Half Blind Dovetails

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hen ii comes to drawer joints, nothing can beat a dovetail for strength and beauty. But on a formal-looking project like the display case (see page 6), I didn't want the ends of the dovetails to be visible from the front. So I decided to use half-blind dovetails instead.

With a half-blind dovetail, the pins of the joint aren't cut completely through the drawer front This way, the drawer front overlaps the ends of the tails, concealing them from view.

At first glance, you might think that cutting half-lap dovetails is more difficult than cutting standard through dovetails. But the steps are basically the same. And since you only see the joint from one side, you don't have to be quite as concerned witii getting a perfect fit.

TAILS

When I make half-blind dovetails. I like to start by cutting the tails. This way, i can use the completed tails to layout the pins.

The first step is to lay out the tails on the drawer side, see Steps 1 and 2, and detail 'a' at left. To avoid con fusion, I like to mark the waste sec-dons between the tails with an X.

Removing the waste is a two-step process. First, 1 use a fine-toothed hand saw to cut along the waste side of the layout lines, see Step 3. Then I carefully chisel out the waste, see Steps 4 and 5,

ITo begin, mark the length of the tails on the face and edges of the drawer side. To do this, score a line with a marking gauge orX-Acto knife.

2 Use a ruler and straightedge to lay out the tails according to the measurements shown in detail 'a' at left. Mark the waste with an 'X'.

3 After laying out the angles, use a fine-toothed back saw to cut along waste side of each layout line. Be careful not to cut too deep.

4 The waste between the tails can be chiseled out next. To ensure a square cut, clamp a guide fence to the workpiece at the score line.

5 Now remove the two sections of waste on the outside edges of the workpiece. But take care not to cut into the tails themselves.

6 Finally, to complete the tails, use light paring cuts to clean up the sides. Be sure to keep the sides and shoulders square to the face.

After removing ail the waste, clean up the sides of the dovetails by making light, paring cuts with the chisel, see Step 6, The goal here is to keep the shoulders and sides of die tails square with the face of the workpiece.

PINS

With the tails cut, laying out the pins is a snap. Just place the tails over the end of the drawer front and trace the outline, see drawing at right. Then scribe a baseline on the inside face of the drawer front to indicate the thickness of the drawer sides, see Step 7.

Now use a square and a pencil to extend the layout lines down the face of the workpiece, see Step 8.

When cutting and chiseling out die waste around die pins, the trick is to stay well away from the penciled layout lines. If you remove too much material, you'll wind up with a loose-fitting joint.

To remove the waste, I start by making diagonal cuts on the waste side of die lines, see Step 9. Hold the saw at a steep angle until you reach the scribed baseline and then level it out to finish the cut. Next, carefully chisel out the waste, working from the end and inside face of die ciraw-

Baseline

With a square and a pencil, extend the layout lines of the pins down the face of the drawer front and mark the waste sections.

7 After tracing outline of tails on the drawer front; use a marking gauge to scribe a baseline that equals the thickness of the side piece.

With a square and a pencil, extend the layout lines of the pins down the face of the drawer front and mark the waste sections.

9 Staying well to the waste side of the layout lines, begin removing the waste by making angled cuts in the end of the workpiece,

Place chisel on scribed base line and tap straight down with mallet. Then pare away a small V section in front of baseline.

nNext, taking light cuts, continue removing the waste between the pins until you reach the baseline on the end of the board.

1 Again, damp the guide fence I Mm in place and square up the shoulders by chopping straight down with a chisel and mallet.

* O Now, clean out the remain-IW ing waste on the sides of the pins by holding the chisel at an angle to follow the layout lines.

iy| Test the fit of the joint to I^T determine which areas need to be trimmed further. Be careful not to trim too much at one time.

Finally, if the fit is too tight, undercut the sides of the pins slightly until the tails fit nicely into the sockets created by the pins.

er front, see Steps 10 and 11.

After most of the waste is removed, start cleaning up the shoulders and sides of the pins, see Steps 12 and 13.

Check the fit of the joint. And make any necessary adjustments by lighdy paring the sides or shoulders of die pins as needed, see Step 14.

Note: Since the joint will be visible only from the side, I like to undercut the sitles of the pins slighdy to ensure a close fit, see Step 15.GS

A To mark the pins, transfer the layout of the completed tails to the drawer front.

Remove waste to baseline
Clamp guide along baseline

rv to match pins rv to match pins

Test fit the pieces

Undercut sides slightly

Finally, if the fit is too tight, undercut the sides of the pins slightly until the tails fit nicely into the sockets created by the pins.

Undercut sides slightly

Drawer

Cleat bushing —

W-dla. straight bit

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