Don’t Fall for these 5 Woodworking Myths

Don’t Fall for these 5 Woodworking Myths

If you’ve ever perused online woodworking forums and comment sections, you’ve come across some strong opinions.

Let it be noted: There’s nothing wrong with opinions.

Everyone’s got their own preferences and experiences when it comes to tools and techniques. That’s great.

The problem is when people start rallying behind a supposed “rule” or “fact” of woodworking that’s not actually true.

And if you believe them, you end up wasting time and energy worrying about things that don’t matter (or don’t matter as much as they say).

Today, I’m busting 5 common woodworking myths I come across again and again.

You may have heard some of these before yourself. And you’ll probably continue to hear them until the end of time.

But that’s ok… as long as YOU know the truth (and avoid being a jerk online).



1. UN-GROUNDED DUST COLLECTORS CAN EXPLODE

dust collector

This is a classic woodworking myth that’s been going around for years. Here’s the gist:

When you use a dust collector with PVC ducting, static electricity gets generated. That static electricity can then cause a spark in the ducting, igniting the sawdust moving through and leading to a massive fireball explosion.

Sounds pretty scary. But here’s the problem.

There isn’t a single recorded case of this ever happening.

Maybe it did happen to your uncle’s neighbor’s ex-lover’s cat — but anecdotal cases are the only ones you’ll find.

pvc ducting

In fact, a guy named Rod Cole took a deep dive into this question years back.

He found that while this static-generated dust explosion is theoretically possible, it’s nearly impossible for it to happen in a real-world shop.

Something about CFM volumes and static discharge make the likelihood super low — especially in a home shop. I’m not a scientist, but you can read Cole’s paper here.

And this is the absolute best video I've found debunking this myth.

The only real reason to ground your dust collector is to avoid static shocks when you touch the ducting.

But unless that’s a deal breaker for you, there’s no real reason to do it.


2. WOOD MOVEMENT WILL MAKE YOUR PROJECTS EXPLODE

A lot of potential explosions, aren’t there?

Years back, I posted a video showing how I cut the houndstooth dovetails below. And a ton of people responded saying wood movement would eventually cause them to explode.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

houndstooth dovetails

Wood movement is caused by the seasonal changes in a board’s moisture content. It IS real — just not as bad as people think.

Boards expand and contract mostly across the grain. Meaning the dovetails above will expand and contract together.

The only time you really need to consider wood movement is when attaching a tabletop to a base or when attaching end grain edges to long grain edges.

But even then, the amount of movement is minimal (as in 1/16” for a 18” wide board).

Consider wood movement with table tops and box bottoms. Other than that, you’ll probably be fine.

Check out our wood movement calculator (that even tells you the best month to build for average expansion


3. SETTING A HAND PLANE ON THE SOLE DULLS THE BLADE

low angle hand plane

Anytime I use a hand plane in a video, people scold me in the comments for how I set it down on my workbench.

Their reasoning is that by setting the plane on its sole (the bottom), the blade hits the workbench and gets dull.

Instead, they say it’s better to lay the hand plane down on its side.

I totally disagree (but I won’t die on a hill over it).

Sure, slamming a hand plane down on your workbench can dull the blade. But setting it down gently? Forget about it!

The blade cuts wood. You’re setting it on wood. End of story.

setting hand plane blade angle

On top of that, setting a hand plane on its side can actually throw your setup out of alignment.

The angle of the blade can change, meaning you’ll have to tweak the lateral adjust lever to get it cutting evenly again.

Just set your hand plane down toe-first, then lay the sole on your bench.

If it really bothers you, place the toe of the plane on a piece of scrap to elevate it and keep the blade from touching the bench.


4. IT’S CHEAPER TO BUILD IT YOURSELF

walnut entryway table

Raise your hand if believing this myth is what motivated you to start woodworking.

The slow realization most woodworkers come to over time is that this is not a cheap hobby.

Sure, there are ways to do it on the cheap.

But if you think you can build furniture for less than it would cost you to buy at IKEA, you’re kidding yourself.

Mass-manufactured furniture can be sold for less than it costs you to buy just the materials. Let alone the tools needed.

Of course, this is a false equivalent.

Most mass-produced furniture is made with cheap wood, MDF, or particle board — and is not built to last.

YOU can build furniture that’ll last for generations, and with woods that are as strong as they are beautiful.

The value of woodworking as a hobby isn’t the economics. It’s the joy of creating something with your own hands.

And if you get good enough… you can even turn it into a business. Then the math changes.


