Box: assembly

I’ve been messing around with hide glue in preparation for assembling the dovetailed box I’ve been working on for centuries now. That stuff may be smelly, but it does seem to work quite well if you have the patience.

For whatever reason, I messed up one of the corners and managed to make the joint out of line. The joint fits fine, though. I must have slipped when marking out the tails from the pins on that one joint I did in reverse. Oh well.

I got two of the joints together (badly), and then realized that the panel should have probably gone in after one joint, because the frontally-exposed grooves were stopped. I worked around it by bending the sides enough to slip the panel in:

At this stage, I realized that I am clamp-challenged or just silly, because I wasn’t able to jam the tails in far enough to get rid of some very small gaps on that side, even though I knew it was possible to do that. When I glued the front on, I used my Workmate and the one bar clamp I have to get rid of that problem on the other side, at least for the most part:

It’s pretty obvious, though, that I’m going to have to provide some clamps and cauls for this kind of thing.

Dovetailed box: Panel grooves

The next task for the box was to cut the grooves where the panel will slide in. The only somewhat appropriate tool I had for this task was my Millers Falls #67 router plane. This is more or less a copy of the Stanley router plane, but without the fence. Unfortunately, the fence is what I really needed. So I decided to make one. The first attempt was just a piece of wood attached to the bottom through the hole in the plane sole. That didn’t work very well.

I decided to get a little more serious about this, and made a combination shoe/fence out of masonite and a strip of yellow-poplar.

This was a nice excuse to use my overly expensive countersink to keep the brass screw heads below the various mating surfaces.

It’s still not the easiest tool in the world to use; to cut a groove, you must move the adjusting nut down between passes while keeping the blade in the same lateral position. You can accomplish this by doing the adjustment while keeping the blade inside the groove you’re in the process of cutting.

There’s just one bit that you can’t get with the shoe/fence attached, and that’s the very end of the stopped groove on the pinboards where you start the cut. There’s a “swimming pool-like” recess there that you need to cut deeper (see the first photo above at the bottom right). To get to that, just remove the shoe/fence and cut in the opposite direction. You don’t need the fence for this because the shallow groove that you already cut guides your blade.

So now I have the four sides and we’re nearly ready for assembly. It’s probably time to complete that bottom panel.

Dovetailed box

Unsure of what I was going to do next, and with little time to do it, I sat around doing very little for a while. Somewhere along the line, I got the idea that making a dovetailed box will help me improve my technique. So at the most glacial pace imaginable, I milled a board, cut it to width, then cut out four pieces for the box sides.

Then this weekend, I made the joints. I was really slow at first, but gradually gained a little confidence.

That turned into “too much confidence,” because I sawed the wrong thing when making the tails of the very last joint, which screwed up a lot of things. After looking really stupid for a little while, I decided to salvage it by shortening the tailboards. However, if I simply made a new joint on the opposing tailboard, I would have had to shorten the pinboards too.

So I decided to just try re-making one set of tails by marking them out from its pinboard. It was a little unnerving, since I’d never done it that way before, but it seemed to work out okay. I’m slowly getting used to sawing straight with that little dovetail saw, though I have to admit that it’s a lot easier and natural-feeling with the saw I made a handle for.

The box was originally supposed to be 10 inches on each side; now it’s gonna be 9.5″x10″.

Next step is to make the grooves for the panel (which I’ve already milled but have not assembled).