OK, The French Veneer (at last) #6: Drawers, Dowels, and Dovetails

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 10-28-2014 03:32 AM 2508 reads 2 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Drawer Front Marquetry Assembly Part 6 of OK, The French Veneer (at last) series Part 7: Messing With a Master »

Well all the colour decisions have been made and the flowers are glued in. The next job is to build a jewellery box to glue them onto. I have decided on Baltic Birch plywood for the carcase because it is very important that the top and bottom do not warp. With no ends on the carcase itself the outer reaches of both are supported only on the back and inner edges.The bottom, back, and top are dovetailed and the dividers are in dados. I veneered both sides of the bottom and dividers but won’t do the inside of the top until I can apply the top marquetry at the same time. The veneer is Walnut and , like the drawers, will be ebonized.

The drawers are solid Walnut with three corners dovetailed and the fourth attached to the hinge barrel.

In the first photo above and in the next one I am using a sawing jig that I made from David Barron’s design.
In the article I used he suggested 7/8” magnets and I made the mistake of reading “Rare Earth” between the lines. The jig didn’t work as well for me as I had hoped, partly because the magnets were WAY too strong and partly because my somewhat arthritic thumbs are not. In the subsequent photos below I have switched to the Veritas jig which works exactly the same except that the magnets aren’t as strong and the screw clamp does the holding. My dovetails are better and my thumbs are much happier.

The hinge pins must be a very close tolerance to keep the drawers from drooping when open and resting on each other when closed. I know lots of people work with precision measuring tools and many are better turners than I am but I have always been a “measure from the work” kind of guy so this is how I achieved the necessary close tolerance. (The wood is Queen Ebony and I’m not expecting it to swell up at all.)

I cut a square of 3/4” plywood and drilled a 1/8” hole in the middle.

Then I made a 1/2” hole half way through centering on the 1/8” hole.

I roughed out a shaft and turned one end to 1/2”, gauged with a 1/2” wrench, cut off the oversize end …

.... and fitted it in the block, now mounted on the live center. This allowed me to fit a cut off segment of one of my actual hinge barrels onto the shaft and move it along as I reduced the shaft.

Doing it this way I was able to remove the dowel from the lathe and check for fit in the actual barrels and still return it to the lathe if it was too tight.

When I was satisfied, I applied a little wax.

Here’s a rough assembly. It still knocks apart and that’s a good thing because it has to travel to Az. at the end of the week. There is minimal play in the hinges and no noticeable droop despite the appearance in the last photo. The apparent droop there is “wide angle droop”. It corresponds to the apparent arc in the perfectly flat top. :-)

That’s all for now. My next entry will be from sunny Az. where I will be getting on with the rest of the marquetry.

Thanks for looking in.


-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

23 comments so far

View JADobson's profile


1207 posts in 2259 days

#1 posted 10-28-2014 03:36 AM

Paul, I am really excited to see how this turns out. Looks like a fantastic project.

-- No craft is very far from the line beyond which is magic. -- Lord Dunsany — Instagram @grailwoodworks

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10266 posts in 4200 days

#2 posted 10-28-2014 03:46 AM

Very VERY nice…

Thank you!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18373 posts in 3823 days

#3 posted 10-28-2014 04:11 AM

Wow, U R moving right along on this. I was wondering if you’d have to give up
AZ to keep on keeping on with this, but the cat is out of the bag now ;-) Have a safe trip.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3451 days

#4 posted 10-28-2014 04:14 AM

ok paul here is the deal, sometime this winter, you and your sweety drive to alabama, and you give me one on one classes for 5 days, i will feed you some of the best cooking i can muster, ill grill you steaks, bake you your favorite pies, cakes, you will have free anything and everything…..i shall build your romantic fires for the night….resting in the lovley weather of the life in the country in the south, peach cobblers….waffles and eggs, pancakes and eggs, real french toast…LOL…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View tomd's profile


2167 posts in 3918 days

#5 posted 10-28-2014 04:47 AM

Very nice case build, looks real good. By sweety I think he means your chevy.

-- Tom D

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

1051 posts in 2460 days

#6 posted 10-28-2014 08:55 AM

It’s looking good!

-- It always looks better when it's finished!

View stefang's profile


15950 posts in 3482 days

#7 posted 10-28-2014 09:04 AM

I love the box case and the barrel hinge set-up Paul. I’m sure that if a jewel thief breaks into your house he will take the jewelry box too. I would caution you about taking Bob’s hospitality down there in Alabama with all that good food. He plans to fatten you up so you won’t be able to leave because you will be to large to fit into your car and then he will keep you until he learns all your woodworking secrets. That could take quite a long time.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Sodabowski's profile


2375 posts in 2980 days

#8 posted 10-28-2014 09:46 AM

My oh my, Paul. This is taking shape really fast!

-- Thomas - Pondering the inclusion of woodworking into physics and chemistry classes...

View SPalm's profile


5322 posts in 4030 days

#9 posted 10-28-2014 11:38 AM

This is so awesome. I am at a loss for words.

Have a safe trip,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

21317 posts in 3253 days

#10 posted 10-28-2014 12:30 PM

WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for the process steps. I love to see how thing are designed and made like that!!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View prometej065's profile


335 posts in 3831 days

#11 posted 10-28-2014 01:37 PM

Dear friend Paul to perfection leads your project!


View JoeMcGlynn's profile


219 posts in 2501 days

#12 posted 10-28-2014 01:43 PM

Paul—just fantastic. I can’t wait to see the marquetry added to the case, this is going to be stunning.

Is the black on the marquetry panels ebonized walnut or gaboon ebony? I thought it was the latter, so I’m assuming that the ebonized walnut is to avoid the crazy expensive real ebony everywhere else?

-- Blog:

View shipwright's profile


8086 posts in 2945 days

#13 posted 10-28-2014 02:49 PM

Thanks all.

Bob, I was all set to take you up until Mike put me onto your fiendish plan. ........ good try though. :-)

Joe, you are exactly right. The Gaboon Ebony veneer is just too precious to be using anywhere except the marquetry. Ebonized walnut will match it very well. It isn’t just about the expense either. There is only so much Gaboon Ebony to be had and I don’t believe it should be squandered.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View Ocelot's profile


2076 posts in 2786 days

#14 posted 10-28-2014 02:58 PM


If you fall for Bob’s plan, I’ll drive down and wash dishes for him while he feeds you up – and look on from the corner stool and sweep the sawdust and chips in the shop!


View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2633 days

#15 posted 10-28-2014 05:36 PM

That is looking so cool.

-- Brian Timmons -

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