Follow the Rules, But Know When To Break Them

The following content is syndicated from Woodworker’s Journal.

WJBlog_E_Conover_DovetailBox learning any craft, the apprentice is indoctrinated with a plethora of rules. In woodworking, many are a matter of avoiding personal injury — as in safe use of sharp tools and machinery. Others are crucial to achieving workmanship-like results and producing furniture that will hold up to abuse for generations. (Woe is the practitioner who is ignorant of the laws of wood movement!)

Just such a rule is: “There must always be a half-pin at either edge of a joint and not a half-tail.” Stated another way, there is never a half tail — and this is true whether you are hand or machine cutting. The reason for this ironclad tenet is that wood, left unto itself, has a proclivity to warp.

A box, drawer or carcass dovetailed together with half-pins at each edge is ironbound and WJBlog_EConover_DovetailIllustrationwill resist any inclination of the wood to warp. However, this is not the case with half-tails at the edge, as we can see in the illustration. Should the wood warp, there is nothing holding the edges of the tail boards, and gaps will form. While I have exaggerated the phenomenon in my drawing, it is nevertheless unsightly.

I recently had a group who wanted to build the box pictured, which is in John

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Question by Verline: Where can i find easy woodworking plans for beginners?
I have been looking to getting into woodworking. I have done some little projects but would like to start more seriously learning. I have been looking online for some
easy woodworking plans for beginners but have not found any good ones. Is there any who can recommend me some easy woodworking plans for beginners, or even some harder , i think i can do those too somewhat.

Best answer:

Answer by echinopsis .
This site has all kinds of free plans for woodworking projects:

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!

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    • Russ
    • January 8, 2014

    I would recommend a couple of different sites. There are several blogs which talk about woodworking techniques where you can learn. Like or To find plans I would recommend Sawtooth Ideas ( Sawtooth Ideas includes the difficulty and tools required for every plan. (Full disclosure, I work for Sawtooth Ideas)

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