Wall Hung Tool Cabinet – episode 2

2015-12-02

This is an episode in a paid series. Want to watch it? You just need to sign up as a paid member and you can enjoy this video and many other videos we think you will love.

With the stock prepped, Paul shows a pattern he has developed for making accurate, repeatable dovetails on a project that is so consistent that they are interchangeable. It provides a way of getting evenly sized and spaced dovetails. He then cuts his dovetails using the backer piece and uses a cutting gauge and chisel to mark and remove the pin recesses.

Posted in ,

44 Comments

  1. joemonahan on 2 December 2015 at 5:52 pm

    Was there a cut list? I may have missed it.

  2. NikonD80 on 2 December 2015 at 7:40 pm

    Well, you said it would knock my socks off and it did.

    Out of interest Paul; in the days before Superglue, how would you have handled that ding?

  3. sherbin18 on 2 December 2015 at 7:41 pm

    Great lesson. The template idea is very similar to what Paul taught in the the sandpaper box project. But in this case, we have perfectly symmetric dovetails.

    Thanks to all.

  4. mike melendrez on 2 December 2015 at 8:03 pm

    Great video. I think the jig is magnificent.

  5. hgwilliams on 2 December 2015 at 8:51 pm

    I’ve wondered why Paul doesn’t gang cut his dovetails? I do this routinely because it provides a wider reference edge for squaring the saw cuts, only needs reference lines on one piece, and seems to speed things up somewhat. I’d be curious to know his reasoning.

    • Craig on 2 December 2015 at 9:46 pm

      Harold,
      I should think the jig/guide would be just the ticket for gang cutting.
      If you got one of Roy Underhill’s 24 inch dovetail saws you’d be able to line up a whole stack of box ends for at least three boxes and get’em done in short order. 🙂
      Best,
      Craig

      • Paul SellersTeam Member on 10 December 2015 at 2:43 pm

        Wohoo! Here we go again. Why gang cut something that gives sooo much pleasure. Why not just treasure special time in the shop instead of mass manufacturing. Just my thouhgts on ganging up stuff that then just becomes stuff. The art in all of this is indeed developing skills and getting off the conveyor belt. Ganging up rarely ever works for hand work really so you really have to ask yourself if this is the path you want to go down

        • sherbin18 on 10 December 2015 at 3:59 pm

          I agree fully. It takes all the pleasure out of the dovetailing experience to do it like a machine.

          Some of my friends who build things (build not craft) can’t believe that I take the time and effort to craft dovetails whenever I can.

          The Paul Sellers methods and flourishes make the process easier and much more craftmanlike.

        • Craig on 10 December 2015 at 4:31 pm

          Precisely!
          Craig

        • Peter George on 10 December 2015 at 5:09 pm

          Yes!

          In our working life we are cogs in a machine. I counter that with the organic nature of working wood by hand. My shop time is therapy for my soul.

        • Michael Ostrander on 27 February 2018 at 8:31 am

          You ask, “why gangcut?” The first reason would be because then you don’t need to use the jig. You have a reference area that’s wide enough to support cutting to a straight line.

          I not only gangcut drawers and boxes, in pairs, I use a speed square for the initial cuts to make sure that they start straight.

          You disparage gangcutting here as being somehow aesthetically impure, but then you recommend a method that ensures all of the dovetails look exactly the same, as if they came off a jig on an assembly line.

          Sorry, but it seems like we’re trying to “have our cake and eat it too” here.

    • gallarotti on 2 December 2015 at 10:16 pm

      Not having layout lines on the other pieces comes with a cost if things don’t go as precisely and as smoothly as planned. Also when gang cutting you need to make sure all the face sides are towards you so that you saw into them and have all the back sides facing away from you. This is ok for this particular piece, but might not be ok for other cases.

  6. jperr on 2 December 2015 at 10:29 pm

    Have never cut dovetails yet, though I’ve seen a zillion of Paul’s demos, so this should be an interesting week. Seems like the aide he made will help me out. Did I miss it? Is this video the side or the top/bottom?

