Monday, September 13, 2010

The Half-Deft Creating the Half-Blind

The below drawers represent the latest thing out of the garage. 



These had a couple of firsts-for-me incorporated. Perhaps the defining characteristic of the drawers is the half-blind dovetailing going on between the fronts and the sides. I've been through-dovetailing for a couple of years now and was getting pretty comfortable with it. I figured the half-blind would be a little more difficult and take a little more precision than my skills allowed; so for years I never tried one. I think a primer on The Wood Whisperer a little while back made me think hmm...I'm not sure what I'm so afraid of.

So I took a little scrap wood and knocked some out. I'll say this...they take a tiny bit more time, no more skill, and are much more forgiving that the through version. In the end, only one side of the guts are exposed, therefore you can be pretty sloppy with the rest of it. I was also blown away by the strength of the joint too.

I used this project to experiment with different tail configurations. I think I dig the regularity and proportions of the middle two.

The backs are doweled (quick and easy) and the bottoms are just butt-joined and inserted into dados cut with my slot-cutter on a router table (quick and easy). Here's another joy of the half-blind: as long as the end of your dado is fully contained by the tail, it won't show in the finished product...more quick and easy.

The first photo shows how the top three drawers have fronts that extend below the bottom of the sides. My intent is to create hardwood rails equal to the height of this overhang upon which the drawers will ride. These rails will also guide the below drawer. Essentially each drawer will be braced in place and only allowed to move along one axis. It will also allow all drawers to abut each other and be right up against the sides, bottom, and top of the carcass...nice and clean.

Here's something a little off-topic: notice how the picture of the cover has the subtitle as "Design and Make by Hand and Machine" but the subtitle listed (and the one I'm familiar with) is "Handmade Furniture's Signature Joint." To me, these suggest very different approaches. I think Mr. Kirby should just go with "Woodworking's Signature Joint." I know the dovetail is used in other applications but I'm sure workers of wood embrace it like none other.

The other first-in-my-experience is that--minus the dowels--all the wood used was from my firewood pile. I finally got my bandsaw up and running with a resaw blade and went to work. I used Matthias Wandel's bandsaw sled idea and it ain't pretty, but it sure works. I cut a flat face and then another one 90 deg. to the first.  I then abandon the sled and just use my homemade fence to slice off boards.

I suppose this is as good a time as any to sing the praises of Matthias. Anyone who has looked through a woodworking catalog and said, "I could build that myself," needs to check his site out: the man built his own massive bandsaw, for goodness sake. His website and the Lee Valley catalog have convinced me that maybe we should reconsider our opinion of the Canadians.

Back to the wood, here's the thing: I have no idea what it is. It's spalted pretty nicely and being able to quarter-saw it brought out some niceties.

I'm exhausted...that's all for now.

Here's one for the road that's worth listening to all the way through:

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