Fastest Dovetailers in the West


Maybe it’s the delightful cool air off the Puget Sound that lends everyone some extra oomph? I’m teaching at the stunningly beautiful Port Townsend School of Woodworking this week, and things are going well – almost too well.

Or maybe it’s that every student has a full kit of sharp and well set-up tools, and plenty of room to work? We’re far ahead of schedule.

We’re building a small English tool chest – the traveling version of  Christopher Schwarz’s “Anarchist’s Tool Chest.” I figured that with only five days, it would be difficult to get a full-sized one completed. I was wrong.

Yesterday afternoon, we got the skirts glued on to all but two chests…and had we had a few more clamps, I think all of them would be a day ahead of my plan. What I thought would be two days of dovetailing flat-out turned into one, so we’re now on Plan B…or C.

I was going to shiplap everyone’s bottom boards on the table saw or shaper; instead, they’re rabbeting by hand.


This morning, we’ll nail the bottoms in place and move on to the dust seal (the small skirt at the top)…on which I’m now encouraging they try fancier dovetails with tiny pins that have but a saw kerf between…just to slow things down (and learn a new technique).

Then, we’ll be doing all the joinery for the lid by hand, too (instead of my prepping the joints on the machines).

By Friday, I might be running out for paint.


I can’t recommend the school highly enough. It is in one of the most lovely places I’ve ever seen, and it seems the sea air works miracles.


The main school building, in a former mechanicals room (I think) at Fort Worden.

About fitz

Woodworker, writer, editor, teacher, ailurophile, Shakespearean. Will write for air-dried walnut.
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2 Responses to Fastest Dovetailers in the West

  1. I’m glad to see you enjoying your new gig. I’m sure it’s much better than sitting at a cold desk in a warehouse. ; )

  2. davelehardt says:

    Port Townsend is my favorite day trip. One of these days it’ll be to the school!

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