Cabinetmaker's Toolchest #2: Dovetailing the case and bottom skirt

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Blog entry by dannorocks posted 11-15-2015 04:40 PM 1463 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Cutting the box material, glue up and smoothing. Part 2 of Cabinetmaker's Toolchest series Part 3: More progress...casters »

With the jointed boards smoothed of tool marks and lumber yard stamps I’m ready to dovetail. I chose 1:6 ratio since I’m using pine, and will cut the tails first. I chose to lay out a tail 1” from the edge of long boards then used my dividers to space out my tails so that the opposite edge has a tail 1” from the edge of the board. Once I was happy with that I decided to go with 1” wide tails and drew out the boards and began cutting them out with my only backsaw, a Disson. I tell you I can’t wait to get my workbench made…working on my hands and knees on sawbenches is very humbling but rewarding!

I used some scrap boards to stand up my pin board and lay the tails on top to mark out the pins with a knife. I cut those out, cleaned out the waste and used a rasp to round the inside edge of my tails and made one test fit. No issues. Made some cauls to hold the tails tight in the pins. Came out good, fews spots needed a little shim to fill the gaps. But I’m more than happy how it came out. I didn’t take pictures of it, but I quickly ship lapped some scrap 3/4” pine boards and laid them down with about 1/16” spacing for the bottom, just screwed them to the bottom. I also cut and dovetailed the skirt which is made out of poplar with wider tails and small pins. I like that lay out better, but didn’t think of it at the time I laid out the pine case.

Here’s the first tail laid out and from there I used my dividers to get the spacing I wanted.

Ready for some sawing.

Usually I cut of waste from the outside edges on the tailboard with my backsaw to cut down on the chiseling.

Cutting out waste with my coping saw, sorry no pictures of the chiseling.

Tail board cut, after marking the pins I chamfered the inside edge of my tails to help the tails slide into the pins. Theres my homeade oak/walnut hammer I made this spring, its great for chiseling and a heck of a persuader.

The only dry fit I made. While it was in this state I cut up some little blocks and used narrow crown stables to make a cauls for the tails.

Glue up. Took me roughly 8 hours to get from the layout to the glue up. A bottomless box in a days work made me happy. I let it set about a day and trimmed down the pins and put in a few shims in where I had gaps.

Box glued up and cleaned up with a the dry fitted poplar skirt. That's about as fancy it'll get for me for a trim board. I wanted to miter the trim; BUT I habitually cut off the outter edge of my tail board first. Maybe when I work on the lid I'll slow down a little...

Alright everyone that's where I'll leave the blog until mid December. Working out of town... and I have deer fever real bad!!!

3 comments so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17231 posts in 3629 days

#1 posted 11-16-2015 03:59 AM

Looking good, congrats on working in all three dimensions now!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View dannorocks's profile


65 posts in 2189 days

#2 posted 11-16-2015 10:39 PM

Thanks. After taking a look at your toolchest, I’m thinking of going on the 4th axis. Raise the lid some so I can put panel saws up there. As much as I want to hurry up and make this tool chest I’m still undecided how I’m going to lay out the sliding trays.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17231 posts in 3629 days

#3 posted 11-16-2015 10:49 PM

There aren’t too many tools that really drive the depth of sliding trays more than the pad of a brace… So if you want a brace / bit combo in there when it’s done, ensure one drawer can handle that easily WRT depth and height.

A toolchest is one of those projects that can really suffer from anlysis paralysis.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

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