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I'd like your guys' design opinions on something

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I'm building some drawers, just the boxes, won't have drawer faces.  The boards i'm using for the front side of the boxes are 7/8" too short.  I'd like to do half-blind dovetails where the pinboards on the sides make up the extra 7/16" per side.  I think this actually looks pretty good but when I did a test and put it up on the frame, the first thing I thought of was having the tailboard in the front goes against the whole point of dovetails since pulling the drawer open would be like pulling the tailboard out of the pinboards.  I know glue would hold it and it's just as strong as a box joint.  My problem is how my brain immediately jumped to "that's the wrong way to do a dovetail".  I personally can accept that as well but I hate the thought of building this nice piece of furniture and anyone looking at it that understands dovetails is going to think the same thing I did...This guy doesn't know what he's doing.

I know there's a lot of other ways to solve the 7/8" problem but before I give up on this solution, I wanted some other expert opinions.

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2 minutes ago, Eric. said:

You need to buy some new material.

I know there's a lot of other ways to solve the 7/8" problem but before I give up on this solution, I wanted some other expert opinions.

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You got one.  It's just gonna look...goofy.  Bottom line.  You'll thank yourself later if you just buy a little more stock that's suitable for the project.  We're talking a few drawers...it's not like you need 100 board feet.

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2 minutes ago, Eric. said:

You got one.  It's just gonna look...goofy.  Bottom line.  You'll thank yourself later if you just buy a little more stock that's suitable for the project.  We're talking a few drawers...it's not like you need 100 board feet.

Thanks, I have more stock, and a few other ideas, but I was trying to ask a specific question.  Thanks for your opinion.

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So I'm not trying to argue for doing this since I've already gotten 2 more opinions to match my own but for arguments sake, what makes this so different than box joints?  I'm actually building the nightstand guild project which has big box joints.  For the same reason that I like that design showing some jointery on the drawer front, I was considering dovetails.  Does it really come down to a pavlovian response to backwards dovetails?

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I'm one of the people that doesn't constrain himself by right and wrong way when it comes to design.  This is a design question and I'd like subjective design opinions.  Thanks for yours.

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Yep.  That's not how I'd do it.  Glue will hold the joint together fine...but look at it.

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I have seen dovetails that show on the front of the drawer and they look fine because they go all the way to the corners same as a box joint but if you do it so that you can use the material that you have and they don't go to the corners then its going to look like your drawer front is supposed to be a side.

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3 minutes ago, Eric. said:

If you're asking if it's structurally acceptable...yes it probably is.  Modern glues are tough.  But it's so aesthetically awkward that I don't think it's even an important question to ask.  It's gonna look really, really weird...and not in a "creative" way, but more in a, "LOL, this guy doesn't know what the hell he's doing" kind of way.

Anyway, I'm out.  It does seem that, like Mel said, you came here for confirmation of an idea you've already decided on...but posed the question as if you were open to suggestions...even though it's pretty obvious you're not.

Untrue on me just looking for agreement and I agree with you.  "aesthetically awkward" is the perfect phrase for it.  But you know as well as I do the Internet is full of snap judgements and I was just hoping for some thoughtful feedback beyond, "buy more wood" on what I think is an interesting topic.  I'd be willing to bet this only looks ugly to woodworkers because we see it as unnatural, an abomination.  To a layperson, they see nice jointery because we all know dovetails are pretty.  I thought others might wonder why that is and consider that we're constraining our design sense unnecessarily.

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Yeah but you're not building it for a layperson, you're building it for yourself...and you're a woodworker.  I have no problem with unique design.  I do have a problem with improper construction, which this decidedly is.

Didn't mean to be curt with my initial response, but that was just the simple conclusion I reached immediately based on your description, and then later confirmed after seeing the picture.

Ultimately it's your piece so obviously yours is the only opinion that matters.  But if you ask a group of woodworkers if you should build a drawer ass-backwards...most likely you're gonna get the answer..."no."

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Just now, Eric. said:

Yeah but you're not building it for a layperson, you're building it for yourself...and you're a woodworker.  I have no problem with unique design.  I do have a problem with improper construction, which this decidedly is.

Didn't mean to be curt with my initial response, but that was just the simple conclusion I reached immediately based on your description, and then later confirmed after seeing the picture.

Ultimately it's your piece so obviously yours is the only opinion that matters.  But if you ask a group of woodworkers if you should build a drawer ass-backwards...most likely you're gonna get the answer..."no."

Clearly. :)

And you're right, I think I would cringe every time I saw it.

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Well said ^^^

The main issue I have with it is...

Dovetails are a mechanical solution to a problem: joints pulling apart due to force exerted over a period of time.  So it's built in a particular way in order to surmount that problem.  It's function before form.  The fact that a dovetail joint is interesting and aesthetically pleasing to look at is incidental...if it's not being used in the correct way, it shouldn't be used, and some other joinery that is functionally appropriate should be used instead.

There's a difference between thinking outside the box in the field of design, and simply building something wrong because it looks "different."  Just because a solution to a problem exists doesn't make it a good solution.

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I had a entry in a woodworking show and was invited on the judges walk.A guys had a table with dovetails orientated with tail board out.The judges were pretty hard on him and felt like he shouldn't have been accepted in the show.

The piece had some good features and very good looking wood.But those Tails boards were way to busy and became the focal point.So the piece had no harmony.

So I agree with everyone buy more wood do half blind Dts.

Aj

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6 minutes ago, Aj3 said:

The judges were pretty hard on him and felt like he shouldn't have been accepted in the show.

If I were a judge I would have disqualified him immediately, no further discussion needed.  That's absolutely unacceptable.  Period.  It's up there with gappy joinery or a sloppy, glossy poly finish with streaks and runs and drips, or complete disregard for grainflow.

Construction and design are two separate things.  You can make interesting joinery part of the design process...but it has to be structurally correct first, and "interesting" second.  Always.

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This conversation reminds me of the designer (the name eludes me) who was making a really nice armoire or dresser or something, and got angry at how good it was and how silly it was to put so much effort and care into something and pounded a big ugly crooked nail in the front of it just to make a point. Somehow people thought that was really something. I think it's stupid.

 

I think the real problem here is that if you were going to put the dovetails where you put them, you could have just made the pins on the drawer fronts and made half-blind tails in the sides - then at least there would be the mechanical reason for a dovetail being there. It would look goofy, but at least it would be functional. As it is, yeah, just get another few boards.

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I am no expert on this (or anything else) but I recently did something similar. I wanted to use dovetails to join some boards, mainly for practise but also due lack of experience/imagination to come up with an alternative. I wanted to do half blind dovetails so the end grain would not show. So far so good, but in order to get the mechanical strength of the dovetails in the right direction I had to reverse the normal orientation of the pins & tails, so the angled part of the dovetails ended up in the hidden part of the joint. The assembled result looks like a half-blind box joint, if you can imagine such an abomination. Or it would look like that if anyone could see it but basically the joinery is hidden. Just as well because it looks "odd". I tell myself that structurally it is good but any woodworker who saw it would (probably correctly) assume it was made by an idiot.

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