Sanding and halfblind dovetails

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    Some days ago I had a discussion with myself on planing rough pine boards and the mixed results I achieved (comments on stock preparation).

    Well, the boards now turned into a small cabinet to give home for the glasses of my girlfriend. During dimensioning the thickness I had some tear-outs due to weird grain and too little experience. I thought about sanding but went on with the joinery because I couldn’t wait longer.

    The next mistake became obvious after shooting all the board ends on the shooting board. The side pieces were all nice and square and … too short. The highest glass measures around 11″ and my side pieces were only a little longer than 12 1/8 with the boards being almost 7/8 inches thick. So if the red whine glasses wanted to stay inside my plan of cutting regular dovetails would not come true.

    The only solution I saw were halfblind dovetails to keep as much height as possible. I have never tried those before so the fitting was quite a challenge and one corner still needs a little trimming. I liked the trick of cutting the second half of the pins that cannot be sawn with a card scraper. I saw this on a video made for Lie Nielsen. I don’t know which method Paul teaches since so far there were no projects with halfblinds.

    Since the surface of the boards is still not nice would you try to get it smooth with sanding in a disassembled state or would this endanger the joinery and you would thus only sand with all parts put together? Some ugly tear-outs are almost 1/16″ deep.



    I enjoy working wood in Germany.



    If it was me I would sand after it’s all put together buddy. 1/16″ is a lot to plane or sand out, I would be looking at filling this area first. But I’m sure others have a much better method, as a beginner my self that’s the way I would go, till show en a better way.

    Good luck with this one 😉


    Thanks Ken! I thought about filling, too. But then I decided that I don’t like the idea of filling and since this is a practice project, I want to accomplish it without adding something that was not meant to be there ;-)I will go to the garage now. Finally winter has come and heavy sanding helps to keep me warm there.Have a nice day!

    I enjoy working wood in Germany.


    Pine can be difficult to work but I’ve found a scraper to be the go to tools for problem areas in pine, particularly those areas around knots and the reverse grain cathedrals.



    I agree a scrapper can be your friend, I hate sanding and don’t want to sand anymore than I have to.  That is another thing I like with Paul’s projects very little sanding.  Good luck !


    Steve Massie, I live in the great State of Florida, US

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