The goal of doing any joinery on a project is to find the best way to assemble the pieces so that they are both strong and functional. In all of the years spent woodworking, dovetail joints seem to be the "holy grail" for many woodworkers. Well let's face it, they are proven from as far back as Egyptian times and their form is such that even if the glue fails, the wood piece still holds together. That's been true whether it's an Egyptian king's coffin or an American cabinetmaker chest of drawers from the 1800's. What we're after here is something that will look like this:
|One Drawer Side, Sapele & Maple|
Jamie, of WooditIs here in Las Vegas has said that if you ask 10 woodworkers the same question you'll likely get 10, or maybe 12; different answers! Keep that in mind as I create a pictorial of how I go about creating this joint. When I teach I always encourage my students to investigate all of the different ways there are to accomplish a technique, experiment with them all, and then develop what works for you.
I'll start off by saying that I'm a tails first kind of guy. There's a huge controversy among woodworkers as to what you cut first. Google it online and you'll see what I mean and then re-read the paragraph above!
The first step is to make sure your ends are square. You can leave this up to your tablesaw or chop saw but I like to go one step further and true them up with a shooting board and a block plane as shown here.
Not to get off track too much but I found that one of my drawer openings was about 88 degrees rather than 90. I made my shooting board so that I can adjust it to compensate for that. It was set with a sliding bevel to match the angle of the opening. Now, even though the drawer front won't measure square, the revel around it will be consistent. Here you can see the cut as I "un-square" the front.
|Dark Area is being Cut|
|Pseudo Stanley #140 Trick|
|Transferring Tail Board to Drawer Front|
|Initial Cuts in Drawer Front|
|Removing the Waste|
|Working to the Line|
|Paring to the Scribed Line|
Unless you're striving to make a living and pay the bills, try to do this work and just enjoy the process. You'll be surprised at the enjoyment you'll get from this, to me it's all about the process and those quiet hours spent creating your work. Hope this gives you some more insight into making these joints. As always, I welcome any comments or questions you may have.