Tuesday, March 04, 2014


The word heuristic refers to learning that is based on experience and discovery. As an example, I used a technique yesterday that I discovered on my own as a way of installing a new zero clearance insert in my router table. Th old one had worn over time... a thing that happens a router bit spinning at 22,000 RPM continuously hurls sawdust against it. My technique for installing zero clearance inserts involves the making of a log cabin routing template.

I call it a log cabin template because its structure is secured by overlapping corners that can be simply glued or nailed together log cabin style around an object. The making of this jig forms an exact representation of the object the jig is built around, thus creating a rigid structure around a negative space that can be used to guide a router in forming the exact same negative space in another material. This process may seem complex and abstract, but it is extremely accurate and effective. I use the same thickness of stock as chinking between the corners to provide a smooth guide surface for the bearing on the router bit.

Build the log cabin structure around the object. I made the zero clearance inserts first and used the log cabin corners to attach parts together cut from thin plywood.

Clamp the template to the surface you plan to route for the insert to fit. Use a router bit with bearing to follow the inside surface of the template and rout to the desired depth. Once the zero clearance insert has had its corners rounded to the required radius, put it in place and raise the router to cut through. To fit this bit, I first had to rout through with a smaller one to remove the material at the center of the insert.

With a guard over the cutter, I use this insert to support stock to form tenons on the ends of stock for making the fronts and backs of small boxes.

The things that you learn heuristically, through personal experience and discovery are so much more powerful in shaping character and intellect than those things that are simply told to you. It's a shame educational policy makers seem to have not noticed.

Yesterday, as I was reading David Whittaker's book, the Impact and Legacy of Educational Sloyd,  I found that my own writings had been mentioned in it, and had served to point out the impact of Educational Sloyd on American education. My own contribution amounts to nearly 3 pages in the book.

Make, fix, create and inspire.


  1. Anonymous8:43 AM

    Time for someone ( Educators ) else to smell the coffee... To Help students Think....

  2. I think many educators (at least in the teaching profession) have smelled the coffee enough to know that things aren't working so well. Policy makers seem to be the ones that are out of touch as is usual.

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  4. Blogger Doug Stowe said...

    By out of touch, I refer to the following. George W. Bush department of education devised a policy of standardized testing called "no child left behind," that the family was to make money on.

    The the Obama administration came along and knowing the odious program wasn't working, turned it into a race between states, "race to the top." Both this program and its predecessor were intended to make teachers statistically accountable, not to improve what children actually learned or their engagement in learning.

    Take the "policy makers" out of the way, or manage to get them to observe how real learning takes place and we'd have better education.

  5. Anonymous11:13 AM

    Many thanks to the Koch bros.
    Exposed here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTwqkl8BqSc