Harvey Ellis Saw Till – Part 3 – Cutting Tails

I strained my back at the gym on Wednesday so I decided working on the bench top would not be the best idea therefore this weekend was all about cutting pins. By sneaking in a few minutes after work I head already sized and square the case top and bottom, all that remained was planning them to their final width. I decided to jury rig a panel gauge using some scrap and a clamp which worked well enough for what I needed.

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After plowing the groove for the back it was time to mark and cut some pins. Since the case sides are longer than my bench is wide and my bench is not easily moved due to its lack of attached legs, I decided to relocate my Moxon vise to the end of the bench. This gave me room to lay the case side on top and trace the tails with my marking knife, and then I marked out the face lines and got cutting. The end results were pretty good for a first attempt at free hand dovetails, there were a few gaps but the joint is structurally sound.

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Saturday we decided to walk to the SF Zoo (it’s a 3.5 mile walk) and we cut through Golden Gate Park to get there. For those of you who don’t know Golden Gate Park has a small herd of Bison (commonly called Buffalo) which is where we noticed this sign.

Oddly Specific
Oddly Specific

Saturday night I cut the second set of pins and these were atrocious; gaps everywhere and the front edges of the boards did not line up meaning I had to make the gaps even bigger in order to get them close to flush. In the end it was unbelievably loose and will need wedges/shims to be structural.

Luckily this was followed by an excellent bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Luckily this was followed by an excellent bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Sunday I managed to cut the two remaining sets of pins; set three was about the same as set one but for the final set I decided to use a mechanical pencil instead of a knife making it easier to see the lines and adding a bit more of a buffer zone; this was the best of the four.

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Since I still had some time I decided to pick or a board for the divider between the drawer and the saw area. This board needed to be a quarter inch longer than the case top/bottom in order to have the through tenons stick out and it needed to be around the same width to make layout easier (I will plane down the front edge after joinery is complete to make a consistent 18th inch reveal). Unfortunately there were no suitable boards and any glue-ups would have required a ripping a narrow strip. Instead I decided to use one of the case side cut offs that had a rather nasty knot on the edge which I chiseled out before planning the board to width. This knot void will only be visible from the back and from inside the drawer space, plus this is garage storage/practice piece so better to be economical about things.

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Then I plowed a groove on the top and bottom of the board to hold the back pieces. This is one of the design elements from the tools box inspiration that I really liked.

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