This whole workbench ordeal has really been a complicated solution to the difficulties of working on the rickety tables already in my workshop... so now that it is usable, back to projects! Up first: knocking out a few more clipboard boxes. I have decided to take a new approach - now that I have better workholding powers, I have decided to try my hand at dovetailing the box sides rather than butting them together - more difficult perhaps, but much wiser and better looking. The first boxes I made were butted, and they have withstood plenty of abuse, but I am cursed (or blessed, perhaps?) with the desire to take on challenges.
Here are two mostly flat and smooth tops. For the box sides, I have decided to use thinner red oak, and for the front and back, thicker western red cedar. I begin by cutting out the tails in the oak... Since I mark the pins from the tails, the precision of the cut and its angle aren't yet of paramount importance.
Here you see me chopping out the waste between two tails. Marking each workpiece (pinboard and tailboard) beforehand on both sides is critical. I use a wheel marking gauge, which I'll perhaps describe in a future post. Knife lines appear on the face sides of the final product, but this is far superior than guessing at a perfect reference mark in creating accurate shoulders.
In the past, it made sense to me to cut the pins first - in so doing, you can hold the edges of the boards together to mark out the tails. There are many opinions about this. For a number of reasons I now cut tails first. In order to get an accurate mark for the pins, I clamp the unmarked pinboard to the bench so that the board's edge is in the same geometric plane as a flat reference surface (in this case a hand plane on its side).
I then move the plane back,
And align the shoulders of the tails with the pinboard.
With some hand pressure and a really nice marking knife (that probably cost too much) I mark out the pins.
Ta-da! The pins are marked to exactly match the tails. This is basic traditional woodworking, but never ceases to amaze me. In the next post I'll finish cutting the pins and match everything up. For this box with its four corners, I repeat this process three more times, being careful not to mix up corners or switch the boards around - all the joints are custom fit to eachother, despite looking similar.