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Dovetail Box #9: Dovetails Glued Up, Now for the Top

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Blog entry by Eric posted 02-21-2008 03:33 PM 1096 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: Be Vewy Vewy Quiet - I'm Hunting Wabbets Part 9 of Dovetail Box series Part 10: Next Obstacle: The Lid »

No pics today, but there’s not much new to look at compared to last week's final fit. A big step was rabbeting the walls for the bottom to fit up into. After doing one wall, I got some very helpful feedback from Dave and Luis over on my personal website that I should do a dado instead that the rabbeted bottom would fit into. The advice came a day too late, although I did consider doing the dado on the other three walls. But alas, I don’t have a blade small enough (the smallest I have is my 1/4” chisel) to make a very narrow dado, so I ended up just going ahead with the rabbeted walls. On the plus side, the bottom is fitting in very snugly, so I may just add a couple drops of glue on the ends, as Luis suggested, and that should do it; as long as my wife doesn’t drop a wrench into the box, it should hold.

One thing that I had mentioned in the post I wrote after doing the first rabbet was that I busted both pins (since the rabbet doesn’t go all the way to the edge, it’s tricky). It was frustrating, but I glued them up and moved on. Well, wouldn’t you know that I busted at least one pin or tail on each of the remaining three walls, no matter how careful I was? I tell ya, this is the last time I work in miniature (that’s what it feels like). But you know what? It actually helped me to relax more, as I trusted the glue and tried even harder to not bust anything on the next wall. I told my wife that even if she looks hard, I don’t think she’ll see more than two places (out of seven) where I had to glue up something I broke – if she even sees those.

So now that I’ve rambled on about the dovetails and rabbets, on to the next step: the top. Here’s what I’m thinking, and please give me your feedback on whether it’s a good idea or not. The end grain looks ugly and screams to be covered up. So mitered edges, yes? But how would it look/work if I used a strip of sapwood (same wood, kempas) for a little color variation like this:

Sketch of Box Top

I’m thinking that the middle strip would be pretty thin, like 1/4” or less. What are your thoughts? Any other ideas? And as for size, I think that I will make the top just a touch wider than the walls, so there is just the very slightest bit of overhang. It seems appealing in a tactile kind of way. Then there’s the issue of glue-up and saw-off. It seems from the pictures I’ve seen that it’s okay to saw off the lid in between (or even on!) a tail. Is that right? Seems kind of funny to have the dovetails go zoop! up with the lid when you open it, but maybe that’s the way they do it.

So my questions for you esteemed woodies:

  • Am I on target with my general box top design?
  • Will the use of sapwood sandwiched between heartwood present any problems?
  • Will I really cut the top off in between tails?

Thanks so much to those of you who have commented here and on Adventures in Woodworking. I’m learning a lot!

-- Eric at http://adventuresinwoodworking.com



5 comments so far

View GaryK's profile

GaryK

10262 posts in 2642 days


#1 posted 02-21-2008 03:39 PM

Looks good. I would think about over hanging the side by at least 1/4” to 1/2”.

Another great idea would be to make the top at lease 1” thick and then bevel the sides until just
before your inlay. 1/4” think at the edge would be nice.

Kind of like this but not so steep a bevel.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Eric's profile

Eric

873 posts in 2438 days


#2 posted 02-21-2008 03:45 PM

Hey Gary, great ideas. Thanks for your feedback. I have two followup questions:

  • would a 1” thick top look weird on a box that is so far only 2” without the top?
  • I can’t quite picture what you’re describing with the bevel and inlay. Are you saying the outer edge would be 1/4”? What about the thickness of the sapwood – also 1/4”? And are you saying that the inlay wouldn’t necessarily be beveled? Sorry…I’m not getting it.

EDIT: Oh wait – you added a picture. I think it’s more clear now. But just a bit. :^) That kind of slanted bevel would be tricky with hand tools. I think.

-- Eric at http://adventuresinwoodworking.com

View GaryK's profile

GaryK

10262 posts in 2642 days


#3 posted 02-21-2008 03:53 PM

Ah, I didn’t know that you were using only hand tools. And yes 1” would be too thick for a 2” box.

1/2” would be nice. As for the bevel, that won’t be to hard with hand tools. Just do a little around all
four sides. Then a little more and then a little more, until either you are done or it’s getting too hard
to do.

Just a liight bevel for such a small box.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Eric's profile

Eric

873 posts in 2438 days


#4 posted 02-21-2008 04:01 PM

Ok I see. I looked at the bigger pictures of your box on your projects page. I like how the bevel sort of hides the miters. So would I just take a hand plane to the edges, leaning the plane so as to take more wood off the top part and create the bevel?

-- Eric at http://adventuresinwoodworking.com

View GaryK's profile

GaryK

10262 posts in 2642 days


#5 posted 02-21-2008 04:14 PM

You got it. Just do it a little at a time.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

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