5. THERE’S ONE RIGHT WAY TO DO THINGS

spraying hvlp lacquer

The internet is full of woodworking gatekeepers telling you there’s only one right way to do something…

And if you take a different approach, you either don’t know what you’re doing — or aren’t a “real” woodworker.

Let those trolls be miserable under their bridge. Woodworking is whatever you want it to be.

2x4 furniture joined with pocket screws. Hand-cut joinery assembled with hide glue. CNC-cut components attached with Dominos.

It’s all woodworking, and it’s all equally valid.

The important thing is knowing how to use your tools safely and building things with basic structural integrity.

Once you’ve got those two aspects covered, you can do whatever you damn well please.



LEAVE THE MYTHS TO OVID

Learning from others online is fantastic. But just remember that some of the woodworking “facts” you hear might not hold water.

The best thing to do is try things out for yourself and learn from your own experiences…

And also, don’t be a jerk online. Those people suck.

 


Want to learn more about wood movement? Read this.



What other woodworking myths have you heard? Let us know in the comments below!

Follow us on Instagram @katzmosestools, on TikTok @katzmoseswoodworking, and check out my YouTube channel for more great woodworking content...

And as always, STAY SAFE IN THE SHOP!

17 comments

Mike Mariano

Mike Mariano

If you use Oak for cutting boards everyone you love will die!!!! The idea behind it is that the larger grain will let bacteria in but tighter grain will not. There are lots of studies by arboreal biologists that debunk this myth. Proper finishing and care are the most important factors when it comes to bacteria and cutting boards.

If you use Oak for cutting boards everyone you love will die!!!! The idea behind it is that the larger grain will let bacteria in but tighter grain will not. There are lots of studies by arboreal biologists that debunk this myth. Proper finishing and care are the most important factors when it comes to bacteria and cutting boards.

Ross Smith

Ross Smith

I just love making things mainly out of wood. When I first started, I was on my own. The stuff I made back then was a bit ordinary, BUT, it was very therapeutic. Then I got the internet and found that I did everything wrong or improvements that could have been done. I also found these 5 myths above and it got my recalcitrant mind thinking that these are only one person’s thoughts and I just did the opposite of them. Turns out, I’m with you, they were just that, unproven myths.

I just love making things mainly out of wood. When I first started, I was on my own. The stuff I made back then was a bit ordinary, BUT, it was very therapeutic. Then I got the internet and found that I did everything wrong or improvements that could have been done. I also found these 5 myths above and it got my recalcitrant mind thinking that these are only one person’s thoughts and I just did the opposite of them. Turns out, I’m with you, they were just that, unproven myths.

Scott Jones

Scott Jones

I agree on all! I made a dust box stand for my planner and connect a PVC hose from the planner to the box it is mounted to. The static build up is REAL, wow! I have wondered what to bond it too to minimize it for the shock value. I’m not worried about the boom!

I agree on all! I made a dust box stand for my planner and connect a PVC hose from the planner to the box it is mounted to. The static build up is REAL, wow! I have wondered what to bond it too to minimize it for the shock value. I’m not worried about the boom!

Nicholas Todd

Nicholas Todd

I didn’t get into this hobby because I thought that making my own stuff would be cheaper… I got into it thinking I could design better. For example, I bought a cheap desk from a big store, but hated the fact that the keyboard tray was not wide enough for a keyboard and mouse, just the keyboard, so I had to reach up to the desk to move the mouse. So I built my own desk with a wide enough sliding tray for both. That’s the reason I got into this hobby.

I didn’t get into this hobby because I thought that making my own stuff would be cheaper… I got into it thinking I could design better. For example, I bought a cheap desk from a big store, but hated the fact that the keyboard tray was not wide enough for a keyboard and mouse, just the keyboard, so I had to reach up to the desk to move the mouse. So I built my own desk with a wide enough sliding tray for both. That’s the reason I got into this hobby.

JJ Hoffmam

JJ Hoffmam

I love the gatekeepers who tell me screwed butt joins show that I know nothing about craft…um, dude- you know its shop furniture made quickly to solve a problem, right? It isn’t a forever work of art- its a cart to hold a planer! I also get guff because on most shop carts, I don’t use any glue. I’m a renter, we move when the rent edges up past what is affordable or worth it to us. So that might mean moving my whole shop every few years. Its too costly to make furniture I can’t take apart fast. It’s marked and labeled and sustains less damage and takes up less space in the moving truck plus, if it doesn’t fit in the new space I can rework it once I’m there. Unless something changes in this country, I may never be able to own another house. That means mobile and versatile over long lived shop stuff. But hey- that narrow console table I built for the tiny deck at our last place took a sanding and refinish then got placed in the entry way of our new place-everything can be repurposed! Nothing exploded and the table is done with hand cut mortice and through tenons secured with wedges. No lathe but I made the legs using a draw knife, hand plane, and spokeshave.

