Charles Neil build along mahogany lowboy "series" #14: week

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Blog entry by a1Jim posted 07-25-2010 12:24 AM 12597 reads 2 times favorited 54 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 13: week Part 14 of Charles Neil build along mahogany lowboy "series" series Part 15: week »

Charles Neil lowboy build-along, #14

Hey everyone, sorry for the long delay. I’m afraid it’s called life’s little distractions. I’m back at the lowboy, if there’s anyone still interested?
A partial recap, plus update.
When I left off, I was getting ready to make the drawers. I got a good start and then disaster struck.. my clamps slipped and I wiped out what I thought was the only poplar I had left, plus I was a little short on mahogany for the drawer fronts. Ultimately, I found some thick poplar that I had and re-sawed


it and as I mentioned before, I found some mahogany I’d bought a couple years ago. Whew, that was close! I’ve got just enough poplar to make the taller drawers. I start by setting up my dovetail jig and get my routers set up for the dovetail operation. I zoom through the first drawer side.. the one I had to find wood for. A nice clean smooth cut. Oh, no, I cut the pins in the side, not the front. Now what? I could cut it off and re-router it, but that will make it too short. I already know I don’t have any more poplar. Now what? After a lot of thought, I decided to start over with maple instead of poplar, since I have some hard maple up on my shelf.. cool. I pull the maple down from the shelf. Cool, I have plenty. I cut a piece and do a light skim-planing. Wow, it’s highly figured and I’m not going to use figured wood for drawers. This is not a problem since I have three other boards. I pull all three down. THEY’RE ALL FIQURED! This is good news, bad news. Good because I bought all this maple as standard hard maple and it’s all nicely quilted and worth about $ 10 a bf more than what I paid for it. Bad news because I can’t use it for drawer parts (or better said, I don’t want to) and my nearest wood supplier is 120 miles round trip. I decide to check my semi-local lumber supply (the place I buy my deck material) for maple and low and behold, they can have it shipped in next day for less than I usually pay for maple. Next day I go pick up the maple (10 miles away) and wow, this is really nice, clean material. Ok, that’s handled and time to move on.

I thought you would like to know that Charles Neil is comming out with his own dovetail jig that lets your router made dovetails look much more like hand cut dovetails.

In using my dovetail jig, you first center you stock so the dovetails are equally spaced.


And, oh yes, make sure you’re putting the right joint on the correct piece.



After cutting the pins on the FRONT of the drawer, you use the pins to draw out were the dovetails are to be cut on the SIDE of the drawer.


This insures proper alignment. After getting into a pace, you can proceed fairly easily. I might add that I place numbers in the mating pieces to make sure that when I’m ready, all of the pieces are in the right places . After some checking of the dovetails’ fit, it’s time to add the grooves in the bottom for the drawer. I try to place the drawer bottoms where they will be the least conspicuous through the sides and drawer front’s, but not so high off the bottom that they use to much of the drawer space. Installing the groove in the sides and fronts is a straight-forward matter of setting up a dado blade and running all the pieces through. Once again, I mark the bottom inside of the drawers to make sure I don’t mill the wrong side.


Now that this operation is done, I treat the backs differently. I don’t dovetail the backs, I dado the sides and place a tenon on the backs, plus a little extra treatment on the taller side drawers. I’m sure you can tell what’s going to happen with those two drawers? One more operation is used on these side drawers’ backs. I first draw a line where the drawers will be coming through the backs of these two drawers. Then I start a hole with a forstener bit

and follow up with a ball shaped router bit placed in a cordless drill (a handy trick in some operations)


and then place a concave ball shape in the center of the hole started by the forsterner bit.


The next step is to cut the drawer back where the drawer bottom is placed.


After some smoothing of this mysterious concave shape, I’m done with the milling of the side drawer backs. I proceed with the backs of the other drawer backs by just cutting them off where the drawer bottoms can slide in. All-righty then, my drawer parts are all milled.


