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Dovetail Box #23: Reflections and Lessons Learned

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Blog entry by Eric posted 2185 days ago 941 reads 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 22: How I Fixed the End Grain Part 23 of Dovetail Box series no next part

In my very first post in this series, I said that I wanted to make something before building my workbench, and I said (here comes a direct quote), “What better project for my beginner skills than a simple dovetail box?” Yes. I said the words “simple”, “box” and “beginner” in the same sentence. How little I knew. So here are some reflections on my 6-month journey into box making, and some lessons learned:

  1. Find something you do well, and build your confidence off of that. Once I bought my ryoba saw, my sawing skills improved tremendously. I cut one of my dovetails with it to break it in, and liked it right away. I took a stab at sawing veneer by hand, and nailed it. I got more and more confident in that one area of my woodworking, and it made me more confident overall, even in other areas where I’m not yet very proficient.
  2. Start with a plan. I had a vague idea of what I wanted, but you really need something a little more concrete than “four walls, a top and a bottom.” That’s pretty much all I had. If I had actually sketched out a real plan with ideas on how I was going to join, say, the bottom to the walls, I would have been much better prepared for what was to come.
  3. Start with something big. I had wondered aloud when starting this project if doing dovetails with 1/4” thick wood would be too tough for a beginner. Turned out that the dovetails were easy compared with all the other complexities in the project – many of which were enhanced because of the small size of the box. As some of you saw, I had to make a chisel out of an allen wrench because my 1/4” chisel was too big for some of the things I needed to do. I felt like I was making dollhouse furniture sometimes. It’s no wonder my very next project was a step stool with really big dovetails and “regular”-sized joints.
  4. Listen to feedback. As I wrote this post, I re-read all of my entries, and the comments that followed each one. It’s really neat to see things that I ended up doing in this project because of suggestions from my fellow Jocks. In a way, this box was a community project!
  5. Don’t sweat it. As Russel wisely commented, ”Flaws are merely an expression of character; a reflection of the path to completion. They are not necessarily a bad thing, and in this case they are an example of tenacity and acquired experience.” Amen.

Thanks again, fellow Jocks, for all of your encouragement as I brought this project through its various stages to completion. While I have no desire (at the present time) to build another box this small, I do hope to build more boxes in the future. I’m sure that many of the lessons I learned here will make it a much smoother operation.

-- Eric at http://adventuresinwoodworking.com



6 comments so far

View ChicoWoodnut's profile

ChicoWoodnut

904 posts in 2413 days


#1 posted 2184 days ago

Nice reflection Eric,

Like every project, you need a wrap up. What do you have up your sleeve? Something enjoyable for you but intended someone else by any chance?

-- Scott - Chico California http://chicowoodnut.home.comcast.net

View Eric's profile

Eric

873 posts in 2381 days


#2 posted 2184 days ago

Nothing big. We’re moving in a month, so I don’t really have time to build much. But I do have a reverse engineering project to do for a buddy. He’s got a couch support frame (wood) but the other one was missing. I’ll try to build him a matching one. This is the guy who got my wood for the step stool – and found this couch on the side of the road as well!

So more on that as I give it a go. Nothing fancy – just a few mortise and tenons I think.

-- Eric at http://adventuresinwoodworking.com

View ChicoWoodnut's profile

ChicoWoodnut

904 posts in 2413 days


#3 posted 2184 days ago

I’m confident that the side you repair will last longer than the other side LOL

-- Scott - Chico California http://chicowoodnut.home.comcast.net

View jcees's profile

jcees

946 posts in 2396 days


#4 posted 2181 days ago

Yepper, that about sums it up. We all learn by DOING!

always,
J.C.

-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View ryno101's profile

ryno101

377 posts in 2262 days


#5 posted 2170 days ago

Eric,

Having just come across this, I had to go back and read it all… thank you for putting this together, for Noobs like us, it’s nice to be able to learn from each other, and I’ve definitely learned from this blog series!

Can’t wait to see what you come out with next!

-- Ryno

View Eric's profile

Eric

873 posts in 2381 days


#6 posted 2169 days ago

Great, glad to help! We’re all in this together…

-- Eric at http://adventuresinwoodworking.com

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