Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I've got a thing for tiny dividers, french fit drawers, and organization. I also have an unhealthy amount of love for my tools, so I decided to make a chisel till.

Because it's only fun if you do it the hard way, I decided to angle the top rail to match the graduated length of my set of chisels. I wanted to dovetail the corners, so to help wrap my head around the joinery I drew a full size pattern on a piece of mdf.

I transfered the intersections to my stock, and used that to lay out the angled joinery. Other than the odd layout, these corners are sawn and chopped just like the standard through dovetail. I do it just like this.

A blurry image meant to show how the piece follows the pattern, taken before I worked out the divider spacing:

The 85° corner:

I decided that the dividers should also be dovetailed. Because the top and bottom rails aren't parallel, I needed to haunch the joinery to make it work.

I started by making a jig for the shaper. It consists of two parts, a backer and a ramp, attached to a mitre gauge. The ramp angle was taken from my full scale drawing.

I cut the haunches first. I used a 3/8" upcut spiral, the width of my parts, set so the whole bit width was just barely used. I used a scrap to mark my jig with the bit centre mark, and aligned this mark with one on my stock taken directly from my pattern.

I don't like ploughing a full cut with dovetail bits, it's hard on the sharp little corners. I switched for a 1/8" upcut bit to hog out most of the waste.

With the 1/8" bit still chucked up, I did the bottom rail. I clamped a backer to my jig, drew a reference line, and removed the bulk of the waste.

Then I switched to the dovetail bit. Up until this point I had been holding the stock with my hands. When you follow one bit with another it tends to grab at the sides and it makes a mess of your stock. A clamp is necessary at this point.

The top rail is dovetailed the same way, except it's cut sittng up on the ramp.

Assembly starts by glueing up the four corners. Then the dividers are glued and slid into place, locking the whole thing together.

Assembled and oiled, and as luck would have it I photographed the corner that split. I got a little greedy looking for a tight fit:

In use:

Yes, it's kind of fancy for a set of Blue Chips, the Ford Tarus of the chisel world, but I don't have a complete set of Bergs. Or Nielsens. Yet.

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I'm a woodworker on the Canadian prairie.