Dovetail Box #3: Almost Ready for the Dovetails

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Blog entry by Eric posted 02-03-2008 05:42 PM 1703 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: When You Don't Plan Your Cuts Part 3 of Dovetail Box series Part 4: Making a Dovetail Template »

Dovetail Box - pieces

So I’ve got the pieces for my box cut mostly to size. The walls are all currently about 5 1/2” long – I’m going to trim just a bit off of two of them (to get them to 5 1/3”) and I’ll trim the other two down to 4” (and they’ll be about 2” tall). But first, I have a planing issue.

I suppose it’s just part of my journey, but I can’t seem to be able to get my pieces (any of them) really flat. First, I was dealing with tearout. Apparently, even when you’re going with the grain, there is a direction the wood likes to be planed and a direction the wood doesn’t like to be planed. Or is it simply time to resharpen? I think a good sharpening is in order regardless.

Having a good flat face kind of affects everything, though. If the face isn’t flat, then you can’t square the edges, even with a shooting board, because you’re not resting the board flat against it.

When I put all four walls up against each other, they are all over the place as far as evenness. So what can I do? Do I try to clamp them all together, edge to edge, and plane them all at once? And then flip them all over and do it again?


On a brighter note, I did feel some sense of accomplishment with my planing at certain points. It was cool to see end grain shavings – a first for me.

[This entry was taken from my personal site, Adventures in Woodworking.]

-- Eric at

3 comments so far

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 3795 days

#1 posted 02-03-2008 07:41 PM

Where are you getting tear out?

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

View Tom Adamski's profile

Tom Adamski

306 posts in 3770 days

#2 posted 02-03-2008 08:12 PM

Box making is addictive… and sometimes an obsession. It might be wise to give up on a piece of wood and move onto an easier piece to work with. If this is not the case and you really want to work through it, I’d first say check your plane. Is it a low angle? is it as sharp as it could be? If not, this may be the answer.
Another thing to try to get very good results that I’ve used is to sand them flat. (easier than it sounds) Using a few pieces of inexpensive granite tile to keep things dead flat, ($1.19 each at Lowes) spray mount full sheets of sand paper to each tile. (different grits on seperate tiles) Starting with a course 60 grit for initially flattening dense wood and working through the grits to the desired level of finish. Hope this helps…


-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsman can hide his mistakes.

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 3782 days

#3 posted 02-04-2008 01:44 AM

Thanks for the feedback Tom. I think I can find tile pretty easy here. I think I’d rather work with what I have than move on to a new piece of wood, especially because I’m pretty close to flat. I just don’t know how to guarantee flatness.

Tomcat: I’m getting occasional tearout underneath the area I’m planing. I don’t think it’s a rarity, though, as I read a recent Christopher Schwarz article where he talks about dealing with tearout while planing.

-- Eric at

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