Small Toolchest Dovetails

The carcass of the small tool chest is held together with dovetail joints. Nothing very unique but a chance for me to remember some of the subtleties of ensuring tight joints.  Square boards, planed end grain, careful marking and sawing.  When I prepared to cut my first dovetail (tails first in my case), I placed a board behind to use as a guide for the opposite end of the board and the face board. This allows me to index my saw to the already cut tails on the board.





I enjoy watching the many methods that people use to cut dovetails, there is the obvious tail and pin debate, the coping saw vs chisel debate, marking with a knife vs a pencil and so forth. I’ve developed a style that I use on most occasions with subtle differences to add variety. Today I think that I will use a chisel rather than a coping saw for removing the waste material.

Communication with my coping saw is a little strained at the moment and I enjoy the rhythm of using a hammer and chisel. After marking the tails with a pencil, I used my marking knife to mark the bottom of the waste and a knife edge. I then chiseled into the board approximately midway and repeated until all of the tails were complete. Marking the pins, I used the same process, saw to the line and remove the waste, fitting each board. Planing the finished product smooth I am very happy with the final product.



  1. October 25, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    They look wonderful! Do you not scribe the entire board for the width of the mating board when you lay them out initially?

    • October 26, 2013 at 8:27 am

      When I initially lay them out I use the mating board to gage the width and mark with a light pencil line. Then I use my combination square and make a nick on one corner and scribe the waste only, skipping the tails or pins. The knick lets me carry the depth to the opposite side. Doing it this way eliminates the dovetail marks on the finished product and if all goes well the only evidence of marking is the tiny knick, I think this is what you are asking. By the way thanks for the lighting information, I’m looking for a new lamp this weekend.

      Sent from my iPad


  1. January 12, 2014 at 4:22 pm
  2. February 22, 2015 at 7:26 pm

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