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On February 28th Trimble released the new versions of SketchUp: SketchUp Make 2014 (the free version) and SketchUp Pro 2014. There is not too much change visible from the outside, but a significant performance improvement under the hood. A good deal of that performance comes by upgrading the Ruby API from Ruby Version 1.8.7 to Ruby Version 2.0.0. This is a welcomed change, especially for people who write Ruby Plugin scripts such as me. However, that change caused many Ruby Plugin scripts to be incompatible with SketchUp 2014.

I spent the last few days coding changes to my tools to make them 2014 compatible. Today I am releasing new versions which work in SketchUp versions 7, 8, 2013 and 2014. I am releasing all of them as .rbz files which make loading them into SketchUp versions 2013 and 2014 a snap by following the instructions below. For SketchUp 7 and 8 users you can change the file extension from .rbz to .zip, open the .zip file with WinZip, 7-Zip or some other appropriate decompression software. Then extract the files and folders to the Plugins folder. You will need to restart SketchUp.

Locating Your Plugins Folder:

You will need to know the location of your Plugins folder to verify you installed CutList Bridge correctly and to import a materials.csv file from CutList Plus fx. SketchUp version 2014, both Make and Pro, has changed the location of the Plugins folder, so you should follow this procedure to be sure you know where it is. You can locate the Plugins folder using the Ruby Console. To open the Ruby Console go to the Window menu and click on Ruby Console. The Ruby Console will appear. In the white area at the bottom copy and paste or type the following line exactly as shown in the picture below left followed by Enter:


The location of the Plugins folder appears on the second line.Ruby statement to locate the Plugins folder.The location of the Plugins folder appears on the second line. You will see the results shown at right. If you get an error message re-type the quotation marks in the Ruby Console in the previous step. Note that I had to drag the right side of the window to enlarge it so the folder location would appear all on one line. Copy and paste the folder location and save it for future reference. You might also want to create a shortcut on your desktop pointing to the Plugins folder.

To install a SketchUp Ruby plugin script with the .rbz format:

  1. We recommend logging into your computer as an admin before installing any Ruby scripts. This will make the installation go more smoothly and ensure that files get installed in the proper places.
  2. Select Window > Preferences (Microsoft Windows) or SketchUp > Preferences (Mac OS X). The Preferences dialog box is displayed.
  3. Click on Extensions. The Extensions panel is displayed.
  4. Click on the Install Extension button. The Open dialog box is displayed.
  5. Locate the Ruby zip file to install (.rbz).
  6. Click on the Open button. The Ruby plugin appears in the list of extensions.
  7. You may see a message asking if you trust the author of this Ruby script. If you do click the Yes button. (Hint: I am trustable.)
  8. You may get a message announcing successful installation. Click OK.

Very Important – Please Report All Problems To:

Layers Management Tool:

  1. Download the Layers Management Version 2.2.pdf file to a location you will remember e.g. your desktop. This file is a short User’s Guide.
  2. Download the layers_2.2.rbz file to a location you will remember e.g. your desktop. Follow the installation instructions above.

Construction Plus Tools:

  1. Download the construction_plus.rbz file to a location you will remember e.g. your desktop. Follow the installation instructions above.

CutList Bridge:

  1. Download the CutList Bridge User’s Guide.pdf file to a location you will remember e.g. your desktop. This file is a User’s Guide.
  2. Download the cutlist_bridge_revision_2.8.rbz file to a location you will remember e.g. your desktop. Follow the installation instructions above.


have written before about The Heartwood School, which is focused on homebuilding crafts, particularly timber framing. Heartwood resides in the town of Washington located in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts. It is run by Will and Michele Beemer. The school offers a full range of home construction and woodworking courses – including a SketchUp course for timber framers. There is now several Build Your Own: courses including Country Windsor Chair, Woodworker’s Workbench, Shavehorse, Pole Lathe and Heirloom Dovetail Toolchest. ALso added is an Advanced SketchUp Pro: Layout course.

