Hey everyone, welcome back! It’s been a few weeks since the first post about the Mahogany Jewelry Box project that I am working on in my weekly class, so it’s time for an update! In the last post, we walked through the process of laying out the dovetail joint and started to clear out the first tailboard. Since then, I’ve finished cutting out the other tailboard and both pinboards. The dovetails have been fitted and assembled, giving us time to move on to the next big piece in this project — the hinged door. I will have a post going over that process in the near future with some before and after pictures from milling and hand planing the wood, so stay tuned!
As you might recall, in the last post, we wrapped up having one of the ends of one of the tails cleared out. We rough cut our layout lines with a dovetail saw and proceeded to clean the waste out. To clean out the waste between two tails, we take a chisel and hit it straight down into the waste, making a slight shoulder.
You can see in the picture that the chisel is placed slightly forward of the base line we established. As we continue to chop down, the chisel will naturally tend to drift back towards that line, and we don’t want to go beyond that line.
The general method here is to chop straight down here (one hit with a mallet will do). Then, angle the chisel forward, so that when you hit it, it will slice the wood towards the shoulder you made. Do this until you have chopped down to about the halfway point. Then, repeat this process from the other side of the board. When you reach the halfway point from this side, the waste should pop right out. Once you have gotten the main waste cleared in this fashion, you can take the chisel and begin leveling off the waste so that it’s square.
Cutting out the pinboards is similar, but the layout is a bit different. To start, hold the pinboard vertically in a vice and, using a block of appropriate size, lay the matching tailboard on the end of pinboard. Use a knife to strike the lines that will make the pins.
The pinboards are the inverse of the tailboards. The tails are angled from the face and straight across the end grain. The pins are angled angled across the end grain, and straight down the face. So, with the end grain marked, take a try-square or similar tool to draw square from the end down to the gauge line. Use the dovetail saw to cut straight down, while cutting the correct angle across the end grain that we just marked with the knife. Repeat this process for each matching tailboard and pinboard.
Because the waste area is much larger, we use a coping saw (instead of a chisel) to rough-cut the waste.
It is easy to make curved cuts with the coping saw. We cut straight down the board initially, and then begin to tilt the saw until it reaches the correct angle to cut straight across, following just above the gauge line. We can go the other way with the saw to clear out the side opposite of where we started to make the turn. After this, we will have a rough cut pinboard.
Use a wide chisel to pare away this waste so that the waste area is square. Again, we do not want to go beyond the gauge line! Once the waste is squared away, we can start fitting out joints and fine tuning the cuts.
Once all joints are dry-fitted, it’s time to apply the glue! As part of my dry-fitting, I used the clamps that I was going to be using during the glue-up. This assured me that I had what I needed available and that everything would fit as tightly as possible.
The assembly was left over night to dry. The final box side assembly: