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Split Dovetails

author-gravatar joelav Jun 18, 2018

I've made these split dovetails in a sample joint before, but wanted to complete a box with them. I'm not thrilled with the overall dimensions of the final box since I started over, but lessons were learned and this is a joint I will be using going forward 

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Like always, the project begins with breaking down stock to rough lengths. And like always, my 300mm zsaw dozuki does the heavy lifting        

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After that I get the pieces flat and smooth

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To begin the layout, I use a marking gauge to establish my baselines. The hard maple here is about 5/8" thick (15mm)

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I lay out the tails first. I've gotten out of the habit of marking my waste on standard dovetails, but split dovetails can be confusing so I make sure to mark it. I start the half pin inside of the groove on the right side. This will be a miter to hide the groove. 

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Now I saw inside the lines being extra careful not to stray. Usually it doesn't matter if I veer off my lines at this stage, as long as I stay straight and plumb. However with this layout I cut it close with the size of the chisels I have

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Here's the part where I realized I tossed my old dovetail alignment board when I moved and never made a new one. So I made a new one

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I clean up the miter using a chisel and a guide block

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Pins and tails cut.Tail board looks cool, pin board not so much

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Yeah, no. It fits well, but this is NOT what I had in mind

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So I chopped them off

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Time to start over

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This time it's tiny pins and huge tails. I mark 2 boards at once so I can just flip them end for end and then transfer the knife lines instead of using measurements on each side

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Laying out the mitered edge. If you do this, DO NOT reference your miter from the edge of the board. Start it from your baseline. 

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Saw then remove the waste

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I cut the miter a bit proud so I can refine it with a chisel and a reference block after

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Now go away for a weekend, come back and  transfer the layout to the pin board, forgetting all about the dovetail alignment board I made until I'm on the last corner. 

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Trimming the waste between these is difficult. I did nick a few of the pins with the back of the saw blade. Fortunately it doesn't show. Repeat x3

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Test fit looks pretty good

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Now I smooth the insides of all the pieces and apply a wax finish to them. 

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Then I assemble the box and flush up the corners. Pretty happy with the fit overall, but I don't like the dimensions, It's too tall now that I cut 1 1/4" off the length of each board to redo the dovetails. Oh well, the next one will be better

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Now the lid. I cut a rabbet in the bottom for a 1/4" piece of plywood

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I want to go with exposed joinery on the lid, but I don't want to mess up my dovetail pattern on the box. So I chose a half lap

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Sawing off the cheeks

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Weird looking joint to hide the rabbet

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Making sure the inside is square. I will be friction fitting a kumiko panel. If it's not square I'm going to have a tough time

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Lid completed. I'm glad I went with half laps. the exposed end grain looks cool.

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Now on to the kumiko. I'm just doing a simple asa no ha pattern

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The gluing part seems to take forever

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Here I mortised in some hinges I have. Later I realized I don't have the screws for these hinges. I couldn't find any that were the same size and the ones I got were a tad shorter. This left me with a not so perfect fitting lid. I want to finish this in time for the contest, so it is what it is for right now. I do plan on mortising in some larger hinges and properly fitting the lid

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2 coats of watco teak oil applied here. It did darken the maple a little but it has a UV inhibitor in it so hopefully it will keep it from getting much darker later on. I really like the contrast in the dovetails now. They look 3D

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And "done". I sill need to install new hinges and make trays for the inside. 

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I like the double asa no ha in the lid. 

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The inside of the lid is cherry. There are 4 too small screws and 4 too big screws holding the hinges on right now

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The kumiko. I still saw my half laps by hand and made an error on the last one. There is a little gap that I may tap a small wedge in to fill. 

3 comments

Thats beautiful Joe.  I dig the kumiko with the dovetails, nicely done.

Love the joinery, this came out awesome Joe!

Really clean and tasteful. Love it.

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