The Heartwood School’s course list and 2014 schedule is shown below. For a complete course description go to and in the table’s second column locate the course of interest and click the link. For further information or to register contact Michele Beemer at 413/623-6677, or

Two Week Courses:

July 7 – 18 Comprehensive Housebuilding


One Week Workshops:

April 21 – 25 Fundamentals of Woodworking
April 28 – May 2 Cabinetmaking
May 5 – 9 Stairbuilding
May 12 – 16 Build Your Own: Shavehorse
May 19 – 23 Build Your Own: Country Windsor Chair
June 9 – 13 Build Your Own: Workbench
June 16 – 20 Timber Framing
June 23 – 27 Scribed Timber Framing – Using Natural Forms
July 21 – 25 Finish Carpentry
July 28 – Aug 1 Cruck Framing
Aug. 11 – 15 Carpentry for Women
Aug. 18 – 22 Converting Trees to Timber
Aug. 25 – 29 Timber Framing
Sept. 8 – 12 Compound Joinery for Timber Framers
Sept. 15 – 19 Build a Skin-on-Frame Canoe
Sept. 22 – 26 Carve a 17th century Oak Box – Peter Follansbee
Sept. 29 – Oct 3 Build Your Own: Pole Lathe
Sept. 29 – Oct 3 Build Your Own: Heirloom Dovetail Toolchest
Oct. 6 – 10 Stairbuilding
Oct. 13 – 17 Fundamentals of Woodworking
Oct. 20 – 24 Cabinetmaking


Other Workshops:

April 7 – 9 Timber Grading (3-day)
April 17 – 19 Tangent Handrailing (3-day)
May 29 – 31 Hip and Valley Roof Framing for Carpenters (3-day)
May 29 – 31 Build an Outdoor Earthen Bake Oven (3-day)
June 2 – 4 Eyebrow Dormers (3-day)
June 5 – 7 Intro to SketchUp for Timber Framers (3-day)
June 6 – 7 Concrete Countertops (2-day)
June 30 – July 2 Traditional Raising and Rigging (3-day)
Sept. 4 – 6 Timber Frame Design & Joinery Decisions (3-day)
Sept. 26 – 27 Advanced SketchUpPro: Layout (2–day)

Cherry BedA number of years back I built a bed for myself using pictures and plans from an article in Workbench Magazine, Heirloom Bed, March/April 2001, page 52.

Constructed entirely of native New England cherry, it is finished with a natural, hand rubbed tung oil. Cherry will darken naturally with age to a rich reddish brown. The legs and rails are one piece, no glue-ups. This adds a little to the cost but makes the finished product more appealing.

Though not visible, the curved rail of the headboard has a natural grain pattern that looks like a dolphin jumping out of the water. We are always looking for natural patterns to incorporate in a piece.

I modified the bed slightly to have a clearance of 12″ under the bed to allow for storage and easy cleaning.

Cherry DresserDetail of Top, Trim, Chamfer and Lamb's TongueA few years later I designed and built two matching dressers. At right above is pictured the bed and at left the dresser. The dresser stands 48 1/4” tall, 36” wide and 18 1/2” deep. There are five graduated drawers, the top drawer having a faux front to simulate two drawers.

All Five Drawers Are Hand DovetailedLike the bed, the dresser is made of native New England cherry; the drawer boxes are poplar. The convex curves in the bed are picked up in the concave curves of the dresser. The legs have the same curved taper design at the bottom, chamfered on the corners with a lamb’s tongue at each end. The sides of the dresser pick up the tongue and grove slats from the headboard and footboard of the bed. To keep the same feel in heftiness I used stout 2” x 2” legs and a 1” top on the dresser.

In all my pieces I use traditional drawer design with floating tapered bottoms and hand cut dovetails. This project was a twin dresser build, so I had ten drawers to dovetail. At the end of an entire day of dovetailing these 68 year old hands can cramp up a lot ;<)

Hand Cut DovetailsMy current project is to design and construct matching bedside tables with two drawers and some space for books or a small stereo unit. I have a multi-part video series on my American Woodworker blog detailing the design process and modeling. You can view Designing Furniture From Scratch In SketchUp–Part 1 by clicking on this hyperlink.

