Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Mini Chest With Drawers - Part 5

A mistake, a sticking board, and an epiphany ...

I guess I got a little cocky.  Just when you think you're getting better and you try to go a little faster the mistake bug bites.  Sometimes I curse.  Sometimes I bang my fist on the bench.  This time I just had to laugh.
What is your major malfunction?
The drawer back was the last item to get done on this drawer.  The right drawer side was fitted to the drawer back no problem.  But when I transferred the left side tails to the drawer back, I had the back reversed.  So proud of myself for getting a nice tight joint.  Then I went for the dry fit ...

I decided to try to fix this piece rather than start fresh with another piece.  So I cut of the dovetails and a little extra and half-lapped a new piece onto the end.
Replacement end
It didn't look too bad after cleanup and I completed the dovetail corner on the correct side this time.
Fix partially completed

I needed a new way of holding my stock when running grooves, so I decided to make a quick sticking board.  I had some crappy (though reasonably flat) pieces of plywood hanging around and this is what I came up with.
Sticking board with drawer side ready to be grooved
The adjustable stop could have been (and should be) as long as the sticking board itself, but I didn't have any longer material handy (that I wanted to sacrifice).  The workpiece moves a tiny bit at the end of the cut (doesn't affect the cut), but I'm very happy with this.  It took a little time away from the drawer construction but it was time well spent.  Grooving is definitely quicker, safer and more pleasant now.
Action shot
Plenty of room for the tool to do its work

I had an epiphany yesterday related to fitting dovetails.  There is a real feeling of exhilaration when this happens.  I feel like my skills are really taking strides lately.

Anyway, when fitting dovetails, I'm often left with edges that don't meet up properly.  For the drawers, the bottom edges are the reference edges and I'd like them to line up properly when the dovetails are fitted.  In the following picture the chisel is set flat on the vertical piece.  You can see a small gap between the chisel and the horizontal piece.
Mind the gap!
This one is not too bad, but sometimes the gap is unacceptable and I have to do a fair amount of planing to get all the drawer bottom edges in the same plane.

Maybe I'm getting better at seeing things, or maybe I'm getting better at getting a "close" fit off the saw, but if I test the edges before trying to fit the DTs to their recesses, I know which side of the recesses to remove material from.

Here's an example.  In the next picture, I'm fitting the left drawer side to the drawer front.  The DTs go in the recess just a little, but are still far too tight.  So I look at the reference edges and test with the flat back of a chisel.
Testing the edges
Case 1: If there is a gap between the chisel and the drawer side, that means I have to move the drawer side to the left a little.  Therefore I pare the left sides of the two recesses to get the DTs to fit.  Case 2: If the drawer side was proud of the drawer front when testing with a chisel, then the drawer side would need to move right and I would pare the right sides of the recesses to get the fit.
Good alignment of DTs to recesses
This one turned out fantastic.  When tapped home the alignment of the reference edges was nearly perfect.
Daddy like!

Lately there's been a lot of good learning.  I'm psyched!


  1. Looking great! ... and the jig for running grooves looks very helpful.

    Some time ago, I found another jig that helps getting edges to line up. David Barron uses a gauge when marking pins that puts two boards in perfect alignment. Take a look here:

    Keep havin' fun!

    1. Thanks for that link, Bob. I just heard about that jig recently. Shannon rogers has something like it. If I ever get some stable quartersawn stock I'll have to make one of them.

  2. The Barron alignment jig works well. I used it for a while and then I went back to doing it without it.

    1. I wonder if it will work just as well in a standard steel (Record-style) vise. Barron shows it with a twin screw Moxon-style vise with tons of room in between screws.

  3. You gave me a good chuckle this morning Matt.
    It has been a while I did that infamous rear of the drawer piece going the wrong way...LOL And every time it happened (yes more than a while ...) that's when I probably do my best fitting dovetails, darn!
    My usual fix is simply to cut off the pins and do it again. I just so happened to have a few shorter drawers around, but you don't notice, wont show and bah, just about 3/4 in or so (often 1/2) less deeper drawer, no biggie :-)

    Bob, putting his mismatch socks into his mismatched drawers :-)

  4. When I do that stupid mistake, its always because I rush thru and lost tracks of my sometimes cryptic markings. You would think that I settled into a true and tried marking system by now....but noooo.
    Another mistake I've been know to do is cut the wrong part on a dovetail. That I'm pretty well over it, since I really mark the crap out of the waste area.... you know just in case... :-)

    Bob, who need more coffee, you made me spill some :-)

    1. Ha! I've cut the wrong part out of a dovetail, too. But not for a while now. My marking has gotten better. I think if I had learned the best practices in my 20's it would stick better. Having learned marking techniques in my 50's when I can't seem to remember anything, it's challenging to be consistent.

  5. Hi Matt,
    your sticking board is roughly what I had got in my mind.
    Just without t-racks. But the main thing is to have adjustable fences and adjustable fixing screws so that your are flexible with its positions.