Dovetailed Utility Box #1

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Blog entry by helluvawreck posted 09-08-2010 10:53 PM 3422 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Last Saturday, after making four practice corners with hand cut dovetail joints, I began making a box with dovetails. I planned on doing the four sides and checking the fit of the dovetails. Then I would cut two 1/4 inch dadoes near the bottom of each side with pins paralell to the bottom edge just above the pins. In the two sides with tails I would cut a stop dado in the same position and parallel with the bottom edge. These would be finished off with a 1/4 chisel so that the dado would not go all the way through the dovetail. The 1/4 inch dado would contain the bottom which would simply be a 3/4 inch piece with a rabbet all the way around so that it’s 1/4 in lip would sit in the dado. I would also make a center partition that would also act as a handle for the box. The center partion containing the handle was simply fit into two dados that ran across the width of the parts with the pins, that is, from top edge to bottom edge.

My dovetail joints were better than the practice joints and there were no major problems that came up so all went well with the box. The pictures should be self explanatory. I always cut my tails first because I find that it is easier and more accurate to mark the pins that way.

After this point I tapped the sides apart and cut the dados for the bottom paralell with the bottom edges. I also made the bottom and the center partition with the handle cut out. Then I put two dados in the pin sides for the end of the center partition to sit in.

Even though I know that my dovetails are not perfect, they are improving. I may go through with this whole episode again this coming weekend in an effort to improve my dovetails even more. I am happy with the box and will probably put some sort of finish on it and put it in my projects section. It wil make a nice little utility box for my shop.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

8 comments so far

View degoose's profile


7264 posts in 3920 days

#1 posted 09-08-2010 10:59 PM

Very nicely done… and well documented… easy to read and good pics …keep them coming..

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View Clay Ortiz's profile

Clay Ortiz

83 posts in 3633 days

#2 posted 09-08-2010 11:34 PM

Nice job! I could use a few of those.

-- Clay Ortiz, North Georgia

View Cantputjamontoast's profile


416 posts in 3998 days

#3 posted 09-09-2010 01:15 AM

That doesnt look like a hell of a wreck to me!!!!!

Good work!!!

-- "Not skilled enough to wipe jam on toast!"

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 3488 days

#4 posted 09-09-2010 02:18 AM

That is perfect cut dovetail. Suggest next time try different thickness of wood and probably make a jewelry box. I am quite sure you will have the best handcut dovetail. I can see you cut corners really sharp edges and precise…. that is the secret of a good fit. Keep it up.

Also, you are a nice photographer…


-- Bert

View mafe's profile


12191 posts in 3655 days

#5 posted 09-22-2010 03:12 PM

Ok, I give up!
I’ll go to the work shop this moment and try cutting some dovetails – why do I shake a little… I better make a coffee on the way there, then I will have 5 more minutes of fear!
So well done, you and everybody here seems to scream at me: ‘Do those dovetails Mads’, it is not as hard as you have come to belive.
I guess I should have postet the book review before…
Best thoughts my friend,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View rivergirl's profile


3201 posts in 3404 days

#6 posted 09-22-2010 04:36 PM

Though like Mads, I don’t do dovetails, I must say this job looks like an excellent result for a first attempt! Keep going.. it will increase Mads guilt level. ;)

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3432 days

#7 posted 09-23-2010 11:39 AM

This wasn’t my first attempt, rivergirl. About every 6 to 8 months if I hadn’t cut any dovetails I figure I better cut some for practice. It’s been over a year since I cut any. In all I figure I may have joined 30 corners with hand cut dovetails so I’m still just a beginner. I’ve made maybe six boxes with dovetails in my life before this one and probably a dozen practice corners. :)

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View rivergirl's profile


3201 posts in 3404 days

#8 posted 09-23-2010 02:37 PM

Aw well, I wondered why things looked so good. :) It it were mine… well it would not be mine as I don’t do dovetails. LOL

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

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