What is your name?

What is your quest?

What is the average airspeed velocity of a fully laden swallow?

The obvious question I referred to yesterday is not one of these three.  But, if you’ve been following this build, the question that should be occurring to you is “what about the holes?”.  In the ends, the grooves for the bottom panel come right out of the pins, and with the box assembled, there’s a 1/4″ square hole on each corner.  Surely the suggestion isn’t to just ignore it?!

No, we’re not going to ignore it (and don’t call me Shirley).  There’s a few different ways we could have joined the carcase together without the groove showing.  We could have put this together like a proper drawer, and used half-blind dovetails.  This would have worked just fine, but would have necessitated using two different thicknesses of stock.  Or we could have made a mitre joint, but those are pretty weak (unless you key them in some way).  Or we could have used a stopped groove that didn’t continue all the way out of the pin.  Or we could have been esoteric and used a mitred through dovetail joint.

Whew!  Lots of options.

While all of those would work (and I’ve tried them to be sure!), they all share one characteristic: they take longer to make.  Working “straight through”, as Hayward puts it (in the literature again) is the fastest, most efficient way to work.  Fussing with stopped grooves is slow, as it cutting mitred or half-blind dovetails.

Even though there are holes in our pins, the box is not any weaker, so that consideration is accounted for.  As for the aesthetics, I’ll now show you how to account for that as well.  I take a stub of offcut and quickly trim it into a plug.  It takes maybe two minutes to get a nice fit.  It’s tapered, so it tightens up as you knock it in (gently!).  A bit of glue and a couple taps with a mallet and there’s no more hole.

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Now, cleaning up these new appurtenances doesn’t take any more work, since I’d have had to plane the dovetails flush anyway.  Once the glue dries, I just trim off the stub and plane flush.  I’ve placed the grain going the opposite direction so you can see it clearly in this corner, but you couldn’t feel it.

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Now, this is all going to disappear since we’re going to paint the box.  If we were making this box out of a more expensive hardwood under a clear finish, it might make sense to go to the extra trouble of a stopped groove or mitred dovetails.  But since it’s just (painted) pine, I’m not worried too much about it.

I can hear the howls of protest now, about how I’m creating something that’s just good enough for the unwashed masses and how by saying that if I was using expensive, bourgeois wood that I’d work to a different standard.  How hypocritical!

Well, sort of, but not really.

See, that whole idea of different standards is right out.  The standards I have for fit are just the same.  The execution might be a little different, but the standard remains.  The box remains just as strong as it would be with a stopped groove.  The only difference from a practical point of view is that one takes longer to create.  Now that might not be a factor for a hobbyist, but if I have to take longer to make a piece, then I have to charge more for it.  I’m not running a charity.  But under an opaque finish, it really makes no sense to have to charge bourgeois prices if I don’t have to.  Capitalist I may be, but I try not to be a rampant capitalist.

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