Hand Tools Adventure #2: Full Blind Dovetails

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 01-10-2014 01:03 AM 5935 reads 4 times favorited 37 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: A Box of Tricky Fits. Part 2 of Hand Tools Adventure series Part 3: Sidetrack, New Tools to Make. »

So it turns out that the historically correct way to make a marquetry covered box is with full blind dovetails. OK I’m a good sport. How hard can it be. Anyway it will give me a chance to use all those silent, pretty tools again. (I’m going to have to remove that bench mallet from the silent category, especially as it relates to whacking holdfasts.)
I believe that the joint was used primarily to provide a very strong corner with no end grain showing to telegraph through the veneer. It also lends itself to glue-up after completely finishing the inside surfaces.

So let’s get started. You may remember the little rebates I made on the ends of the pieces in the first segment. Here they are again with the dovetails laid out. I have no idea which are the pins and which are the tails.
(I’m OK with that.)

Cut the line until the kerf reaches the outer surface of the piece at the top and the line on the inside.

Chop out the waste….

and plane the little edge to 45 deg. You should get a knife edge on the outside and reach the bottom of the cutouts at the top.

Mark the counterparts and cut the on the tight side. You can pare them to fit quite easily.

Here’s the first piece.....

and here’s the set.

An acceptable fit for a beginner I guess. (I kept feeling that I could have made better fits with real wood.)

Here’s how the joint looks assembled. I’m leaving them slightly big for now. I will refine them a bit when I assemble the marquetry before gluing. They have to match the marquetry pieces’ length exactly.

Here’s the whole box dry fitted. It is remarkably strong already and needs to be “worked” apart.

Next up will be the dado for the bottom. As I mentioned I will need to make a router plane for that. Here it is. No, really, it’s in there. This is a rotting and severely bug-eaten piece of Cat’s Claw Mesquite.

So I made a router plane out of it. More on that later. First I needed to define the edges of the dado.

By then the oil was starting to dry on the plane so it went to work.

I like it. It is small because it is only for small jobs like this. It fits my hands nicely with my thumbs in the shallow recesses in the back. It may get more shaping as I get used to it but it is comfortable already. It certainly needs better sharpening, just wanted to get a photo before I quit for the day.

Sorry about all the pictures. I’m just so new to all this hand tool stuff that I’m taking pictures of everything.
You can’t be enjoying this as much as I am but I’m really pleased and flattered that you are along for the ride.

Thanks for looking in.


-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

37 comments so far

View HerbC's profile


1803 posts in 3599 days

#1 posted 01-10-2014 01:09 AM

Nothing to be sorry for…

And yes, we really enjoy the pictures.

Fascinating to watch you piddle around and make another masterpiece.


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View JeremyPringle's profile


321 posts in 3214 days

#2 posted 01-10-2014 01:13 AM

This is looking really good. I cant wait to see it come along.

View Patricelejeune's profile


385 posts in 2660 days

#3 posted 01-10-2014 01:13 AM

I like pictures. The more the merrier.

-- Patrice lejeune

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3430 days

#4 posted 01-10-2014 01:17 AM

And another beautiful shop made tool!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10920 posts in 4792 days

#5 posted 01-10-2014 01:18 AM

Hi Paul!

Very NICE / COOL work on your FULL-Blind Dovetails and hinge work…

Dovetails are a Favorite joint of mine… nice & strong AND requires a little skill to make them.

To me, it’s always been a pleasure to Show them OFF after I do them… because I’m proud of them…

Now, when you cover them ALL UP, you are the ONLY one that knows they’re there… you can’t Show them Off!

You don’t want to show them to anyone? :)

... after all of that skillful work you used to make them! :)

I know, you want people to look at that those corner joints and wonder how strong they are, thinking they’re just BUTT joints @ 45* :) :) LOL

Just kidding Paul… Just kidding… Very nice work… At least we ALL got to see it! LOL

Thank you very much… :)

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View Randy_ATX's profile


881 posts in 3182 days

#6 posted 01-10-2014 01:59 AM

Thanks for the informative, instructional journey.

-- Randy -- Austin, TX by way of Northwest (Woodville), OH

View gbear's profile


530 posts in 4839 days

#7 posted 01-10-2014 02:16 AM

Neato mesquito…cool tool. Nice job on the sight impaired dovetails!

-- gbear, Carmichael, CA

View JeremyPringle's profile


321 posts in 3214 days

#8 posted 01-10-2014 02:34 AM

Q. You are going veneer the entire outside right? What about the inside? Wondering because if you are going veneer the inside, why not over cut the inside of your DT’s? That way there is way less chisel work, and they would be getting covered anyways.

View justoneofme's profile


828 posts in 3220 days

#9 posted 01-10-2014 02:40 AM

I’m just glad you know when to quit for the day Paul!! LOL!

-- Elaine in Duncan

View CL810's profile


4027 posts in 3728 days

#10 posted 01-10-2014 03:25 AM

Blind DTs! Awesome!

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

View sgmdwk's profile


308 posts in 2612 days

#11 posted 01-10-2014 03:30 AM

Don’t apologize. A picture is worth … So you were being exceptionally concise. Very interesting.

-- Dave K.

View Schwieb's profile


1899 posts in 4201 days

#12 posted 01-10-2014 03:33 AM

I bet I could enjoy it as much as you are. Nice work Paul, great post!

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View shipwright's profile (online now)


8527 posts in 3538 days

#13 posted 01-10-2014 03:36 AM

Sorry Jeremy. I don’t understand the question.
The inside will be veneered and completely finished, likely French polish, before glue-up. I’m thinking the outside will pretty much have to be at least pressed before glue-up as well.
Are you suggesting that I saw cut past the line? I don’t think I could do that. It doesn’t seem right.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View MrFid's profile


906 posts in 2644 days

#14 posted 01-10-2014 03:43 AM

What a great job with the dovetails! I hope you’re planning to post that router plane as a project soon with details! Great work as always.

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 4664 days

#15 posted 01-10-2014 03:44 AM

I had asked Patrice to do a tutorial on this a few times but you beat him to it Paul. I may give that a go on my next project. Did you make the iron for the router plane?

showing 1 through 15 of 37 comments

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