More dovetail work - Drawers 1 and 2

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Although I've been fairly quiet on my website, I've actually been kind of busy around the shop. I'll talk about the other projects I've taken on elsewhere, but I wanted to post an update about my work on Adriana's jewelry cabinet.

Tools laid out on the outfeed table to work on dovetailsWhen last we met, I had dimensioned the pieces for the ten case drawers, and roughed out the tails of the drawer dovetails. That was in late November. Now I'm not moving any faster, but I am making slow and steady progress. I have to. We've been told by our landlords that we have to move out of our rental house at the end of June. And as I told my wife.  . . there is no way I'm going to move her cabinet as an unfinished thing. I *have* to be done with it by then.

After cleaning up most of the tails so they were ready to lay out the pins ( I thought I had done them all, but I found out last night that I missed some), I started right after Christmas putting together drawers. Again, it's a down side of combining parenting with a full time job and an intensive hobby like hand-tool woodworking. I put together my first dovetailed drawer in almost a year. I started with drawer 1. I'm going from the top to the bottom of the case, from the smallest drawer to the largest.

This, of course, is made much harder by the fact that I don't have a real workbench right now. The Roubo has to wait for me to complete this cabinet, so I've been clamping to my outfeed table using quick squeeze clamps. It works, but it does slow things down.  As I've continued, I'm getting the rhythm and feel of it back. The muscle memory returns. Since cutting my first handcut dovetails about five years ago, I've never gone more than about 12 months between efforts, but each time it does make me rusty again. It just highlights that perfection is not attainable for a hobbyist who cannot devote at least five hours a week to the craft. My results are journman, at best. I'm OK with that.

I lay out my tools, my beater chisels for moving large pieces of waste, my Ashley Isles chisels for fine clean-up, my dad's trusty old coping saw (with a brand new blade) for cutting out the bottoms of the tails, my Veritas dovetail saw, my Blue Spruce marking knife for knifing marks, and my Lie-Nielsen block plane for clean up.

Half blinds in the drawer #2 frontI've finished, dry fit, and fit drawers #1 and #2 to the case. I'm showing my dovetails, even though they have some gaps. I don't care. The drawers are solid, and when glued, they'll last forever.

After the second drawer, I decided to cut all of the bottoms at once. I've made three concessions to time on this project. I have to get it moving along, so the drawer bottoms are just 1/8" birch plywood. Otherwise, I'd have to track down (or glue up) some kind of 13" wide cross-cut boards. So after the first two drawers proved to be exactly the same dimensions at the base, I cut all of the drawer bottoms at once. Got it out of the way.

Remaining 8 drawer bottoms cutThe second concession to time is on the drawer bottom grooves. I couldn't afford to take the time to do stopped grooves, so I just cut them all on the table saw. It leaves a gap, particularly on the half-blind jointed drawer fronts, but again . . .  .deadlines.  Tertiarily, I have been using the oscillating spindle/belt sander to fit the drawers to the case. I cut the drawer parts a little large in all particulars, which of course, makes the fitting a lot of work. So the belt sander gets me to the ballpark quickly, and  the block plane helps with small tweaks at the end. I do claim to be a real hybrid woodworker. :-)

I started working on the third drawer last night, but I found that I hadn't cleaned up all of the tails yet, so I have more work than I realized remaining on these.  My goal, all 10 drawers fit by the end of January. The boy's current colds and (hopefully) no H1N1 hitting our house will decide.

I've placed the photos for this section of the work in the project's #4 gallery - Georgia construction work.

Chopping out a half blind dovetail in the drawerfront
Chopping out a half blind dovetail in the drawerfront