STL 168: Bevel Angles and Workbench Wood


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If you have questions you’d like us to answer on the show, send them in to You can also use the voice memo app on your phone and email us a 30 second audio recording, or if you’re old-school you can leave a voicemail by calling 203-304-3456. 

Question 1:

I recently moved to South Carolina from Ohio. I know Matt Kenney spent some time in South Carolina and I’m wondering if he has any advice dealing with the humid conditions during the summer months. -Dave

Question 2:

I have worked with a ton of maple, red oak, cherry, and various exotics, but nothing prepared me for what white oak did to my chisels. I was making a custom floor register out of white oak and it MURDERED my chisels. I am using the new Stanley Sweethearts, sharpened with an MKII at 25° and a secondary bevel at whatever degree the downward facing detent on the knob is.  I had the same experience with a Narex mortising chisel on the same material. Any chance you could Monday morning quarterback me and tell me what I am doing wrong? -Jeremy

Question 3:

What do you prefer to put under the feet of your furniture projects to keep them from skidding around? I made Christian Becksvoort’s Shaker step stool from issue #266, and it will be used in our bathroom, but the walnut feet slide all over the porcelain tile floor. Obviously not a great situation for kids on step stools. I’m considering using some polyurethane glue to apply some thin pieces of rubber under the feet and chamfering them so they’re not too visible.

Question 4:

What types of wood are your favorite to make a bench out of? Also, when laminating the bench top, what thickness board should I use? I can get anything from 4/4 to 12/4 from my hardwood dealer. It seems to me that 8/4 or larger would save on milling and gluing time, but are there any downsides to using thicker stock? -Loren

Question 5:

I’m working on an altar table for a church out of quartersawn white oak. The design that I’ve drawn includes an apron, but no lower stretcher or rails. Because of this, I was planning to mortise the legs into the top for extra rigidity. Am I asking for trouble both mortising the legs and attaching the aprons? -Ben

Question 6:

Is there a preferred number of degrees difference between primary and micro-bevels? For simplicity, I have been putting a micro-bevel of 35 degrees on my chisels after cutting the primary bevel to 30 degrees simply because that is the next step up on the guide. Is it best practice to create a micro-bevel of about 2-3 degrees difference from the primary bevel rather than 5 degrees? -Randy

Question 7:

Which size shoulder plane would you buy first and why? -Mike

Question 8:

Are there any techniques for mitigating how dark cherry will turn?  I was thinking of using an exterior water based poly with UV inhibitors.  -Chris

Question 9:

What are your thoughts on mixing and matching water stone “systems”? I have been using a 1000x/4000x King combo stone followed by an 8000x Shapton glass stone which provides a nice polish.  Would using Shaptons for my lower grits provide a noticeably better end result? -Ken

Question 10:

Can you clarify the differences between Zinsser Bulls Eye Shellac and the Bulls Eye SealCoat and how to use each. I have used the Bulls Eye Shellac, thinned, on pine boards with a satin sheen polyacrylic topcoat so far without problems but it sounds like I need to switch over to SealCoat for the last coat before applying the polyacrylic. -Donn

Question 11:

I made an outdoor bbq cabinet last spring out of beech. Unfortunately, I chose to glue up sliding panel doors that are only ⅛-in. thick. The doors are bookmatched, and look really nice, but they warped and jam as they slide in the track. I’ve considered pulling them out and making some frame and panel doors on hinges, but I really like the sleek sliding doors that are there now.  What can be done? -Chris

Question 12:

My question is about the Gregory Paolini’s Arts and Crafts Coffee Table video workshop.  Episode 4 focuses on the shelf with large through tenons into a cross grain bottom rail. He mentions to allow for movement, but the fit seems snug all around. Is he able to get away with the snug fit because the shelf is quarter sawn? -Chris

Question 13:

I acquired an old Stanley #3 with a thin blade, so I bought a new blade from Hock Tools. The trouble is, the blade is so thick that it completely fills the throat of the plane. I’m debating filing the throat wider. Would you file the throat, or would you go back to the old thin blade and just accept that sometimes things don’t work out quite as you would like? -Graham

Question 14:

I’m making a toy box for my grandson.  His mom would like a checkerboard inlaid into the top. I’d like to use plywood for the top and solid wood squares for the checkerboard.  I am concerned about seasonal wood movement of the solid wood checkerboard. Do you have any advice to alleviate this concern?


Ben – Using a domino to make small slots in hand tool holders

Matt – Make something small, and as perfectly as possible

Mike – Harbor Freight hold down clamps

Every two weeks, a team of Fine Woodworking staffers answers questions from readers on Shop Talk Live, Fine Woodworking‘s biweekly podcast. Send your woodworking questions to for consideration in the regular broadcast! Our continued existence relies upon listener support. So if you enjoy the show, be sure to leave us a five-star rating and maybe even a nice comment on our iTunes page.

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