Monthly Archives: August 2016

“The old Man and The Dovetail”


As time has passed I have resigned myself to the fact that I am indeed not moving the way I once was able to.


My back, shoulders, knees, hips, all are beginning to whisper into my ear that I am growing older and should rethink how I go about using my body during the course of a normal day.


My hands especially have been a problem. They began giving my issues in my 30’s, and will, from time to time, really make doing fine detailed work difficult. Hand cutting joinery has become especially vexing. While I am certainly still able to do the work, I find that operations like cutting multiple drawers  worth of dovetails are sure to cause soreness and regret the next day.

Thus, I have decided to lay aside my foolish pride. I surrender to the passage of time. I am now in the prime of life, but I have also grown wise enough to begin thinking about my longevity. Longevity both in the big picture, watch what you eat, stop drinking, settle down, get exercise sense of the word, but also longevity in the , “I want to be working wood late into my golden years sense of the word too.”

So then, in keeping with my desire to preserve my hands ability to work wood, I have decided that the addition of a simple dovetail jig to my arsenal is required.

I have used many variations on the dovetail jig theme. All left me reaching for a scribe, a back saw, and a chisel. The joints, while functional and accurate, were soulless and drab. Just no fun at all.

Recently, while doing my normal, maniacal, researching of a proposed too I want to buy, I ran across this:




This little honey is the Prazi 3900  “Chestmate” dovetail jig. It is simple. It makes clean, very accurate, high quality through dovetails. (among other features I will discuss later in this post)

While there are any number of high quality dovetail jigs available, they are aimed mostly at drawer building. Making multiple drawers fast and accurately. They are also really, really expensive. Despite  their cost, they are highly regarded, and are a key tool to have if you do a lot of drawers.

It is true that I do build pieces that will require drawers.However, I do not do large scale “kitchen size” projects from The Tiny Shop, and I hope not to have to. if I were to take on a large scale project that required many drawers, the smart thing to do is to farm out the drawer building to a local craftsman who specializes in drawers and cabinet doors. They can do it faster, with more efficiency and for a cost lower than I can if I did them myself.

So why would I need a dovetail jig you ask?

Simple, I like to join my casework together with dovetails(usually). It is a heroically strong joint, and through dovetails lend a little spice to the visual effect of the piece when left exposed.

I settled on this particular jig for a number of reasons.

First, due to it’s clever design, it can be used to produce variably spaced dovetail pins and tails. This feature allows for even more visual dialogue at the corners of the piece.

Second, it is not limited by its design to only the width of body like other dovetail jigs. The largest I have seen prior to finding the Chestmate, was Leigh’s  24″ and porter Cable’s similar dovetail jig, the Omnijig.

Both allow for fabulous joints, but I often want to cut the dovetails in boards that can exceed that width limitation.

So, I have found a suitable jig that can help me cut variably spaced through dovetails. It can be used to cut dovetails for drawers as well, though not specifically for production level volume. This is fine with me. If the day comes that I find myself in need of a jig that can do dovetails at production volume levels, I will need to rethink my business model.

In addition to dovetails, this little jig also makes finger joints, and much to my delight, I can also configure the jig to cut mortises.

This last one is HUGE.

Because I am avoiding any unnecessary marital friction, I am trying my very hardest NOT to go on impromptu shopping sprees. Those who know me well know that i am prone to buying tooling because….well….because I GOTTA HAVE IT!!!

Having this particular jig will allow for me to avoid buying a dedicated mortiser….for now.

I can use this jig and my router to cut needed mortises. It is a wonderful compromise……for now.


Madcap-ery Interrupted


Sure as shit….just as soon as I post here that I am writing a “book,” I come down with the most horrendous, unending, torturous case of writers block that I have had to date.

No matter what, as soon as I would sit down to write, my mind that had moments ago been filled with the most brilliant and innovative or profound topics and notions just decides to delete any semblance of coherent text.

I would sit and try to put anything I could down. ANYTHING. Sometimes even getting a page or two tip-tapped out on my lovely new Thinkpad. Once or twice I even had a session or two where I had nearly an entire chapter of this thing written.

Then I would reread what I had written…..

The horror….the horror.

Finally, I set the Thinkpad aside and tried to write in longhand. Anything to get ideas that seemed to be just out of reach, fleshed out in some way. A word, a sentence, a phrase….anything. All to no avail.

So, in an effort to get the creative juices flowing again I write this blog post to whine about having lost my voice.

The bright side may be that, in having this wretched case of writers block, AGAIN, I am forced to take my own advice and simply be in the moment. Perhaps I should view these many months as a needed recharging of the creative batteries.

Speaking of creativity, I have finally been doing some light restoration work in the Tiny Shop.

I have a friend who rescued a couple of Art Deco pieces from being consigned to the landfill. He got a dresser and also a combination vanity/dresser that were obviously a set just for the cost of picking them up.

they both have some water damage and also some veneer issues, but I have been able to bring the dresser back to life and work is starting on the vanity/dresser now.resto

This piece still had the original mid-century Bakelite handles. It is back together and just got swapped for the soon-to-be-refreshed vanity.

I am excited to see how these two look side by side. I will be sure to snap a couple of before pictures and post them here.

So while the restoration/refreshing pieces are fun and all, what I really want to do is start building some furniture of my own.

When I say “my own,” What I really  mean to say is that I will more than likely be building clones, or my take on pieces that interest me. This is an ongoing method of mine. I start by putting together classic design pieces, and end up sketching and eventually craving to build variations on that particular theme.

For example, I have long wanted to build this.



This is a “Stand Up Desk” by Thos. Moser of New Gloucester Maine. It is on my short list of “to-build pieces.

I also want to build a blanket chest for The Love Of My Life,blanketchest

as well as a glove table for our entry to the house.glovetable

So while I may be somewhat hamstrung by my literary ineptitude, i do have a great deal I wish to get built out in The Tiny Shop to help salve my seemingly empty head.