Drawer Making episode 1

Drawer Making 1

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Paul shows the steps used to prepare the stock and fit the drawer to the recess. The drawers feature half-lapped dovetails into the thicker front, and housing dados with tenons at the back. In this episode, Paul demonstrates the first of two different methods for marking out and cutting the half-lapped dovetail joint.


  1. raze599 on 6 April 2016 at 4:50 pm

    Thanks for the brilliant episode today. I especially liked the section at the beginning with the explanation on getting your pieces precisely square and accurate, a problem many of us face.

  2. billblab on 6 April 2016 at 5:58 pm

    Wonderful episode. The guide block for perfectly matched dovetails is an extremely valuable technique. Thank you very much.

  3. aintgonnahappen on 6 April 2016 at 6:55 pm

    You make it look so easy, Paul. Beautiful work. Cannot wait to try this!

  4. hgwilliams on 6 April 2016 at 6:59 pm

    Would be interested to know Paul’s reason for not gang cutting dovetails. I do this regularly and it seems to work well. My reasoning is that the longer registration edge helps keep the saw cut square and gang cutting assures uniformity of the drawer sides. Thanks again.

  5. muhammad on 6 April 2016 at 8:10 pm

    That was impressive.

  6. STEVE MASSIE on 6 April 2016 at 9:06 pm

    Another great episode, thank you Paul and crew. I am really enjoying this build.


  7. adrian on 6 April 2016 at 10:06 pm

    Love it , love it, love it. Amazingly simple and REPEATABLE.
    Thank you Paul and camera crew for bringing this special touch to drawer making.
    Beautifully done!!!

  8. kjellhar on 6 April 2016 at 10:15 pm

    When that dove tail went in, it was truly amazing.

  9. 5ivestring on 7 April 2016 at 1:09 am

    I find it very helpful to sit down with a cup of coffee and watch the whole video, then let it sink in over night and watch it again the next day. For me, I will pick up little things I missed, forgot, or whatever. Then I try my hand at it. There is so much to learn not just in knowing what to do, but eye to hand coordination, and even more, knowing what you are seeing. After making one or two dovetails, watch the video again. I always seem to pick up on something more. When I make my first perfect dovetail, you’ll hear a scream of joy from Colombia to England. I’ve got some that are ok, but nothing that would pass your eye.

    • billlatt on 8 April 2016 at 3:14 am

      I do the same.

      • Thomas Maslar on 22 February 2018 at 6:02 pm

        Me too! What I find interesting is that when I revisit a video it is the subtle softly spoken cues that I missed the first time, which make it seem like I am watching a retake. There is tons of info in each video. Sometimes I feel like when Paul makes a video he is acutely aware of his students making a revisit and those soft spoken and guiding cues are like the hand of skill guiding you to your goal of better than paint quality work.

  10. knightlylad on 7 April 2016 at 10:38 pm

    Thank you for the lesson.

  11. Derek Long on 8 April 2016 at 5:16 am

    Liked this one a lot. Makes me want to run out into the garage and start making dovetails at 10 PM on a Thursday evening.

  12. sherbin18 on 8 April 2016 at 4:32 pm

    Wonderful lesson. Now I know why I was getting the tearout in the middle of my dovetails when using a coping or fret saw to remove waste.

  13. sodbuster on 9 April 2016 at 1:32 am

    Thank you for taking the time to go through this topic in full detail and with such emphasis on precision. I have been practicing through dovetails and meaning to take on the half-lap. This gives us all a wonderul point of reference for this technique.

  14. Farred on 10 April 2016 at 2:45 am

    Is there any difference in using a tenon saw vs a dovetail saw with the same TPI?

    • Glenn on 11 April 2016 at 12:50 am

      Hi Chris
      No there is no real difference , basically a dovetail saw is a tenon saw with a very fine kerf , I think they used to call them Gents saws in days gone by

      • Farred on 11 April 2016 at 8:53 pm

        Since they have different names and different handles, I suspect there is a difference, especially since I’ve seen tenons and dovetails with the same TPI. Maybe Paul can tell us if the angle of the handle is significant.

