Biscuit

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16.000 Woodworking Plans by Ted McGrath

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IGlue the panels of the chest first. Take care to keep the boards' edges flush with each other. Flat panels are an important goal. They result in better-fitting dovetails and require a whole lot less sanding. Biscuits help align the boards.

Set the adjustable fingers to create the dovetail spacing. Start with an outside finger just inside each end of the panel. A 29/32-in.-wide spacer creates the perfect gap between each pair of fingers for this project.

Prepare the Chest Panels

Although traditional blanket chests were often made from 7/8-in. stock, we milled our lumber to 13/16 in. That allowed us to use 4/4 stock, which was much less expensive than 5/4 material. It also allowed us to use the Leigh router bits that produce a smaller dovetail that more closely resembles the hand-cut look found on the original chests. You can use 3/4-in. stock to build this chest, but you'll have to modify the dimensions on a few parts.

1. Joint and plane all the solid wood to 13/16 in.

2. Glue up four panels (A, B, C in Fig. B, page 53; Photo 1). Keep the biscuits far enough in from the ends to allow for trimming to final length and for the 13/16-in.-deep dovetails. Make a poplar practice panel to be used later.

3. Rip and crosscut the panels to final dimension.

Set Up the Jig

Half of the corners (the front left and back right) are cut with the panels set against the left-hand stop. The other half are cut with the panels against the right-hand stop. That means you'll have to set up the fingers twice, once for the cuts on the left-hand side and again for the cuts on the right. Refer to die manual's section on Asymmetric Dovetails for complete instructions.

4. Clearly mark the outside and inside face of each panel, as well as the top edge. This is critical, as you need to keep correct orientation in the jig.

5. Clamp the back panel (B) against the left stop on the jig.

tail bit is set a hair deeper than the sides' thickness. These panels are quite long, so mount the jig on a plywood box. Clamp a backer board behind each panel to prevent chip-out.

tail bit is set a hair deeper than the sides' thickness. These panels are quite long, so mount the jig on a plywood box. Clamp a backer board behind each panel to prevent chip-out.

4 Rout pins in a test piece first. Test the fit. The finger assembly can be adjusted in or out until the dovetail joints go together with a gentle tap of a mallet. The pins are cut using a straight bit and a guide bushing. The pointed ends of the fingers are used to make the pins.

6. Even though the tails are cut first using the Leigh jig (putting an end to that age-old debate), make sure the fingers are in the pin-cutting mode (pointed end out) when you create the dovetail spacing. The adjustable fingers determine the desired dovetail size and spacing. To set the spacing for this chest, first place the outside fingers just inside each end. Then, pair up the remaining fingers using a 29/32-in. spacer (Photo 2).

7. Make sure all the fingers are tightened securely.

8. After the dovetail spacing is set, flip the finger assembly over to its tail-cutting mode. Now the rounded guide fingers are facing toward you and you're ready to cut the tails in the right-hand corner of the back panel and in the left-hand corner of the of the front panel.

Cut the Tails and Pins

9. Attach a 7/16-in. guide bushing to your router base and chuck the Leigh No. 80 dovetail cutter in the router. Rout the tails on the front panel and back panels (Photo 3).

10. To cut the pins, first insert a practice piece into the Leigh jig. The practice piece is used to determine the pins' proper sizing. The piece must be the same

5 Rout pins on the real sides. Note that the bottom front edge of each side doesn't have dovetails because that's where the drawer goes. Clamp a stop block to the side so you don't accidentally rout pins where they don't belong.

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