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Giving the Gottshall Block a Try

10 years ago

Tonight, March 13th at 8PM eastern I’m doing another live Hand Tool School event. As per a member suggestion I’m going to work through the Gottshall Block exercise that Bob Lang at Popular Woodworking has reinvigorated. Franklin Gottshall wrote a book, “Making Antique Furniture Reproductions”, and in the opening “how-to” chapters, he espouses this exercise.

In essence, you take a rough piece of stock and plane it S6S then cut a variety of joinery into the face, end, and edges. So in preparation for the demonstration and in an effort to keep it from running 3 hours, I planed a piece of Poplar to the 3/4x3x7 inch dimensions ahead of time. This by itself is a good exercise to consider. Using such a small block takes a lot of variables out of the equation such as different planes, severe cup, twist, and bow. Gottshall suggests you start with a block that is 4/4×3 1/2×7 1/2 which is 1/2″ oversize in the width and length. He then walks the reader through the planing process using a single plane and marking gauge.

Gottshall Block Stock PreppedI admit that I cheated slightly because I had some leftover Poplar from another project already on my rack. It was already planed to about 7/8x4x12. It took me just a few minutes to saw to rough size then I shot all four edges on my shooting board. I set two combo square, one to the length, and one to the width. I then made shooting passes until each dimension was dead on.

Gottshall goes the road less traveled and doesn’t use a shooting board. If you have never done this, I highly recommend the exercise as with a board so small, you can make quick work of it. What can I say, I love my Super Chute so the choice was obvious. Getting the board dead flat, to size, and square in all dimensions is key because unlike most project parts that may have one or two joinery elements, this block has 8 different “joints”. Just to lay out these elements requires accuracy and the ability to be able to count on each face being square to the other.

So if you have a moment tonight, swing by The Hand Tool School Demo Page, member or not, all are welcome. Come watch me tackle this little beast. I’ll be sticking with Gottshall’s “rules” and using only a chisel, back saw, coping saw, drill, and maybe a block plane.

See you at 8 PM eastern time!

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