        • Michael Ostrander on 2 November 2017 at 6:03 am

          The terms are pretty subjective really. Tenon saws are usually 12″-16″ long with 11-13 tip. Dovetail saws are usually 6″-12″ long with 12-20 tip. The blade on tenon saws is typically thicker and the set is greater than on a dovetail saw as it’s meant for, generally speaking, heavier work. That said, I’ve cut a zillion dovetails with my favorite 12″ Diston tenon saw.
          Gent’s saws are just dovetail saws with a straight handle, as opposed to the more common pistol grip.

  15. juryaan on 10 April 2016 at 8:38 pm

    just a question but isn’t it possible to square the sides with the shooting board ?

    • Philip Adams on 18 April 2016 at 2:25 pm

      Hello Juryaan,
      Do you mean the narrow edge of the sides that Paul is planing up at the beginning? We don’t usually use a shooting board to plane such a long edge. It is also important for developing good planing technique and sensitivity to get used to planing narrow stock by hand.Forgive me if I miss-understand you.

    • Lee Haelters on 20 October 2016 at 4:16 pm

      Juryann, I agree with you. I shoot the end grain with a shooting board, or just lay my plane on its side on the bench. For the long grain edge, just laying the stock on the bench, elevated a little (usually with its twin piece), and stroke the length with the plane again on its side. Just holding down with hand pressure, maybe butt the end against a stop with the edge peeking out a little. Don’t bother messing about with trying to hold a heavy hunk of metal square to a narrow edge held in a vise. That’s a losing proposition; for me at any rate. L

      • Lee Haelters on 20 October 2016 at 4:18 pm

        Whoops, please forgive my misspelling of your name! L

      • Michael Ostrander on 2 November 2017 at 5:54 am

        I sooo agree Lee. Using a shooting board here is so much safer and faster. The quality of my saw cuts is pretty good but 3 or 4 passes on the shooter and it’s perfect every time.

  16. Anonymous on 14 April 2016 at 6:38 am

    As always, amazing.

  17. António on 10 October 2016 at 2:43 pm

    Thank You to the WWMC team for another series.

  18. Clembo on 10 October 2016 at 2:51 pm

    Just absolutely beautiful and gentle. Thank you.

  19. David Carroca on 11 October 2016 at 11:19 pm

    Amazing work and even better guidance and instruction. Such a pleasure. Thank you.

  20. Larry Williams on 14 October 2016 at 6:26 am

    Great lesson, Paul. Thank you and all involved in the production.

  21. sjoshuap on 14 October 2016 at 6:14 pm


  22. Dave Knight on 15 October 2016 at 11:41 am

    Thank you Paul.

    Watching/listening to you gives me back the pleasure in woodworking that my machines had lost for me.

  23. Kim Dufore on 17 October 2016 at 9:04 pm

    Patiently, thoughtful and deliberate. Why not because this will last for generations to come. Thanks for taking the time to show us.

  24. Atif Aleem on 17 October 2016 at 10:07 pm

    Mr Sellers you are a magician.Every time I see any of your videos,I pray for you.God bless you

  25. Jose Jesus Acero Castellanos on 18 October 2016 at 5:55 am

    Paul you is a great teacher. Thank you for you transmiting your knowledges. I am a beginner and I am learning with this video.
    Jose Acero

  26. Ken Nelson on 18 October 2016 at 1:33 pm

    One of the key things here is that Paul`s chisels are razor sharp, it makes the whole process so much easier, great tutorial Paul, many thanks.

  27. Thomas Hanson on 27 October 2016 at 1:53 pm

    “…see if something had slipped”. Sounds familiar, I had to build a jig with a lever clamp so I could mark my dovetails because of slippage.
    I’ve started a count today in my daily journal to see how many times I watch this. I’ve never cut a blind dovetail but I think I know how now. Thanks.

