Heres a surprisingly quick technique for making tightfitting dovetails

Train Table With Storage Plans

-Tight surface-to-surface ç contact between tails and pins p looks, they can't be beat. But these same qualities also make half-blind dovetails a great choice for solidwood cabinet construction, like die campaign chest on page 30.

However in case construction, the size of die pieces means you won't be able to use most commonly available dovetail jigs. That leaves you with two options. You can buy a bigger, adjustable dovetail jig, but these can be pretty expensive. Or you can cut them without a jig.

MO-JIG DOVETAILS. If the idea of cutting dovetails without a jig sounds intimidating, don't worry. I'd like to share an approach with you that combines old-fashioned craftsmanship with some timesaving steps and will give you great results. Hie secret — using a router to quickly rough out part of the joint (more on this Later).

When you open a drawer on a piece of fine furniture, you expect to see half-blind dovetails. With a strong mechanical connection, a huge amount of glue surface, and classic

NOTE: Cut all parts to same width and corresponding parts to same length for a square final assembly

Diagonal measurements will 3 _ he equal if assembly is square

Case Top

Before getting into the nuts and bolts of cutting the joints, there are some things I'd like to mention. First of all, to end up with a square final assembly, you want to make sure your parts are all cut to the same width. And that corresponding parts — top and bottom, and the two sides — are cut to the same length, as in the drawing at left.

WORK IN ORDER. The odier thing I want to talk about is die method of work. 1 break the process down into three parts: cutting the tails, making the pins, and fitting the joints. Then I take on each task all at one time. For example, I'll cut all die tails before starting work on the pins. It's more efficient this way and I can get into a rhydim by focusing on one part of the process.

GETTING STARTED. Now, you're ready to get started on the first half of the

Bevel Gauge Process

Layout ¡pacing of tails on the end / of the board--/-y

Mark a baseline on tail board to set length of tails

Length of tails

Use a bevel gauge to draw the shape of the tails on the face of the board

Lay Out the Tail Spacing. On the end of the workpiece, mark the spacing of the tails. I use a square to transfer the lines across the end.

Finish the Layout A bevel gauge comes in handy for drawing the slope of the tails on each face of the board.

Mark the Baseline. The first thing to do is lay out the baseline on each face of the "tail" board.

joint — the tails. I find it's easier to cut accurate tails and use them as a template for laying out the more challenging pins la ter on. The drawings on this page give you a good idea of the step-by-step process. So I'll just mention some highlights to help you get the best results.

To keep myself from getting the parts mixed up, I label each piece. It's also a good idea to label the inside and outside faces so you know at a glance which way the parts should face when cutting.

LAYOUT. With your tail boards in hand, mark the length of the tails by drawing a baseline on the face of the board, as shown in Step 1.

The next step is to lay out the spacing of the tails on the end of the board based on the plans on page 32 (Step 2). Then finish up by marking the angled shape of the tails on the face, as in Step 3.1 also mark the waste area with an 'X.'

SAWING THE TAILS. When you have the layout complete, you're ready to start cutting the tails. This is a simple, three-part process.

Clean out waste with a coping saw

Tilt workpiece in\ vise so tail cuts are square to benchtop


Cut to waste side I of layout line



Make Cheek Cuts. With a fine-toothed back saw, cut the angled cheeks of the tails. Cut as close to the layout lines as possible.

Remove the Waste. A quick way to remove the waste between tails is to cut it away with a coping saw Two quick cuts is all it takes.

If necessary, pare away saw marks with a chisel ,

Trim to baseline of tails working from each face

First, the cheeks of the tails are cut with a back saw, as illustrated in Step 4. The goal you're aiming for here is to cut flat, smooth cheeks as close to the layout lines as possible. This way, you'll only have a little cleanup work to do.

The challenge here is sawing a straight line at an angle. To make this easier, lilt the board in the vise so the layout lines are vertical. Now cut one side of all the tails. Then rotate the board to cut the other side.

Clean up the Cheeks. If necessary, clean up the cheeks with a chisel. Taking thin cuts across the grain will prevent tearout.

REMOVING THE WASTE. The next step is to remove the waste between the tails. I use a coping saw, as in Step 5. Leave a little waste near the baseline for the final cleanup.

Since you removed most of the waste with the coping saw, you'll be able to clean up the tails with just a little trimming. One more thing:

Trim the Baseline. Working from each face, chisel out the waste. On the final cut, the chisel should be right on the baseline.

To avoid tearout, I make these trim cuts from each face, working toward the center of the board.

Once you've finished trimming all the spaces between the tails, you're ready to move on to the pins. And on the next page, I'll show you a technique that can really save some time and give you good results.


Tail hoard

Transfer the Tail Shape. Set the tails over the end of the pin board and trace their outline with a pencil.

Transfer tail shape to end of pin board

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Wood Working 101

Wood Working 101

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