I need something in which to store and display items for upcoming craft fairs that I am attending, and decided to make a couple of dovetailed storage boxes. These would be basic and utilitarian, and yet at the same time, demonstrate the beauty of traditional woodworking techniques. After measuring the items that will go in the box, I decided on a 14″x8″x5″ size, with a dovetailed skirt, ship-lapped bottom, and a recessed lid.

The first thing to do was to dimension the wood to the proper size and width. Using pine, it went very quickly, though this particular pine from Lowes was just awful, in that it would randomly split along the edges after just looking at it the wrong way. I had to glue at least two or three splits back into place, and several more smaller splits I ended up just pulling off. It’s amazing how much practice helps in squaring the boards – just a year ago this would have taken me a couple of days to do these four pieces (and they still would be slightly out of square) – whereas I was able to get these dimensioned in just a couple of hours, and had no trouble squaring each edge. So those of you just starting out, have patience, keep at it, and as you train your eye and muscle memory, it will all fall into place for you, too.

The first thing to do after squaring the wood was to lay out the dovetails. This first one was weird because the right dovetail is slightly larger than the others, but when I double checked my measurements several times, they came out the same. My mind must have been playing tricks on me.

Next I carefully sawed out each dovetail, making sure to stay perfectly square and follow each of the lines accurately. This is another thing that comes with a lot of practice and experience, so keep making lots of dovetails, and yours will improve as well.

Next, the waste between the dovetails is carefully chiseled out from both sides to ensure a clean and accurate cut.

And here are the completed tails. The pins are now cut in a similar manner, though I neglected to photograph that process.

And surprisingly, every dovetail fit almost perfectly on the first try. I only had to pare away a little wood in two instances. In the morning I’ll do a little bit of cleaning up of the joints and then glue everything together.

And the box after today’s progress. Looking forward to doing the skirt and the bottom tomorrow.