Jason Schneider, an Anishinaabe youth and gluing end grain
While on The Furniture Society’s website the other day I came across the work of Jason Schneider, who is an American maker. I really liked one of his pieces, titled “His and Her Cabinets.” What initially looks like a single cabinet comes apart to reveal two separate cabinets. He has a few other pieces on his website (JasonSchneiderFurniture.com) that are pretty playful as well. If you can believe it, Jason has used corrugated cardboard to build many of his pieces, and they look great.
“His and Her Cabinets” – Made by Jason Schneider, these cabinets fit together so seamlessly you’d only know they were two cabinets if you pulled them apart.
“Vanity” – This padauk vanity is a striking design with gorgeous wood grain and colour.
The Furniture Society has a wide range of nice pieces of furniture to see. You can visit them at FurnSoc.org.
This story came to me via an A&M Woods email a short while ago. It’s great to see anyone work wood, but for this 18-year-old Anishinaabe entrepreneur, it was his way to make some money for his upcoming university year. During the pandemic, jobs for teenagers have been hard to come by, so he went out on his own and started making and selling planter boxes. It’s a good story and shows what can be done with a bit of determination and skill.
It has long been said that end grain glue joints are overly weak and should never be used in furniture. According to Patrick Sullivan, an American woodworking with more than 50 years of experience in the craft, the idea that these joints are weak is misleading, or even downright wrong. Check out this interesting video and see what you think.
I’m sure this is the type of topic that could generate lots of discussion and further scientific experimentation. There are also many practical aspects to this topic. We generally work with boards that are much longer than they are wide. This means that any end grain joint will naturally have less surface area than a typical side grain joint, but this video shows how misunderstood this subject is. It also shows how complex the topic is, and how it can relate to the woodworking we do in many different ways.
Gluing End Grain – Patrick Sullivan put some end grain glue joints to the test to determine just how strong they were.
How Strong? – To Sullivan’s surprise, the end grain to end grain joints he made for testing were shockingly strong.
One of my thoughts is that end grain joints still incorporate a lot of side grain gluing. Picture a microscopic view of the wood fibres (like drinking straws, all bundled together, side-by-side) that make up wood. When glue is applied to the ends of these drinking straw-like end grain fibres the glue squeezes into the hollow fibres and then adheres to the sides of these pores. That could be a big reason why the end grain joints Sullivan tested fared so incredibly well.
At the end of the day, I’m not too concerned with the intricate details of how strong one wood is or how strong one type of joint is. I’m more practical and am just focused on whether or not the joints I’m using in the furniture I build will stand up to the stresses that act upon the piece. I don’t need a joint to withstand 5,000 pounds of pressure before it breaks if the piece of furniture would have to be thrown out a third-storey window to experience these types of forces. However, I still find learning about the intricate details of what makes a glue joint strong fascinating and I’m sure many of you do, too.
If you could see any test done on wood, the products (such as glue or metal or wood fasteners, etc.) we use, or the joints we woodworkers incorporate into our work, what would it be?