Chest of Drawers: Episode 7


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The next step is to layout and then cut the dovetails in the two upper rails which are to be fitted under the front and back of the chest top. Accuracy in layout, particularly for the sections that will be visible, is essential. Follow Paul step by step to get a tight fit as he works with adverse grain.


  1. willfeyn on 22 March 2017 at 2:25 pm

    Another amazing lesson from master. Thank you so much.

  2. bsddude on 22 March 2017 at 4:24 pm

    A great lesson on dealing with difficult grain. I love the fact that you never gloss over problems and just keep on working with patience and skill.

    • joeleonetti on 23 March 2017 at 4:42 am

      I agree with this Paul. Sometimes I’ve been in the middle of cutting a joint and dispair can set in. I take a deep breath and hear you saying to keep going and I will persevere.

      • bigbrowndog on 25 March 2017 at 12:17 am

        I completely agree, something about my generation just wants to say “to heck with it” and this training to keep going little by little and persevere is much needed. This is true craftsmanship, and I hope it continues its resurgence.

  3. bytesplice on 22 March 2017 at 5:45 pm

    Very enjoyable lesson.

    I love those chisels – they have real nice taper on the sides. What kind are they?

    • david o'sullivan on 22 March 2017 at 9:00 pm

      ashley iles i’m nearly certain

    • dandan on 22 March 2017 at 9:46 pm

      Yes, they are Ashley Iles. I just bought a set of their butt chisels for dovetailing, and they are every bit as nice as you might suspect, beautifully made. Nice to see Paul splurge every now and then … does my heart good.

    • jakegevorgian on 23 March 2017 at 5:12 am

      Sometimes I take my inexpensive chisels and refine the bevel edges by tapering them down to amost a cutting bevel at the very tips. If you noticed, Paul’s chisels have this feature (they are even shiny like a mirror) The inexpensive chisels are easily refined with a file 😉

  4. roganberg on 23 March 2017 at 12:24 am

    “Life is like wood; it’s comes with knots in it.”

    You said that like you’ve said it a million times, but that was the first I’ve ever heard that. What a great (and very true) saying from a woodworking master!

  5. jakegevorgian on 23 March 2017 at 5:06 am

    I wonder if the hinge recess cutting technique would have helped with that difficult grain.

  6. wdelliott on 23 March 2017 at 10:27 am

    Paul, could you remind me of why your dovetail recess sits below the surface of the top by that quarter of an inch? My first instinct was that it would have been flush with the top edge.

    • Philip Adams on 23 March 2017 at 12:42 pm

      Hello William,
      That is to allow for the housings in the top. Once the top is on, the rail will be flush with the underside of the top.

  7. jasonz on 23 March 2017 at 2:27 pm

    I love how Mr Sellers throws in life lessons and philosophy as he works. Thanks for another great episode.


  8. Ed on 25 March 2017 at 1:11 pm


    Many chests would have a profiled edge on the top. Even though Paul’s current design doesn’t call for a profile, this seems an excellent opportunity for him to show us how. Would you please ask Paul if he’d be willing to show us how to use a scratch block and hollows and rounds to do two common profiles along the grain and across the grain, perhaps a thumbnail and maybe a cyma with fillet? This would open up a world of possibilities for us to build variations on this chest, and we could apply it to various tables, too. It is important to see how to work end grain, though. I’ve suggested both a scratch block and hollows and rounds. The scratch block is generally useful, especially for someone without H&R’s, and the H&R’s are suggested, rather than a specialized moulding plane that only cuts one profile, because we’ll get more use from them. That’s why I suggested two different approaches. This would be a natural follow on to the cornice video he did some time back. Thanks!

    • Philip Adams on 27 March 2017 at 4:10 pm

      Hi Ed,
      Thank you for the suggestion. I will mention it to Paul and add it to the list.

      We have discussed showing moulding and moulding planes before. There are so many options and it is a somewhat less fundamental technique, with quite a bit of complexity, so it is not likely to be covered soon. They are also not available to all.

      The beading and marking tool can be used for some aspects:

      • Ed on 27 March 2017 at 9:35 pm

        Thanks, Phil. There are indeed many profiles and many don’t have access to moulding planes, which is why a scratch block demo could be so helpful. Since profiles can be built from hollows and rounds oftentimes, they give versatility and quite a few people in the discussion lists have expressed interest. My hope is that, if we see how to do a couple sample profiles on end grain and along the grain on some scrap hardwood, we’ll be well on our way. Being able to do ornamentation opens many design doors and is expected in many purchased pieces.

      • SharpPencil on 12 April 2017 at 10:50 pm

        Hi Phil just found your comments regarding wooden moulding planes ….very interesting. I have asked for tuition with old moulders and can understand fully your explanation. It would not be possible for all to own a selection.
        I have collected a good number and find many very frustrating….Paul would have an up hill battle teaching there use.
        What Paul could, if I may say, teach is the use of scratch blocks. I’ve seen their construction on Utube using just two pieces of wood clamped over a shaped Stanley knife blade.
        ALSO Paul could show a sticking board in action ……just a piece of wood attached to bench or vice with stock held by a screw either end.
        I have a scratch block as shown in you hyper link ….superb
        Thanks John

  9. nevynxxx on 6 April 2017 at 11:15 pm

    Is there a reason *not* to have swapped to the router plane to take down that troublesome bit? It seems to me like it would help ensure it’s parallel to the surface, and avoid the troublesome chisel work…

    • Philip Adams on 11 April 2017 at 12:36 pm

      Hello Andrew, sometimes it is easier to work down tough grain with the chisel as you can feel after the grain a little more. If there is adverse grain, the router plane can still tear out below the depth it is set to. But it is definitely an option to try in some circumstances.

  10. Michael Ostrander on 15 May 2017 at 2:09 pm

    Would you ever consider using a brace and bit in this situation? I.e. Cutting blind dovetails. It “tames” any grain issue and gives you a defined depth to pare to as well as being a little quicker even in the best conditions.

  11. Farris purviance on 29 June 2020 at 10:25 pm

    While I know it was frustrating for you, I’m glad you had trouble with that dovetail. I gained a lot of confidence with your working it through.

  12. Dominik Jacques on 16 February 2021 at 1:15 am

    I am enjoying every minute of these videos.
    Is this an aquarium we hear bubbling in the background?

  13. michael kelton on 3 March 2021 at 12:25 pm

    im learning slow but learning.

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