The saw till

Dovetails

I needed to stiffen the assembly, so I decided to do dovetails. And since I am making shop furniture, it is time for an adventure.

Half blind dovetails. Never done that before, so what could go wrong? Regular through dovetails? No problem. But half blinds? Time to break that barrier!

I marked the tails on the side pieces. The width dictated three tails for a nice, somewhat even distribution. For the half pins on either side, I wanted a bit more “meat”. Therefore they are 1.5 times the width of the pins. The pins are 10mm (approximately. 3/8”) on the narrow end, the tails are 30mm (1 3/16”) wide and the half pins are 15mm (about 5/8”).

On the inside, I used my shoulder plane to make a “step”. This will recess the bottom into the sides so that any gaps in the corner will be hidden.

After some sawin’, some choppin’, a bit of chiselin’ and fiddlin’, I had my two tail parts ready. Here’s both sides shown – the outside on top, the inside on the bottom one where the “step” is clearly visible.

The next task was to transfer the tails to the pin board. I made the “floor” in the tail sockets about 2mm (1/16”), as can be seen in the next image.

After drawing the outline of the tails, I drew the rest of the lines using my combination square. I then placed the side on top of the board to get the correct depth of the tails – remember that since there is a step, the tails are not as wide as the whole board.

I then cut the shoulders to the lines as shown.

After I chiseled most of the waste, I used the router plane to refine the bottom of the recesses. Lots of chiseling and fine-tuning at this stage!

Before long, I had my three recesses cut and readied for assembly!

But – how long did Adam stay in paradise? I checked and measured and checked again – but still the joint did NOT come together as planned – GAPS! I SEE GAPS!!!!

On the left side, the gap is a lot more pronounced than on the right. But when I start to assemble, everything looks kosher! What on earth is going on???

As it turned out, my tails were a smidgen too long. I shaved off a sliver from the ends, and everything came together nicely. Not perfect, but certainly more than good enough for my first ever half blind dovetails!

With that knowledge and experience under my belt, I set off to cut the second set. They came out beautifully, except that I cut the “floor” on the tail cutouts just a hair too deep. I did not set my router plane perfectly on the line. This is easliy fixed during glueup, by a couple of strategically placed shavings. All in all, I am very pleased with this result!

I assembled the parts to check the layout, and it proved to work beautifully. I’ll shape the sides a bit, as this looks way too “boxy” for my taste.

Let’s jump to the next page for that.

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