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Dovetailed Chisel Box

author-gravatar Sean Jan 28, 2017

When using my chisels I always worry about them rolling off of my workbench so I wanted to build a nice box to hold them. The box is made out of spalted maple and mahogany and features dovetail joinery. The box sides are 3/8" thick with the dividers and bottom panel 1/4" thick. For the finish I sprayed 2 coats of shellac, while sanding with 220 grit in between each coat.


Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box
Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box
Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box
Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

Since the spalted maple board had a live edge, I used my crosscut sled to square it up.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

I then took both pieces to the table saw and cut them to width.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

Over at the miter saw I stack both pieces at cut them to length at the same time.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

At the router table I cut a 1/4" groove 1/8" deep for the box bottom.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

With the sides ready, I use my marking gauge to scribe a line around all 4 sides of the maple boards for the dovetails. The marking gauge is set to 3/8" which is the thickness of the boards.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

On the mahogany boards I only mark 2 sides, making sure to not mark the edges of the boards.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

When I cut dovetails I like to cut both pieces at the same time. In this picture i'm using my combination square to layout the dovetails.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

Using a dovetail marker, I draw the angles for the cut.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

Next I use my pull saw to cut the tails.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

Once the tails are cut, I put the board in the vise with the edges sticking up and cut the half pin.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

To remove the waste between the dovetails, I use my bow saw.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

I begin chiseling away the waste with my 1/4" chisel. I like to chisel half way down and then flip the board over to remove the rest of the waste.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

This is with the board flipped over and removing the remainder of the waste.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

Nice and clean.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

Before I do any cutting of the pins, I like to lay the box out and put colored dots on each corner to help with the orientation. Each corner has the same color sticker.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

With the board back in the vise, I make sure to have it flush with the hand plane.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

I lay the tail board on top of my hand plane and with it flush with the pin board, I mark for the pins.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

Using my combination square, I mark a straight line to use as a reference when I cut the pins.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

Again using the pull saw, I make the cuts. I like to use the reflection in the saw to make sure i'm cutting square.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

Back to the bow saw to remove the waste.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

And then chisel half way down, flip the board over and remove the remainder of the waste.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

Also nice and clean!

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

Before gluing the box up, I use my number 3 to smooth the boards while I have access to them.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

Over at the miter saw I cut the bottom panel to size.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

One little detail I need to cut before I glue the box up is a nice arch on the side pieces. This adds a nice touch to the box but is also a very useful feature for making it easier to access the chisels.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

After marking the reference lines I use a paint can to get a nice pleasing curve.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

With relief cuts made, I make the final cut, making sure to stay roughly 1/8" away from my line.  

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

I use the spindle sander to clean my cut up.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

It's glue up time. I like to put the glue in the pin boards since I have more room to apply the glue.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

Don't forget to glue the bottom panel in!

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

While the glue is drying, I cut the 3 dividers to size at the table saw.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

I taped all 3 dividers together and once again, used the paint can to get the pleasing curve.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

Back to the band saw to remove the waste.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

And the spindle sander to clean it up!

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

You guessed it, I use the number 3 to clean the faces.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

Since I can't use my plane to clean up the curve, I grab some 220 grit sandpaper.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

With the box glued up, I use my block plane to flush everything up.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

Then I use the block plane to chamfer the edges.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

The dividers were just a tad too long so I used my number 3 as a shooting board plane to remove a little bit to get a snug fit.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

Since I didn't want to wait for each divider to dry before adding the next one, I put a dot of CA glue on each end of the divider piece when gluing them in to get sort of an "instant" bond (well, about a minute to set up).

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

In between the CA glue dots I used hide glue in case I got squeeze out. It won't effect the finish.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

I used a 1" spacer between each divider.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

With all of the dividers in place, I do one more check to make sure they are spaced evenly.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

For the finish I sprayed 2 coats of shellac from the can. In between each coat I sanded with 220 grit sandpaper.

Photo of Dovetailed Chisel Box

The spalted maple popped when the shellac was applied. Thanks for checking the pictures out, if you want to see a video of me building the box, check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7l5RgJxY7c

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