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Old 10-02-2011, 06:42 PM
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Default Against the clock

I am curious about the speed at which the pros work. One reference I had was 6 1/2 hours to make a high end drawer. I consider the style of drawers I am currently building to be high-end drawers - that does not imply that I can build them at the level of the pros (I do not), but one measure of improving skills is the efficiency with which one completes these tasks. In other words, could I build a drawer with reasonable speed?

6 1/2 hours includes, I assume, all preparations: thicknessing and dimensioning of boards, finishing and installation of handles. The first two were done earlier. The last will come later.

So I set the target at 4 hours. Not the 20 minutes that Frank Klausz gives himself. Not the 3 minutes which he can dovetail an end. Fours hours because it is about 3:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon, and I have until 7:00 p.m. before I must shut up the shop and get ready to join friends for dinner. Later than that and my wife will have a few choice words for me!

There are about 25 pictures here. I hope the documentation is interesting rather than pedantic. Well, you can always skip to the end!

The start. 2:54 p.m. Fresh boards.



15 minutes to mark and saw the tails ..



The shortcuts involve doubling up where ever possible. Gang sawing boards and ditto clearing the waste ...



10 minutes to chisel the waste ..



3:17 p.m. and time to start the half-blind pins.



How long does it take to mark out with the blue tape? Including applying the tape, transfering the tails to the pin board, and removing the excess blue tape .. 10 minutes ..



Sawing the pins ..



Using the kerf chisel ..



OK, now for something completely different (on a hand tools forum) ... using a power router to remove waste. I was shown this method a year ago by Niel Erasmus. Simply, it is just an extended platform for the router ...





.. and the use if a 1/8" carbide bit ...



I could have set the fence to run against the boundary of the pins, but decided to end a 1/32" short and finish with chisels ...





The remainder of the waste was removed ...



This took 12 minutes.



The remainder of the waste was removed with chisels ..



So, 23 minutes to remove all the waste from the pin board. I would estimate that this required about 1 1/2 hours with a chisel (emphasizing that I am referring to removing hard, brittle Jarrah).

The tail board goes on without any need for fine tuning ...



Note: Ian asked whether I bevel the tails before fitting. Bevels are cut on both the insides and the ends of the tails to avoid maring the straight edges of the pins.

The second side is repeated - I will spare all the detail here - and this takes about the same time as gthe other side ...



Now the front end of the drawer is complete. It's taken about 2 hours so far. Time for the other end.



19 minutes to mark, saw and clear the waste from the tails ...



15 minutes to transfer the tails to the pin board, saw and chisel. And then about 30 minutes for the other side (both boards shown here) ...



It takes a couple of minutes to test the fit of all four sides ...



A test fit of the drawer into the drawer space reveals that some tuning it needed.

It was very close but I decided to glue it up as before (in the squaring jig), then tune it once the glue dried after 25 minutes ...



I will write a review of this new small Veritas BU smoother. It is exceptional.

The drawer fits perfectly ...



... but the slips now need to be added (gad, we are cutting it fine for time - Lynndy will kill me if I am late) ...



The slips attach quickly with rubbing, and we are done!



Installed with one coat of Danish Oil on the exterior ..



I am off for a few beers, and never do I want to work at this pace again!

Regards from Perth

Derek
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Old 10-02-2011, 07:33 PM
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Default Re: Against the clock

That's everyday for us poor souls trying to scrap a living out of woodworking
this is why a lot of pro's have gone on to using router jigs to dovetail drawers,cabinets and the like.
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Old 10-02-2011, 07:52 PM
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Default Re: Against the clock

Very interesting, thanks for posting.

As a hobbiest I am not overly concerned with productivity in the commercial sense, but with a project such as your chests (very nice) with many drawers to prepare the time involved is significant, and even for work that is enjoyable I sometimes find it it is a bit long.

I am not much of a hand tool worker, but I like the trick with using the router to remove much of the waste prior to finishing with chisels, and hopefully will remember this when similar projects come along.

