This is a really interesting topic – and from Chris’ perspective really points out the potential design limitations caused by the use of modern machines in their basic setup. That is not to say that in some instances you can’t use a powered machine in a more sophisticated way than just at 90 degrees. But even so, it does (correctly) suggest a lot of designs accept and adopt these limitations, rather than attempt to pursue the freedom of traditional methods. On the other hand, there is a different way to look at all this. Someone in the 17th century may or may not have used a biscuit joiner if they had it, but in the modern age we have the luxury of having the choice. So choose the best tool for the job each time, rather than accepting the limitations of one, or other. You may prefer handtools/traditional methods for personal reasons – no problem. You may prefer powered tools because you are time-poor (not necessarily that the tool is faster or slower to use, but there is a longer learning curve to master traditional techniques, and many of us don’t have the time to dedicate, as much as we’d love to). Use the tool that is right for the job, and right for you. And look across the fence (in both directions) – you might be surprised to find a better solution on the other side!

Lost Art Press

… then they would have had joints that failed suddenly instead of slowly and gradually – like a mortise-and-tenon does. I know this after dropping an anvil on a lot of joints.

If they’d had a router, they would have used it – unless they didn’t want to sand out all the machine marks on the mouldings.

If they’d had a dovetail jig, they would have used it – unless they didn’t want the jig to dictate the height of their drawers.

If they’d had a random-orbit sander, they would have used it – unless they were skilled with a handplane, which would make them faster than the sander. And they might not wanted to spend the money on sandpaper, which has always been expensive.

If they’d had PVA, they would have used it – unless they wanted their joints to be reversible and unless they wanted to dial in…

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