Sideboard – top web frame

The top web frame comes together with M&T and half blinds…

It will help to hold the carcase together, provide a surface to attach the top, and help to frame the drawers.

I used a little blue tape to help hold things together while I marked out for the half blind dovetails. I spent some time making sure that everything was square before marking to final length.


I am starting to really like cutting and fitting half blind dovetails. I’m still very new to this type of joinery, as in my past life – as a power tool woodworker – I only cut through dovetails. The half blind seems to come a little more easy to me; there is less fitting and paring with the chisel for me when I cut them. I think I will incorparate them more into future projects.


After the half blinds were cut and fit properly, the rest of the web frame (middle and sides) were constructed using mortise and tenon joinery. Only the tenons on the front of the case will be glued. The tenons on the back of the case will be free-floating (no glue) so they can move with changes in humdity. I didn’t get a shot of it working, but I got to use my “pigsticker”, which is lots of fun to use. I drove through six mortises in no time with that puppy.

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Here’s a couple pics of the top web from in place.

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Next up – the bottom web frame…

-side note…nothing is glued at this point, nor will be for quite some time. I’ll be taking the carcase apart and puting it back together multiple times as I fit some other parts.



Sideboard – dovetails & rebates

I finally get to some joinery…

I always cut tails first. I do so because, for me, this is the harder of the two (tails or pins) to cut. I also wanted to put the harder, tails on the board that was the hardest to cut. This resulted in cutting the tails on the bottom panel of the carcase.

The bottom panel is 60″ in length, which makes it difficult to work on. I started to cut the tails by clamping the panel to the front of my bench. This worked somewhat, but the top part of the board – where I was sawing – was unsupported and created lots of vibration during the cut. Not something I enjoy – nor does it help me stay square and true while cutting. Not to mention, I had to stand on top of my saw bench to get into the comfortable height in-line with the end of the panel.

That’s how I cut one end of this panel. On the other end, I tried something a little different. I layed the panel flat on my bench and let it hang off the end of the bench a few inches. It was just a matter of “taking a knee” at the end of my bench. The board was much more stable and I was more comfortable.

In the end, both ends turned out good. The second method was much more enjoyable however.


The corresponding pins on the side panels were a little easier to cut. I was able to clamp these to the front of my bench without all the other issues because of their shorter length. Marking for the tails was the challenge. Luckily I had a third hand to help.


A little chopping and fine tuning, and I was able to get a glimpse of what the sideboard would look like.


Looks good…it’s exciting when things start to come together.

Next, I took the opportunity to cut the rebate for the planks that will make up the back of the carcase.


I think my next chapter in this project will be to work on the top web frame.


Plate Rack – molding…paint…shellac…done!

Might as well just cram it all in, because I’m done…


I went with a simple round-over for the bottom molding. It anchors the base just enough, and it gives the plate rack the ability to stand on it’s own…if it were not hung on the wall. The top is a fairly small crown, which is perfect for this size project. I am not sure how to describe the crown…it is like a large cove that rounds over into a smaller cove. Whatever it’s called, it came out perfect.

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I prepped the back bead boards with some shellac I whipped up. It’s really dry this time a year. As a result, I was able to apply 5 coats in one evening. After a couple of days of curing, I rubbed out the shellac with 0000 steel wool. Then I applied some butcher’s wax and buffed to a shine.

The rest of the plate rack was intended to be painted. Yes, I will be covering up all that beautiful hard maple..including my hand-cut, half-blind, dovetails. I was a little disappointed, until I saw the results.

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This was a fun little project. See you next time…


Plate Rack Kick-off

The bidding is over and a new client project has been selected…

OK, It’s really not like that…I just build what I am told.

plate rack

You can download the model if you like from the 3D Warehouse via my Sketchup page.

The project will feature the following construction: half blind dovetails for the sides, top, and bottom; beaded tongue and groove back; base and cove moulding.

Everything will be constructed out of hard white maple.

Stay tuned…


My first hand-cut dovetails

It’s really not as hard as it looks…

For the past week, I have been trying to accomplish one of my biggest goals…the hand-cut dovetail. As usual, I go through a lot of research before I actually get to work. Therefore, I have been reading up on some of the most well-known dovetailists and their techniques. I actually had two books on my workbench while I was going through the process of cutting the first pair (joint).

I decided to go tails first based off of the books I have been reading. I can tell you after cutting a few of them this way, I was able to get good results. I’m not even going to attempt cutting tails first to see if there is any difference. I don’t really care…this is working for me, so I am going to stick with it.

