Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hand Cut Dovetails - Time to bite the Bullet

Wow it's been a long time since I posted last. Another dead ship in the blogosphere I suppose. But recently I have been doing some contemplation regarding my woodworking. What I have started to realize is how much I have learned over the past year or so and how much more I have to learn. I can see now why in days past a budding craftsman had to apprentice for years under a master to learn the craft. The internet has changed so many things in our lives. Today there has never been so many opportunities to learn from the masters of woodworking who are just a mouse click away. I guess that's why I love woodworking so much because it forces me to keep learning new methods and techniques in order to build more and more complex things.

I mention all this because I have decided that I want to build our Caitie a blanket chest and the style I and my wife like is a Shaker Union Chest. Done proper it would have hand cut dovetail joints. Now I have cut a ton of sliding dovetails on my Incra Jig but there is no way to make through dovetails on a 32" panel on the Incra Jig. Now I could probably easily make a box joint jig pretty easily for my new table saw but box joints just don't have the right look. I looked around for a dovetail jig I could use my hand router with and I found a few reasonable ones. But the more I thought about it the more it felt like I would be cheating somehow. There is no way around it I am going to have to learn to make hand dovetails and nothing else will suffice. There is a ton of good information freely available on the internet and with some practice I am confident I will be able to make some acceptable joints for Caities chest.

Here is my first practice attempt in some scrap maple pieces ... no laughing it's hard to do! I actually got a few tails and pins marginally ok. But I have a few ideas on what I did wrong on this attempt and I think my next will come out better. In truth the joints are functionally ok just not pretty. I have time to learn before I have to cut real joints. They don't have to be perfect to please Caitie but I will surly never be satisfied with my work.

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