First Dovetail Box (Hand Cut)

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Project by RJH311 posted 08-23-2012 11:53 PM 3771 views 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So this is my first attempt at hand cut dovetails. I think it turned out just OK. Naturally, I learned a lot building this box. I bought a new saw for this box, a Japanese pull saw as it was much better quality than the old crappy craftsman dovetail saw that I used to have (which, by the way, doesn’t even deserve to be called a dovetail saw at all). Still, it wasn’t a super high quality Japanese saw, just the run of the mill one you get off the shelf at the local Home Depot but I had it on good information that those are comparable quality to the really good ones. I definitely wish that I had used a saw with a rigid spine to it. The flexibility of my saw made it prone to wandering and not quite as accurate. One thing that stands out right away is the little shoulder on the top and bottom of each joint. I wasn’t thinking and I rabbeted the wood for the top and bottom to fit in before I realized that it would mess up my dovetails. But, like any good woodworker I just ran with it and built them into my dovetails, some corners with more success than others. Also, this is the first time I used dowels. It just occurred to me that I forgot to put a few dowels into the joints for a little decorative touch that I was planning. Oh well, next time. All in all I think it turned out alright.

7 comments so far

View RJH311's profile


43 posts in 2470 days

#1 posted 08-24-2012 12:07 AM

In case anyone is wondering, I used Rob Cosman’s dovetailing method

View jjw5858's profile


1135 posts in 2747 days

#2 posted 08-24-2012 12:44 AM

Looks great for your efforts. The old craftsmen would usually let work like this pile up in their shop and do it all day to practice the process. By the 2nd or 3rd box the eyes and hands were in full tune for cutting more accurate tails. Looks really nice, have fun and thanks for sharing it!

All the best,


-- "Always continue to learn, laugh and share!" JJW

View oldnovice's profile


7194 posts in 3513 days

#3 posted 08-24-2012 01:26 AM

Your first is better than my tenth!

My skills have deteriorated due to my infatuation with power tools!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Kookaburra's profile


748 posts in 2369 days

#4 posted 08-24-2012 01:37 AM

Nice work – even if it were not your first. You can tell everyone that rabbet / dovetail junction was intentional – it is your signature join! I am a little confused on how you were going to use dowels – in the dovetails? I have one of those flexible Japanese saws too and quickly realized that a something with a backbone was essential for dovetails.

-- Kay - Just a girl who loves wood.

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2255 days

#5 posted 08-24-2012 02:13 AM

Always make it intentional! ;^)

BTW… a great way to keep up the skills are regular “Five Minute Dovetails” and prepared scrap.

View lanwater's profile


3111 posts in 3079 days

#6 posted 08-25-2012 03:38 AM

Good job. They look good.

The box is really nice.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View turk's profile


9 posts in 2295 days

#7 posted 08-28-2012 12:30 AM

Rickey this project looks like it came out awesome. Keep up the great work.

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