A Whole Nest Of Dovetails.

One of the big jobs in the traditional tool chest build is cutting the dovetails for the carcass. For a while, as I considered the build I was worried that one of my main weapons might not be up to snuff, my Moxon bench vise. I was concerned I wouldn't have enough width. I know I could have pulled it out and measured it to make sure, (I just couldn't remember the measurements off the top of my head) but it seemed more like me to just keep working along and lightly worrying in the back of my mind.

As it turns out, My fears were unbased. The panels are 23 3/4" tall, and I could pass almost 25" in between the screws. A small beginning victory is not a bad way to begin.
Set on top my already slightly taller joinery bench makes the height very nice for dovetailing. No real stooping and lower back pain involved.

Because I wanted to make all four corners the same I decided to use one other old dovetailing layout trick. I made a story stick where I played with and pre-laid out the spacing for the pins and tails.
I transferred the spacing and did a little work with the marking gauge, tri-square, and marking knife. Yes the lines are penciled, but I like to run a pencil in the knife lines, both to help me see and to help things show up better in photos.

Then it was down to some quality time with my dovetail saw.

I love this picture, lines of sawdust as I work my way down cutting one side of every tail. After this I work my way back cutting the other side.

I use a coping saw to remove most of my waste, and then clean up the bottoms of the tail with a little chisel work.

With everything refined, I give the joint a test fit. Only halfway, I don't want to push anything too far and halfway should be enough to tell if you're going to have any real problems.

Repeat another four times, and you have a carcass to glue up.

The next day, after the glue dries. Clean up them tails.

Then you get to work putting a bottom on it.

Ratione et Passionis


  1. Nice start Derek! Looks like smooth sailing through that step.

  2. Looks great Derek, the chest is on my todo list and all of the dovetails on the carcass is definitly the hurtle to cross. I look forward to seeing the completed project.

  3. Well, if you weren't good at dovetails when you started, I'll bet you were by the time you were through! I WONDERED who'd be the first to make one. Looking good!


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