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    Dovetailed Hardware Organizer - Part II





    more on woodworking safety

    Tools and Materials

    In Part I of my series on building a hardware organizer using scrap wood, I focused on cutting the tricky dovetail joinery as well as cutting the groove for the box bottom. Now in Part II, we'll wrap things up by outfitting the box with a series of dividers and gluing it all together.


    How to Make

    Chamfer the Bottomclick to enlarge

    Chamfer the Bottom: The bottom of my box was cut milled to a thickness that perfectly fits the corresponding groove in the sides. In order to help the bottom to be able to expand and contract a bit with the seasons, I like to chamfer the bottom edges a bit using my block plane. Be sure to chamfer the end grain first, then go back and chamfer the long grain sides—this will “erase” the blowout that inevitably occurs when you chamfer the end grain.

    Chamfer the Bottomclick to enlarge

    Cut the Dadoes: Now it’s time to cut the dadoes for the all the dividers. Tackle the two dadoes for the sides first. Mark the center of one of the sides, then tape the two sides together—edge to edge and line up the tick mark with your saw blade. Make the cut using your miter gauge and an auxiliary fence. By cutting them both at the same time, you can ensure they will be in perfect alignment. The long center divider will fit into these dadoes. Next, use a similar technique to mark and cut the dadoes in the two long sides as well as the center divider itself.

    Chamfer the Bottomclick to enlarge

    Prepare for Glue-Up: A great trick for gluing up dovetail joinery is to wax some soft pine cauls ahead of time. Use these during glue-up (see the next photo). The joinery will press into the soft pine cauls during clamp up, ensuring a tight glue-up, and the wax will ensure that your cauls won’t end up glued to the workpiece.

    Chamfer the Bottomclick to enlarge

    Glue it Up and Check for Square: Apply glue to the dovetail joinery and just a bit on the center portion of the end grain of the bottom panel—remember not to apply glue all around the panel, this will cause problems as the panel won’t be permitted to expand and contract with seasonal humidity changes. Finally, assemble the box and use the cauls for glue-up. Don’t forget to check your box for square by measuring the two diagonals. Those measurements should be equal. A variance of within 1/8-in. is OK however. Don’t get TOO finicky.

    Chamfer the Bottomclick to enlarge

    Light Glue for the Dividers: When gluing in the dividers, just apply a dab of glue somewhere in the top half of the dado. As you push each divider down into place, the glue will spread itself around. Remember—you don’t need much.

    Chamfer the Bottomclick to enlarge

    Slide in Dividers and Clamp with Cauls: I glued up all the dividers along one half of the box and then used a caul to clamp them into place.

    Chamfer the Bottomclick to enlarge

    Glue in Remaining Dividers: Once that first set of dividers has dried up, you can go ahead and glue in the remaining ones.

    Chamfer the Bottomclick to enlarge

    Flush the Dividers: I purposely ripped the dividers so that they would stick up, slightly proud of the edge of the box sides. This was done so that I could go back and handplane them down—using my block plane—to a perfectly flush fit with the surrounding wood.

    Chamfer the Bottomclick to enlarge

    Handplaning - Break the Corners: The next step in the process is to handplane the sides of the box, in order to make all the dovetail joinery nice and flush. As your plane travels over the corners of the box however (see next photos), it’s easy to blow out some of that delicate end grain. To avoid this, use a block plane to put a very small chamfer on each of the four corners.

    Chamfer the Bottomclick to enlarge

    Handplaning - Clamping: Clamping up a drawer, or a box like this, for handplaning can be a challenge. My method was to clamp the piece in my front vise and insert a bit of scrap wood under the center of the side in order to keep it from flexing during handplaning. You need a solid surface on which to handplane atop of.

    Chamfer the Bottomclick to enlarge

    Handplaning: Now go ahead and handplane the outer faces of each of the four box sides. Your ultimate goal is to have dovetail joinery that is perfectly flush all the way around the box. When passing a finger along each corner, you shouldn’t be able to feel any of the joinery.

    Chamfer the Bottomclick to enlarge

    Break the Edges: Now use your block plane and perhaps a bit of sandpaper on a sanding block (for those areas you can’t reach with the plane) to gently ease, or “break” all the sharp edges on your organizer. Your goal should be edges that aren’t sharp to the touch. Rather, you want some small micro-bevels on all those edges. They should be pleasing to the touch.

    Chamfer the Bottomclick to enlarge

    Ready for Action: And here’s the final product, ready for action. As far as a finish was concerned, I went with a simple wax finish. Here’s a tip: to make the wax easier to apply, dab a bit of mineral spirits to your rag, then apply the wax to the rag and rub it into the wood. The mineral spirits will act as a solvent and make the wax more pliable. It’s easier to rub into the wood, will dry more quickly, and looks great!



    Ed_Pirnik