Mikros Kosmos #20: My first dovetails!

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Blog entry by tyskkvinna posted 08-29-2010 04:18 AM 1572 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 19: And we're back Part 20 of Mikros Kosmos series no next part

So the discussion in my last blog really got me thinking and for whatever reason this evening I decided to give dovetails a shot. I’ve never done any sort of locking joinery before… in fact I’ve only even tried mitred joints a few times without all that much luck.

I figured it out.

This is 3/32×1/8 balsa wood. It was just two scrap pieces I thought I’d see if I could actually do it. Determining that, in fact, I could, I set about making the drawers.

Drawing it out helped a lot. Really need a better marking tool but my super fine pencils don’t quite stick and when I tried to mark with my knife I ended up just cutting it all the way through. Er, oops.

My first dovetailed drawer frame! WOOHOO.

And my second.

I only made two tonight. That was more than enough to go cross-eyed. The counter needs four. I cut out the planks for the other two, they just need to be cut for the joints. I tried really, really hard to keep a slight angle to the dovetails so that they wouldn’t be just straight finger joints. And amazingly, it made a big difference! These pieces for the drawers are 3/32×1/4 basswood. Super nice to work with!

I put bottoms on them – nothing fancy just 1/64 basswood.

This is one of the drawers sitting in its spot. I made a little brace so that it sits on that.. just like a real kitchen. (I inspected my own kitchen to see what would make sense)

Of course, the drawers will get proper drawer fronts. Those, I imagine, will be made out of a nice hardwood. Kind of leaning towards padauk..! We’ll see.

I glued the joints together because the wood just isn’t sturdy enough to grip all on its own. I did a friction fit in several places and it still wiggled free pretty easy. Nothing a little CA glue can’t fix. :)

By the way, thanks for the encouragement, guys! I definitely would not have tried this otherwise.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

10 comments so far

View Rob200's profile


313 posts in 3170 days

#1 posted 08-29-2010 04:21 AM

look good for the first time

-- Robert Laddusaw and no I am not smarter then a fifth grader ( and no I canot spell so if it is a problem don't read it ))

View ksSlim's profile


1276 posts in 2890 days

#2 posted 08-29-2010 05:27 AM

Dovetails in thin material, difficult, in thin, soft material extremely difficult. sells one of the narrowist (skinny) chisels that I have found 2mm.
For your work that might be considered large.

Really like your work and attention to detail.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3116 days

#3 posted 08-29-2010 06:05 AM

TUUUT-TUUUT from the big whistle :—))
you realy did it
congrats never thought it was possiple , you are officiel in the big leage now Lis

best thoughts

View BertFlores58's profile (online now)


1698 posts in 2923 days

#4 posted 08-29-2010 01:07 PM

Your first dovetail is more difficult to make that even I could not figure out how to make a dovetail with such thin and soft wood. Your sucess in doing this way becomes now a challenge to me. Well done.

-- Bert

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3037 days

#5 posted 08-29-2010 01:27 PM

Beautiful, Lis. Well done. You never know until you try.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2920 days

#6 posted 08-29-2010 03:18 PM

Holy Moley!!! I look at that and I can’t believe it! That is a wonderful way to do it and it really is a great way to learn the construction of things (I am learning anyway!) This is really a masterpiece in the making. I am thoroughly enjoying seeing the process and the steps you are going through. So many, many details!

You are incredible, girl!!!

Sheila :)

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View woodbutcher's profile


592 posts in 4166 days

#7 posted 08-29-2010 03:46 PM

Very nice attempt, with some of the most difficult medium to work with! I might suggest trying a single edge razor blade. I use these alot with great success on lots of detail projects. They are much cheaper than specialized cutting tools and have a good hardness to them. I have actually used pliers to break them into different sizes for extreme detail work in the past. Really good tool material. Be sure to have those safety glasses on if you try to shape the blades. Congratulations on the continued necessary patience-Keep on keeping on!

Ken McGinnis

-- woodbutcher north carolina

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2986 days

#8 posted 08-29-2010 04:08 PM

Thanks all! :)

I did use a single edge razor. :) I found it the easiest – I started with my normal knife but found it to be just too big and heavy for this delicate work.

It is a great way to learn! By the time I work my way up to real furniture it’ll feel like a luxury- getting a knife into the notches to cut it out was difficult at best.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2920 days

#9 posted 08-29-2010 04:38 PM

I found that too, Lis:

I do so much ‘small’ work that when I do the regular sized stuff, it is a piece of cake. I laid a variable width maple floor a couple of years ago with a couple of guys (not tongue and groove, we laid it end to end and made plugs for it). They were surprised/impressed at how well I could cut the boards to length with the miter saw and do all the work involved with it. I am used to using a blade the thickness of a hair to split a 1 pt line. Cutting with a miter saw is easy. The man in charge shook my hand when the job was done and told me I could work with them any time. I don’t think they though a ‘girl’ could do a good job. I loved it and thought the job was really fun! I can see you having the same success on regular sized furniture. What you are doing I believe is much harder than that! It will probably be a breeze! Great job again!

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3713 days

#10 posted 08-31-2010 05:01 AM

Amazing Lis! Well done. A real impressive model, with real dovetails no less!!!

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

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