I love the gatekeepers who tell me screwed butt joins show that I know nothing about craft…um, dude- you know its shop furniture made quickly to solve a problem, right? It isn’t a forever work of art- its a cart to hold a planer! I also get guff because on most shop carts, I don’t use any glue. I’m a renter, we move when the rent edges up past what is affordable or worth it to us. So that might mean moving my whole shop every few years. Its too costly to make furniture I can’t take apart fast. It’s marked and labeled and sustains less damage and takes up less space in the moving truck plus, if it doesn’t fit in the new space I can rework it once I’m there. Unless something changes in this country, I may never be able to own another house. That means mobile and versatile over long lived shop stuff. But hey- that narrow console table I built for the tiny deck at our last place took a sanding and refinish then got placed in the entry way of our new place-everything can be repurposed! Nothing exploded and the table is done with hand cut mortice and through tenons secured with wedges. No lathe but I made the legs using a draw knife, hand plane, and spokeshave.

Dave Smart

Dave Smart

Static setting off a dust explosion may be a myth, but never tip out the contents of your extractor bin on to a bonfire. You might as well be using petrol for all the facial hair you’ll have left. Taught me a lesson!

Static setting off a dust explosion may be a myth, but never tip out the contents of your extractor bin on to a bonfire. You might as well be using petrol for all the facial hair you’ll have left. Taught me a lesson!

Patrick Daniels

Patrick Daniels

Thanks for all you do Johnathan, I’m often amused when being told that “isn’t the right way it’s done”, you’re so very correct on the vast numbers of trolls who know the “right way” things are done by true professionals! Keep up the excellent work!!

Thanks for all you do Johnathan, I’m often amused when being told that “isn’t the right way it’s done”, you’re so very correct on the vast numbers of trolls who know the “right way” things are done by true professionals! Keep up the excellent work!!

A. C.

A. C.

WOOD MOVEMENT WILL MAKE YOUR PROJECTS EXPLODE
Wood movement won’t do that, but a piece of furniture can make a loud pop! when it cracks. My father, who was retired and living with us made a kitchen table for my wife. He built it in the summer, and did much of the work outside, and glued and screwed it together very very firmly and stiffly. In the middle of that winter, we were awakened by a loud “POP!” I got up and met my father in the kitchen where he was looking at the top of the table with astonishment. Right along the grain, from nearly one end to the other a crack had opened up. He tried repairing it by routing a slot and making an insert and glueing that in. The next winter a crack developed along one side of that, too. He didn’t try to fix that one.
He worked as a mechanical engineer for over thirty years for Boeing until he retired, and I strongly suspect that he thought of wood in the same terms as he thought of aircraft grade aluminum. It’s a lesson for me.

WOOD MOVEMENT WILL MAKE YOUR PROJECTS EXPLODE
Wood movement won’t do that, but a piece of furniture can make a loud pop! when it cracks. My father, who was retired and living with us made a kitchen table for my wife. He built it in the summer, and did much of the work outside, and glued and screwed it together very very firmly and stiffly. In the middle of that winter, we were awakened by a loud “POP!” I got up and met my father in the kitchen where he was looking at the top of the table with astonishment. Right along the grain, from nearly one end to the other a crack had opened up. He tried repairing it by routing a slot and making an insert and glueing that in. The next winter a crack developed along one side of that, too. He didn’t try to fix that one.
He worked as a mechanical engineer for over thirty years for Boeing until he retired, and I strongly suspect that he thought of wood in the same terms as he thought of aircraft grade aluminum. It’s a lesson for me.

Randy Lewis

Randy Lewis

I have made a number of fames for artists over the years. Often they tell me they are only small frames, shouldn’t take me too long. My reply is always, the part in the middle is pretty easy it’s the corners the take all my attention and as far as I know there are four in a frame. Making woodworking a business isn’t easy.
Great article!

I have made a number of fames for artists over the years. Often they tell me they are only small frames, shouldn’t take me too long. My reply is always, the part in the middle is pretty easy it’s the corners the take all my attention and as far as I know there are four in a frame. Making woodworking a business isn’t easy.
Great article!