    • hgwilliams on 3 December 2015 at 11:40 pm

      Pretty sure it’s a side. It would be typical to put the tails on the side of a hanging cabinet so the mechanical connection of the tails would support the weight of the contents.

  7. Joseph Palas on 2 December 2015 at 11:19 pm

    I’d like to know the make and model of that lovely brass backed saw you are using lately in your videos, Paul. I recently found a Spear & Jackson Spearior 52 tenon saw on Ebay coming from your neck of the woods. Should be here any day. I’m looking forward to having a decent saw finally.

    Cheers,

    Joseph

  8. adrian on 3 December 2015 at 12:44 am

    What a fantastic jig up for multiple dovetail layouts.
    I’m going to commit this segment to permanent memory bank.
    The Paul Sellers dovetail method , what a great lesson , Thank you and your camera crew too.

  9. Eddy Flynn on 3 December 2015 at 12:49 am

    this would even please the old time and motion man thanks for another lifetime lesson

  10. Scott V on 3 December 2015 at 2:58 am

    Around 28:00, Paul gauges off the end of the board! I am not sure I have ever seen him do that…

  11. blazgrapar on 3 December 2015 at 11:34 am

    Why is the divider made as frame and panel? Wouldn’t a regular board be ok, since it moves in the same direction as a carcass? I would just like to know if there is a specific reason for this. Thank you.

    • stevewales on 3 December 2015 at 6:48 pm

      hi Blaz
      Traditionally, the frame and panel design was mainly for economy. There will be quite a large saving by using a plywood panel instead of a solid piece of premium wood.
      frame and Panel also reduces weight if used on a portable object.
      Lastly (I think), There can be a difference in the movement from one board to the next, so the use of a plywood panel helps the minimise the effect of natural wood movement.

  12. FrankM on 3 December 2015 at 3:28 pm

    Would there be any downside to gluing/ screwing a piece of 1 x 3 to the left edge of the template? If it protruded on the front and back it would seem to work when registered against either edge. Speaking for myself it would reduce slippage when clamping into position.

  13. billlatt on 3 December 2015 at 9:20 pm

    Absolutely brilliant.

  14. davedev on 4 December 2015 at 10:33 pm

    A very clever method and I now see why Paul squared the ends of the boards, but this seems a bit laborious if you don’t need interchangeable dovetails. Are they needed on this project, and if not here where would they be needed? Also I would not be confident that mine would end up interchangeable unless I ganged up the cutting as discussed above.

    • NikonD80 on 5 December 2015 at 4:41 pm

      I think the point is that you’d be making a load of these if say you were fitting a kitchen. All the parts would then be interchangeable. I’ll certainly be building at least three of these cupboards for my workshop and will use this method as practice for future projects. If you’re only going to build a single piece then this method might be over kill but we haven’t seen all the episodes yet.

      • danm on 9 December 2015 at 8:33 pm

        I’m not sure why you would need interchangeable boards at all. But this method is fantastic, I’ll use it no matter how many dovetails I need. It ensures perfect consistency and it saves a lot of time – you don’t need to lay out the dovetails. You just mark the depth, align the jig and there you go!
        I used it already on a difficult dovetail in 4cm thick ash and It’s excellent – well worth the 20 minutes spent making the jig. In fact I made a similar jig for the pins (you need two of those).
        Thanks, Paul, for sharing this!

  15. knightlylad on 6 December 2015 at 7:59 pm

    Thank you for the lesson.

  16. hoddy2000 on 7 December 2015 at 4:01 am

    Great video. That’s a process – but the beautiful, accurate result shows the benefit to it. I’m going to try it. I love Paul’s one-liners:
    “don’t imagine anything more important really . . . than a tool cupboard.”
    The other that is now regularly heard in my workshop — even though I’m the only one who hears it — is:
    “it’s not what you make, it’s how you make it”
    Thank you Paul, I’m 40 and I wish I’d learned everything you’ve taught me years ago, but I probably wouldn’t have had the patience until now. Something about middle age I guess. You’ve opened up a new old-world to me that I’ll enjoy for another 40 years I hope and certainly pass on to my children.

