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Diagnosing Half-blind dovetail goofs

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Forum topic by Bob Fowkes posted 1047 days ago 1580 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Bob Fowkes

34 posts in 1129 days


1047 days ago

I’m hoping there is a dovetail diagnostician out there who can look at a photo and know exactly what I did wrong. Better still, know what I might do to save it…

I’m getting gaps, especially w/ the smaller (in picture, on the right) tail.

The drawer front is QS white oak, the sides and back are poplar.

This is the first of three drawers, and I’d kinda like to figure out what I did wrong. Worst case, I’d like to goof differently on the next drawer ;-)

Thanks in advance.

-- Bob


14 replies so far

View Julian's profile

Julian

880 posts in 2027 days


#1 posted 1047 days ago

looks like your pins are too loose. I like to scribe the wood instead of using a pencil so there is a more accurate line to cut/ chisel to.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

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Bertha

12942 posts in 1194 days


#2 posted 1047 days ago

You’ve just got a little slop between your strike marks and your saw kerf. It happens to everyone. If it’s never happened to anyone else here, then….it’s happened to me….many times…to this day! Any real correction at this point will change the dimensions of your piece (although ever so slightly). I saw a very clever idea but I cant remember who did it: they (I think) soaked the wood a bit first, then ball-peen-hammered the gaps, allowing the fibers to expand and fill the gaps. Then plane flush. The post is around here somewhere and it was spectacular. Good job on these; don’t beat yourself up. Switch to a wheel/marking knife, etc. and decide where you’re going to put your kerf. Good luck!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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stevovee

12 posts in 1057 days


#3 posted 1047 days ago

I agree with Julian, go pickup an exacto knife to use for marking instead of pencil lines also i can’t tell from the picture but check to see that all of your saw cuts and chisel cuts are square this is very important if its tapered any it can be tight at the bottom but a gap can show at the top. I started using the veritas saw guide setup and clamping a chisel guide up when i chisel and now you couldn’t even see light through my dovetails they’re so tight

-- -whatever you do keep making

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Bertha

12942 posts in 1194 days


#4 posted 1047 days ago

And for the record, that tiny little saw-mark into your “keep” portion; that’s my favorite part. It allows me to respect how you executed these difficult joints. Excellent.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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Bertha

12942 posts in 1194 days


#5 posted 1047 days ago

These are hand-cut fulls in 1 1/8” purpleheart with zero slop using an $18 Lowe’s backsaw, some throwaway Irwin chisels, AND a Titemark wheel and ubersharp marking knife. It can be done; just get some sharper marking devices and go after it.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Bob Fowkes's profile

Bob Fowkes

34 posts in 1129 days


#6 posted 1047 days ago

Thanks, guys. I use a wheel gauge to transfer measurements and a sharp knife to scribe the tails; I trace the marks with pencil ‘cause my basement shop is too dark, or my sight too poor, to pick up the marks. The chisel and saw should fall into line, or that was my hope.

OK, I just checked. the back wall of the half-blind on the right is NOT perfectly straight down. Let me work it w/ the chisel and see what I can get….

-- Bob

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12942 posts in 1194 days


#7 posted 1047 days ago

Strong work, Bob. Make sure you’re kerfing (is that a word?) on the chosen part of your strike line (which you’re clearly doing with appropriate tools). If you mistakenly cut on different sides of the strike line, you’ll be sloppy by a kerf width. Some people “split” the mark, but I’m not that daring. You can always back-bevel the hidden parts; we won’t tell :)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Bernie's profile

Bernie

414 posts in 1338 days


#8 posted 1046 days ago

I understand the comments made and agree with the discussion. I always use a cutting knife to mark my work because a cut is much more accurate then a thick pencil mark.

But I’m seeing a whole different problem here and it could be the result of my failing eyes. They were perfect until I turned 45. That’s when my arms shrunk so I couldn’t read the newspaper. Now, at 60, I need to re-exam my bi-focal every other year and I may be due. Looking at the pictures, I see shadows rather then spaces along the joints. If that’s the case, then your tail cuts are too deep along with the depth of your pins.

Just an observation from an old fart who may need to have his eyes re-examined!

-- Bernie: It never gets hot or cold in New Hampshire, just seasonal!

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Bob Fowkes

34 posts in 1129 days


#9 posted 1046 days ago

Bernie – I know what you mean about the vision going south. It makes a humbling hobby all the more challenging!

-- Bob

View Loren's profile (online now)

Loren

6758 posts in 2149 days


#10 posted 1046 days ago

There’s a little Jim Krenov trick of paring the sides of the pins
a bit curved so they close up tight but the joint goes together
easily enough.

Read his books if you’re into this hand work stuff.

View Bsmith's profile

Bsmith

290 posts in 1171 days


#11 posted 1045 days ago

Wow, wish my first ones looks as nice. I don’t know what problem is but the solution is practice, practice, practice. Good work.

-- Bryan

View Bob Fowkes's profile

Bob Fowkes

34 posts in 1129 days


#12 posted 982 days ago

It does take a little practice, each drawer’s dovetails improved a bit as I progressed. A pic of the finished piece:

http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g415/bobfowkes/cabinetdrawers.jpg

-- Bob

View fussy's profile

fussy

979 posts in 1552 days


#13 posted 980 days ago

Bob,

They look really good. Back when Nahm was on, he showed closeups of priceless pieces in Hahvard’s collection and the dovetails of some of the finest craftsmen of the day didn’t look any better than yours. Hold your head high, keep at it, and get some better light so you can see your line.

Steve

-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View Derek Cohen's profile

Derek Cohen

167 posts in 2470 days


#14 posted 977 days ago

Hi Bob

You have to sneak up on the baselines. Baselines are all important for a fit.

Article 1: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/Furniture/Londonhalf-blinddovetaileddrawer.html

Article 2: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/Furniture/DovetailBaselines.html

Regards from Perth

Derek

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

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