Hand Cut

In traditional drawer construction, it is standard practice to use through dovetails at the back corners while fitting the drawer front, using lapped dovetail joints that are invisible when the drawer is closed. This is achieved by lapping the pin member over the end of each tail member.

1 Marking and cutting the tails

Set a cutting gauge to the thickness of the pin member less the thickness of the lap, which should be at least 3mm (1/6in). Use the gauge to scribe a shoulder line all round the tail member. Set out and cut the tails as described for a through dovetail (see pages 82-3).

tail member

3 Cutting the pins

Clamp the work in a bench vice. Holding a dovetail saw at an angle, cut down on the waste side of each line, stopping at the lap and shoulder lines.

4 Sawing out the waste

Before you take the work out of the vice, remove some of the waste from between the pins with the saw.

2 Marking the pins

Set a cutting gauge to the length of the tails and. working from the inside face of the pin member, scribe the lap line on the end grain. Reset the gauge to the thickness of the tail member and scribe the pin shoulder line across the inside face of the same workpiece. Chalk the end grain and, using the tails as a template, score the shape of the pins in the chalk. From these marks, square parallel lines on the inside face, down to the shoulder line.

4 Sawing out the waste

Before you take the work out of the vice, remove some of the waste from between the pins with the saw.

3 Cutting the pins

Clamp the work in a bench vice. Holding a dovetail saw at an angle, cut down on the waste side of each line, stopping at the lap and shoulder lines.

5 Paring down to the lines

Remove what is left of the waste by cutting back to the shoulder line and paring down to the lap line with a bevel-edge chisel. It pays to cut away the wood gradually, making alternate cuts, first across the grain, then parallel with it.

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