Sideboard – dividers

Once these go in, the carcase frame is almost complete…

The bottom portion of the case (where the doors and shelves will be) is divided into two compartments. I used a full panel for for this part as it will also be used to hold pins for the shelves.

The panel is made from both eastern white pine and poplar. The exterior and front of the case is eastern white pine. Instead of making the entire dividing panel out of the more expensive pine, I made the first few inches of the panel pine and the rest poplar. The process is the same as gluing up any other panel.

Typically, and as I have in the past, I would use a sliding dovetail to seat the divider panel into the carcase. However, I decided to go with a simple dado. I think mostly because I wanted to practice cutting dados. It turns out it was good practice…and practice that I needed. Each dado was a little better than the previous. There are 6 dados total (two long dados for the large middle panel & two short dados for each drawer divider.

I found that blue tape is a great little helper with this task. It really helped keep my router plane from marrring the surface. The technique I used was to 1) finish the panel to final thickness, including a once over with the smoothing plane, 2) mark out the dados with a marking knife based upon that final thickness of the divider, 3) cut along the knife line with the cross-cut saw down to final depth, 4) chisel out the majority of the waste, and 5) finish up to final depth with the router plane.

This technique worked good, producing a nice square dado. The divider was a little bit of a tight fit, which is what I wanted and expected. I used the smoothing plane to dial in the perfect fit.

web frame dadolarge divider installedfront upper dividerdrawer divider installed

Here I am flushing all the parts before I move onto the top.

divider clean up

– JR







Sideboard – bottom web frame

You could almost picture some drawers…


The bottom web frame uses similar construction to the top web frame. It differs in how it connects to the case sides. While the top web frame is dovetailed (half-blind) into the top of the side, the bottom web frame is joined with dados. If you have downloaded the Sketchup model for this project, you can see there is a dado on the front and back of the case side to receive the front and back pieces of the web frame. That dado is not continuous across the width of the side pieces. I forgot to take a photo before I glued it up.


The rest of the frame is similar construction to the top web frame where the ends and middle of the web frame are allowed to float within the web frame to allow for wood movement. I repeated this same process of only gluing in the front mortise and tenons and leaving the back free floating (with-out glue).

The middle divider in the bottom web frame matches the construction of the top web frame. These will eventually be connected with a “divider” piece at the front and back of the case, which will further define the drawer locations. There will also be a runner that “runs” front to back on that middle divider that will help guide both drawers into and out of the case.



-that blue painters tape helps me to remember where each joint goes during glue-up – it can get confusing when your running around like a mad-man while the glue is drying

Next up should be the dividers that define the drawer and door locations.


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 Layout

Layout is one of the hardest parts for me…

I spent a good portion of the day yesterday laying out parts for the sideboard. I worked through the entire stack, picking out the best fits for the project based upon grain, color, and wood movement potential. It deffinately helps to take the time now and mark everything out.


I don’t have a dedicated space for my shop. It’s part time shop – part time garage. Therefore, I spent a little extra time restacking the lumber pile in the order that the parts will be used. The boards selected for top and bottom mouldings, for example, are on the bottom of the pile. On top of the pile, are boards like that shown above – bottom & side – which I will use at the start of the project…constructing the carcase.

Glad this task is over…it was tedious, and required some serious brain power. It is becoming evident how invloved this project will be.

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Now I am tired, but excited to start making some cuts.





Eastern White Pine Sideboard Kick-off

Feels good to kick-off another project…

Here’s a pic of the design. Clicking on the link will take you to my Sketchup Models page. From there, a click on the pic will take you to the 3D Warehouse in case you would like to download the model.


The carcase is constructed with dovetails at the bottom and at the top where it joins a web-frame. There is a second (lower) web-frame that supports the drawers, and also serves to create a division between the drawers and the lower cabinets. There’s also a divider panel that separates the two lower cabinets.

The doors are basic frame and panel construction. They will feature mortise and tenon joinery with a floating panel. The drawers are constructed with half blind dovetails at the front and through dovetails at the back. The “panel” for the bottom of the drawer will float, allowing for wood expansion at the back of the drawer.

I am going to attempt to make my own moulding for the top and bottom moulding on this project. I came up with something for the model, but that design is not yet set in stone. Actually, anything at this point is fair game…I usually make some changes as I work my way through the build.

As I mentioned in the previous post, all the exterior portions of the sideboard (except for the back panels) will feature eastern white pine. All interior portions will be constructed with poplar…the back panels will be poplar as well. The poplar is going to save me some cash, and should wear better on those drawers over time.

Can’t wait to get started…


Lumber run

A took a day off work last week to make a trip to the local lumber yard…

I’m gearing up for my next big project (6′ sideboard). It’s pretty exciting for me as I haven’t really been in the game lately.

The design process usually takes a good amount of time for me, and that’s where I am right now. The design is in it’s final stages, just working out all the fine details (joinery). I should be finished with the design soon. Once finished, I’ll post it and include a link to the 3D Warehouse like usual. The sideboard will feature both drawers and doors, and should end up somewhere around 100 bf of lumber.

The photos below depict all the lumber I should need for the project. There’s about 50bf of Eastern White Pine on the top of the pile, which is intended as the primary wood for the project. On the bottom of the pile, there is about 70 bf of Poplar intended to be used as a secondary wood for all the internal structures.

The lumber is just stacked for now, but it will be stickered once I start to surface it. Right now, everything is in the rough.

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This was my first trip to this particular lumber yard. The verdict is still out; I’ll have to see how the wood works. The guys out in the yard were very helpful. One of them brought me to the stack of Eastern White Pine and helped me located the boards I was looking for. He then pulled down the stacks with the fork lift and helped me sort through the stacks, board by board, until I found some 16 footers that would work. He then offered to cut them in half so they would fit into my van…I thought this was pretty good service. So, I’ll see how things go with this new supplier over the next few projects. If all is good, perhaps I’ll feature a post on them.

Stayed tuned for the new project design…


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)…

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– JR