Sunday, 23 March 2014

Nightstands are Finished and a Possible history of the Dovetail Joint.

  The Thos Moser matching cherry nightstands for our new bed are finished.

I've been waiting for the delivery of the drawer pulls to get the last shots. They arrived today so here is one of the pair.

The joinery was kind of tricky.
The aprons are flush with the inside of the legs which led to this tenon setup to keep the strength in the joint.

 The rest was pretty straight forward. Tapered legs and some curved stretchers between the legs.

 The drawers were my first foray into making dove tail joints. Purportedly the most difficult joint in woodworking. These were cut by handsaw and the waste areas removed by chisel and mallet. Just like the old timers. It is tricky but patience will get you through.

I give lessons if you are interested.
 The rear of the drawer is a through dovetail joint.
 The half blind dovetail joint is used at the drawer front.

  In the world of wood working the dovetail joint is the most loved, hated and argued about subject in all the forums out there. Everyone has a preference, but it seems two camps have evolved over the ages. One camp says you must cut the pin first. That would be the dark colored triangular part in the photo above. The other camp (which I belong to) says that the tail must be cut first. That would be the lighter colored part shaped like a birds fanned tail.

  If by chance you ever happen to be in the vicinity when these two camps meet there will surely be some heated discussion. It is all really wasted time in my opinion. The joint can be made successfully regardless of which way you start. The thing that really matters is how to get the joint so it fits tightly with little or no gaps. Being as the joint is not only renowned for it's great strength and longevity it is also a showcase of the makers skill. This is agreed on by both camps. So why do we still try to enforce our will on each other.

 I began to slip deep into thought. Has this argument been settled before. Has it been eons since there took place a great battle. The battle of the Dovetail. If it has been forgotten we may be doomed to repeat it. 

  Follow me to a time long ago. A very long time ago, where the two camps each assembled a great army of woodworkers. Their weapons could only be those used in the making of dovetail joints. Each army stood on a hillside with a great flat treeless plain between them. The Pins on one side and the Tails on the other. The cloudless sky providing ample light for all to witness this great battle.

  At the sound of a giant mallet blow both sides rushed down the slopes out onto the great plain wearing only full length cow hide carpenter aprons brandishing the weapons of their choice. Men with beards and back hair aplenty. Faces and hair painted with various colors of wood stain. Yelling and screaming as they rushed headlong into the fray.

 Some raised their western style dove tail saws that cut on the push stroke, while others swung the eastern style dozuki that cuts on the pull stroke. With great vigor, they flailed at one another with them.

  The western style is short and good for close in action. It is stiff and will not yield to hard blows. 
The eastern style is long like a samurai sword with it's wrapped handle and has good reach and a slice that will open up anything it comes in contact with.

  In the other hand was a wooden mallet. Some chose the cylindrical carvers mallet whilst others brandished the menacing square mallet which resembles the hammer of the viking god Thor.

 There aprons of hide did not provide much protection but the pouches on the front allowed them to carry weapons for in close fighting. The most likely would be a 1 inch wide bevel chisel to stab and eviscerate with and maybe a marking knife just big enough to dislodge an opponents eyeball.

As the two sides converged the blood letting began. The barren plain turning red with the blood of those mad warriors. During the height of this insane battle witnesses say you could see the Devil dancing amidst the crimson spray. Bodies and tools lay scattered and bloody upon the land.

In the end the last few dropped there weapons and agreed to never let this come between craftsmen again. They formed the guild of Carpenters and Joiners to support each other and recognize their differences. To educate and produce a higher standard of work. The Carpenters and Joiners exists to this day and I am one of them.

Thanks for reading

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