SketchUp Model of the Cherry Bedside TableAt right is a picture of the SketchUp model of the matching bedside table. You can see how the curves, legs and slatted sides appear in all three pieces; bed, dresser and bedside table. The bedside table stands 32” high, 20 1/2” wide and 19 1/4” deep. The opening is 11 3/4” high and 14” wide; tall enough for an 8 1/2” x 11” notebook.

In the near future there will be detailed SketchUp models and shop drawings on my Free Plans page for all three pieces. Perhaps one day I will design a matching bureau and mirrors. Stay tuned.

Completed StandI recently finished a four part post to my American Woodworker blog site titled The Book of Shaker Furniture by John Kassay – A Treasure Trove for SketchUp Generation Woodworkers. This series of posts demonstrates how to create a 3D model based on 2D drawings from any woodworking book or drawings. The specific piece is a Shaker Round Stand pictured at right. If you wish to learn how this piece was modeled in SketchUp and shop drawings created you can follow the links below:

  1. The Book of Shaker Furniture by John Kassay – A Treasure Trove for SketchUp Generation Woodworkers – Part 1
  2. The Book of Shaker Furniture by John Kassay – A Treasure Trove for SketchUp Generation Woodworkers – Part 2
  3. The Book of Shaker Furniture by John Kassay – A Treasure Trove for SketchUp Generation Woodworkers – Part 3
  4. The Book of Shaker Furniture by John Kassay – A Treasure Trove for SketchUp Generation Woodworkers – Part 4

If you wish to build this stand you can go to my Free Plans page (menu), look in the spreadsheet under Tables for Shaker Round Stand. Click the smiley face in the SketchUp column to download the SketchUp model and shop drawings. You can print out a full scale drawing of the pedestal and leg used in this piece to create templates for the shop. If you have trouble printing to scale in SketchUp see my post Printing To Scale With SketchUp Make & SketchUp Pro 2013. The techniques used in this post also works for SketchUp version 7 & 8.

Jesse's Finished Drafting TableThroughout my career I was fortunate enough to work with some of the brightest and most energetic young engineers. In my retirement that luck has continued with a string of woodworking apprentices: Amber Baker, Melissa Stylos and Jesse Moy. I call them my apprentices, though I am neither qualified in the traditional European apprenticeship sense, nor do I have an official apprenticeship program. “My apprentices” is a label of affection because I have grown to appreciate and respect each of them for their drive, desire to learn a traditional skill and the quality of labor they brought to the task.

Inside The Drafting Table Is Storage For The T-Square & Other Drawing ToolsToday Jesse came to pick up his completed project and so he graduated in a sense. I introduced you to both Jesse and Melissa in my March 29, 2012 newsletter (Amber in my December 1, 2010 newsletter). See the March issue for Jesse’s background.

Jesse and I met in December of last year when he was introduced to me by Steve Racz of CutList Ruby script fame. Jesse had just finished a timber frame program at The Heartwood School the previous spring and was a co-student with Steve. He told me he wanted to learn fine furniture crafting and could I help him. I said sure, can you spend about two days a week in the shop?

A SketchUp Sketchy Rendering of the Drafting TableThe plan was simple. Jesse was to help me build two cherry chest of drawers to learn fine furniture woodworking. He would be under my guidance each step of the way. We would start with rough lumber selection, then stock preparation, followed by milling, layout & cutting of joinery  etc. He would learn both power tool use & safety and hand tool use & sharpening. I am big on hand tool use and told him he would have to master the use of planes, chisels and hand saws during this first phase. Then Jesse would build a project of his own design, working on his own, getting help from me only when he asked for it. That was the deal.

