Saturday, May 12, 2018

Smith & Wesson 629 presentation case 3, dovetails and assembly.

Laying out dovetails is normally fairly straight forward, but I had to think hard on this set, because of the plan to glue up all at once, and then split the box to form the lid and the base.

I had to incorporate two grooves, and I also wanted the split pin to be the correct size after splitting and planing.
In the end I managed to make a layout that suited me. I also need to take into account that my narrowest chisel is 1/4".
So I can't make those ultra thin pins even if they would look fine on a project like this.
I made a template for laying out the angles of the dovetails, and I settled on 1:8 sine it is hardwood.

Before dovetailing, I did something unusual (to me at least). I used by shooting board to trim the ends to the become square and the pieces to become the exact same length.
I felt that I had to use this approach, since the stock is thin, so I couldn't just plane away to remove inaccuracies later on as I normally do out here.

Since the pieces were comparatively small, I was able to do it tails first, which I prefer. The actual chopping out was done on a piece of wood held in the vice, and then with the work piece clamped on top of that.

Once all the dovetails were completed, and I had dry assembled the case, I made the rabbets on the lid and bottom, to make them fit in the grooves.
I have never had much success with the small nicker when going across the grain, so I tried instead to first score a line with a hobby knife.
Then after every two passes or so with the plane, I would score another line to keep the rabbet looking good. It took a bit longer than if I had just planed the rabbet, but it looked so much better, so it was definitely worth it.

The rabbet along the grain was a walk in the park. A sharp iron does the trick.

Based on Sylvains comment to the last blog post, where he asked if it was possible to change the fence to the other side, I had decided that I could try to make a new set of rods that would allow me to do just that.
The engineer apprentice on board will soon attend his exam, and he needed a bit more routine in using a lathe. So I made a drawing of some rods that would work, even if we didn't have the correct tap and die for making the same thread as what is originally in the plane.
He made two parts, and I made the remaining two, so I could use the plane tonight.
It is not a 100% elegant solution to use the plane the other way, but it works, and the is the most important thing.

So after making the extra set of rods, I planed the rabbet that would have been against the grain, but now wasn't anymore. It worked brilliantly.

Again I made a dry assembly, this time incorporating the two panels. One of the panels needed to have one side trimmed with a single swipe of a plane, to make it slide easier in the groove.

The edges between the rabbets and the top were rounded to soften the look.

Glued up box.

Shooting the ends.
Workholding for chopping out dovetails.

Record No 50 with fence on the "wrong" side

View from underneath. The wooden fence was needed so I could plane with less than the full width of the iron. The depth stop is a fence (I can't remember for what use) that has been flipped 180 degree

Dry assembly of the box.


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  2. I got to see a pilot ladder in use this week -- Smithsonian had a show about very large freighters, and they showed the harbor pilot leaving after guiding the ship out. Looked a little dangerous, but he didn't hesitate at all. Maybe someday a woodworking engineer will turn that ladder into something new, too. Oh, and the box is looking great. I've never come across dovetails done that way to hide the grooves, very interesting.

    1. Hi Jeff
      Thanks a lot for the nice comment.
      It does look kind of scary once in a while when pilots board or leave the larger ships. Luckily accidents rarely happen.
      If I remember correctly, there is a limit as to how long the climb on the ladder may be. So on large ships you usually lower the gangway too, then the first 4 or 5 meters are done on the ladder, and the remaining 15 meters are done on the gangway.
      Since we are constantly engaged in coastal traffic here in Norway, the captain and the chief officer has got something called a: Pilot exemption certificate, that enables us to sail on the entire Norwegian coast in and out of harbours without using a normal pilot.
      Admitted, it also helps that these ships are very maneuverable. We can move in all directions so that is a nice feature.

      I think this way of hiding the grooves is the usual way to do it if you use through dovetails. If I had used half blind dovetails for instance, they would have hidden the groove by themselves.
      Technically I think that I ought to have used half blinds, since I don't plan on hiding these behind some moulding.
      But the stock was a bit thin to make half blinds for my taste, so I chose the safe bet.
      And besides, since there are only 3 tails, it looks as it was done on purpose :-)

      Best regards

  3. I also like the way the grooves are hided.
    very nice box.
    While marking the pins from the tails, did you use any special trick to ensure the grooves of the two adjacent sides will meet perfectly?

    1. Hi Sylvain.
      Thanks for the nice comment.
      I didn't use any special trick for marking out the pins, but it helped that the sides were exactly the same width. I had planed them all at the same time.

      I did try to hold a piece of flat steel (my chisel) to the sides of both pieces, to make sure that both sides of a corner would be level.

      Best regards

  4. Jonas,

    The box looks great.

    I seldom use the "nicker" for cross grain work or for with grain either. I've found doing what you did works better, just knife the line it works every time.


    1. Hi Ken,

      Thanks for the nice comment.
      While the knife approach takes a bit more time, it is like you said a better way.
      We actually had a barbecue on board yesterday too. But I think your brisket looked better than our steaks.

      The view on the other hand was quite OK.
      Sitting on the Deck just forward of the bridge, no winds, full sunshine and floating in the Norwegian archipelago.

      Best regards