I drink too much coffee and I shouldn’t read internet comments. I know at least these two truths. Perusing the infinite woodworking blogsphere I came across some joe-schmo claiming it couldn’t be done. The author casually remarked that you can’t cut key mitered joints without a table saw or yet worse a router. And so I set forth to make a keyed-mitered dovetail box with nothing more than my hands and a slew of fancy planes. Miters in themselves are a weak joint – the key that cuts across the angle reinforces the joint by allowing cross grain gluing on both pieces. The box sat unfinished for several month – so many in fact that I don’t have the same office to display it in. Either way, the chest is designed to encourage me to reach for tea rather than coffee as the afternoon wears on and I have a hankering for something. I used hard maple, left over from a tool caddie I made several years ago as the base of the box – each scrap finds its place with time.
The top is black walnut – rather than using the method I learned from Roy Underhill – I attached a fence planed on a 1:6 angle to a skew plane. If you are not going to get a dedicated panel raising plan this is about as easy as you can make the task. Christopher Schwartz laid out the approach.
The trick was to size the keys correctly. I planed a long board – and simply checked my angle against a bevel. No fancy jigs required. After the grooves were cut, I slide the keys into place and cleaned off the waste with a flush saw. Okay, it wasn’t quite that easy – usually it took a couple passes on the plane and strokes of the mallet to drive them home.
Using the same bevel that I measured the angles on the keys – I marked the box, cut a series of kerfs and than cleaned out the rest with a chisel.
I had a little help from Ruffles even thought he didn’t like giving up the spotlight.