A SketchUp Sketchy Rendering of the Drafting Table InsideI believe you learn woodworking mostly from doing it – and – having a project of value to work on. Jesse certainly had that motivation. Jesse and his woman friend, Christina, have plans to obtain graduate degrees in architecture. The project Jesse chose is a portable drafting table which he plans to gift to Christina upon her graduation this month from The Conway School’s Sustainable Landscape Design program. Certainly this is a project of value and a labor of love. What better way to learn fine woodworking.

Learning to Hand Cut DovetailsJesse didn’t just choose a project and design it himself. He had to learn SketchUp too, and then model his design and produce the shop drawings to work from. In the tradition of Swamp Road Wood Work’s SketchUp models, Jesse is making his SketchUp model available to anyone who wishes to build this drafting table, or modify his design for another use. At a later date I will place Jess’s drafting table on my Free Plans page.

As mentioned earlier, drawers and carcasses crafted at SRWW are almost always joined using hand cut dovetails. In the construction of the cherry chests Jesse learned not only through dovetails, but half-blind dovetails too. He started by practicing straight cuts on scrap wood; over and over and over until he could follow a layout line. Soon he was cutting tails and pins and putting together practice joints. As is typical, his first dovetail joint was almost perfect – beginner’s luck; his second and third not so much. But each one got better and better. Jesse built the first drawers of my cherry chest on his own and I was very pleased with the result.

Jesse's Hand Crafted DrawersThe design Jesse created was full of hand joinery, some quite complex. The carcass employed hand cut through and half-blind dovetails, the drawers through and half-blind dovetails. Several styles of dadoes – traditional and v-grove – were employed. In addition, many of the dadoes were of the stopped variety. While the dadoes and rabbets were cut with the table saw and router, some were formed, or cleaned up, using a shoulder plane & shooting board or chisel. Jesse learned both the value of fine tuning joinery as well as the cost if you skipped this step.

Dadoes, Both Stopped & Through, and Half-Blind & Through DovetailsJesse was taught the tails first method of hand cut dovetails. And he was taught to cut to – but leave – a line when cutting the pins, since pins are laid out by tracing the tails. If done correctly you should still see the pencil lines after tails are cut. The more difficult dovetail joint is the half-blind dovetail because you have to cut to – but leave – the line, and you have to cut a complex angle and keep from unsightly overcutting. The picture below left shows how well Jesse performed this task.

Jesse's Well Formed Half-Blind DovetailsAmong the many things about fine furniture design and crafting Jesse learned was the importance of taking seasonal shrinkage/expansion into account. His top is fairly large and hence subject to seasonal changes in width and cupping. To account for this Jesse employed breadboard ends. He learned to use a moisture meter, first calibrating it and setting it for a particular wood species. Then making a moisture reading and using it to calculate dimensional changes taking into account species, board type (quarter sawn verses plain sawn), area of the country and the application (breadboard). Armed with this information he knew how wide to cut the top such that the average width over the full season would be the length of the breadboard ends.

Further, he learned to elongate the pin holes in the tenons in a graduated way, the first hole in the front un-elongated and each subsequent hole elongated in a graduated way to allow for maximum expansion and contraction. If you look closely at the picture below right you can see this graduated elongation.

Mortise, Tenon & Haunch Joinery for Seasonal ChangesPlanning the inside layout of the drafting table was no small feat. Jesse had to provide storage for the T-Square, allow space and partitioning for the drawers, provide space at the ends for sticks that would hold the top open at the desired angle while drawing, and finally leave space for storage of other drafting tools, pencils, erasers etc.

Hardware choice was a particularly daunting task. Many woodworkers don’t understand the value of selecting and acquiring the hardware before completing the design and beginning crafting. Jesse learned this lesson somewhat the hard way. He also discovered that he couldn’t have chosen a more labor intensive drawer pull than the ones he chose. If you look at the sixth picture from the top you will see what I mean. The drawer pulls needed to be set into the drawer front. Creating the precise opening required the construction of a jig for the router. That was followed by drilling a rather large hole using a Forstner bit and then manually scooping out a ball shaped volume.

