Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hand Cut Dove tails, take 1

Dovetails are a classic joint and are incredibly strong. A lot of times they can be found on drawers but are also used in some boxes. A dovetail joint can also be used as a design element. There are two major types of dovetails: through and half blind. Since dovetails are such a historic type of joint I felt like I need to learn to hand cut dovetails. Dovetails can be cut with a router and there are a lot of dovetail gig and bits available to make them. But for me learning to cut them by hand is where I want to start. I have watched a few videos on how to cut dovetails and read some article also, so I thought it was time to give it a try.

I bought a 1/2" thick poplar board that was 5.5" wide and 4' long. I thought this would be good stock to practice on and if there is any left it can be used to make the treasure chest I mentioned in my last post. I also bought a back saw and a coping saw. Both saws were Kobalt brand from Lowes. I know these may not be the best but just starting out I thought they would work, plus there isn't a woodworking store anywhere within a hour of driving.

First I lay out the tails (which are where the name dovetail comes from since the tails look like a birds tail). I made the layout lines with a knife and then went of the lines with a pencil thinking it would make the knife line easier to see. I think that by making the pencil makes I may have lead myself astray because it was hard to see the knife line and was easier to follow my messy pencil line when sawing.

I don't have a real wood working workbench with a vices so here is how I work on the piece. The work piece is clamped to a crude fence that I made in a attempt to re-saw with my band saw and then the fence is clamped to my work surface. The work surface is a piece of particle board sitting on 2 saw horses.
After I cut the tails I traced the tail locations onto the other piece to make the pins. I didn't have a good way to hold the pieces together while doing this which i think was a major source of error, not to mention my inability to saw where I needed to. The joint did go together with a little persuasion, but doesn't fit together nicely. But I did succeed in making a set of hand cut dovetails.

Overall it was a fun experience and I think I learned a lot doing it. I learned I need to practice sawing straight and along a line. I also learned my chisels need more sharpening and I need a real solid workbench.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Summer Time Ramblings

Coming up with idea of something to build is the easy part, finding the time and the financing is the hard part. Therefore a lot of my ideas don't get much further than an idea in my head or a 3D model in sketch up.

Right now it's the middle of summer so that means there is grass to cut, weeds to hoe, and vegetables to pick. My shop doesn't have air conditioning so it's not idea for wood working, both for my comfort and the stability of the wood. One evening recently I went to work in the shop after the kids went to bed (shop therapy) and at 9:20 pm the temperature in the shop was still 86*.

My 3, almost 4, year old daughter has been asking for a treasure chest to put the items she finds outside in (rocks and things like that). She watches a lot of Jake and the Neverland Pirates on the Disney Channel and I think that is where the treasure chest idea came from. So that will likely be something to build soon and I will probably build a pair of them so little brother will have one when he starts finding things he wants to rat hole. The treasure chest will probably be designed in a way that in the future it can be used as a jewelry box.