Sunday, July 5, 2015

Treasure chest with curved lid part 3 dovetails and glueing up the bottom.

Today I chopped the dovetails of the four corners of the chest. A benefit of using spruce is that you can make the dovetails really tight since the wood compresses very well.
This time I made the tails first like at home, and I do find that I am able to make nicer dovetails that way compared to when I make them pins first.

Last year during the chairbuilding extravagnza, Brian Eve brought some liquid hide glue for us to use.
It stayed at my place, and I found out that it actually passed its "best before date" a little while ago.
For some reason, I have never tried using liquid hide glue for dovetails. Out here I am always stressed during glue ups because my normal white glue will dry very quickly because of the temperatures in the workshop especially during the summer months.

While at home, I decided to bring the liquid hide glue with me on board this time, so I could use it before it gets way too old.

My plan is to try using the liquid hide glue as the only glue on this project. I don't know why I feel all excited and insecure about that, since it is a pretty time tested glue type. The only thing is that it could be too old, but I kind of doubt that the "best before date" means that the glue will not stick to anything as soon as you pass it.

I found some more spruce that could be glued up to form a bottom.
First I jointed the mating sides, and then I discovered that there was a crack in the wide board.
I opened the crack by bending the board a bit, and squeezed some glue into it. I then applied hide glue to both surfaces and pressed the joint together with a couple of clamps.

Adding glue to both sides of a joint is a habit of mine from working with white glue. I have no idea if it is required or even encouraged when using hide glue, but I figured that it wouldn't hurt.

The joint went together as it should the first time, so I didn't have any reason to use the slow setting time to shift the joint around anyway.

After some time the glue had already dried, but I have still left the clamps on, because I won't be working on the bottom until tomorrow anyway.

Dry testing the dovetails.


  1. I have used old liquid hide glue before without problems.

    1. Glad to hear that.
      I just seem to remember reading that it can get too old. But I rarely bother with those best before dates, except on fresh milk.

  2. Agreed, my bottle of Titebond liquid hide glue has expired this past fall, still working the same as always...

    1. Hi Bob.

      Then I should be on the safe side.
      I think mine expired in April.
      It still smells the same, so I guess it is still OK.


  3. It looks great! Were you still using the hacksaw, or was there a Japanese style saw that you had (if I am remembering correctly)?

    1. Hi Bill

      I used a hacksaw.
      You remember correctly that I am bringing a small Japanese saw, but that one is cross cut.
      I actually tried to see if it would work, but the hack saw was better for the job.
      I did use the Japanese saw for trimming of the ends to make room for the half pins.

  4. One can get a 200 year old piece of furniture in which the veneer is lifting, heat up the veneer, and it will re-set the glue, I guess they did not have "use by" dates in the 18th century so the glue does not know it is not supposed to work

    Another interesting comment; I find I make nicer dovetails if I make the pins first. Everybody has the method which works best for them.

    I like your project.


    1. Hello Johann.

      Thanks for the nice comment.

      I like the idea that the glue doesn't know that it is not supposed to work. My concern was that since the original hide glue was used as a heated glue, it didn't have any additives in it. And I frankly didn't know if the salt or urea or whatever they add to the glue could cause it to go bad. But I guess the manufacturer would like to be able to sell a new batch to people, so maybe that is why they put on an expiry date.

      I have found that pins first will almost always work no matter how strange a joint I am trying to execute. For the slanted ends on the curved lid, I tried to do the tails first, but it didn't work - so I had to do it the other way.

      A thing I like about the tails first approach is the possibility to make a small rabbet on the inside. That gives me a nice tight appearance on the inside of the joint,