The Inside Layout Took Careful ConsiderationNot shown are the 6-lb rare-earth magnets and associated hardware to keep the drawers from falling out when the drafting table is moved. These are mounted into the drawer backs and the partition just behind the drawers. Knowing where to place this partition required detailed knowledge of the rare-earth magnet hardware which Jesses neglected to order until late in the game. To his credit he figured out how to stage the construction and glue-up so he could rescue himself from this situation.

Shown in the picture below right are the spalted maple T-Square and the top with breadboard ends. Both the T-Square and the breadboard ends are attached using pegs. This project for sure employed a wide variety of joinery making it an ideal project for learning fine woodworking. Looking at these pictures, especially the two of the completed piece; I think you will agree with me that Jesse is no longer an apprentice and deserves to be called a fine woodworker. His “graduation” comes with mixed emotion. I am happy to witness his end product turn out so well and I am proud of Jesse and his efforts. But I will miss working with such a talented, dedicated and hardworking individual. A young man who has become a good friend.

Spalted Maple T-Square & Breadboard Ends Attached With PegsDuring the course of our working together I dropped my #5 Jack plane and broke the handle. As a going away gift Jesse gave me a replacement handle and a gift of a Shaker furniture book. Every time I pick up my Jack or refer to that book I will be reminded of a young man with a bright future who passed through my life and shop and gave me the pleasure of teaching him fine woodworking. Good luck Jesse.

Dovetailed Components Interface WindowOccasionally I update the tools in the Construction Plus toolbar; usually with fixes and minor modifications. This time, in addition to such changes, Dovetailed Components has been significantly enhanced. In addition to drawing drawer sides for traditional drawers automatically, it now draws contemporary drawers and tailboards automatically too. Contemporary drawers are much more common in today’s furniture and tailboards are useful in constructing carcasses, grandfather clocks, jewelry boxes, blanket chests and much more.

With this release I have included a short User’s Guide. When you download and install it, by extracting it to the Plugins folder, you will find Dovetailed Components User’s Guide.pdf in the C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Google SketchUp Pro 8\Plugins\dovetailed_components directory. Of course, your directory will be somewhat different depending on your platform (MAC or PC), Operating System version and SketchUp version and license. So adjust accordingly.

I hope you find this tool useful. I have ambitious plans for its evolution; Dovetailed Components will eventually model the entire drawer, including front, back and bottom. In addition it will allow for custom tails and pins with unequal spacing. In the meantime enjoy this version.

Drawer Sides Tool WindowI have added a SketchUp Ruby script drawing tool called Drawer Side to the Construction Plus tool set. Drawer Side creates the Drawer Side component of a traditional drawer, including front and back tails and dado for the drawer bottom to ride in. A Left Drawer Side instance is placed at the model’s origin. This instance can be copied, placed and mirrored (flipped) to create the Right Drawer Side. From there the front and back can be easily created using the Intersect Faces tool.

The tool’s Drawer Side command shows up in the Draw menu and also on a tool bar called Construction Plus. Its human interface is user friendly and allows for the quick creation of multiple drawers, such as needed for a high boy. Each time you use the tool a new drawer side is added to the In Model Component library with a Drawn Drawer Side With Dadounique component name. To create a series of drawers with the same depth, but progressively deeper, simply change the drawer side width, and perhaps the number of tails and re-Draw.

Drawer Sides accepts Metric or Imperial inputs and user inputs are saved when the tool is used or closed so that they can be restored on the next use. User instructions can be displayed by clicking the Instructions button. Help buttons are also provided for each category on user inputs, as is a helpful picture showing the input information requested. The Drawer Side window will adjust size to accommodate older and smaller screens.

Download Construction Plus and check out Drawer Side. I will probably evolve this tool to add functionality such as drawing the front, back and bottom of the drawer, drawing general tail or pin boards (without dado) and with the same  or different ends. Stay tuned.