  17. ballinger on 7 December 2015 at 2:20 pm

    That’s a great way to divide up a board into even segments, would be very handy if you didn’t have it to an easily divisible size.

  18. Michael S on 8 December 2015 at 1:42 pm

    It appears the top and bottom pieces are flat-sawn and the side pieces are quarter-sawn (straight grain). Is the straight grain done for stability or simply for aesthetics?

    • Paul SellersTeam Member on 10 December 2015 at 3:42 pm

      No choosing really, just picked for looks more than anything. Sapele is quite the stablest of woods and as such requires little consideration beyond that. As a boy it was considered a cheapo wood, but when mahogany ran out of existence it took a leading role. It is good for outdoor use too. If I remember I will show some massive 18 foot tall by 8 foot wide ones paired in an entryway to the castle. Lasts longer than oak outdoors and stays true.

      • sherbin18 on 10 December 2015 at 4:04 pm

        I’m building a set of kitchen cabinets. Since I am a bit older than Paul (a few months actually), I was thinking of Sapele, but may go with Cherry instead.

        I fear that a the Sapele takes more aerobic effort to flatten than the Cherry.

        Maybe door frames from Cherry and panels from Sapele.

        Sapele is just gorgeous and my favorite wood for almost all my projects.

  19. Vince Reed on 11 December 2015 at 7:37 am

    Maybe I missed it, but how did he come up with the number 8 when deciding the number of tails? Was that just a random number or is there a standard formula for figuring out the number of tails used?

  20. chrml on 8 November 2016 at 2:15 pm

    What is the point of having the top and bottom pieces dead to length to begin with ? Couldn’t one make the tails slightly proud, and pare/plane them after assembly or glueing up ? In fact with such a template the ends of the top and bottom pieces don’t even need to be square… Same with the side pieces really, although having their ends square will make marking the pins easier.

    In addition to saving on some precision endgrain planing, wouldn’t keeping the tails and pins slightly proud till glue-up help limit accidental damage to them (or more precisely their final aspect), that may occur during or inbetween the coming dry runs ?

    • Philip Adams on 26 May 2017 at 12:01 pm

      Hello Christian,
      Preparing your stock to a high degree of accuracy before hand is what helps you to get the carcass as a whole square and parallel. It will also be difficult to ensure accurate layout if you don’t have a clear reference point on the surfaces.
      Or am I misunderstanding you?

  21. Andrew LeRoy on 6 July 2017 at 12:41 pm

    Great project! Thank you all.

    For those of us without 40 years of experience, what can you do to repair any gaps in your pin / tail relationship?

    Thanks,
    Andrew

    • Philip Adams on 7 July 2017 at 2:24 pm

      Hello Andrew,
      I would encourage you not to do too much to cover things up too much. You can sometimes use a thin sliver of wood to fit into large gaps, but would only recommend doing this in certain circumstances. Sometimes it’s best to see it as a learning experience.

      I don’t think it takes 40 years to get nice tight dovetails, more like 10+ boxes I’d say (-:
      All the best

  22. 5ivestring on 9 March 2020 at 2:14 am

    I’m reviewing a couple projects to reinforce my memory. I love this technique for dovetails. I use it almost all the time now if I want the same perfect spacing on a project, so easy to do. Sometime I do just free hand them too, depending on what I am doing. I keep all my templets for future use too.

  23. Josh Baxter on 15 July 2020 at 1:09 am

    Is there a reason why the cutting jig has to be the end grain? Seems like piece of edge grain would work just as well?

    • deanbecker on 15 July 2020 at 2:04 am

      Edge grain stands a good chance of breaking. If you bound up your saw or got a tad happy with pressure a tail could pop off , especially if the root was small

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.