Japanese Toolbox Build #3: Mortises, Tennons, Pins and Dovetails

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Blog entry by siavosh posted 06-03-2014 03:16 AM 1304 reads 1 time favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Mortising, slow going Part 3 of Japanese Toolbox Build series Part 4: Grooves and rebates »

This weekend I was back to the build. I warned the wife and commandeered the dining table and began Saturday morning with great eagerness.

But before I could return to chopping out some mortises, I had to address a blowout from the previous weekend. I’m learning that being tired, impatient, and wielding dull tools will inevitably lead to bad things in woodworking (and probably most everything else). If you’re lucky, you won’t get hurt and it’ll just lead to a marring of your work and ego. That’s what happened to me, too many aggressive chops on the mortises, led to some cracks that thankfully could be fixed with a little glue more or less.

Here are the puzzle pieces and the prep for surgery.

Clamp and final reveal.

Not bad, but I’ll keep it facing inside the box.

The rest of the weekend was a whole lot of chopping and pairing. I used my workmate, the poor man’s Moxon’s vise. I’ve often wanted to sell it, but you just can’t beat it’s versatility.

Five minutes later, it’s a makeshift sharpening station.

@djwong gave an excellent tip to use a guide piece, 1-2-3 blocks, to help with the mortises. I’m planning on ordering one (which I’d never heard of before), but in the mean time I used a relatively square piece of scrap to guide the chisel. Most excellent.

My biggest worry with the design of the end was if the combination of the dovetail and mortises so close to each other would pose a weakness at the end of the board. Only one way to find out.

So far it feels very sturdy, but I’m keeping an eye for any hairline cracks.

Overall a productive weekend, but I spent almost a third of it working on the final fit of the joinery. I really need to trust my layouts more and saw on the line, otherwise complexity and ill fitting joints ensue.

Next week, I’ll try tackling the bottom. Until next time, thanks for reading!

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3 comments so far

View mafe's profile


9880 posts in 1909 days

#1 posted 06-04-2014 01:13 PM

Looks beautiful, fine work.
Best thoughts,

-- Mad F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View siavosh's profile


542 posts in 691 days

#2 posted 06-04-2014 07:59 PM

Thanks for the kind words Mads! Your own toolbox was one of the inspirations :)

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View mafe's profile


9880 posts in 1909 days

#3 posted 06-05-2014 09:47 AM

I love to se your tools and especially that you admit and fix your mistakes on the blog, this is what we all learn from.
Looks like you have a wonderful time.
Best thoughts,

-- Mad F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

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