Cutting these by hand is a big leap for me, but one I was anxious to try. I am now really into the way the craft was practiced in the 18th and 19th century. I am finding it to be more enjoyable than machine work…not to mention less electric, noise, dust, and set up time. Specifically for dovetails it’s a big leap because I have a $400+ Leigh D4 dovetail jig (which works great) sitting on the sidelines. I can tell you, as good as this jig is, I can get just as good results within less time. I most likely will be posting the D4 up on Craigslist soon.

Hopefully, I can get some decent cash for the jig when I sell it. You see, I don’t own a dovetail saw. I have been cutting these dovetails with my Lie Nielsen cross-cut carcase saw. It works so well, however, I am wondering whether I need to get a dovetail saw.

Now…how did I do…

Well, let me tell you the first joint did not fit right off the saw. In the end, I am glad it didn’t because I wouldn’t have learned anything. There is always something to learn from failure. The first joint I cut was too fat…way to fat in dovetail land. I had to do a lot of paring to get the final fit…it actually took me a couple of days because I was so fed up I had to leave it for the next day. At that point, I started questioning if I was going to go to hand-cutting dovetails.

The second dovetail joint I was more aggressive on purpose so as not to leave it too fat. Well, I was still fat…not as bad this time. However, there was still far too much paring for me to live with dovetailing this way. That’s when I hit the books again. This is the point where I smacked my hand to my forehead. You see, I was using a pencil to mark out for the tails. Although the pencil was very sharp, the line is way to thick for marking out the tails. It also does not give me a reference for my saw, other than my eye…my eye aint that good.

The magical tool that solved my issue was the marking knife. Thank you grandpa for this little gem you gave me.

Dovetail joints numbers three and four fit right off the saw! What a difference the marking knife made. Not only does it make a finer line than the pencil I was using, but it gives my saw a reference. I am not sure why this didn’t hit me earlier because it is basically the same technique used for making saw cuts for tenons, cross-cuts, rips, etc. Well, these are saw cuts too…so why not use the same technique. After tracing the pins onto the tail board with the marking knife, I used my square to carry the line over the end grain of the tail board. As I began my cut, the saw would fall into this ‘trench’ and track on its line. The same thing happened as it tracked the angled line down the tail. I literally just let the saw follow the line I had made with the marking knife.

I could not be happier with the result. I was able to cut and fit dovetail joints three and four in half the time it took me just to pare away joint number two. Had I been using the marking knife in the beginning I would have cut all four joints (for the box I am making) in a single evening…but then I would not have learned anything.

I should note that I have the same issue with the D4 jig…to fat, which required paring. I was never able to really get any better than I can with hand-cutting dovetails.

The picture in the header of my blog are dovetails cut on the Leigh D4 dovetail jig. I think I might replace that header with some nice ‘hand-crafted’ dovetails.

Good bye D4, you have served  me well (not really)…

Check out the slideshow:

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– JR

Nightstand Part 1

This is the current project that I am working on. A nightstand featuring two shelves, some bun feet, and some decorative moulding. Feel free to download the sketchup file.

The carcass is constructed using through dovetails. I jumped on the D4 dovetail jig to create the dovetails. It does a great job with large case construction. The sides are less than 24″, so there was no limitation issue there.

I chose poplar for the entire project (except the back panel) as the final finish will be painted. The back panel is a 1/2″ piece of birch plywood. The poplar mills up nicely and behaves fairly well with the D4 if you remember to scribe a line at the depth of the dovetail.

I also used the D4 dovetail jig to cut sliding dovetails on the sides of the carcass. This was the first time I tried this feature on this jig. I was well pleased with the results. I nailed it on the first try. I just followed that incredibly detailed user manual, and they fit like a glove. A regular glove, not OJ’s murder gloves…those were a little tight.

This is where the project stands…a dovetailed carcase with two sliding dovetailed shelves. This is as far as I could get before I had to move last January. Unfortunately, I have not been able to do any woodworking in the past eight months. I have now moved into our new home, and I am currently working on setting up shop in my new garage. However, Hurricane Irene had something to say about that…woodworking is again on hold until I can clean up the mess she left behind.

To be continued…


Dovetailed box

This is the first project that came off the D4 dovetail jig. In the manual that comes with the jig, they take you through a practice run on the jig by creating a small box with through dovetails.

I decided to take it a step further. I added a chamfer on the top, a divider in the middle, and a bottom set in a groove on all four sides. It was a fun, quick project that came out much better than I had expected. I added four stick-on feet to the bottom, and today it serves as a remote caddy for my father.

The box is made out of poplar and finished with a pecan stain and a few coats of shellac. I can’t remember the measurements, its been a long time. One of these days, I should make one for myself.



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