Boxes #8 and #9 – Half blind dovetail practice

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I’ve been thoroughly enjoying learning to do dovetails, and in order to accelerate my learning, I thought I’d prepare a bunch of stock, so that I can pop into the workshop at will and pop out a dovetailed box. With these two boxes, I thought I’d attempt half blind dovetails which I’ve not yet tried.

The process started with resawing then squaring a piece of pine packing that my wife found in the discard pile at out local timber supplier.

Routing the groove was a little frustrating as I only have a 3 mm straight bit, so had to run double passes to get close to 6 mm, in order to use some scrap ply we have lying around for lids and bases. That and it’s a down-cut spiral bit, which really packs the sawdust down, and took some scraping with my little 100 mm double square to get it out. It was only on the last cut that I realised simply doing a second pass would clear it out. Gah!

Box #8 was my first crack at half blind dovetails. They’re pretty ragged and don’t meet nicely at all. Hmmm. The other oops was that having run my grooves all the way across the panels, the through dovetails left a square hole. And because I didn’t plan correctly, I never spaced the pins on the half blind sides correctly either, so in addition to just looking bad, they too had a square hole. I ended up resolving it with some plugs. You have to look for them, but still, not exactly an elegant method of dealing with the grooves.

Box #9 on the other hand showed far more promise. To start with my half blind dovetails were a lot better. While they still didn’t fit very snugly under their own force, a bit of clamping pressure during the glue-up left a very pleasing looking result. Next time I need to verify that once cut, the base of the sockets and all parts of my cut tails are actually square.

As for the through dovetails, I decided to attempt mitred corners to conceal the grooves. Now despite pondering whether to make cuts against the edge tails for quite some time, I ended up doing it, which I shouldn’t have. As such, there are a nice little saw kerfs to remind me of what not to do next time. Additionally, I added a third tail per side. If I’m making these for practice, let’s not skimp. They came out really well. Surprisingly the mitred corners were far easier than I had anticipated.

The lids are rather agricultural, as I’m not interested in refining my lid making at this juncture.

Once done, they were all sealed with a couple of coats of shellac. Now that they’re completed however, I can’t for the life of me identify anything to put in them. My wife and I both looked around, and other than screws or nails, we came up empty. Perhaps the kids can find a use …


October 2019

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