Wednesday, July 8, 2009

REVIEW: Rob Cosman Video Series

Since my first dabbling in hand tools I saw a lot of references to Rob Cosman's video's. I recently had an opportunity to see what all the hub-bub was about. I'm am a connoisseur of sorts when it comes to woodworking video's. I find myself to be a visual learner. So I was quite excited to get started. The videos I have are Dovetails, Advanced Dovetails, Rough To Ready, Hand Planing, and Drawer Making I & II.

Since I have been learning to cut dovetails recently, I got started there. Rob uses a tails first method. I am a pretty avid fan of Frank Klausz's pins first approach but I am always looking for a better way of doing things. Rob also advocates the use of very small pins. This I'm not a fan of. I have a more shaker/utilitarian approach to my work. I don't think you should sacrifice strength for aesthetics. I'm not going through all the trouble to hand cut dovetails to purposely make them weaker. One thing that I did think was great is that he covered Hounds Tooth dovetails. This is something I haven't seen in other videos. Overall I found Rob's dovetailing method to be slow but deliberate. It will give you beautiful dovetails but the extra layout and tools may slow you down.

I would have to say that I wasn't a huge fan of his hand planing video's. His methods here seemed painfully slow. So slow in fact that in places they started playing music to distract you from the fact it was taking forever. I have seen several people true a board from the rough. Rob's method by far took the longest. Rob also failed to adequately explain his philosophy on hand planes. He only discussed the few hand planes that he was using in the video. Shouldn't we have at least discussed other hand planes?

The drawer making videos were not of great interest to me. First off this should have been one video. You can't walk someone halfway though creating and fitting a drawer and call that a video. Anyway, these video's are based on the idea of creating "piston fit" drawers. I feel this video over complicates the drawer making process. Again, I feel Frank Klausz described this process better. Build the drawers to fit the hole tightly. Then when you clean up you clean up your dovetails with the plane you will have a tight fitting drawer. Rob's method will work, but I found it overly complicated and as a result...slower.

Overall, I didn't find that I cared much for the video's. This isn't a reflection on Rob's skill or knowledge. I simply found that Rob overcomplicated some issues and didn't discuss others enough. I just think there are superior woodworking videos out there that cover the topics more clearly. Speed is a big issue for me also. I'm coming from a cabinetmaker's point of view. I have to be able to make money doing this.

My choice video for hand planing is still Chris Schwarz's "Coarse, Medium, Fine." My favorite for dovetails and drawer making is still Frank Klausz's "Dovetail A Drawer."

David B.

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