Dovetails and Plywood

My cousin, Michael, asked me to make a wooden box to store his torque wrench.  When he gave me the wrench so I could make the box to fit, he told me, “It doesn’t need to be anything fancy – just something to protect it.”  My job was just to make the box and he intended to line it with foam.

I didn’t have much in the way of non-fancy materials in my shop.  I was tempted to use some red oak but ultimately decided to use up some narrow strips of 1/2″ poplar plywood.  (Unlike most hardwood plywoods which have stupidly-thin veneers that splinter when you sneeze at them, this plywood is made of nice thick veneers.  This plywood is 1/2″ thick and has three layers.  You do the math.  This is my favourite plywood.)

At the tablesaw, I cut the six parts to size and milled grooves in the long sides for the bottom and sliding top.

I could have simply glued and nailed the corners, but I felt inspired.  So I dovetailed the corners.  No, they weren’t the best joints I’ve cut, but this application did not demand fine joinery.  These dovetails provided some visual interest and mechanical strength.  And that’s what mattered.  Yes, I used wood putty.  And yes, I missed a spot.  And no, I wasn’t concerned.

I decided to try the time-lapse function on my new video camera so I set it up when I cut the dovetails.  When I shot the video it was dark outside so I was in full control of the lighting.  A single fluorescent magnifying lamp directly over the bench illuminated the workspace.  I set the camera to take a picture every 10 seconds while I cut dovetails for a box.

This is definitely an experimental video.  Please let me know what you think of it.  (I’ll cover my strange dovetailing techniques in a future post.)

12 thoughts on “Dovetails and Plywood

  1. I like the time lapse video! What camera did you get, and how do you like it so far? I’m in the market for a new one and time lapse is a fun feature to have.

    1. Hi Elizabeth,

      Thanks for the comment. I am using a JVC GZ-HM670 camcorder. Not many of the camcorders I looked at had a time-lapse feature, but I think all the JVC models did.

      The sound quality is okay. I need to remember to face the microphone when I speak (obviously not applicable when in time-lapse mode).


  2. Interesting video! I would like to see it used in a more close-up position to actually see the work happening! Regardless I really enjoy the blog and all your content. Keep up the great work and thanks for your contributions to the woodworking community!

    1. Hi Stephen,

      I will play with different angles. Even though the camera is only a fraction the size of a table saw or workbench, it makes my shop seem very crowded. I have to be very creative with camera positioning to get the right angles and depth of field. Did you like the lighting?

      Thank you for the comment. I am grateful to have such a great group of readers.


  3. Time lapse if interesting Chris. Entertainment and a way to show flow but not details. Like your backer board and use of the clamp to stop your saw and guide your coping work. This is the perfect project for the table saw dove tail. Those special ground 11 degree blades and gang feed them through. Then an 11 degree bed on the slider to do the tails.

    More Video! by the way!

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Morgan. The backer board supports the work up high so I’m not stooping down to my 40″ bench to see the lines. Yes, I remember that you said that the bench should be higher! However, 40″ is a good height for working on top of, like when chopping.

      If I had many boxes to make and they were all the same, I probably would try another approach, like the tablesaw.

      More videos? Okay!


  4. Love the silhouette effect with the black background. Looked like you were part of a graphic novel making an evil dovetailed box, maybe as the villain (hail!)

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