Monday, 24 August 2015

Bedside tables (nightstands) - Part 10a - Drawers - a quick tip beforehand

I'd been watching a few videos showing the master dovetail maker (I know he is really a master craftsman) Frank Klausz and noticed he made dovetails similar to me except he chopped slightly in front of the base line. He removed all the waste by chopping (same as me) and then moved up to the base line and chopped to the centre of the stock on a slight inwards pointing angle (same as me). Then he turned it over to the other side and chopped again to the centre.

I did all this before but didn't chop in front of the base line so gave it a try out on these two drawers. I can report that the results are even better than before. There is very little chance of the wedge action of the chisel pushing the base line away from the line due to the small amount of waste left. I still cut a knife wall on the base line as I always have done before starting the cuts (Frank does this too).

So here are some more boring pictures of dovetailing. I used the tails first method.

I have a few of these spacers of standard thickness 1/2" 5/8" and 3/4" that I
use on my bench vise to stop it crabbing
If you have a crapo vise like mine with a central screw and twin guides you will find that when trying to hold something like a board for cutting dovetail sawcuts it will crab. The vise will stop on your stock but continue on at the other side causing it to tilt and not hold the workpiece properly. Put one of these in the other side and it will tighten properly on the stock - cost zero. Alternatively spend $$$$ on Benchcrafted hardware, a shed load of lumber and make a Roubo :) .
The piece of hardboard or ply nailed to the top of the spacer stops it continually falling on the floor when you open the vise.

A non crabbing vise

After milling all the stock to thickness which in my case was 3/4" for the drawer fronts and 1/2" for the rest of the drawer parts I squared off one end from each of the tail boards. I also cut the drawer fronts so they fit into the drawer aperture with about 1/32" clearance at the top and sides. This clearance is ok in my climate but you may wish to vary according to your own seasonal conditions.

Marking out.

Frank doesn't mark out - I do.
The first thing to do is set your marking gauge at the thickness of the tail boards, lock the gauge and then scribe all around the squared off end of each tail board. At this stage the back end of the tail boards needn't be the correct length nor square. You can adjust that later.

Using the Veritas marking gauge - I prefer this over a traditional gauge

Then mounting the board in the vise (with a spacer at the other end in my case) I used the metric (I know it's the work of the devil :) ) Incra rule to mark off from one end and then turn it over to mark from the other end.

Incra rule

Define the lines with a square and 0.5mm pencil

I then used a Veritas 1:8 saddle gauge to guide me when marking off the slope of the saw lines. Again Frank doesn't even use a pencil to mark his line he just saws away - he's been doing it a lot longer than me.

Veritas 1:8 hardwood marking saddle. You don't really need one of these
as I got away with a sliding bevel for years but they are great.

Position it so you can see the pencil mark

Mark sure you mark both sides if you are not practiced at
keeping the saw square. You can then do a little at a time
while peering over the other side from time to time

Sawing wood 

Then using a dovetail saw I cut close to the base line at all marks. I use beeswax on the teeth and plate for lubrication.
I use a japanese pull saw and have been known to use
one with a back sometimes too!

Take you time to keep the saw square to the cut and
follow the line. You are aiming to keep the
graphite on the keeper

Try to get as close to the baseline as you can
without going beyond it.

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