My First Dovetails #1: Getting Started and How I Got Here

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Blog entry by MGW posted 08-07-2011 11:57 PM 1214 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Let me first explain myself. I started woodworking just after getting married 10 years ago. Someone out there can probably explain this to me, but after a couple of kids, it seems that the time to enjoy my hobby as well as the resources to buy tools seems to have been diverted elsewhere! The good news (other than my beautiful family, of course) is that I was able to become the owner of some very great tools in those days, even though they ended up in storage for a good number of years.

In late spring of this year, I was out of work for a couple of months and decided to take the time to clean out my garage, which was specifically built to be a woodworking shop, and get back into making sawdust and scraps. It is still a work in progress, but I finally have room to get a good amount of work done and took real advantage of the time away from work. I have built a cabinet for my wife’s yarn room (and I mean ROOM), a couple of shop projects, and I’m currently working on a screen door to go on the front porch of our 130 year old home. I’ll be sure to post that when it’s complete. The point that I’m working toward is that I have a little bit of experience, although I am always my own worst critic, but I think it’s time for me to step up and challenge myself a little more. I have decided that I will make a hand cut dovetail box by the end of the summer. I have purchased a marking gauge and a cheap dovetail saw to go with the other tools I already had in my shop.

I decided this back in May. Today is August 7th. (I returned to work in July.) I spent last week at the beach for my family’s vacation and spent a lot of time reading my old magazines and books, as well as LJ and podcasts. I’ve especially spent a lot of time watching the Renaissance Woodworker, The Wood Whisperer, and Woodworking with the Bois. It’s time! I am starting today!

I looked through my lumber rack and found several pieces of cherry shorts that I bought on my very first trip to the Hardwood Store and have moved around with me since. I think this is going to be the perfect thing to start with since I haven’t found a use for it yet and I like cherry.

This is more than enough for the box I have planned. I am thinking that I’ll use the wide board as the top and bottom, but before that, I’ll cut a couple of pieces from the end, mill them, and give this a try. I’ll mill all of the wood just in case I make a mistake (or should I say when I make a mistake) and if all goes well, maybe I’ll be able to get an extra box from all of this. We’ll see. Keep looking for updates as I work on this, and thanks for any comments and/or advice you may have.


-- Michael, North Carolina -- Whittling away the time making fine lumber into perfect fire stove fuel.

3 comments so far

View chrisstef's profile


17428 posts in 3035 days

#1 posted 08-08-2011 12:49 AM

Good luck michael! I did the same thing as you bought all the tools and havent got the time or the guts to try it yet, im lookin for good things outta you ;)

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View jeepturner's profile


939 posts in 2821 days

#2 posted 08-08-2011 12:58 AM

Michael, I am no expert. There are more than a few on this site though. I would plan my box, cut my pieces and then use the off cuts as practice. Once you get an acceptable result from the practice pieces, begin on the box sides. Looking forward to your next entry on this blog.

-- Mel,

View MGW's profile


38 posts in 2525 days

#3 posted 08-08-2011 01:52 AM

Thanks guys. Just got the kids in bed and came back out to get started.

That’s a good idea jeepturner. (btw, what’s the name mean?—my other toy is an 83 cj7—can’t seem to pick a cheap hobby!)

-- Michael, North Carolina -- Whittling away the time making fine lumber into perfect fire stove fuel.

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