Tag Archives: Cincinnati

Woodworking in America: Pins vs. Tails and Booking Travel

My travel is finally booked for the Woodworking in America conference, thanks to a recommendation from Ravi at work, I saved a ton of money by using Kayak to find a cheap direct flight from Seattle to Cincinnati. Expedia lost my business on this trip, their site was broken for me, and their prices were high.

Cincinnati has two airports, and I’m flying into CVG so I hope that’s the right one. I’m staying at the Cincinnati Marriott at RiverCenter which is right next to the conference, so my commute should be fairly easy. I’ll be attending many of the dinners and pub crawls, so I hope to meet as many fellow woodworkers and bloggers.

I was thinking the other day of pins vs. tails, and why I think cutting tails first makes sense. Shannon Rogers the Renaissance Woodworker tweeted about this the other day as well. Without getting either of us in too much trouble with Frank, here’s why I think cutting tails first makes sense. Let’s be clear, I am not even close to being in the same league as Frank Klausz or Shannon Rogers. But, I am a bit of a process wonk and one of my strengths at my day job is getting things done efficiently and at high quality. One way to do that is to eliminate steps when possible

Let’s say you’re making, oh I don’t know, an eight-drawer dresser. Their are 16 drawer sides total, two per drawer. Eight are size “A” and eight are size “B”.

Let’s breakdown the work, add up the steps, and compare:

Pins First

  1. Layout 16 sets of pins
  2. Cut 16 sets of pins (two sets per face)
  3. Trace 16 sets of pins onto sides to cut tails
  4. Cut 16 sets of tails


  • 16 Layouts
  • 16 Traces
  • 32 cuts

Tails First

  1. Layout tails for “A”
  2. Layout tails for “B”
  3. Gang 8 “A” sides and cut
  4. Gang 8 “B” sides and cut
  5. Trace 16 sets of tails onto faces to cut pins
  6. Cut 16 sets of pins


  • 2 Layouts
  • 16 Traces
  • 18 cuts (1 gang “A”, 1 gang “B”, 16 sets of pins)


I think tails first wins here from a total labor perspective, it may also win in a consistency perspective. All the “A” boards will be very similar, same with the “B”. Things won’t be so uniform that they look machine made, but they will look great. What do you think? How wrong am I?


Hobomonk on Lumberjocks reminded me of Rob Cosman’s tails first video over on youtube. Check it out.

Woodworking In America: My Schedule

Today I signed up for the Woodworking in America Conference, September 30th through October 3rd in Cincinnati. This will be my first time attending, and I’m pretty psyched. A PDF of the schedule and the presenters is on the Woodworking in America site.

I’ve signed up for the following sessions:

  • Dovetailing Drawers: Pins First
  • Sharpening & Using Chisels & Card Scrapers
  • Cutting Mortises Quickly
  • Design a Door with Pleasing Proportions and Good Grain
  • The Essential Router Plane
  • Chisels: The Good, the Bad and the Garbage
  • Set Up a Band Saw for Ultimate Precision
  • Introduction to SketchUp
  • Sliding Dovetails Without Fail
  • Advanced SketchUp
  • Handplaning Boards: From Rough to Finished
  • Eliminate Drift on the Band Saw
  • Designing Strong Mortise-and-Tenon Joints
  • Planing Impossible Woods
  • Cutting Tenons by Hand
  • Put Some Mojo in Your Designs

I’ll also be attending the Toolmaker’s Dinner & Taste of Cincinnati and the Friday Evening Keynote Dinner, and crawling through the pubs during the pub crawl.

I’ve already blogged about who will be teaching and attending, it really is a great opportunity to learn from the best, try out tools, and meet other woodworkers and woodworking bloggers.

I hope I’ll be able to take my video camera, shoot some video, and post it here on the site. I’d especially love to interview Frank Klausz and debate pins-first or tails-first dovetails with him, and listen to him tell stories of apprenticing with his father back in Hungary. He likes to fish, and I’d love to talk to him about that as well.

Watching his father work, Frank asked, "How can you do that so fast?" His father replied, "After ten or fifteen years you’re going to be a pretty good beginner yourself."

Woodworking in America Conference

I’ve worked in the software industry for almost 16 years, and for 15 of those years, I worked on games. I’ve been to a lot of conferences over the years: E3, GDC, and Gamefest.

But the conference I’m most interested in attending is the Woodworking in America conference, this October in Cincinnati. If you’re a woodworker, hobbiest or professional, this is the conference for you.

From the website:

Immerse yourself in a weekend of woodworking packed with non-stop demonstrations, evening social activities (dinners, pub crawls) and a behind-the-scenes visit to an unrestored Shaker Village.

Learn skills directly from today’s top craftsmen – dovetails, inlay, handplanes, tablesaw techniques and much more– in more than 40 different classes.

Browse our unparalled Marketplace with top hand- and power-tool exhibitors– many of which you won’t find at any other show: Lee Valley, General International, Lie-Nielsen, Woodcraft and more, plus custom toolmakers including Sauer & Steiner, Eccentric Toolworks, Medallion Toolworks, and many more.

Check out the list of woodworking celebrities:

  • Roy Underhill
  • Frank Klausz
  • Michael Fortune
  • Christopher Schwarz
  • Marc Adams
  • Ron Herman
  • Jim Tolpin
  • George Walker
  • Don Williams
  • Robert Lang
  • Glen Huey

And from the podcasting world:

I’m putting together my plans right now, hoping I can make it. If you’re going to go, let me know.