Making Lipped Drawers with a Dovetail Jig

Making Lipped Drawers with a Dovetail Jig

By Tom Caspar

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You can do more with your half-blind dovetail jig than meets the eye. You’ve probably used it to make drawers with plain, inset fronts, but it’s really quite simple to make lipped drawer fronts, too. Even though most dovetail jigs are basically the same, some of their manuals don’t go into much detail about how to make this variation of the basic drawer (they often call it a rabbeted drawer, which is confusing). Whatever kind of jig you have, here’s a foolproof process for making lipped drawers from beginning to end.

2. Cut rabbets to form lips on the top and ends of the drawer front (usually there’s no lip on the bottom). The precise width of the rabbets affects the fit of the drawer front in its opening. Fine-tune the fence setting so there is 1/16" or less total side play between the inside of the drawer front and the sides of the case.

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3. Check the fit of sample dovetails made with your jig. Use the same species of wood as your drawer parts for test pieces. Wood that’s too soft gives a false reading.

Adjust the router bit up or down until you make two parts that fit together with hand pressure alone.

Adjust the jig’s template in and out until you make two parts that fit flush. The position of the template affects the depth of the sockets.

4. Place both drawer sides in the dovetail jig, inside out and front side up. Use the groove in the drawer bottom as a referen ce guide. It faces toward you and lines up with an outside finger of the dovetail template.

The bottom edge of every drawer part butts up against the stops on the jig.

5. Rout dovetails in the drawer sides. Move the router from left to right for best results. Use backer boards behind the drawer sides to prevent the backs of the tails from chipping out.

9. Dovetail one drawer side and back as a pair, making a standard half-blind joint. As in Photo 4, one pair is placed in the left-hand side of the jig and the other pair in the right-hand side. You won’t get parts mixed up if you remember that the grooves always go nearest the stops of the jig.

Sand all the inside faces of the drawer before gluing.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker December 2000, issue #84.

December 2000, issue #84

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Turn a Green Wood Bowl

Turn a Green Wood Bowl

By Alan Lacer

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Making a functional object directly from raw material in its natural state is incredibly satisfying. Just ask any potter. For woodworkers, green woodturning captures that feeling. You literally start with a log and end up with a beautiful bowl.

If you’ve never turned green wood before, you’re in for a treat. Green wood is easier to turn than kiln-dried wood. It cuts cleaner and produces very little dust. To top it off, the wood itself often costs nothing.

1. Cut green bowl blanks in lengths that are equal to the log’s diameter, plus one inch. Start by lopping off a short section to eliminate any end checks. Mark a line through the pith where the log will be split into two bowl blanks.

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5. Screw the faceplate into what will be the opening of the bowl. The screws should penetrate the wood at least 1" for initial rough turning.

6. Rough the bowl with a bowl gouge. Point the flute in the direction of the cut and keep the bevel rubbing on the wood. The tailstock adds support.

9. The bowl is now mounted with the base towards the headstock. Cut the bowl’s height so the pith is removed. Use the gouge in a scraping fashion with the bevel facing away from the wood and the bottom edge scraping.

12. Start the hollowing process by drilling out the center of the bowl. The hole gives a place for the tool to end each cut and eliminates the need to constantly check the depth. Use a 5/8" to 1" dia. bit mounted in a Jacobs-style chuck. Drill to a depth that is 1/2" less than the finished depth will be.

15. Establish the bowl’s final depth with a heavy scraper. Use the scraper for the bottom and a little up the sides. Scrapers cut poorly across end grain, so rely on the gouge for cutting most of the bowl’s sides.

21. Cut away the waste block where the screws were fastened. Refine the final shape of the base and the bottom third of the bowl with light, finishing cuts.

22. Undercut the bowl’s base to create a rim for the bowl to sit on. This looks better than a flat bottom. Watch the bottom mark (made by holding a pencil on the mark made earlier) so you don’t cut too deep.

24. Sand the bowl after it has dried for 4-5 days. Use a soft foambacked disc mounted on the lathe with a drill chuck. Keep the bowl moving to avoid creating flat spots. Start with 100-grit and work through 220-grit.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker September 2007, issue #130.

September 2007, issue #130

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Cabinetmaking Class

The first iteration of the class “Make a Wall-Hung Cabinet” (henceforth to be called simply “Cabinetmaking”) was held over three days in late August (26-28) 2011 with two students: Matt Vredenburg and Chip Hidinger, both woodworkers with some experience. It was a very busy three days, but in the end I think we arrived about where I had hoped we would, and both students went home with cabinets they can be proud of.

Cabinet The cabinet we made was small (50cm x 30cm x 15cm), a simple design based on the kind of work done at the College of the Redwoods. Built of Honduras mahogany and curly soft maple, the carcase is doweled and the back is a full frame-&-panel construction glued into a rabbet. The door overlays the front of the cabinet completely and is hung on 7mm (5/16″) brass knife hinges. The door frame is slip mortise-&-tenon, and the panel is installed as would be a piece of glass –  so it is removable. Up to two adjustable mahogany shelves can be placed in the interior of the cabinet. The top and bottom edge profiles are worked completely by hand, with planes and spokeshaves, and all surfaces are hand planed and lightly sanded (400-600 grit paper). The finish is shellac polish, hand-applied prior to assembly.

Success! Considering it would take an experienced maker several days to make this cabinet (while honoring the construction methods, attention to craftsmanship and detail work), asking less experienced makers to do all the work in three days is biting off a lot. There’s simply no way we could start from scratch and hope to get anywhere close to completion, so I milled all the parts and did the mortise-&-tenon joinery in advance. The students did the case joinery and all the hand work of fitting the frame and panel joinery, planing and finishing all the surfaces, designing and working the top and bottom edge profiles, assembling the case and fitting and hanging the door. At the end of the session we issued a collective “Whew!” There’s much more to this kind of work than meets the eye, and much of the detail work comes at the end when everything is assembled and fitted.

Check out the image gallery from the class (below), and look for this class to be offered again in the next course rounds.