Monday, March 9, 2015

Racing with Roy Underhill

A few weeks back I was guest demonstrating at the Lie-Nielsen tool event in Raleigh, NC. It was a nice venue and since it was in Roy Underhill's neck of the woods he came on over as well. The show went well and there was lots of time to try out planes of all sorts and Roy even brought along a couple of shave horses and a pole lathe for attendees to try out. I gave the pole lathe a go myself.

Anyhow, it seemed that there was going to have to be a race at some point. I mean when you get all those hand tool users in one place the egos really get going. I mean Roy got to talking about how he once cut a dovetail "this big" and I couldn't just stand by and listen to that. I jumped in and started talking about how my great granddad learned how to cut dovetails from Peter Nicholson. Next thing you knew Michelle Myers said she was related to Peter Nicholson. It was on. Time for a dovetail race.

To warm up though we started at the shave horses to size each other up on speed and agility.


I was determined to be the fastest, even thought the race wasn't even officially on yet, but even so it ended in a tie. The competition was fierce and those lining up to show their stuff was extensive.


Look at these guys go. Roy pulled some underhanded stuff and would distract the competitors just so they wouldn't qualify for the finals. That dirty dog.

First up for the dovetail race was Michelle Myers (Lie-Nielsen show staff) and Roy.


They started with the through dovetail joint. I can't say what happened fully but an "accidental" mix up in how many tails vs. pins to be cut somehow ended up in Roy's favor so he moved on to the next round.

Next up was Roy and I. I knew this would challenge all my chairmaking abilities to the full (seeing as the only dovetails cut by a chairmaker are on that little drawer under the desk and seat of a windsor writing arm chair). It was on!


This short video below shows the intensity.


So how did it end? I'll let you decide. One joint was prettier and one was faster.


Those watching called it a tie but a race is all about speed so Roy took the prize. Don't rub it in too much Roy!

With patch over one eye, half blind Roy shows off his finished half blind dovetail.

Here I am still working away while Roy is already done. This picture makes me laugh every time I see it. Classic Roy!

Ok as you can see this was all in good fun. I hope we meet again and I get a second chance to test my skills against the legendary man himself. 

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