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Jefferson Bookcases #3: Large case tail boards (sides)

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Blog entry by Dave Polaschek posted 08-05-2020 01:32 AM 781 reads 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Building the plinths Part 3 of Jefferson Bookcases series Part 4: Large case pin boards and backs »

First, some measurements. I spent the tail end of yesterday sawing all the boards for eleven of the largest cases to size. Here’s the cut-list:

Two 1×12x30¼ – top & bottom
Two 1×12x14½ – left & right
Two 1×8x29⅝ – back boards

Today I spent the day making tail boards, which are the left and right sides of the cases.

Here are the steps for them.

1. Mark out a pair of boards on one end. I usually plan to make the outsides of this pair the inside of the case. The main reason this matters is that you probably want to mark the miters and rabbets on the board now so you don’t forget what you’re doing and miter them the wrong way. It happens.

2. Cut the tails you’ve marked. Note that I’m just using pencil lines. They’re plenty accurate for sawing dovetails in pine, especially for the first cuts (tails in my case), as I measure the pins from the tails. That’s where I need to be more accurate.

3. Mark the other end of the board. If your tails are asymmetrical (mine aren’t, but if you’re making smaller pins, you might want the rabbeted edge of the board to have a thicker tail on the end), make sure to flip the marks. Note my handy story stick. Using a template like this means I’ll have all dozen cases looking fairly uniform.

4. Saw those tails.

5. Cut the rabbets on the back side of the board for the back boards to fit into.

If you’re in mass-production mode, like I am, repeat. I’ve got a total of ten more pairs of tail boards to make. I bundle the pairs together with blue tape.

That’s it for the tail boards. In a full day, making ten pairs of them is a pretty good goal for me. Whew!

-- Dave - Santa Fe



7 comments so far

View Oldtool's profile

Oldtool

3026 posts in 3038 days


#1 posted 08-05-2020 09:39 AM

Interesting techniques, nice description. The ends of the boards are very square and smooth, do you cut by hand and use a shooting board?
Your cut tails are very uniform, nice work. I also cut tails first, because cutting on the angle for me is not very good, so using the socially approved 8:1 and 6:1 ratios doesn’t matter, I end up with different angles all across the board. Cutting the pins then adjusts for the poor tail cutting, by marking well and then my vertical cuts are more accurate.
Onward and upward as the saying goes, nice work.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5839 posts in 1430 days


#2 posted 08-05-2020 12:05 PM

I cut the ends of the boards using my circular saw track guide with a hybrid saw blade in my little cordless circular saw. They’re mostly straight off that, but if the two boards in a pair are slightly different in length, or one is rougher, I’ll use a finely set block plane to even things out.

I’m cutting everything using a 1:4 dovetail marker I made. They’re getting more uniform, and my most common failure is cutting below the baseline when taking out the waste with the turning saw. But I’m getting better and faster with that. Also, when cutting tails, I do all the cuts that slant to the right first, working left to right, then do the cuts that slant to the left, working right to left. Not sure why that exact pattern, but it works for me. I’m also cutting them while sitting on a rolling mechanics stool so I’m sawing only slightly below eye level.

When gang-cutting the tails in ¾ inch stock, I drop the handle of the saw to get started on the line. Two strokes get the line established all the way across, then I raise the handle and three or four more strokes take me down to the baseline. One final stroke, looking in the mirror behind the work to make sure that I’m to the line on the back side of the board, and it’s on to the next cut. I think it was a Rob Cosman video I learned from. The turning saw for waste removal is Chris Schwarz. And then I use a rasp to clean up the bottom of the tail, which is my own fault. Especially in pine, I have too many tear-out issues with a chisel. A rasp lets me clean things up quickly with the tail board still in the vise.

I’m also happy I have my kerfing plane handy. The ⅜ inch fixed fence is perfect for almost all of the rabbets I’m cutting, plus for the shiplap on the two back boards.

My honey commented the other day that she’s happy I finally got started on this project, and I haven’t said anything, but I realized that almost half the tools I’m using on this project are ones I made myself, and I don’t think things would be going as smoothly as they are without them. I’ve developed a number of tools that work well for me, and I built the prototype box using them and have added where necessary. Plus I have two block planes sitting on my bench. One set super fine for touching up the end grain before cutting dovetails (if needed), and one set fairly heavy, so eight passes on the edge of the board gives me a 3/16 wide chamfer.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Oldtool's profile

Oldtool

3026 posts in 3038 days


#3 posted 08-05-2020 07:05 PM

Dave,
regarding waste removal between tails & pins, I’ve found that for me it’s easier and faster to alternate between “chop down – split from end”. Using a saw to cut out most of the waste still requires a chop down to sneak up to the layout line. By starting with a light first tap and splitting out a thin piece of waste, then after establishing the shoulder at the layout line, chopping harder on the next few chops, I can usually get through 3/4” stock in 3 to 4 chops.
Maybe this technique can assist with your turning saw encroachment of the layout line. Maybe not, what ever you find most successful is the way to go.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

3978 posts in 2070 days


#4 posted 08-05-2020 07:18 PM

I’m glad you enjoy doing all that hand work, plenty to do with the number of shelves you are building!

One of the things I like about pine is the DTs can be slightly oversized and still be made to fit since the wood can compress some. Unfortunately for me, when I err with a dimension, the parts are always too small….

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5839 posts in 1430 days


#5 posted 08-05-2020 08:47 PM

Tom, I’ve tried various chisel techniques, including what I think you’re describing, and the main problem is that I would need to remove the board from the vise to chop with the chisel. Cutting as close as possible to the line (over half of my dovetails are acceptable off the saw) and then knocking down any high spots with a rasp (I really should use a float that I can resharpen myself) goes quickly, and I don’t need to remove the boards from the vise.

It seems to suit me.

Splint, I’ve gotten pretty good at remembering which side of the line I’m supposed to be cutting on. Since I’m marking with a pencil, accuracy doesn’t matter on the tails, and in the pins, I just barely saw away the line which was drawn from the tails, and I’ve got a nice tight joint. If I leave the line, my joint is so tight it won’t go together.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View crowie's profile

crowie

3897 posts in 2798 days


#6 posted 08-07-2020 09:37 AM

Hand tools dovetails – top marks sir…

-- Lifes good, Enjoy each new day...... Cheers from "On Top DownUnder" Crowie

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5839 posts in 1430 days


#7 posted 08-07-2020 11:58 AM

Thanks, Peter! The one prototype I built came out nice and solid, so between the dovetails and the backs that are rabbeted into the sides, I’ve got belt and suspenders helping hold the boxes together and square.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

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