I have long wanted to try my hand at making dovetails and finally plucked up the courage, I basically followed Harry Smith's instructions in his book The Art of Making Furniture in Miniature. He however didn't have a compound table and had to mark the distance between each dovetail by hand. Well, let me show you how I made mine on my drill press that has a compound table. My subject is a tiny 7mm high drawer.
Here I am busy cutting the small little groove where the tails will fit in on the drawer fronts, you will see it doesn't go all the way through the wood thickness, normally one would use blind dovetails for the front of a drawer. I made through dovetails on the back of the drawer but forgot to take a photo.
In his book Harry Smith cuts the tails on the drawer sides by hand, but I decided to try it on my drill press and was quite happy with the results.
My hubby came home and took some of the next photos, of course you need to always hold your wood down very firmly or the cutter will just grab it and send it spinning away or worse into your face or eye. In this photo I have started cutting the tails on the drawer sides, to do this you need to hold the drawer side upright, I used a jig to keep the wood nice and square to the cutter. The wheel on the left moves the compound table from left to right or right to left and the front wheel moves the table backwards and forwards. I found that I had to cut very slowly otherwise the cutter would just break the wood as it is so thin.
Instead of moving the table the whole time, I just flip the wood to cut on each end, it gives you a perfect symmetrical cut-out on each side.
I did move the table for the central cutout between the two tails, once again I had to make a few practice pieces until I had the spacing perfect. When I make more than one drawer that is the same size I will do the first cut on each drawer piece before I move the table for the next cut, it just saves a lot of time.
The drawer isn't glued together yet as I still need to cut rebates on the bottom inside of each drawer for the base. You can see that the back dovetail goes all the way through. Oh, yes, of course the cutter leaves you with a rounded edge on the groove in the drawer front, I just gently file the tails on the drawer side on the inside until the side fits in nice and flush with the drawer front.
The back view of the through dovetails, not quite perfect but not too shabby for a first try at making dovetails on the drill press. One last tip, I always read as much as I can on a new technique in full scale, knowing how they do it in full scale at least helps me visualize how it should look and then to figure out how to do it in miniature.
Enjoy what is left of the week