With some projects you can see dramatic progress at the end of the day, this is not one of those projects. I have allotted roughly three months to finish the project knowing it was a huge undertaking. I will undoubtedly have to work on an order or side project during the time it is taking place, but for now I am just concentrating on the build. Like I said there wasn’t a big transformation today, but there was progress. I have all the drawer fronts dovetailed and roughly fit to their perspective spots. I thought it would be a good day to show how I do my half blind dovetails. I start by cutting my stock just a bit proud of any openings. Mark your layout lines all the way around the front of the drawer sides and just the side and back of the drawer front. I know there is a big controversy to which is cut first, tails or pins. Normally I would say it doesn’t matter, try them both and go with whatever works best for you, but for half blinds, cutting the tails first really does make it easier. Knowing how to do it both ways gives you an advantage.
Draw a line about 1/8”-3/16” in from each side of the drawer side.
Next using dividers I lay out how many pins I would like to have. Fool with it a bit until you have an even spacing.
Then press the tips in to mark the positions.
Mark square lines to reference off.
And lay out the pin cuts.
Start by making your cuts all going in one direction to keep a rhythm.
Then come back from the other direction.
If you miss your line while cutting, don’t worry about it as long as the cut is square and you transfer the layout well it won’t matter.
Turn the board on its’ side and press into the marked line with your chisel and then pair down at an angle to the line to make a trough for the saw to ride in.
Then cut away the waste from where the half pin will go.
Lay the drawer side on a sacrificial board and chop away the waste material. Sometimes I use a coping saw to remove the bulk first, but these were very small so I didn’t.
This picture doesn’t have the half pins cut away yet.
Next if you have a rake light (by all means use one when dovetailing) lay it as far down as it will go to shine light under the board. I clamp my stock up to the height of the sacrificial board and lay the drawer side on it to lay out the pins. Pull it up to the drawer face just until the light disappears and mark your lines. For dovetails this size I have always used a razor blade to mark the lay out lines, but I recently made a marking knife from a discarded hacksaw blade and I love it. I will make a nice one when the project is all done and probably turn it into a youtube show for everyone.
I then flip the drawer front around in the vise and raise it up (can’t wait for my moxon vise).
I don’t like to cut to the line with pins this small as it is too easy to ruin them, so I cut just a bit to the side and pair to them later on.
Cut as much as you can up to the depth lines.
In the past I have used the trick where you take an old card scraper and hammer it down to cut the grains in the corners, but I have found that if you are just patient you can get it done without this step.
Start by making the same definition as with the half pins side by pressing just into the depth lines and pairing down to them. This will ensure that when you go to banging out the waste the chisel doesn’t wander on you.
I then start removing the waste, but I start a bit from the back giving myself room to pair away to the final depth.
Pair away the waste and clean up the sockets to receive the tails.
If everything went well you should be able to slide it all together with just some light tapping to drive it home and “Voila”
Rinse and repeat for as many drawers as needed. :)
Please take this instruction with a grain of salt as I am not a cabinet maker and don’t do dovetails all the time.
So I used a nice board to make the drawer fronts and got them all fitted and they were turning out nice, but I heard the weather report saying today would be the only decent day for a week or so, so I got outside to grind on the second door.
I think they are turning out nicely.
Again I took the last hour of the day to carve the tree texture and used a rake light to show you how it will turn out.
I have been having fun on this project and I thank you all for following along with me. I have been all to happy to take pictures and chronicle the progress.
-- Brian Noel