Gary murphy

Gary murphy

Setting a hand plane on the sole is a bad thing only if your working on site with concrete floors, this is where this myth comes from, I was told the same when I done my apprenticeship in the U.K. if working on site it’s a must to set it on its side and if adjusted correctly it won’t be thrown out of alignment, but it doesn’t matter if your in a workshop and you only place it on wood. Just my twopence worth.

Setting a hand plane on the sole is a bad thing only if your working on site with concrete floors, this is where this myth comes from, I was told the same when I done my apprenticeship in the U.K. if working on site it’s a must to set it on its side and if adjusted correctly it won’t be thrown out of alignment, but it doesn’t matter if your in a workshop and you only place it on wood. Just my twopence worth.

Rick Piggott

Rick Piggott

Your message about the hand planes is spot on. I have a wide collection of hand planes
which I use all the time. I never lay it down on its side. This allows the blade to be
exposed, not a good idea. Trust me, laying them flat on your wood bench is best.

Your message about the hand planes is spot on. I have a wide collection of hand planes
which I use all the time. I never lay it down on its side. This allows the blade to be
exposed, not a good idea. Trust me, laying them flat on your wood bench is best.

John Ford

John Ford

Well said, Jonathan. To be honest, I was never sure about the PVC-static discharge – but since I don’t have a dust collector, I didn’t worry about it. I appreciate you tracking down reliable sources on that issue.
I find the “one right way” issue the most annoying – but I think I’ve learned to ignore it.
Thanks for sharing.

Well said, Jonathan. To be honest, I was never sure about the PVC-static discharge – but since I don’t have a dust collector, I didn’t worry about it. I appreciate you tracking down reliable sources on that issue.
I find the “one right way” issue the most annoying – but I think I’ve learned to ignore it.
Thanks for sharing.

Brett Hollenbeck

Brett Hollenbeck

Thanks Jonathan, another great article. I’m just a hobbyist woodworker in a tiny shop, although now that I’m retired I may look into some ways to make a few bucks from it. I’ve always looked at it this way, If I’m having fun with woodworking I’m doing it right, regardless of what the internet tells me.

Thanks Jonathan, another great article. I’m just a hobbyist woodworker in a tiny shop, although now that I’m retired I may look into some ways to make a few bucks from it. I’ve always looked at it this way, If I’m having fun with woodworking I’m doing it right, regardless of what the internet tells me.

David Hood

David Hood

You verified what I was telling my wife last night. We saw an end table at a certain retail store that doesn’t open Sundays, and asked if I could build her one. The price was $69.99. I told her it would cost me more even with big box store wood. The piece was very light and wouldn’t last. When I make it, it will stand the test of time. Thanks for backing me up 😁

You verified what I was telling my wife last night. We saw an end table at a certain retail store that doesn’t open Sundays, and asked if I could build her one. The price was $69.99. I told her it would cost me more even with big box store wood. The piece was very light and wouldn’t last. When I make it, it will stand the test of time. Thanks for backing me up 😁

Fred

Fred

I love this:

“2×4 furniture joined with pocket screws. Hand-cut joinery assembled with hide glue. CNC-cut components attached with Dominos.”

Beautiful. A friend was kind of offended when I told him my dovetail tools (including a KM saw guide) are in a drawer I built with pocket screws. I look at it as a reminder that this is supposed to be fun. Thanks Johnathan

I love this:

“2×4 furniture joined with pocket screws. Hand-cut joinery assembled with hide glue. CNC-cut components attached with Dominos.”

Beautiful. A friend was kind of offended when I told him my dovetail tools (including a KM saw guide) are in a drawer I built with pocket screws. I look at it as a reminder that this is supposed to be fun. Thanks Johnathan

Robert Pearce

Robert Pearce

It’s the cost one that annoys me. I am not particularly skilled but I have made a few bird boxes, and other things, which I give away. Someone asked me to make them one, they would pay me, but not the high price someone was charging at a small stall. This was about £20 (I live in England), so maybe $25, a very reasonable cost. This person was valuing my time at zero!

It’s the cost one that annoys me. I am not particularly skilled but I have made a few bird boxes, and other things, which I give away. Someone asked me to make them one, they would pay me, but not the high price someone was charging at a small stall. This was about £20 (I live in England), so maybe $25, a very reasonable cost. This person was valuing my time at zero!

Daniel Krueger

Daniel Krueger

Hey guys,
Interestingly, this is the 3rd article I have read or watched and I totally agree with you 👍.
Merry Christmas and have a safe New Year.

Hey guys,
Interestingly, this is the 3rd article I have read or watched and I totally agree with you 👍.
Merry Christmas and have a safe New Year.

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