Monday, January 3, 2011

Pins, Tails, and Snow?

Well, the snow came through this morning so it made for a chilly day in the shop.  Used the propane heater for a while but it actually wasn't too bad with a sweatshirt and coveralls on.  I spent the day cutting the dovetails that will hold the front of the tool chest together.  I wanted this project to be one where I improve my skills and these put me to the test!  Bloodwood is one, hard, cantankerous wood.  Really glad I've decided to use only one big dovetail on the drawers, they're only 2" high so should be no problem.  The bottom drawer is 3" so I'll put a couple of tails on it -- after I've practiced a bunch on the smaller drawers.  There will be four of them so hopefully I'll have those half blind dovetails figured out by then.  I've also figured out a way to utilize the last scrap of that birds eye/curly maple I have left from Connor's crib for handles on the lid and drawers.
Since I'm trying to use up as many odds and ends as possible, I used a piece of Cherry for the bottom stretcher.  Did the dovetails on it first after doing a practice one to get my body accustomed to cutting it.  It came out nicely.  Then I did the stretcher for the top which is Bloodwood.  Tough, hard wood but I'm happy with the results.  There seems to be an ongoing controversy as to whether you should cut the tails first or cut the pins first.  I like the tails first method, just seems to me that it's easier to transfer and scribe from them to the pin board.  I also like to use a coping saw to remove the bulk of the waste, here's a picture:

You can see how the coping saw has cut the majority of the waste between the two pins.  Once that was done I clamped the piece on the bench and carefully chiseled to the lines.  The outer shoulders where cut with the dovetail saw you can see in the background.

Here the piece is almost to it's final fit.  The Alder is so different to work with than the Bloodwood!  Once again I used the old Stanley router plane to bring the sockets to the correct depth.  At this point the stretchers are ready to be glued into the sides but I need to finalize the back height first.

There are many different ways to join pieces of wood and without a doubt, this is probably the most time consuming way to go about it.  Saying that, it's also the most traditional way to accomplish it as well.  I suppose a jig could have cut the dovetails or pocket screws and a Kreg jig would have done the work in a third of the time but I like tradition!

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