All Pieces Of Stock Are Marked For Orientation & Exposed Face My current project is a Tall Shaker Wall Clock. It is a gift for my daughter upon her graduation from law school. She graduated a year ago and this gift is a little late. But hey, I’m not getting paid to do this ya know! Anyway, I just stared by preparing stock for the sides, top and bottom. I cut all pieces to final overall dimensions including thickness. When building a carcass using hand cut dovetail joinery it is especially important that all mirrored pieces (right and left side for example) are precisely the same size and perfectly square. Next I carefully choose the surfaces I want exposed and then mark the material to be sure they go together correctly. Carpenter’s Crayon is perfect for this purpose.

My Tools Of Choice For Hand Cutting DovetailsA hand cut dovetail joint requires quality hand tools. Like all woodworkers who work with hand tools I have my favorites and will stack them up against anyone else’s favorites. It’s kind of a religious thing. My choices appear in the picture at left. The dovetail saw, chisel and dovetail marker are all Lie-Nielsen. The dovetail saw is the progressive pitch model; it has fine teeth in the front for easy starting and more aggressive teeth in the back for rapid cutting. The dovetail marker has a 7:1 pitch (or approximately 8 degrees) which I use for hardwoods, and also serves as a square to mark vertical line for half pins. The chisels are just the right length and well balanced. Their weight is on the light side so that your fingers do not tire after hours of dovetailing and unlike Japanese chisels whose triangular top edge cuts into your fingers, the flat top edge of the Lie-Nielsen does not.

The Dividers Are Set For The Width Of A Tail Plus A PinI like a light, hard rock maple wooden mallet. This one was recommended by and purchased from Nora Hall’s website. Nora Hall, if you don’t know, is an expert on carving. A small engineer’s square is ideal for marking the top edge with tail and half-pin spacing. I cut tails first and cutting perpendicular to the board face is critical for good fitting dovetails. The dividers are Groz with sharp points and are used to layout the pin and tail spacing by setting them to the width of one tail plus one pin and stepping the divider across the ends. Setting the dividers and marking other critical dimensions is accomplished with an accurate scale. I use the Incra Tiny T Rule which marks to 1/64″. The Lee Valley Veritas marking gauge makes quick and accurate work of scribing the pin and tail depth across the grain. And finally a well sharpened pencil with lead on the soft side for marking completes the tool set.

A Stool Comes In Handy To Provide Sufficient Elevation To Saw The Tails

The sides of this clock are 51″ long. Cutting tails on this length piece can be quite a challenge. In the past I would have used my adjustable height bench raised to its maximum height to secure the board to eliminate chatter while sawing. With my new Lie-Nielsen bench I find the face vice holds the piece securely and its size and mass all but eliminate chatter making tail sawing easy. I still needed to stand on something for elevation. One of the stools I wrote about crafting as Christmas gifts for our grandchildren came in handy for this purpose. I reposition it frequently so that my stance and arm are appropriately aligned to make the cuts. I use this stool again when removing the waste between the tails with the fret saw as shown at left.

There are two aspects of cutting tails that is critical to good joinery. The first I mentioned earlier is cutting perpendicular to the face of the board. Failing to do so will leave unsightly gaps, poor glue joints and weak mechanical joints. The second aspect is to stop the cut at the scribe line. Going past this point will show and leave a sloppy appearance, not one a craftsman wants to project.

There are a few aspects of tail cuts that are not critical. The angle of the cut is nominally 8 degrees from vertical, but this is not critical. Neither is the width of the gap (pin width). Machine cut dovetails would all be perfectly angled and spaced, but then they would look machine cut. The human is not a machine. Hand cut dovetails are beautiful precisely because they don’t look machine cut; they are all slightly different, adding to the beauty of the piece.

