Fair Woodworking

June 22, 2012

Dovetailed Pencil Box 2.0

Filed under: dovetail,Hand tool,Marking and Measuring,Skill development,Things I've made — fairwoodworking @ 7:42 pm

I like building stuff….

But I’m not great at following directions, so building something based on plans, well… I’ve never successfully done it. Ahh, who am I kidding, I can mess up macaroni and cheese.

I prefer to design my own stuff, but I’m not great at dimensions, and aesthetics.

I just like building stuff.

It’s a good thing too, because a lot of times I have to build it wrong so I can see what I want to do right the next time.

The last time I made a pencil box, I found it disproportionately tall, but we can rebuild it. We have the technology.

This time, I started out with this.

It’s another piece of discarded stair tread. Again it shows signs of being birds eye maple, but not as nice a piece as I used “here”.

With a sliding top and raised panel bottom, you need to make grooves. I originally started making them stopped grooves, but it’s slow and painful work. I finally gave up/lost interest, and changed to plowing through grooves.

That change left me with two options. Either have a gap showing on the tails, or switch to shallow tails like I did on the bottom of my “simple box”.

And here I learned a valuable lesson. When I learned to cut dovetails, I was told to cut my pins and tails a little long, and then when the joint was completed, plane them flush.

I remember once seeing a video of somebody asking Frank Klausz how much longer he cut his pins and tails. His answer was so typical. Something like, “I just cut them right”

I remember thinking, “Ya, that’s great for Frank, but I’ll never be as good as he is”, and I just wrote it off as another statement by a master that has forgotten what it is like to be a newbie.

Shallow tails are not that difficult to make, but precision when marking the base line for the pin board is critical.

When you mark the thickness of the tail, you do it from the outside face. When you mark the base line on the pin board, you reference off the end of the pins, but if they are longer than the tail board is thick, the socket between the pins will be too shallow. The solution I had to work with really sucked.

I had to guess where the baseline should be.

From now on, I’m listening to Frank’s wisdom.

He may not remember what it’s like to be a newbie, but he does know what he is talking about.

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