As I did with the drawer frames, I check for square with my trammel. After the drawers glue is dry I need to trim the pins that were milled too long and the quickest cleanest way to do this, is to set a board across the board and set the depth



of the router bit to exactly the depth of the of the board setting on top and then route across the pins making them perfectly even with the drawer fronts. This is a much cleaner way to even them up, rather than sanding or filing them down.


After sanding the drawers are ready for the fitting into the case.


I’m sure you’ve guessed what the extra grooves and mystery concave hole is in the side drawers, haven’t you? Next time, I’ll be fitting the drawers and some more interior case details.

Remember, the techniques used are from Charles Neil’s subscription online webisode.
Sign up for Charles, “Mastering Woodworking” webisodes

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

54 comments so far

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3248 days

#1 posted 07-25-2010 12:28 AM

Its coming along nicely Jim. Thanks for the update. I like your hold downs on the dovetail jig as well.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View a1Jim's profile


117160 posts in 3629 days

#2 posted 07-25-2010 12:33 AM

Thanks Eric but those clamps are one of the reasons one of my first drawer side was wiped out. I need to change the angle they make contact with the wood and ad some sand paper to them for better holding power.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3248 days

#3 posted 07-25-2010 12:45 AM

Ah, well they look nice lol.

I actually ruined one of the nightstand legs today because the pattern wasn’t clamped down tightly enough and the router dug in way to far, no way to salvage it. I should have run a test piece through first. I purchased a 2×2x30” maple blank from rockler to replace, i’m praying it looks the same as the current legs. Those all came from one board.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3226 days

#4 posted 07-25-2010 12:47 AM


Two words (if it’s still possible):

Back … leg.

Sorry. I ruined two, on mine…..

Jim: beautiful work. I’m glad to see this one alive, again.

But … what YOU need …. are some good, solid, rather deep scribe lines on your DT boards LOL !

-- -- Neil

View a1Jim's profile


117160 posts in 3629 days

#5 posted 07-25-2010 12:51 AM

Neil Your so right after the many discussions about them how could I forget LOL.
Are you still working on your Lowboy?

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3725 days

#6 posted 07-25-2010 12:59 AM

Those dovetails looks good, Jim.

View a1Jim's profile


117160 posts in 3629 days

#7 posted 07-25-2010 01:01 AM

Thanks Charles

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10152 posts in 4105 days

#8 posted 07-25-2010 01:04 AM

Looks good, Jim!

You must have nerves of steel… routing DT’s with left hand while holding a vac hose with the right hand! :)

Thank you.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View a1Jim's profile


117160 posts in 3629 days

#9 posted 07-25-2010 01:10 AM

Hey Joe
I’ve had people say in my life “you’ve got some nerve” does that count.LOL

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View patron's profile


13610 posts in 3393 days

#10 posted 07-25-2010 01:51 AM

gosh jim ,

mistake ?

i haven’t made a mistake
for some time now .

like before i took my nap ,
the last time i worked ,
couple of hours at least !

coming along real nice

good to see you routing along !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Don's profile


517 posts in 3125 days

#11 posted 07-25-2010 02:30 AM

Looking great Jim. I like the way you’re trimming the dovetails, I’m going to try it that way next time I cut dovetails.

-- Don - I wood work if I could. Redmond WA.

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 3976 days

#12 posted 07-25-2010 02:33 AM

Jim, Your mistakes look better then my finished products. LOL

View a1Jim's profile


117160 posts in 3629 days

#13 posted 07-25-2010 03:06 AM

Thanks David ,Don and sandhill.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View PurpLev's profile


8539 posts in 3701 days

#14 posted 07-25-2010 03:19 AM

very cool Jim.

Wouldn’t plunging with a router using the ball bit do a better job than a hand held drill (higher speed, cleaner cut)?

Thats a cool idea for what will happen there. I like it.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Jordan's profile


1400 posts in 3177 days

#15 posted 07-25-2010 03:19 AM

Oh my word, Jim, all that measuring!!! I don’t think you would like to hire me.
I would now never buy a dresser without drawers like that! The stapled ones just will not do!


showing 1 through 15 of 54 comments

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