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Dovetailing for Drawers: pictorials

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Forum topic by Derek Cohen posted 03-14-2016 01:58 PM 795 views 4 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Derek Cohen

296 posts in 3433 days


03-14-2016 01:58 PM

Topic tags/keywords: joining tip

I recently posted two pictorials on dovetailing for drawers.

The first is for half-bind dovetails (drawer fronts): http://www.inthewoodshop.com/Furniture/HalfBlindDovetailswithBlueTape.html

The second is for through dovetails (drawer backs): http://www.inthewoodshop.com/Furniture/ThroughDovetails3.html

Regards from Perth

Derek

-- Buildiing furniture, and reviewing and building tools at http://www.inthewoodshop.com


10 replies so far

View TerryDowning's profile

TerryDowning

1053 posts in 1582 days


#1 posted 03-14-2016 04:29 PM

Nice Pictorials and instructions Derek. I’ll have to remember this technique the next time my tired old eyes are doing dovetails.

Thanks for sharing.

-- - Terry

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CL810

3451 posts in 2453 days


#2 posted 03-14-2016 05:05 PM

Thanks for posting Derek.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

View hotbyte's profile

hotbyte

842 posts in 2440 days


#3 posted 03-14-2016 05:44 PM

Great write-ups! I’ve not ventured into dove tailing yet but hope to this spring on a project for the wife. Your tape trick and making a “wall” before removing waste seems like very helpful ideas!

View ppg677's profile

ppg677

78 posts in 320 days


#4 posted 04-03-2016 03:57 AM

Thanks for the write-up. I did a half-blind today and your tips helped. The frustrating part is that I’m still struggling with fit, end up with gaps or cracks, and am spending a few hours to chisel out just 6 pins to fit the tails.

This is my third drawer and it doesn’t seem to be getting any faster.

How long does it take you?

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Derek Cohen

296 posts in 3433 days


#5 posted 04-03-2016 04:16 AM

A few years ago, with 12 drawers to build for a pair of Military Chests, I decided to explore different ways of making the half-blind dovetails, with the aim of finding the fastest and most efficient method. I managed to finish the last drawer in 4 1/2 hours (beginning to end).

This is documented here: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/Furniture/TheLastDovetail.html

These drawers are pretty straightforward for me. I’ve built many. But everything is relative. When I started out, something like this could have taken a couple of days.

As a contrast, the chest I am presently building comprises 8 drawers, each with a bow front and angled sides. There are half-blind dovetails at the front and through dovetails at the rear. All of these involve compound angles. The drawer bottoms connect via slips, and the slips require compound angles so that the grooves are on the horizontal.

These drawers have each taken 4 days to build (start to finish).

During the timed build, I asked a professional furniture maker (based in the UK) how long was provided by the “book” for handmade drawers. He indicated around 4 hours. Keep in mind, that likely did not involve a great deal of attention to the detail of dovetails that we obsess about today.

Regards from Perth

Derek

-- Buildiing furniture, and reviewing and building tools at http://www.inthewoodshop.com

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ppg677

78 posts in 320 days


#6 posted 04-03-2016 01:06 PM

I was thinking about accelerating things by using a sliding dovetail at the back. What do you think of those?

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Derek Cohen

296 posts in 3433 days


#7 posted 04-03-2016 01:37 PM

It can be done. However it is not traditional. Plus it is more work – through dovetails are quick and easy.

There is no rush. Take your time and do the job properly. We all find something new intimidating. That is part of the challenge … and the eventual satisfaction. Hang in there.

I finished this today – levelling all the drawers and refinishing them. I’ve been at it 12 months now, and the chest will require at least 3 more months to complete …

Regards from Perth

Derek

-- Buildiing furniture, and reviewing and building tools at http://www.inthewoodshop.com

View RJweb's profile

RJweb

84 posts in 2097 days


#8 posted 04-03-2016 04:18 PM

Keep us posted on your chest would like to see in 3 months

-- Life Begins @ 190 MPH

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ppg677

78 posts in 320 days


#9 posted 04-03-2016 06:50 PM

Heh, I’m realizing life is too short for hand-cut dovetails :-). I have no doubt that tons of practice and spending 3-4 hours per drawer would get good results. But it is taking an eternity for me and the results aren’t even that great. Chiseling out the corners is especially annoying, and it appears you have a special tool for that!

I think I’ll switch to pinned rabbets for the rest of the drawers…then again I don’t have a drill press. Sigh! Maybe a dovetail jig is the way to go for me.

The more I spend on hand-cut dovetails, the less furniture I make and the less time I spend with my kids.

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ppg677

78 posts in 320 days


#10 posted 04-05-2016 04:24 AM

Alright, I’m soldering on with hand-cut dovetails. The through dovetails are easier. I also found that starting my cuts using a hack saw makes for nice accurate lines (and then I switch to a thin Japanese pull saw).

Chiseling out red oak for the half-blinds still royally sucks! So hard to get in the corners without your fancy tools.

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