Incra Double Dovetail Project #6: Putting it together

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Blog entry by SPHinTampa posted 10-22-2011 12:57 AM 3451 reads 2 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: The Tray Bottom Part 6 of Incra Double Dovetail Project series Part 7: Finishing and Finished! »

In my last blog, I created the tray bottom.

In this blog, I will cut the grooves for the tray bottom, rout finger holds and put the tray together.

First step is to cut grooves in the tail section. I use the MCLS 13/64” plywood bit (because 1/4” plywood is smaller than it’s nominal size). As a rule of thumb, I like to cut the groove 2x the groove width (so 1/2” in this case) from the bottom in order to leave enough material for a strong assembly.

I mark the cut location in chalk as well as make a note of which edge to run against the router fence as I have a bad habit of cutting the wrong side of my work pieces. At this stage, you would have an irreparable mistake.

I set the bit height to the 1/4” depth I want for the groove (groove = with the grain, dado = cross grain) using the Rockler brass set up bar. Start with the bar behind the bit and below it. Raise the bit using the router height adjustment until you can see the bit and then lower it again to run even with the bar.

I use blue tape to show where I should start and stop the cuts on the router table. I mark a start location that is 1/4” past the outer edge of the bit. I also mark a stop location 1/4” before the outer edge of the bit.

With the edge of the workpiece lined up on this mark, I can tilt the work piece down onto the bit to start the groove.

Then run the workpiece along the bit until back of piece is even with the stop mark.

I also find it helpful to run the groove for 2” and then pull back a little to let the vacuum clean out the saw dust and then keep running. Just be careful that the bit does not grab the piece when you pull back (Note to other LJs … is this bad advice? please comment).

Run a test piece to check your set up and the run all four workpieces, remembering to use your marks to ensure cuts are on the right side and location on the work pieces.

Fit is dead on with no slack or play.

I then swap the plywood bit out for a 1/2” core box bit (could use a bowl bit or a sign makers bit as well – anything that will cut a profile without a bearing guide).

I want to cut another stopped groove. This time, my old homemade fence is better than my incra set up – mostly because it is longer. First I center the bit against the workpiece by eye.

Since the work piece is 14” and I want a 4” long finger hold, I measure 5” back from the outer edge of the bit, place the workpiece against the fence and place the stop to mark the end of the cut.

I then measure back and set the start block.

With the blocks set, I can lower the piece onto the running bit pushing it forwards and backwards between the stops.

I usually do 1-2 passes to cut the depth and then raise the bit by 1/64” for a final finishing cut. Final cut gets rid of fuzzy edges and burn marks. I cut finger holds on both sides of piece.

Now I use the oscillating sander to finish the sides before assembly (120 grit, 180 grit, 220 grit). The second version of this machine that Rigid sent me is awesome and really speeds stuff up. You just need to stay from rounding off the ends so you don’t affect the fit of the joints.

I then glue together the tray. Beginning with the pin sides, glue only a 1” or so at the center of the long sides.

And then fit the tail pieces.

I am such a pack rat that I wont even throw out my saw dust. Instead I bottle it to make custom filler.

I mix small amounts of glue with very fine saw dust to make filler to hide my mistakes in the joints.

Smear the filler in place, and let it dry for an hour or two. Padauk really makes a mess.

I use the sander to clean up the end joints, being careful not to round off the edges.

I then sign the back of the tray.

I first vacuum the dust and then use mineral spirits and rags to get the last bits. Note, if you miss any significant amount of the padauk dust, it will turn into red paint if it gets wet, so be careful.

And the project is ready to be finished.

-- Shawn, I ask in order to learn

3 comments so far

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3931 days

#1 posted 10-22-2011 01:34 AM

This is great. Thanks for the progress photos.

-- Happy woodworking!

View ratchet's profile


1391 posts in 3844 days

#2 posted 10-24-2011 03:04 PM

Excellent blog! Thanks for detailing it for us!

View konaman's profile


82 posts in 3688 days

#3 posted 10-29-2011 01:51 AM

very nice blog. I have wanted to see someone making incra dovetails for a while. I’m looking forward to seeing more of your work. Thanks

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