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Top Panel and mitered dovetails


I thought I wood try my 45 for making the top panel. Now I fully understand Roy Underhill's and Patrick Leach's comments and concerns regarding the 45. While it is a versatile lane. It does not do well when the grain is interlocked and/or the wood is hard. Coupled with the narrowness of this stock. It was not looking good.
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So, time to burn some electrons.
The down side of power tools are:
setup time
adequate time for testing
you make mistakes faster.

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I did not spend enough time testing the setup and it wound up blowing out part of the panel.

Fortunately the panel was longer than I needed so I was able to trim this off adjust the setup test again and redo the cut.
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I used the same setup to cut the dadoes in the top an bottom of the box sides.

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You can see in the photo above that I also started on the dovetails. Of note are the scribe marks on the right side of the panel running along the face of the front panel. Those marks delineate the kerf of the table saw blade that will be used to separate the top of the box (right side of line)

I positioned the front and back pieces together and cut the dovetails at the same time. To ensure the opposite sides were lined up correctly I flipped the board and used the same kerfs as a guide. Note the orientation of the dadoes

Wood Tool Wooden block Workbench Hardwood

Waste was cleared as usual for dovetails (Not doing a DT tutorial here)

Marks tranfered to pin side and saw cuts made. Here is where things get interesting and deviation from normal dove tails begins to show up.

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The saw cuts need to be performed on miter as the waste is removed on a miter. Hence mitered dove tail.
Mitering the waste removal will leave a nice mitered corner on the top and bottom of each peace.

I used a mitered piece of stock to serve as a miter jack and guide my chisel in the waste removal.
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One down, three to go. You can see I'll need to adjust the top and bottom panels as well.
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Wood Rectangle Automotive exterior Bumper Wood stain
No kidding…very sweet joinery going down!

Thanks for sharing the photos, Terry…


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A little more on the mitered dovetails

When I left off I had completed the first of four for this box.

I thought I would share a little more on the process of the mitered dovetails and update the progress on this project.

Something I have learned about dovetails in general is to clearly mark the waste sections to be cut away. It only takes a few seconds and really makes the difference when clearing the waste. I can't tell you how many times I have cut on the wrong side of the line. Marking them clearly is the answer.

Additional tips for successful dovetails.

A sharp true saw is a must.
Sharp chisels with a really flat back are an absolute must. Take the time to strop often and don't resist going back to the stone for a touch up.

Be aware of the hardness and grain properties of your wood. Poplar tools really easily compared to this plum which is very hard, brittle, and wears the tools much faster.

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On the mitered dovetails DON'T cut all the way through like a standard dovetail cut on the waste side of the line at a 45 degree angle.

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With the cuts complete you can resume excavating and paring the joints as described in the previous blog entry.

With all four dovetails cut I found I had to re-size the top and bottom panels. Nothing a few minutes on a shoot board could not handle.

The reddish curlies are from the plum top panel, the lighter curlies are from the poplar bottom. You can see the top panel in this photo.
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Another tip. Leave any precise router table setups in place until you know the project is complete or you no longer need it. I had to re route the grooves on the trimmed side of the top and had to reshape the raised bottom panel. I used the very same router setup to cut the rebate on the bottom panel. Having the setup in place saved me a ton of time.

Now all of the joints are cut, and I'm dry fitting.

Sides, Back Top and Bottom are complete. I need to finish dry fitting the front (It's still a little too tight)

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I need to patch these joints as they aren't as precise as I would have liked. Each one gets better though.

Once that is done, I can do the initial finishing (Finish the inside pieces BEFORE glue up!) and then proceed to glue up.
That plum is sure gorgeous!
Thanks for the DT tips, Terry…


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Clean up and First Look at what finish will be.

Previously I completed the glue up.

After the glue cured, I removed the clamps and got started cleaning everything up.

I trimmed off the excess material on the pins using my 60 1/2 LA Block Plane which worked great.
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I did notice a small crack in the top panel (Which I already knew about before the glue up. And with the pins cleared off, gaps from poor fitting began to show. I experimented with a couple of adhesives and saw dust as gap fillers. I tried the hide glue with saw dust and felt the result would be too dark. So I went with Sawdust and CA Glue to fill the gaps.

First fill the crack on the top panel. I'm using straight CA for this. Starting with this as it will take a couple of applications to fill completely and it needs time to cure in between applications.
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Lets look at what we have to work with so far.

Front Panel Gaps on the dove tails and some tear out from the plane.
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right Panel (Looking pretty good)
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Back Panel Even larger gaps a knot and some tear out.
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Left panel some small gaps around a previous repair where I accidentally cut all the way through instead of mitering around the pins. Visible lower left.
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Bottom Panel
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Top Panel
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The next day I sanded the CA from the crack on the top.
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And then applied a second coat of CA to the crack
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Now for those Gaps around the Dovetails on the back panel
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Helpful hint: Make sure to trap and save some of the saw dust or sanding dust from the same wood you're working with. I just took it off my miter saw after cutting the panels and put it in a dixie cup.
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I smashed and tamped sawdust into the crack using my finger and small stick.
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Then applied some CA Glue
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Did this to all of the cracks and gaps yu can see the first one on the bottom right is already starting to lighten up.
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Let sit over night.

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After: I Hit it with 120 sand paper to remove all of the proud material and excess CA.
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After all of the gaps are filled.
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Before I left for work this morning, I hit it with some dexawed shellac
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After initial drying and just before I left.
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Rear Oblique Left side of Box
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Front Oblique Right side of box
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More finish to come. This is just a first coat and will mostly get sanded off. I was just impatient to get an idea of how the finish would look and how the filled gaps would look.

It's looking much better now than I was originally dreading.
That plum is awesome, Terry! Box is coming along nicely, bud…


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