dovetail box

Welcome! Forums Project Series Dovetail Boxes dovetail box

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    Dovetails are not perfect, but coming along. This is made from New Zealand clear pine and finished with amber shellac. I will need another of shellac for the lid. Also, not sure if I like amber shellac, just sees difficult to apply, but I like the warm hue. Size is 9.5″x5″x 3.5″ and .5″ stock. Perfect for my son’s iPod and other stuff.

    david o’sullivan

    well done dan, i love using shellac but have never used amber, i used liberion sanding sealer which is a shellac, i also made my own mix with shellac flakes, is that what you done here.? i find with the flakes if i mix a light cut it goes on more easily. then finish off maybe with a two pound cut .

    "we can learn what to do, by doing" Aristotle

    Paul Sellers

    Sometimes I think we have false expectations on these projects. Is that your first box with hand cut dovetails? Even if it’s your third or fourth, I think that’s a very nice box with nicely cut dovetails. Well done. You did it, not the router.


    Well said, Paul. I made at least four small boxes before I felt like the dovetails started to look fairly good to my eye. I definitely have progressed, but I still feel as though I will need many, many more before I am confident in turning out consistently clean joints. Hm…maybe I should go practice now. ๐Ÿ™‚


    David, the finish is Zinsers (USA brand, not sure if you are here or there ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) amber shellac, so it is a premixed solution. I thought about thinning it because of how it collected in the corners and ran on the edges and dried. Or at least thin the first coat, because the second and third coat looked much better. Haven’t tried mixingshellac myself yet….

    Paul, this is my third complete box made with dovetails, but only the second box since watchingthese videos. For me, I have to keep telling myself the imperfections is what makes these projects mine . I guess I’m just a bit self conscience about sharing these with others….

    Chris, I’m with you, must practice more! Albiet, this is my third complete box, I must have practiced cutting dovetails on dozens of scraps.

    Here is the front of the box with the modified joint.. To me, this kinda looks like a coffin….


    David Gill

    Nice joints and finish Dan making an attractive box. I find this pencil box design so handy for so many storage applications

    Wigan, Lancs. England :

    Mark Armstrong

    Very nice, and your tails coming on nicely. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Think amber shellac very similar to what we have over here in UK called button polish.

    Dagenham, Essex, England


    Dan, very nice box

    I have used the Zinsers amber shellac on a a couple of project but I always dilute it 50/50 with alcohol. Usually sand down spots where I have got too much shellac before I put on the next coat and finish with a nylon pad with paste wax.

    I have heard from others that the Zinsers product can be very different between cans depending on how long it has been sitting on the shelf.

    Dallas, Texas


    I will have to try and thin the shellac next time. It’s not that really thick, it just seems to dry like a thick coat of paint, and almost like the finish sits on top of the wood and not soak in like Danish oil. First and second coats I sanded down, the third coat has a hard shiny, I was going to buff it with steel wool and paste wax, but it so glossy….

    Thanks for the kind words! I’m going to be building a second for my other son to store stuff.

    Charles Cleland

    Dan, this isn’t meant to be an insulting novice question, but did you sand the box before you applied finish to it? If it is well planed but not sanded sometimes finish doesn’t soak in well.

    Washington State, USA
    My own humble blog:

    Steve Follis

    Nice box Dan, you did a good job. I had a learning curve also with the Zinsser Amber Shellac. I really liked the final product and color, but it was work getting it there. I am going to try thinning it next time as Johan suggested, and rubbing it in for the first coat.

    Memphis, Tennessee


    Oh I sanded and sanded, 150 and 220. The amber shellac is just new to me. I’m used to Danish oil that I rubed on and it just soaks in. The shellac seems to sit on the surface more and dry hard. Like Steve mentioned, I think the next time I use it I’m going to thin and rub it on for the first coat.


    Great project, nice work Dan) Thanks for posting)

    Toronto, Canada


    Dan you are right that shellac will build more of a film just like lacquer and poly finishes. Danish oil is a combination of oil (linseed usually, and some other depending on manufacturer) and varnish, it soaks into the wood and doesn’t create a film.

    Dallas, Texas


    Here is another box i have completed… Was trying to make a pencil box, bit this ended up to short… I do like the contrast in colors, walnut and maple. The base is made from a piece of maple ambrosia I had left over, but not much ambrosia in the grain.. Lol the box is 7″x3″x3″… The finish is boiled linseed oil.. I need to use what have left.

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