Saturday, October 31, 2015

Shaker hanging cabinet, North Sea edition, blind dovetails.

This was my first attempt on making blind dovetails, but I figured that it couldn't be that hard, ad if I messed things up I could always reduce the size of the cabinet a bit and nail it together like the original version.

I know of two types of blind dovetails, one of them leaves a bit of end grain visible, and the other ends in a mitre.
The mitre model is probably more difficult, and it would be better for something like the corner of a fine chest. When I am going to try out that method, I think I would like to do it at home in my own workshop.

The end grain model (for a lack of a better word) on the other hand is perfect for this application since the end grain will be concealed due to the rabbet I made.

After a bit of thinking I decided that the best way to make them would be to start out with the pins. That way I could mark out the tails afterwards.
I chiseled out all the waste so I could stay within my layout lines. If this had been for e.g. a carcase for a campaign chest, overcutting the baseline wouldn't have posed a problem at all, but this will be very visible inside a small cabinet, so I wanted to make it look as nice as possible.

Once I had made all my pin boards, I marked out the tail boards directly from them.
I soon discovered that I had made a small mistake:
My pins were so small at the thin end, that I didn't have a chisel that would fit inside them to clean them up. It wouldn't have been a problem on regular through tails, but in this case it wasn't the smartest move.
My solution was to use a small screwdriver as a chisel, and it went surprisingly well. Probably because the wood is soft and the inside surfaces of the tails will never be seen anyway.

While I had the outer case dry assembled, I marked out the length of the shelf directly from the case.
The shelf was sawn of at the correct length and the ends were cleaned up using the shooting board.

Before glueing up the assembly, I rounded over the protrusions, and sanded the parts.
To protect the pieces I put a piece of cloth on the workbench before I started the glue up.

So far it looks just like half blind dovetails.

These are the blind tails.

My first assembly of a set of blind dovetails.

Shooting board in action.

Dry assembly.


  1. Replies
    1. I didn't mean to make it look easy, but actually it isn't hard. Especially not when you are dealing with soft spruce.

      And as I have read somewhere before, it doesn't matter if there are any gaps in your dovetails, because no one will be able to see them anyway.


  2. I have not used full-blind dovetails before either. I hope my first atemnt turns out as nice as yours. Well done. The cabinet is coming along great!

    1. Thanks
      It is actually progressing faster than I anticipated.