a provided test mortise. This event is judged for time and quality – with some latitude allowed if the tenon is a bit tight, as most are hand planed to final fit.

So you can see that these games will test any galoot’s skills. There will be prizes for the medalists and grand prize winners and there has been mention of some “everyone gets a ribbon” prizes for participating too. I for one am very excited and plan to compete. Stay tuned to my podcast in the coming weeks for a look at my “training” program and I will see you all in August where we shall compete on the field of sawdust (and I don’t mean the local sawdust floor bar…well maybe that would be fun too)

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