Well I knew it had to come to an end some time. Friday was the final day of the Hut Board Class at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking and to boot it was a shortened day due to shop clean-up and packing at the end of the day.
The morning was filled with some lectures and demonstrations on dovetails and drawer making. One of the assistants demonstrated the Rob Cosman method of laying out evenly spaced dovetails using a set of dividers. Then, Jeff Headley showed how he and Steve cut dovetails for drawers. Interestingly they gang the two side boards together back to back with a couple of brads. Then they plow a groove on each side for the drawer bottom and lay out their dovetails on each end. No special methods for layout here – just done by eye and using a shop made brass layout marker for the slope of the tails ( approximately a 1:5 angle). They also scribe a baseline for the tails first.
Next, it was on to the band saw to cut out the tails. Jeff demonstrated this by cutting to the line and nibbling out the waste in between tails leaving very little paring to be done afterward. The remainder of the joint was done in the traditional way. They did use a 1/4″ block set into the drawer bottom grooves in the front and side pieces when marking the pins. This was done with the front board in the vise and the side board laying across it and on top of a plane laying on the bench. The 1/4″ block kept things locked together while marking out the pins. These are half-blind dovetails and the marking gage was set slightly wider than the side thickness when marking the baseline for the pins. This causes the pins to be slightly proud after the joint is assembled – they can then be planed flush. Also, when cutting the pins they make no issues of cutting well below the baseline in order to get as far into the pin as possible – this was very commonly done on period furniture.
We also discussed the fine-line inlay, cock-beading and escutcheon for the drawers. The escutcheon for the Hunt Board is the same as done in the embellishments class that I discussed in an earlier post – it’s put in after the fine-line is completed. They do the fine line with a shop-made scraping tool after the dovetails are cut, but before the drawer is assembled. In this case the fine-line is only about 1/16″ wide. An important thing here is that the fine line must be allowed to dry completely after gluing before scraping it flush otherwise, it may shrink below the surface when dry due to swelling while wet with glue. In this piece there will also be some fine-line installed in the top. The cock-beading is installed after the drawer is assembled. The top and bottom pieces are installed to the full depth of the drawer front. The side pieces are mitered to the top and bottom but are not as deep so that the dovetails on the sides of the drawers are not covered.
Most of the remaining time for me on Friday was spent fitting the drawer fronts very closely to their openings. This took a bit of time, but I have them now fit precisely. After the dovetailing and fine-line is installed I will plane them down to leave a very small reveal around the drawer. Unfortunately this work will be done at home in my shop because the class had to come to an end.
After cleaning up the shop and packing my piece for the long ride home, I bid farewell to the school, the assistants and Jeff and Steve. This was a great experience and I will definitely do it again. There were no great revelations learned, but rather many, many little refinements in technique and process plus, the comeraderie was great. I’m already searching for my next class! I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures of the piece with the drawer fronts fitted before I packed it for the trip home.