Top and Battens – Part 2


The battens will fit into sliding dovetail slots in the top, about 3/8″ deep.  The method Schwarz describes in the book is one I’ve used before on a smaller scale.  I clamped one of the battens in place and used the beveled side as a guide for a handsaw to make the angled side wall of the sliding dovetail.

But handsaw selection turned out to be more problematic than I had anticipated.  Because of the thickness of the batten, the handles on most of my saws would hit the batten long before reaching the intended depth of the kerf.  Ultimately I used my miter box saw, but it still didn’t have the handle clearance I really needed, so I had to saw in partway from each side.  I used a couple cutoffs of the battens as outer guides.

When I’ve done this in the past, I usually get the ends down to the proper depth, but not the middle, so the kerf is sort of humped.  On this project, not being able to run the saw all the way across exacerbated the problem.  So I had to do some fussing to get the full depth all the way along, but at last it was ok.

Now the tricky part: getting the batten reset in just the right place to get the outside wall of the second kerf to end up just perfectly where it needs to be in order for the batten to fit snugly between them once the waste is removed.

Hoping I’d managed to pull off that feat, I made a few shallow kerfs with the circular saw and then began bashing out most of the waste with a chisel and mallet.

In keeping with the handtool approach, the final step would be to flatten the bottom with a router plane.  But I decided to use an electric router, in part because I was tired after all the mallet work, and there was still about 1/8″ to go.  I used a couple of the circular saw guides to keep the router away from the angled kerfs.  I’d have to use the router plane or chisel to clear the last little bits next to the kerfs, but that wouldn’t be much work.

But apparently I didn’t clamp one of the guides firmly enough, so it moved, and I cut into the angled kerf.

SFX: Wilhelm scream