Chippendale Hanging Shelves – Part Two

To prevent the simple structure falling apart, the shelves are dovetailed into the sides and likewise, the drawer divider is dovetailed into the lower shelf and the base board.

With the stock all prepared, I sawed the stopped, tapered dovetail housings and carefully removed the waste.

Cleaning out one of the stopped dovetail housings.

Next I laid out the ‘Chinese fence’ and scroll patterns on both of the sides. I would normally saw this sort of work using a fretsaw and a conventional horizontal V-table mounted in the vice, but because the shelf sides are so long and ungainly, I simply cramped them vertically in the vice and cut out the patterns with a coping saw.

The final cut!

The rain and high winds eased today, so I glued the shelves and sides together and left them aside to dry while I got on with making the two drawers.

The assembled shelves.

About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
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6 Responses to Chippendale Hanging Shelves – Part Two

  1. Tico Vogt says:

    Hi Jack,
    Do you leave the surfaces as the coping saw leaves them or do further clean-up? Do you use a hand plane to shape the sliding dovetail on the ends of the shelves? This looks like a very delicate structure with plenty of opportunity for wood to crack. don’t slip on the patio!


    • Jack Plane says:

      I tape a strip of 120 grit paper onto a steel ruler which I use to remove the tear-out caused by the coping saw. I might give some of the sawn surfaces the odd swipe with a file, but I largely leave the sawn areas as they are. That seems to be what was done in days of yore.

      I saw the dovetail shoulders on the shelves and then remove as much of the waste as possible with a shoulder plane and then finish them up with a chisel. Is there such a thing as a plane that will get into sliding dovetails?


  2. Tico Vogt says:

    I recently bought a used one made by Ulmia, the ECE Dovetail Plane. Haven’t had the occasion to use it yet. Up to now my sliding dovetails have been done with a router table set up,


  3. Shannon says:

    While you can occasionally find a vintage dovetail plane they are rare and often expensive. The best solution I have seen with a plane is to modify a wooden rabbet and angle the sole to your tail angle. One day I mean to try this. I have found that by cutting an angle on an 8/4 block is all I need. I can use that block to guide my backsaw while sawing the pin [what pin? JP], then use the same block as a paring guide to shape the tails. While I’m sure a dedicated plane might speed things up, a good cranked neck chisel will pop off the tail waste really fast followed by a wide paring chisel referenced against the block and you are all set.


  4. Pingback: Chippendale Hanging Shelves – Redux | Pegs and 'Tails

  5. Mr Plane,
    you are a magician. Those cuts are superlative and I doubt that I could ever achieve something like that. It is something to shoot for though because I like this shelf a lot.


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