Wall Hung Tool Cabinet – episode 3
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It’s time to layout the pins. Paul uses a knife on this sapele to ensure accuracy, then uses the cutting gauge for the depth mark. From there he cuts the tail recesses out with the dovetail saw and chisel, being careful not to move the knife wall. Once cut, Paul eases the inside corners and fits the dovetails, which is first of the three corners done.
Great job, thanks for this one
and every time, without fault, comes this little detail, making the whole difference.
Feel very privileged to see the fitting process, the calm meticulous approach without a second wasted to get the job done right. Not sure I can reach this level, but I do now know how far I have to go and perhaps if I can ever approach this I will know I have been well taught. Thank you!
Great camera work on those dovetails. Short of having Paul show up in each of our shops to walk us through the process I don’t think you could have done any better.
I thought I noticed some differences in your technique for cutting dovetails so I went back to the “Dove tail box” series to check. On those pine boxes you would alternate sides of the piece of wood when cutting out the waste with chisels. On the tool cupboard you worked on on side until you were to the center and then flipped and worked on the other side. Also on the dove tail boxes you went right to the knife wall with the chisel instead of starting the chisel chops 1mm out. Is that a new refinement of your technique or is that something that works well with hardwood?
I’m pressing on these details because I’m not happy with my own dovetails. I’m getting better but I’ve found the only way I can avoid pushing the knife wall back is by using the knife to deepen the original knife wall instead of going right to the chisel. I’ve gone to the lightest hammer of the style you use and I’m trying to use little more force than gravity when I swing but I’ll move at least one knife wall on a box every time unless I use a knife twice. Also I’m “punching out” the center of the wood, leaving a small hole in the center of the dovetail socket. It doesn’t affect the joint but it looks sloppy to me so I’m trying to work with enough care to eliminate that.
I sharpen up before starting so my chisels are hair popping sharp and the “punching out” problem gets better in hard wood but I still can’t eliminate it ever time.
Again, great job on the photography. Thank you for the time and work that must have taken.
The reason not to flip over after every pass, partially at least, is the size of the project and the efficiency of cutting them all from one side first. There is also some aspect of having built up some proficiency at cutting dovetails by the time you approach such a project, so being more able to estimate half way.
As far as dovetailing technique is concerned, it seems you are doing the right things to improve. The technique to master so you don’t tear out in the centre, is to squeeze the chisel tightly between your thumb and index finger when you get near breaking through. It also helps if you ave kept your vertical cuts up against your knife wall as you have gone deeper, as people have a tendency to drift away and leave a hump in the middle afterwards.
Hope that helps,
Hi John I’ve been trying to understand that myself around moving the knife wall and the tearout at the break through point. Two thoughts I had but I don’t have any conclusive evidence to back it up. Maybe someone can enlighten us:
1. Bevel angle, if it’s steeper than Paul’s it could be putting greater lateral force against the knife wall.
2. Are the splitting angled cuts from Paul going slightly under the vertical cuts effectively reducing the pressure and resistance on the bevel of the chisel?
Can’t wait to get out to the workshop and try some dovetails again now!
That was a lot of fun to watch and I loved the commentary, it really adds a lot to the videos.
Just wondering- are the boards in the video are just slightly cupped?
I had that problem recently when putting something together. Once the boards were clamped flat, I could get everything together fine, but they just would not go together otherwise.
Thanks for the inspiration, straightforward teaching, and meticulous demonstrations. I’ve been practicing dovetails on everything since I first saw you video on the three joints. Even on the drawers of my workbench. The use of the “jig” for consistent dovetails on similar parts made a huge difference in my results, but, it was starting the first chop about 2 mm from the knife wall that made the biggest improvement. Like several other commenters here, I’ve had difficulty not moving that knife wall as I started the chopping process. That little trick resulted in the tightest dovetails I’ve ever done. Still a long way to go, but that leap has inspired me even more and given me greater confidence. Thank you again.
Beautiful video. What I like most is how Paul teaches how to adapt and overcome obsticles that may arise. I always hear him say just preserve. To me that’s real woodworking. Thank you to Paul and the team for what you do.
Thank you for the lesson.
Curious, what type of oil/lubricant was used on the saw in the early part of the video?
He uses 3-in-One. I think any non-evaporating all-purpose light oil (like the kinds you spray inside shotgun barrels and sewing machines) will work though. Even an old tealight will work better than no lubricant at all and it’s probably already in your house.
Paul, even you with your 50 years of experience appeared to be struggling to get the pins to fit the tails. If so, how are we mortals going to cope? I know I have struggled with simpler dovetails. It seems the key is in where to make the saw cut. When you cut the first pin, you say ‘ I drop my saw right on the cut line – no margin for error – right on the line’. Later you say to cut to the waste side of the line. Should I presume you actually intend the latter? Is there some technique equivalent to the one you use when cutting across the grain to get that cut in exactly the right place. For example could you make a second knife cut on the waste side of the first cut, pare and then saw between the two?
By “right on the line” I mean right up to the cut line not over it and not away from it. No margin at all and therefor no intended pare cutting but obviously pare cutting if needed.
Maybe when I have cut 10,000 more dove tails I can get them to fit that nicely….
Paul, this is the best dovetail chopping video you’ve given us so far. I think I’ve watched every one you’ve ever made. Sometimes you warn us not to hit the first chop on the knife wall too hard, for fear that it will compress the fibers and move the knife wall back because of the bevel angle of the chisel. This time you showed us how to make the first chop a small distance in front of the knife wall, then put the chisel right on the knife wall for the second and subsequent chops. What a difference it has made in the quality of my dovetail cutting. Not only are my lines straight and crisp, the bases between the tails are so much cleaner and it takes much less pairing to clean and flatten them up. Thanks so much for this one!
All the best!
At 1:50 Paul mentions that he’d use a pencil on pine for marking out the pins, but a knife on this project. Is there a particular reason why? I’m trying to think why one may be more or less suitable than the other in different woods – other than perhaps a pencil not showing up well on a very dark timber.
Pine is more compressible and the knifeline more apt to move than in a hardwood.
Thanks Derek. Do you mean it’ll wander on the grain?
Paul has said that in pine, knife lines tend to “disappear” as in the wood will close up around the cut line, making it very hard to see. I have observed this, especially on pine end grain, the wood seems to repair itself, completely hiding the knife wall altogether.
I was having a problem fitting the dovetails together. After fiddling around with them for a while, I tried Paul’s final suggestion and took a few shavings from the back of the pin board where I was having the problem. Presto, the problem went away.
Still having a problem marking the pins, but I’ve been out of practice for a bit.
BTW, I have a set of Aldi chisels which I had not tuned yet. So I decided to use Paul’s sharpening method to camber the bevels. I really think they are significantly sharper than my other chisels sharpened the old, secondary bevel way. They also seem to stay sharper longer. No more fooling around with angle setups and jigs. Easy and accurate.
Now on to resharpen my other chisels when they need it. No sense making more work for myself.
Thanks Paul and Crew. Happy New Year!