Building a Credenza #4: Completed Dovetail Joinery

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Blog entry by Blake posted 1565 days ago 5973 reads 0 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Hand Cutting Dovetails Part 4 of Building a Credenza series Part 5: Curvaceous Legs »

This is where I left off last time:


Chopping the tails

I cut most of the waste out with a coping saw and then clamped down the tail board to my bench to chop out the rest:


First it is necessary to test the sharpness of your chisels… yep they are sharp. (I accidentally grazed my chisel when I reached across my bench for a pencil)


After chopping the tails:


The two sides of my case:


Transferring the tails to the pins

I had a little bit of a dilemma trying to figure out how to transfer the lines from the tailboards to the pins. Finally I devised a way to hang the side piece from the ceiling with string so the tails would rest on the edge of the top piece, which was secured in my vice.


With a little creative clamping I was able to secure it until I could transfer the lines with a marking knife. This photo was taken by holding the camera against the ceiling.


Cutting the pins

Then I used my saw and guide to cut the pins in the end of the six-foot top piece while standing on my shop stool (I know, this is the wrong photo)

The coping saw was getting a little tedious on this very hard Jatoba so I used my scroll saw to hog out some of the waist… (perhaps the biggest board a scroll saw has ever seen?)


Chopping the pins

And then chopped the pins on my bench:




Fitting and dressing the dovetails

I swear this is the first time I’ve done this (it was a perfect fit).


A little clean-up with my Stanley No. 62 to smooth out the joint:






I still need to cut the pins and fit the joint on the other side of the case.

Total building time so far: 18 hours.

-- Happy woodworking!

20 comments so far

View dlmckirdy's profile


195 posts in 1768 days

#1 posted 1565 days ago

That’s a great looking joint, especially for a first try! I wonder how many of the old pros actually used home-made jigs similar to yours to guide their cuts. It seems as though freehand cuts leave too much room for error. I can’t wait to see the finished product (and more progress shots).

-- Doug, Bakersfield, CA - I measured twice, cut it twice, and it is still too short!

View Bill Akins's profile

Bill Akins

421 posts in 2333 days

#2 posted 1565 days ago

Outstanding dovetails. Usually when I come out of the shop with a bandaid on (or blue tape) my wife goes into a tizzy and I have to explain to her that I nicked it on a chisel or something, not the tablesaw.

-- Bill from Lithia Springs, GA I love the smell of sawdust in the morning.

View SPalm's profile


4791 posts in 2516 days

#3 posted 1565 days ago

Very nice Blake. I like the ingenuity also. You gotta do with what ya got.
It is looking really sweet.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View lumberdog's profile


225 posts in 1902 days

#4 posted 1565 days ago

Damn! those are some sweet looking dovetails, and i didn’t see any blood on them.

-- Lumberdog.. Michigan

View Blake's profile


3437 posts in 2509 days

#5 posted 1565 days ago

The blood is in them, along with the sweat and tears.


-- Happy woodworking!

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10850 posts in 1750 days

#6 posted 1565 days ago

sure looks great that layout of the dovtails
but was it a first try :-) or was it the first time they fit perfect :-)
anyway they looks awesome
and good to see you have a lot of fun in the shop
I realy look forward to see the end result

but cuoldn´t you just have placed the short board in the vise
and the long board flat on the bench

you are lucky if your wife don´t make any complain when you show a nick with blood

my wife allways said if I ever got heart one more time she will hire proff. from the town
to do the jobs in the future


View Billp's profile


784 posts in 2834 days

#7 posted 1565 days ago

Blake great job on the dovetails. I am glad I don’t have to help move it when your done. I am inbarrased to say I just stuck a chisel in my arm severed 4 tendons. I have been on a self destruct lately. All of your work is first class keep up the good work.

-- Billp

View CharlieM1958's profile


15691 posts in 2853 days

#8 posted 1565 days ago

That impresses the heck out of me, Blake. I can’t imagine myself cutting joints like that.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Tony's profile


978 posts in 2665 days

#9 posted 1565 days ago

Very nice joinery

-- Tony - All things are possible, just some things are more difficult than others! - SKYPE: Heron2005 (

View degoose's profile


6996 posts in 1989 days

#10 posted 1565 days ago

Well I am certainly impressed.. that is a great blog and I do like the spacings…

-- Drink twice... and don't bother to cut... @ For lovers of all things timber...

View rhett's profile


697 posts in 2302 days

#11 posted 1565 days ago

Nice work committing to hand cutting these joints with little previous experience on such high dollar stock. That is the type of commitment needed to master the craft. Will be an excellent addition to the portfolio.


View bfd's profile


502 posts in 2441 days

#12 posted 1565 days ago

damn dude, those are some fantastic looking dovetails. Great blog so far Blake. This is truly inspiring work.

View blackcherry's profile


3156 posts in 2457 days

#13 posted 1565 days ago

Your starting to shine like some of napa valley best vintage Blake, excellent work will take time blood sweat and tears…BC

View a1Jim's profile


112018 posts in 2212 days

#14 posted 1565 days ago

Very nice blake

-- Custom furniture

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13337 posts in 2307 days

#15 posted 1564 days ago

Those are some great looking dovetails.

-- CJIII Future cabinetmaker

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