Fine tune your dovetailing skills

Dovetail joints are rarely used these days, except by master craftsmen and those that still love traditional joinery, but here's an easy project to practice dovetail joints.

Make a cutlery holder using 10 x 44mm pine or scraps of hardwood. There are no visible joints due to the use of dovetails on the corners and all other sections being secured using wood glue.

1. Start by marking the width of the drawer and then cut the front and back to length. Use utensils to determine the width of the cutlery holder.

2. Mark the tails and pins on all corner sections. These need to be exactly equal on all pieces to ensure they fit together perfectly. Use a utility knife to score along the edge line. This will not only help to guide you but also reduce the amount of splintering.

3. Use a fine kerf saw or scroll saw to cut the tails. You can then use a thin wood chisel to clean the faces. The kerf or scroll saw is also used to cut away the half pins on the edge of the board.

GOOD TO KNOW: When cleaning the faces with the chisel, only cut half way. Turn the pieces over and finish the cut from the other side. This gives a nice neat finish.  

4. For cutting the pins you can just use a chisel to break away the waste. Set the chisel away from the knife line to break away the bulk of the waste, then pare away the remaining waste.

5. Test fit the joints before gluing the corners together. Any larger gaps can be filled with scraps of wood left over from cutting the joints and glued in place. 

6.  A piece of walnut veneered plywood was glued in place for the base of the cutlery holder. Leave to dry and then trim away any excess.

7. Mark the pieces for the dividers to the depth of the frame and cut to length. Use a curved template to mark the sections and cut out with a coping saw or jigsaw. Sand smooth and then glue in place. If you have clamps, these are handy to firmly hold the sections until the glue dries.

8. To finish you can use food-grade oil, or clear or tinted interior sealer. Follow the instructions on the tin for proper application.