Friday, November 1, 2013

Seaborne chest part 4, messing up the glue up and the dovetail layout

Yesterday I didn't get to do any woodworking since we had to sail from the oil field to the offshore base with a lot of back load from the rig. Since we were scheduled to arrive in the middle of the night, I had to get some sleep before going to the control room for watch duties. 

This evening I could do woodworking again. I started plowing some grooves in the lower part of the boards for the skirt. These are going to hold the bottom. That part went smooth, greatly aided by my fabulous work holding.

I then decided to glue together the upper part of the chest. I even made a dry assembly first to check the diagonals etc. Everything looked great. I applied the glue and started pressing the boards together. One of the corners needed a little persuasion, so I grabbed a large hammer and placed a narrow board over the tail to be bashed in.. and WHACK. I made an ugly depression that needs to be planed away. Furthermore I actually damaged the wood in the process as well. But at least I achieved my somewhat strange goal of putting the lot together without the use of clamps. I don't really know why I wanted to try this, but it seems as it wasn't the best idea I have ever had. The assembly is square, so I guess that it will be OK in the end anyway. 
When it comes to drying a glued up assembly, few things beat to place the assembly on top of a 690-450 V transformer. That is highly recommended. A nice flat surface and a good temperature.

The whack was still nagging me, so I decided that I needed to do something that could raise the spirit again.
Dovetailing is the magic thing.
The corners of the skirt would be the logical thing to dovetail to at least pretend that the evening had been a success. I had a lot (too much) self confidence so I decided that I didn't have to look at a picture of the Roy Underhill joiners tool chest to remember the basic dovetail layout of the skirt. I mean, how hard could it be. I have made the original chest about a year and a half ago, so it ought to be a walk in the park.
At first I couldn't remember much about it, so I made a lot of confusing lines with my pencil, and then decided that If I just started sawing I would probably remember how it was supposed to look. 
Alas, 3 pins were marked out with the dovetail marker and the upper miter was also marked. I cut the pins first and then I could see that I had managed to make a very visible uneven distance between them..
My thought was that it was for the back corner, so it would be OK, It will probably be somewhat hidden by paint anyway.
When I made the matching set of tails I could see that I had also managed to mess up the part where the groove should stay invisible from the outside. 
Furthermore the lower part ended not with a half pin, but with 1/6 tail!
That was when I decided to call it a day. 
I didn't take any photos of the various flaws I inflicted upon the project, so you will have to use your imagination.

To prevent any further non functioning dovetail layout issues, I have found a sketch up of the original dovetail layout, and I plan to bring this sketch with me for the next woodworking session. 


  1. Every once in a while a good dose of humility is required to remind us that wood can still kick our ass.

    Don't worry, though. A little putty and some paint, and no one will ever know.

  2. I actually sawed of those dovetails and made some new ones. The board was just long enough so that I could do it.
    I will need to fill in some putty anyway since there are some open knotholes. So my plan has been to paint it anyway.

  3. What photos? Those mistakes never happened if nobody ever sees them! I'm actually a bit worried because if wizards such as yourself make mistakes what does that mean for mere mortals like me? I cannot say a word, my current project has no dovetails. It is basic M&T, dado, and butt joints. Yours is more complicated
    and therefore a bit easier to mess up.
    I also love the fact that you are woodworking on top of a transformer. A very common voltage here is 480/120-208. I remember being scared to death every time I had to wire up a live one.

    1. Somehow my wand backfired.
      I am more afraid of M&T's than dovetails. But these dovetails have a peculiar layout compared to normal, so it requires me to actually think which can be hard sometimes.
      I really wouldn't like to have to wire up a live transformer, but the top is really flat and there is a steady temperature.