Jeff
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Old 10-03-2011, 01:59 AM
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Default Re: Against the clock

Quote:
Originally Posted by derekcohen View Post
I am curious about the speed at which the pros work. One reference I had was 6 1/2 hours to make a high end drawer.
Is there truly a correlation between what is considered high-end, and what tools were used to get there? Or is this simply the perception of the makers? I know that is rather blasphemous here, but it is a serious observation.

What constitutes "high-end"? Is it seeing the imperfections of hand-working, or is it not being able to distinguish the outcome from the method?

A few years ago there was a trend where deliberate imperfections were added to the spacing of dovetails...for no other reason than to signify that they were hand cut. Then, jig manufacturers came out with jigs that could replicate this imperfection with a router, so the trend fell out of favor. Does the deliberate addition of imperfection make something of higher quality?

Now, the recent trend is to make dovetail pins so narrow that the dovetail saddle cannot be machined with conventional powered tools. The intent is to show that the woodworking is hand-cut, but does this really make it better? The most troubling aspect of this new trend is that it completely undermines the original purpose of a dovetailed joint--namely, it's strength. Is the perception that a wafer-thin saddle that must be hand-cut, enough to overcome the reality that the resulting pins have become little more than a decorative butt-joint for their strength?

The concept of form following function was applicable 200 or 2000 years ago. Shouldn't it still apply today, regardless what methods are used to achieve that form, or that function? Is quality really measured by the path, or is it by the result?

Just food for thought.

Yup. I'm off to lock myself in my bomb shelter with the Ninja Kitty standing guard.
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Old 10-03-2011, 03:10 AM
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Default Re: Against the clock

After seeing the first photo with the watch my comment would be to get rid of the watch. You'll end up cutting your finger off trying to make up time. If a nicely cut dovetail drawer takes an hour it is what it is. You may get faster the more you do. I agree with Rick in that dovetails are for strenght and most of the time they are not shown. I would much rather spend the extra time on the outside visible areas of the project.
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Old 10-03-2011, 03:25 AM
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Default Re: Against the clock

Quote:
Originally Posted by trident98 View Post
After seeing the first photo with the watch my comment would be to get rid of the watch. You'll end up cutting your finger off trying to make up time. If a nicely cut dovetail drawer takes an hour it is what it is. You may get faster the more you do. I agree with Rick in that dovetails are for strenght and most of the time they are not shown. I would much rather spend the extra time on the outside visible areas of the project.
The point of the exercise was not to work fast, but to work efficiently, and to experience what it means to be continually working. In reality what usually happens is that I work for about an hour, at an unhurried pace, check on the family, slip back into the shop, then after another hour, have a coffee or sharpen a blade .... I try not to hurry - after all this is just a hobby. However I was curious to see how the other half live and work, and to get an estimate of what is reasonable to expect working the methods I do.

Regards from Perth

Derek
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Old 10-03-2011, 03:31 AM
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Default Re: Against the clock

Interesting view Rick
Small pins have been around for a long, long time..before the router and dovetail jig was invented. Search "London pins".
I think the general view is jig cut dovetails can be done by anyone with ease these days, while hand cut is a whole other kettle of fish, especially if you are making a living from it and truely are up against the clock.
Being able to craft those joints consistantly by hand at a speed that is profitable is something that woodworkers pride them selves on, it's a symbol of skill and craftsmanship, that will live in the furniture for the life of it.
I can also understand the flip side, where profits are getting hard to make these days, and "short cuts" are the order of the day.
Personally, if I have the choice, it'll be hand cut all the way
cheers!
Okami
just to edit: there's nothing wrong with jig cut dovetails

Last edited by Okami; 10-03-2011 at 03:37 AM.
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Old 10-03-2011, 03:49 AM
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Default Re: Against the clock

Okami, I am a little confused how you were able to turn what I said into something regarding "short cuts" or "cutting corners"? This doesn't match the intent of what I wrote, so could you elaborate on this some more?
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Old 10-03-2011, 04:00 AM
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Default Re: Against the clock

No worries Rick, it had nothing to do with your comments
it's just My personal view on the matter of hand vs jig.
I was taught by hand, and I want to keep that alive in my woodshop
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