Handcut Dovetail Box

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Project by BerBer5985 posted 12-19-2011 08:13 PM 3535 views 2 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My first finished dovetail box. I started on this box with not much of a plan for the lid or box bottom, so I struggled with what to do. I had a small piece of brazillian cherry and oak left and instead of having to glue up panels of brazilian cherry to make a lid, this is what I came up with. This originally started out to be a sliding pencil box and I started the project making complete dovetails all the way to top leaving no room for the sliding top, soooo, needless to say, it became a keepsake box instead. haha. The finish is 1/3 BLO, 1/3 Paint Thinner, 1/3 spar varnish. Not a bad finish just takes FOREVER to dry, but looks nice and applies easily.

-- Greg, Owner, Quality Carpet One,

9 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118047 posts in 4318 days

#1 posted 12-19-2011 08:36 PM

pretty darn amazing box Greg super job.


View JoeinDE's profile


450 posts in 4064 days

#2 posted 12-19-2011 10:16 PM

Having just done my first hand-cut dovetails, I have a tremendous amount of respect for anyone who does them on a regular basis.


View BerBer5985's profile


445 posts in 3161 days

#3 posted 12-19-2011 10:33 PM

This was the first set of dovetails that I just marked the depth of the cut and then completely free handed the angles and positions of the tails. I started handcutting dovetails and I’ve done a few non-completed dovetail boxes just for practice, but I always laid out everything using a dovetail marking gauge, and after watching a few more videos I realized that as long as the angles were close, to the right angle, it would be fine. I used to take 20 mins alone laying out everything precisely and then I realized, “This is a huge waste of time, let’s just mark the depth and go at it.” and Voila, not perfect, but not bad.

-- Greg, Owner, Quality Carpet One,

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

24594 posts in 3847 days

#4 posted 12-20-2011 12:11 AM

Those dove tails in that box look great. With more hand cut ones being shown, I’ll have to give it a try!

Great looking box , too . You have to flexible and ready to adapt to another design when a problem comes up. Solving the problems is half the fun…...........Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View jaykaypur's profile


4017 posts in 3149 days

#5 posted 12-20-2011 01:05 AM

Beautiful box.

-- Use it up, Wear it out --------------- Make it do, Or do without!

View doncutlip's profile


2832 posts in 4297 days

#6 posted 12-20-2011 01:11 AM

Nice dovetails, congrats. Looks like the practice paid off.

-- Don, Royersford, PA

View tallinstaller's profile


43 posts in 3988 days

#7 posted 01-21-2012 11:15 PM

Nice lookin’ dovetails sir. What kind of dovetail saw do you use? I’ve never marked the angles before cutting either, I use dividers to lay them out but after that it’s all freehand.

-- Jason

View BerBer5985's profile


445 posts in 3161 days

#8 posted 01-22-2012 12:31 AM

With this one, I used the veritas dovetail saw which is a wonderful piece for the money. As I’ve gotten a fair amount of practice, I’ve been wanting a Lie Nielsen thin-plate Dovetail saw and I just got one of those and I must say, as good as the veritas is, I personally think the LN is absolutely amazing. I think if you cut dovetails a lot, that’s the saw to get. To learn to cut dovetails, the veritas is the saw to get. Just my 2 cents. Of course, they’ll be the naysayers out there that will tell you that use a $10 hacksaw, and good for them, but generally if I’m going to handcut dovetails, I do it because I enjoy the process and having a comfortable saw that cuts fast, straight, and true certainly makes that process a much more enjoyable process. I also have that new fretsaw that’s on the market that highland woodworking sells. Makes cleaning out the waste cut with a thin kerf saw a breeze compared to a coping saw. Also, I tried a japanese saw because everyone said that’s the way to go and I’m just gonna say that I’m a push guy, not a pull guy. I’m more accurate cutting with a western style saw. I’m not an expert, but if I’m telling people where to start, I say try out a couple saws first and whatever feels best, go with that. It’s like putters in golf, if there was one putter that made everyone a better golfer, everyone would be using it, but almost every golfer has a different putter because it’s what FEELS good to them. I think the LN feels great to me.

-- Greg, Owner, Quality Carpet One,

View Eugene's profile


31 posts in 4423 days

#9 posted 01-23-2012 01:14 AM

I love to look at handcut dovetails and yours look really great. I’m still trying to get mine right. They are not good enough to bring out the shop to show anybody but I am not giving up.

-- Eugene, North Carolina, [email protected]

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