|Coping out the Waste|
There are a couple of schools of thought about how to remove the waste between the tails. My preference is to use a coping saw rather than using chisels to remove it all. Of course there are a couple of schools of thought on that as well -- coping saw or fret saw. Well, as for me, I'd rather cope it. Once that's done it's a matter of using chisels to pare down to the lines and clean up the corners where the tail and shoulder meet.
|Lay out for Sockets|
Once you're satisfied with your tails, the next step is to lay them out on the drawer front to locate the pins. When I say socket I'm referring to the area between the pins that the tail fits into. The plane that is laying on it's side provides a steady surface to lay the side piece on, it's checked with a try square to make sure it's in line with the front and then marked out. In this instance, I had already painted the front of the drawer black which made it a little difficult to see where to cut. I tried to use a white pencil and it was so-so! At this point it's a matter of using a chisel and a mallet to remove that waste after cutting as much as possible with a dovetail saw.
I apologize for the fuzziness of this picture but I wanted to share a trick I learned about for helping to pare the web of the socket out. The web is that small section of the drawer front that stays in a half blind dovetail. What you do is take a piece of wood that is the same thickness as the web and use that to support your chisel while you pare it level. In this case I used a 1/4" piece of MDF for that -- works great!
|One Side Done|
Another part of the ongoing dovetail discussion among woodworkers is that some say it's quicker to cut the dovetails by hand then to set up a router and jig to do it. There are other ways to make a well constructed drawer using a tongue and dado joint cut on the table saw. I kept a stop watch going and to do the entire drawer took me about 88 minutes. Setting up the table saw with a dado cutter, making test cuts, then breaking it down could probably have been done in half the time. I must admit though, the second board took me about half the time of the first one so with more experience I'm certain I'll get quicker. I guess it all depends on how you like to do your work, for me; I'll take the quietness of chisel and mallet over the roar and dust of a router and table saw any day.