What is the #OSBArmy?

The OSB Army is an identity, a movement, and a fight against the critics who say...

'No, you're doing it wrong'

The OSB Army started as a bit of a joke. A satirical use of a manmade board in an attempt to rustle the jimmies of traditionally trained woodworkers. Such woodworkers include those who tell you that putting a plane on it's sole, cutting 1:6 dovetails in hardwood, and using a honing guide is sacrilege.

Now don't get me wrong, I genuinely do like the use of OSB when used tastefully. However, I also gain a lot of enjoyment from it's use purely from the critisism it generates. Secondly, there is a lot to learn from traditional woodworkers and I credit much of what I know and teach today to such woodworkers. What I do not respect however, is when your creativity or workflow is ousted due to an unwritten rule from the ‘woodworking rulebook.'

Because spoiler alert: there is no woodworking rulebook.

Debunking

After doing many events up and down the country and demonstrating in front of hundreds if not thousands of people, not to mention the hundreds of videos I have created, these are a few of my favourite criticisms from observers.

Oh yea? Where's the referee then? I've seen the results of beginners sharpening without the use of a honing guide, and I've seen the results of them using a honing guide afterwards. With the addition of a £10 guide, the improvement is incredible.

Does this mean you should always use a honing guide as opposed to sharpen freehand? Absolutely not.

What you should be prepared for is a steeper learning curve when training your muscles to sharpen freehand. Using a honing guide however will give you instant results. At the expense of 5-10 seconds of setup time. That's it. 

So if you're ever criticised by someone who tells you that using a honing guide is cheating, ask them if they fell the tree and converted their boards by hand. Or did they pay someone else to do it with a chainsaw and bandsaw? Sounds like cheatin' to me!

Then how am I going to plane you moron? If you're worried about blunting a blade by putting it down on it's sole, you're going to go mental when you realise you have to physically push it through wood to make it work!

Yes of course you will blunt the blade if you accidentally put it down onto a screw. But by putting it on it's side, you will have an exposed grater waiting to slice your fingers and limbs open. I'd rather take my chances on the former option to be honest. Because I tend to look at the surface I'm putting it down on.

The second argument is that putting the plane on its sole will change the blade setting. While this may be true if you slam the plane down, most of us normal woodworkers put our planes down like we would put down a plate of food. So I'm not sure what these people are doing when they put down their planes. NBA style slambunks perhaps?

This is likely something that has stemmed from the days of wooden planes that were far more susceptible to change setting when being placed down. Many of these principles were taught by masters onto apprentices, who then taught that onto their apprentice, who then taught that onto their apprentice.

It's outdated. Put your plane down whichever way it happens to land. If you're really clever, put it onto a shaving. That way the blade is hidden and is not in contact with anything below. Everybody wins!

Oh wait, or was it 1:7 for hardwoods and 1:6 for softwoods? I can't remember. I just want to cut a dovetail goddammit!

This actually got me marked down for an assignment while studying at Rycotewood. I was taught to cut dovetails with a 1:8 ratio. But I decided that I preferred the look of 1:6 and as a result got reprimanded.

While there is a theory to this, the theory generalises a lot of things about the structure of wood. For example, Yew (a softwood) is much harder than Balsa (a hardwood). But even the hardness of wood is only a small part of the ever growing puzzle in wood theory!

The key word behind this theory is ‘short grain' and it assumes that all hardwoods are more brittle than all softwoods. Therefore hardwoods cannot deal with angles steeper than a 1:8. Which is of course untrue. I have built hardwood furniture using 1:6 dovetails and there are tool chests that are hundreds of years old that were constructed with 1:4 tails.

Confused? This quick lesson explains it in detail:
Which Dovetail Ratio is Best?

In a nutshell, you can generally use anything between 1:4 and 1:8. Just be wary that on the lower end of the scale, you will need to be more careful of the grain chipping at the top of the tail. Especially on hardwoods.

I'll add more to this over time. Perhaps we, the OSB Army, can create our own anti-woodworking rulebook eventually! If you think of any rules or teachings that have been imposed on you that don't seem to make sense, drop them in the comments below!

What you can do

If something is working for you, don't let other people tell you that you are wrong. By all means, seek guidance from people you look up to. Let them suggest better ways to do things. But don't let them look over your shoulder while you're minding your own business and let them tell you that you're wrong. Because the only person that's wrong is them.

If you agree with all of that, congratulations. You're already in the OSB Army and it's great to have you here.

Keep fighting the good fight and let people express their individual creativity. If you find a resistor, go and slap an OSB Sticker in a prominent place in their workshop and laugh as they scramble in panic to remove it. (Results may vary.)

Get Your Uniform Today

Stand up to the naysayers and join the OSB Army.

Once you have your uniform

Our numbers are growing fast in the fight against the naysayers. So be sure to share your alleigance with the rest of the OSB Army. 

  1. Post a photo of you wearing your uniform on social media. 
  2. Tag me on Instagram or Facebook in the photo
  3. With your permission, a few hours later your photo will be re-posted to the rest of the OSB Army.
  4. Jump into the mess hall and interact with other like minded individuals
  5. Support and encourage other individuals who are frustrated or struggling with their craft. 

In Summary

The OSB Army is an army that helps lost and struggling craftspeople find direction in what they are doing. More importantly, experience fulfilment in their craft, and pride in their result. Help other people, don't push them down.

4 Comments

  • Referring to my just posted reply, the naysayers claim your mug can be only right-handed. Offering only right-handed mugs capitulates to their demands and rules. We don’t want anyone telling us we have to use a right-handed mug!

    Overheard conversation:

    Earle: “Matt, did you know that everyone is born right-handed?”
    Matt: “No, I wasn’t aware of that”.
    Earle: “Yeah, but only some of us had the strength to overcome it!”

    Reply
  • Being left-handed, as you and I are, I’m surprised that you don’t offer a left-handed option for the coffee mug. It’s the same mug except the printing (OSB) is in front when the mug is held in the left hand. Check into that if you have the time. If you offer one, I will certainly buy one!

    Another Left-Handed Woodworker
    Tennessee, USA

    Reply

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