Trace The Pins From The Tail Board And Make Sure To Mark The Waste Area

The pins are a little more difficult. First, the pins are traced from the tails by laying the tail board on the pin board, aligning them perfectly perpendicular and at the correct depth and tracing the pins from the tails with a sharp pencil or knife. I prefer a pencil because I want to saw on the waste side of the pencil marks, that is, leaving the pencil mark which is actually part of the pin. This I can see clearly with pencil marks. However, a knife mark tends to draw the saw blade into its kerf leaving me less control. I complete the layout using the dovetail marker being sure to mark the waste area with Xs as shown at right.

Cut The Pins By Sawing On The Waste Side Leaving The Pencil Marks

There are critical aspects of pin cuts that must be adhered to. Cut on the waste side of the pencil mark, but aligned as closely to it, and along it as possible. Cut straight down using the vertical lines as a guide. Stop at the scribe line on both sides of the board. Paying close attention to these will assure snug fitting joinery – assuming you also cut the tails correctly. The trick to hand cut dovetails is being able to cut vertically and to follow a line. Once those two skills are mastered you can hand cut dovetails that go together the first time, every time.

It helps to cut vertically if your piece is mounted in the vice plumb. The shoulder vise on my Lie-Nielsen lets me quickly accomplish this by holding the piece flush against the vice as I tighten it.

The Majority Of The Waste Is Removed With A Fret Saw

After making all the vertical cuts I am ready to remove the waste. This is done in two steps. First, clear the majority of the waste from the pins by cutting it away with a fret (or coping) saw. I twist the blade in my fret saw to about forty five degrees with pliers. This allows the saws frame to clear the board as I cut. Turning it ninety degrees to the frame would make starting the cut near impossible. When sawing I try to stay as close as I dear to the scribe line leaving just enough to support the chisel cleanup that will follow. How much you leave depends on your experience and courage. If you are just starting out stay at least an eighth of an inch from the scribe line. Be sure you cut evenly front to back. You don’t want to cut close to the scribe line in front and below the scribe line in back. Judge this carefully. After a while it becomes natural and requires no special attention.

Cleanup Of The Waste Is Performed With A Sharp Chisel

The second step in clearing the waste is to clean up the material left by the fret saw. I perform this step with a very sharp chisel. Depending on how close I cut to the scribe line will determine how many cuts along the scribe line I will need to take. If you are doing this and you leave a quarter of an inch for example, you will want to make at least three passes as you approach the scribe line. The last pass should be no more than one eighth inch. Less is better. I hold the chisel slightly passed vertical such that the waste is cut angled into the board. The end grain serves no purpose in the joinery; only the faces of the pins and tails are used to form both the mechanical and glue joint. I check with a small engineer’s square that the material is removed such that the scribe line on each face is unimpeded by material that might project passed them.

The Pins And Tails That Join The Four Sides Of The Clock Carcass

The final joinery set is shown at right. Note that you can still see the pencil marks on the pins. As mentioned above they are part of the pin material since the tail was used as the mask to form the pins. Also note that the tails are cut perpendicular to the face of the tail board and the pins are cut straight down – that is vertical to the board. These pins will go together for the first time during glue-up with no dry fit required.

I have a confession to make. You can see that some of the end grain in the pin boards was chipped out. If my chisel were as sharp as it should have been this would not have happened. My chisel was sharp when I started out on the tail boards and I should have stopped to sharpen it for the pin boards. However it was close to dinner time and I was almost done so I plugged along. The small white sin here is that the end grain does not play a part in the joinery and will not be seen. So I can be forgiven, though it is not my usual practice. There, I feel so much better now that I got that off my chest.

If you are just starting out with hand cut dovetails, or haven’t yet started but would like to, I would highly recommend purchasing Rob Cosman’s series of video tutorials. I have been cutting hand dovetails for ten years now and consider myself experienced. But I still purchase nearly every tutorial I can to see how the masters do it so that I can learn and improve. Frank Klausz is probably the dovetail king with Rob Cosman a very close second, but Rob’s videos I find to be the best tutorials on the market. Don’t shy away from hand cut dovetails. Innate skill is not required. Anyone willing to practice sawing vertically and to a line can master them.

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