This project was designed to incorporate all the problems of building a drawer joined with through dovetails. But instead of having a drawer with nowhere to put it. you have a handy little serving tray. (Another option is to leave off the handles for an in/out box.)
The four sides of the tray are made of W solid oak, and the bottom is V* oak plywood. The nice thing about this tray is that it doesn't have to be any particular size. (Translated, that means if you blow a cut, you can always trim it off and start again.)
To make the tray, rip the two pieces for the ends to a width of 3Vi", and the two long sides are ripped to a width of 2?/\. Then leave the saw at the W setting and make a partial rip cut (about 1" long) into the top edge of the end pieces, see Fig. 1. Clip off this little piece of waste so the ends of the boards are the same width.
the dovetails. The size and spacing of the pins and tails for the dovetails is shown in Fig. 1. If you choose a different spacing, be sure the half-pin on the bottom is fairly small so the groove for the bottom clears this half-pin.
To cut the dovetails, I started with the pins on the long sides. Once these were cut, I used them as a template to lay out the cuts for the tails.
grooves for bottom. After the dovetails were cut, I cut the grooves for the V* plywood bottom. The grooves on the long sides can go all the way from one end to the other. However, the grooves on the end pieces must.be stopped. Fig. 2. I cut these grooves on a router table.
After the grooves are cut, dry-assemble the four sides and get the measurements for the plywood bottom. Cut the bottom to size and check its fit in the tray.
handles. To cut out the handles, I used a Forstner bit to drill two 1" holes, and cleaned out the waste between the holes with a sabre saw. The edges inside the handle are rounded over with a Vi" corner round bit on a router. (If you want to make an in/out box instead of a tray, leave off the handles and cut S-curve recesses as on the long sides.)
The S-curve recesses on the long sides are made by first drilling holes, centered on the top edge. Then the waste between the holes is removed with a sabre saw and the top corners are rounded over to finish out the S-curve.
finishing. I glued and clamped the tray together and sanded the corners smooth. Then I finished it with Watco oil, as described in Shop Notes, page 12.
1 LONG SAW KERF
DRILL \ HOLE
CUT HANDLE OFF HERE FOR IN/OUT BOX
NOTE: SLIGHT INSIDE CURVE
short side v? RADIUS
x % THROUGH GROOVE
PLACE ABOVE PIN
GETTING TWO STEPS AHEAD WITH DOVETAILS
Shaker furniture is famous for its basic, uncluttered style, as well as its unquestioned utility. The Step Stand shown here is a classic example of Shaker design at its best. It's simple furniture that works. The only decoration (if it can be called that) is the beauty of the wôod and the dovetail joints.
If I were just learning to cut dovetails, I think this is a project I'd want to tackle. However, there's a lot of preparatory work involved before you get to the fun part. One of the biggest headaches is thinking through the sequence of work.
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