Shop Remodel #20: Another Day Closer

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by bearkatwood posted 12-17-2015 02:04 AM 1548 reads 1 time favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 19: Bats in the Belfry Part 20 of Shop Remodel series Part 21: Run Forest! »

With some projects you can see dramatic progress at the end of the day, this is not one of those projects. I have allotted roughly three months to finish the project knowing it was a huge undertaking. I will undoubtedly have to work on an order or side project during the time it is taking place, but for now I am just concentrating on the build. Like I said there wasn’t a big transformation today, but there was progress. I have all the drawer fronts dovetailed and roughly fit to their perspective spots. I thought it would be a good day to show how I do my half blind dovetails. I start by cutting my stock just a bit proud of any openings. Mark your layout lines all the way around the front of the drawer sides and just the side and back of the drawer front. I know there is a big controversy to which is cut first, tails or pins. Normally I would say it doesn’t matter, try them both and go with whatever works best for you, but for half blinds, cutting the tails first really does make it easier. Knowing how to do it both ways gives you an advantage.
Draw a line about 1/8”-3/16” in from each side of the drawer side.

Next using dividers I lay out how many pins I would like to have. Fool with it a bit until you have an even spacing.

Then press the tips in to mark the positions.

Mark square lines to reference off.

And lay out the pin cuts.

Start by making your cuts all going in one direction to keep a rhythm.

Then come back from the other direction.

If you miss your line while cutting, don’t worry about it as long as the cut is square and you transfer the layout well it won’t matter.

Turn the board on its’ side and press into the marked line with your chisel and then pair down at an angle to the line to make a trough for the saw to ride in.

Then cut away the waste from where the half pin will go.

Lay the drawer side on a sacrificial board and chop away the waste material. Sometimes I use a coping saw to remove the bulk first, but these were very small so I didn’t.

This picture doesn’t have the half pins cut away yet.
Next if you have a rake light (by all means use one when dovetailing) lay it as far down as it will go to shine light under the board. I clamp my stock up to the height of the sacrificial board and lay the drawer side on it to lay out the pins. Pull it up to the drawer face just until the light disappears and mark your lines. For dovetails this size I have always used a razor blade to mark the lay out lines, but I recently made a marking knife from a discarded hacksaw blade and I love it. I will make a nice one when the project is all done and probably turn it into a youtube show for everyone.

I then flip the drawer front around in the vise and raise it up (can’t wait for my moxon vise).

I don’t like to cut to the line with pins this small as it is too easy to ruin them, so I cut just a bit to the side and pair to them later on.

Cut as much as you can up to the depth lines.

In the past I have used the trick where you take an old card scraper and hammer it down to cut the grains in the corners, but I have found that if you are just patient you can get it done without this step.

Start by making the same definition as with the half pins side by pressing just into the depth lines and pairing down to them. This will ensure that when you go to banging out the waste the chisel doesn’t wander on you.

I then start removing the waste, but I start a bit from the back giving myself room to pair away to the final depth.

Pair away the waste and clean up the sockets to receive the tails.

If everything went well you should be able to slide it all together with just some light tapping to drive it home and “Voila”

Rinse and repeat for as many drawers as needed. :)

Please take this instruction with a grain of salt as I am not a cabinet maker and don’t do dovetails all the time.

So I used a nice board to make the drawer fronts and got them all fitted and they were turning out nice, but I heard the weather report saying today would be the only decent day for a week or so, so I got outside to grind on the second door.

I think they are turning out nicely.

Again I took the last hour of the day to carve the tree texture and used a rake light to show you how it will turn out.

I have been having fun on this project and I thank you all for following along with me. I have been all to happy to take pictures and chronicle the progress.


-- Brian Noel

14 comments so far

View ToddJB's profile


8671 posts in 2906 days

#1 posted 12-17-2015 02:20 AM


-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View builtinbkyn's profile


3009 posts in 1716 days

#2 posted 12-17-2015 02:36 AM

Nice stuff Brian. True art.

-- Bill, Yo! Brooklyn & Steel City :)

View BigRedKnothead's profile


8574 posts in 2758 days

#3 posted 12-17-2015 03:38 AM

I need me some dem carving tools.

What kinda grinding wheel ya like?

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View bearkatwood's profile


1823 posts in 1787 days

#4 posted 12-17-2015 03:42 AM

I have been using a flat carbide donut medium grit from Highland Woodworking

-- Brian Noel

View BigRedKnothead's profile


8574 posts in 2758 days

#5 posted 12-17-2015 03:50 AM

^Nice. I used harbor freight one recently, but it was too flat. Starting to see how a dome shaped one like that would be better.

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View yuridichesky's profile


624 posts in 2739 days

#6 posted 12-17-2015 06:17 AM

So very cool!

-- Yuri (10x4 -- yeah, that's my tiny shop!)

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2782 days

#7 posted 12-17-2015 02:07 PM

”Please take this instruction with a grain of salt as I am not a cabinet maker… ”

(stand by a min while I take a quick peek back at few links to recent projects and cabinets currently in progress )

HA! HA! Good one ! You kill me !

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View htl's profile


5133 posts in 1935 days

#8 posted 12-17-2015 02:16 PM

Beautiful work!!!
Be careful, make it to nice and the better half will be moving it into the house.

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

View putty's profile


1297 posts in 2382 days

#9 posted 12-17-2015 02:24 PM

Coming along nicely, I love the carving texture on the trees.

What exactly is a rake light?

-- Putty

View pottz's profile (online now)


9897 posts in 1760 days

#10 posted 12-17-2015 02:52 PM

cant believe your on post 20 its been a awesome journey like reading a good book really looking forward to the next.cant wait to see the bench build that is going to be the most unique weve ever seen thanks again for posting this.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View terryR's profile


7614 posts in 3084 days

#11 posted 12-17-2015 03:53 PM

Very nice, Brian. Gotta have days when there looks like little progress…by week’s end you’ll have impressive results!

Tree texture is sweet.
DT’s even sweeter.

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View CB_Cohick's profile


493 posts in 2026 days

#12 posted 12-17-2015 03:59 PM

Thanks for the dovetail info, Brian. I am just beginning to learn how to hand cut dovetails. My through joints are starting to come out better, but I really want to learn to make half-blind. Your description of your process is very instructive, and will be of use to more folks than just me I am sure.

-- Chris - Would work, but I'm too busy reading about woodwork.

View ChickenChaser's profile


102 posts in 1856 days

#13 posted 12-17-2015 09:26 PM

Those are some nice looking tails. Also I have been really enjoying your series, always check to see if you have made a post when I log in. can’t wait to see how it turns out, so far looking amazing.

View greenandwhite_owl's profile


13 posts in 1790 days

#14 posted 12-17-2015 10:19 PM

Thank you for these in depth step by step pictures. This build looks amazing

-- ~Kate - - Fiber is fiber be it wood or wool.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics