First of all, what was it that bothered me about the base of the hall table carcass that I put together last week? It was simply that I'd miscalculated the width of the intermediate cross rails in the paneled "floor", which meant that the panels in the two end sections would not be centered:


I'd intended to drop a raised panel into the open rectangle; unfortunately the left-hand rail is quite obviously wider than the right-hand rail. What to do?
Options: (a) leave it alone and don't worry about it; (b) try to cut a section of the LH rail away; (c) add a strip to the RH rail, or: (d) something else.
Option (a) is not possible: how could I not worry about it? I woke up at four in the morning worrying about it. Option (b) is clumsy and hard to do, as there is no obvious tool that can cut in the space available. Option (c) is easy enough to do, but still clumsy. It will have to be option (d).


The "panels" have been extended to fill the whole width of the two side sections. Here they are waiting to be (carefully) knocked down into place. Buttons fastened to the underside will allow then to "float", as their across-the-grain expansion and contraction is greater than that of the framing.

Hand-dovetailing the drawers:
After the various drawer runners, kickers and guides have been added to the carcass, the next job is the making of the three drawers. The last photo showed the grain-matched fronts carefully planed to a tight push fit. This will be gently relieved after the drawers are assembled, hopefully assuring the requisite accuracy of fit. (Alan Peters, a much admired English furniture maker taught by Edward Barnsley, no less, died in October aged 76. He had strong feelings about accurate drawers. The Economist gave him a full page obituary in its November 7th. issue.)
The five-sixteenth inch sides and backs are then cut to length; the sides, like the fronts, should be a tight fit until the final adjustments. Then the dovetails are first scribed with a knife-gauge, likewise the fronts and backs. The dovetail positions are then penciled in on one side piece, after which all the side pieces are taped together and cut as one with either a dovetail saw or a tenon saw:


Note that the sides are clamped at an angle in the vice. The saw remains vertical - ensuring an accurate and easy cut. There's no need to be over fussy about cutting tails. The pins in the drawer fronts are of course another story.

Before the tails are complete however, the waste wood must be removed. Here a jeweller's saw is being used to extract the small wedges of waste from between the tails.


I'm cutting as close to the scribed line as I dare. The last  waste is removed with a vary sharp chisel.
Next, the positions of the pins are scribed on the drawer front. I've made a simple right angled table that can be clamped in the bench vise. This holds the fronts and sides for marking and cutting, as can be seen:


The drawer front is clamped vertically, and the side aligned with the scribe mark on the end-grain. The pin positions are then marked with a small scribing knife:


Next the dovetail saw is used to cut (on the WASTE side!) to the scribed lines, before the front is reversed and tradition flies out of the window. I am not going to spend the rest of my Saturday chopping the waste out of  a dozen blind dovetails. What else were routers made for?


The quarter inch bit removes the waste cleanly and quickly. There are of course no guides or templates here, so care is required. The end result is a hand marked, hand cut dovetail. A machine has been used, but not in any way that compromises the 
essence of the hand-cut joint.
Or does it? 
With such irrelevant conundrums is the inner life of the studio furniture maker enlivened.
The dry-fitted joint:

Pas mal, non?