There’s a lot going on in the photo above that’s important when making casework.
I have two case sides for a chest clamped together before dovetailing them. Here is a quick summary of what I’m doing:
- I’m going to dovetail both pieces at once, called “gang-cutting.” This saves time and makes it easier to keep your saw at 90° across the thickness of the boards.
- But before I can dovetail them, I have to confirm they are dead square and the same size. If the pieces are out even a little bit, then drawers or tills won’t slide, lids won’t fit, bottoms will be wonky, moulding will be gappy. Take the extra 10 minutes to plane your carcase parts to dead, dead, rotten square. It’s worth the extra effort.
- I have them propped on a little $4 paint bucket. I use this bucket for a lot of things, but its most important job is to help align the bottoms case pieces when I square them up. I really dislike plastic, but in this case, its extruded perfectness makes a perfectly flat plane for the carcase pieces to rest against. For smaller carcase pieces, I have a bigger bucket.
One last thing: Don’t skimp on measuring equipment. Whether your squares are wood or metal, make sure they are dead accurate and treat them like baby birds.
— Christopher Schwarz