Armoire Work Begins — Outer Legs

Leg Marks

Leg Marks

The Armoire project is quite challenging so I’m being very careful as the work progresses.  There are so many parts and pieces to the casework that labeling them properly is very important.  Starting with the legs shown here, a customary way of labeling them is to draw a  diamond shaped square across the insides of the legs were they intersect to show their relationship.  That works quite well but sometimes those markings will wear off.  I like using these machinists letter stamps to; hopefully, keep me from getting confused as the work progresses.

Leg Taper Before & After Planing

Leg Taper Before & After Planing


The legs have a tapered portion at the bottom of them that was laid out and cut on the bandsaw.  Once cut a jack plane was used to smooth and finalize their shapes.

Lay-Out of Drawer Stretchers

Lay-Out of Drawer Stretchers




Now that the bottom of the legs are complete, it’s time to lay out the position of the various drawer stretchers to begin that phase of the project.  The front and rear frames will be identical which gives me the opportunity to work on the rear one first and hone my work before going on to the front ones that will always be exposed to the world!  After clamping them together in the proper location a piece of painters tape was applied to one leg to help my old eyes focus on the lines!  Locations were then scribed across the inner faces of the legs.

After cutting the bottom stretchers to the required length, the tail of the dovetail is laid out and cut — here’s the process:

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Transferring Dovetails

Transferring Dovetails

Of the eight tails cut only one needed to be squared up which was accomplished with a chisel on the shoulder and rabbet block plane for the back face.  This means that one tail is slightly thinner than the others so I marked it with a sharpie so I don’t cut its socket too deep.  Now the tails needed to be scribed in their perspective locations so everything was clamped together, checked for square, and transferred.

Like I mentioned before, I have the luxury of starting on the rear frame — you know you’re just one bad cut away from disaster on these projects but at the end of the day, one down and only seven to go.  After these joints are cut there will be a center divider that is joined with dovetails as well.

This furniture piece an example of old world joinery and a challenge to myself to see if I can replicate and accomplish it.  That’s one of the aspects of woodworking I enjoy the most — the challenge and the process.  I just collected a deposit for a new commission which is almost the direct opposite of the Armoire!  It’s a media stand made of recycled fence boards and square metal legs.  Here’s a photo of the mock up I made for their approval, instead of chisels and dovetail saws I’ll be using nail guns, glue, and screws!

Reclaimed Fence Boards  to pay the bills

Reclaimed Fence Boards to pay the bills

About woodworksbyjohn

I'm a retired woodshop teacher. I build one of a kind furniture pieces and custom picture frames. You can see some of my currently available work, boxes, carvings through my Etsy store: Contact me about your project -- always up for the challenge of unique work.
This entry was posted in Hand Cut Dovetails, Hand Planes, Hand Tool Woodworking, Johns Armoire, Tutorial and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Armoire Work Begins — Outer Legs

  1. orepass says:

    Funny you should bring up the stamps. I’ve been thinking about picking up a few. Do you have a source? Also the slide shows are great.


  2. These I picked up probably 35 years ago at a garage sale and have gone through many junior high classes! I wouldn’t get them from Harbor Freight, picked up a set of numbers only and they aren’t very deep. Just out of curiosity here’s a link to Ebay:
    Glad you enjoyed the slide show, always appreciate your comments and critiques.


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