  28. Thom Spillane on 27 October 2016 at 7:21 pm

    It’s just incredible watching you cut dovetails and your methods are so great. I’ve have a couple of dovetails under my belt can’t wait to start cutting half blinds. One day I hope to take a class from you it’s on my bucket list. Thank you for sharing.

  29. Paul Ingham on 27 October 2016 at 11:30 pm

    I am a sixty year old student, who is learning woodwork as a retirement hobby. THANKS Paul for firing my enthusiasm.

    • Steve Rochon on 28 November 2016 at 2:58 am

      I’m in the same position as a 61 year old retiree. It’s awesome being this busy with a task simply for the love of it! Good luck with your work Paul.

  30. Steve Rochon on 28 November 2016 at 2:55 am

    That makes me want to head out to the shop at 9 PM on a Sunday night to get right to this task. Beautiful work!

  31. Raff Uy on 2 December 2016 at 5:44 pm

    Paul has always been my inspiration to woodworking. From across halfway around the globe 🙂

  32. bigaxe on 19 December 2016 at 6:41 pm

    Great video. This joint has been challenging for me. Especially transferring the tails to the pins using a marking knife.

  33. Ryan Dillon on 4 April 2017 at 10:08 pm

    Seriously great info. Love the wood!

  34. Don B on 15 May 2017 at 11:12 pm

    Hi, Paul!
    As always, this is an awesome series, as is your books, DVDs, and your passing on the wealth of information you have gained through hard work and perseverance! One question, what kind of hammer are you using to strike your dovetail chisel? Brand, weight, etc. Thank you so much!
    Don B!

  35. Brian Miller on 22 August 2017 at 4:41 am

    Knocked my socks off. Awesome experience just watching and learning “real woodworking”. Thank You !

  36. Robert Hauser on 1 November 2017 at 3:58 pm

    Great jig idea and excellent explanations as usual. A joy to watch and inspiring to boot. Thanks

  37. Michael Ostrander on 2 November 2017 at 5:50 am

    The camera work here was amazing. Seems to get better and better, I.e. Angles and positioning. Made me feel like I was right there looking over Paul’s shoulder as he worked. Outstanding production quality.

  38. Jeff Buesing on 28 January 2019 at 8:16 pm

    I am so impressed with this technique Thank you so much for sharing.

  39. Otto Vanderkooi on 16 February 2019 at 7:37 pm

    I have cut all for sets of sockets for the half blinds. Despite using the same guage setting for both the length of the tails and the depth of the socket on the end grain, I continue to get a small (approx. 0.5-1 mm) gap between the end of the tail and the socket wall. I would appreciate any insights or tips.

    With thanks,

    • Sven-Olof Jansson on 16 February 2019 at 9:34 pm

      Assuming that all other faces of the joint come together snugly, and that when marking out the fins, the edge of the tail piece is flush with the gauge line of the fin edge, I can only imagine that there is a bevel of the gauge line of the fin edge, resulting in too deep chiselling.


    • Izzy Berger on 21 February 2019 at 12:16 pm

      Hi Otto,

      I have passed on your question to Paul and he says:

      In the video, i’m using a cutting gauge which is also called a slitting gauge and not a marking gauge, this video was about the traditional method used for making half lap dovetails. I assume that you’re using the same type of gauge i am using and not a marking gauge, if that’s the case you have to reverse the blade and reset because the bevel will be on the wrong side when you mark the depth of the tail recesses. If you are following this using this method then there shouldn’t be any problem. Also you could be dealing with compression of the wood, whereby the pressure on the chisel compresses on the fibres and results in the gap you’re speaking of. Usually this gap swells when you apply the glue because the glue is water based. Of course there are no guarantees, this is generally the issue. It doesn’t sounds as though you’re mis-cutting. We have an upcoming series for making drawers for a new project that we have just completed that will be out next Wednesday. If you want to wait to watch that to see the method I now use all the time.

      Kind Regards,

  40. Johnny Burgess on 13 August 2019 at 8:19 pm

    Thank you.

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