Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Cutting the Tails

Cutting tails-first is easy.  As long as you cut squarely across the thickness of the board, it doesn't really matter what angle you cut your tails at.  They could all be wonky and at different angles and as long as you trace them onto the pin board and cut the pin board accurately, everything will go together just fine and make a good solid joint.

This is the first time I've attempted ganging up multiple parts to gang-cut the tails.  I started with two boards for drawer #1.

Cut as accurately as you can, but if you're off the line a little it doesn't really matter.  Just be square across the thickness.

Saw the waste out with a fret or coping saw getting reasonably close to your baselines, but don't cross them.
 I thought I'd kick it up a notch and try to gang-cut more boards at once, so I grabbed all the middle-sized drawer sides and lined them up.  It wasn't as easy to cut this and I didn't enjoy it.  It seemed more prone to compounding error and at this stage of the project I think it makes more sense to stay timid.  I went back to only cutting two sides at a time.

Setup for gang-cutting 6 boards at once.

I didn't like this.

All the tails are cut, now they just need to be pared to their baselines.

All cleaned up.
Now that the tails are all clean I just have to trace them onto the pin boards, cut the pins, clean the pin waste and assemble the drawers....and then a dozen other things.

I was super timid to start cutting these dovetails, but as soon as I cut the first tail I remembered that dovetails aren't really a big deal.  Tracing and cutting the pins accurately and having square cuts are the two most important things.  Everything else is simple stuff.  It's just a shape.  And if my third (?) attempt at handcut dovetails turns out to be not quite 100% perfect, who cares?  They'll still be super strong, fully functional, and look handmade.   I have the rest of my life to get better at them.

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