Challenges & Dovetails: Closet-Cleaning Day
Design a Bookcase Challenge
The LumberJocks and Popular Woodworking partnership to design, build and publish a winning bookcase has come to a close, and a winning entry has been selected. I must say this turned into a difficult task for the magazine editors. We didn’t come to fist-to-cuffs. It wasn’t a knockdown, drag-out, office-clearing brawl. But, each editor brought to the table their favorites to have them applauded or shot down, one by one.
Slowly we weeded through the entries and narrowed the field to three. Those three are:
Ryan Shervill’s “Shoji Screen Inspired Bookcase”, Daniel’s (Blackdog Workshop) “A&C Bookcase with Magazine Drawers” and Charlie’s (Wheresmytools) “Sliding Dovetails Bookcase”.
After kicking around what we would do with the designs if we were to build them, we reached a consensus with Shervill’s design. I look forward to seeing the process of bringing this design to the pages of Popular Woodworking magazine. I think we’ll see many bookcases built from this design. (Click here to read the LumberJocks announcement.)
On April 15th I posted an entry titled, “My Take On Dovetail Angles.” (Interestingly, I wrote about a taxing subject for many woodworkers on Tax Day.) In the entry I state, “Don’t accept the traditional ratios. I’ll bet a study of furniture and drawer construction from the 1700s through today would turn up many different dovetail angles.”
This past week, while traveling to Frank’s Cabinet Shop , where Frank Klausz does his woodworking , I took a side trip to C. L. Prickett’s antique shop. The folks at Prickett’s shop graciously granted me permission to photograph many of the drawer dovetails on pieces in their inventory.
I hope, as you look at the photos, two revelations come to mind. The first is that the angles are not strictly set at a traditional slope, so feel free to angle those pins and tails as you see fit. And second, notice the quality of craftsmanship , it’s not that great.
It’s easy to notice a good set of fine dovetails. Look at what you consider the best drawer joint, then look at the worst joint. There is much variation. But take heart, none of the dovetails were on pieces with price tags of less than $80,000.
The lesson is always the same. A finely fitted dovetail joint on a shabbily built, poor design doesn’t make the piece better. I would rather see average dovetails on a great design, built with better craftsmanship.
As far as the trip to see Mr. Klausz, we’re going to give you a look inside his shop and we’ve got video showing him in action as he demonstrates a few techniques for an upcoming article. Hang tight, I’ll let you know when it’s available.