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Need advice in dealing w/ woodworkers/cab builders

8/20/2000 8:00 PM
Need advice in dealing w/ woodworkers/cab builders
i went back an forth decieding if i should try and figure out to do dovetails. i went and bought the wood and the place i bought it from did woodworking and decided to have them do it after explaining what i wanted. he said it would be $125 to cut four pieces of wood and join them w/ dovetails (which is all i wanted, i was going to do baffel myself). i though that was alot, but another place quoted me the same so i said ok. i didn't say exactly what size dovetails i wanted, but he showed me the jig he said he was going to use and it looked to me that was set up for around 1/2" dovetails. anyways, i just went to check out what was done, and it looked like crap to me. its a 11" wide board and there are only 3 dovetails. he ended up doing it by hand. i think he didn't know how to do them w/ the jig and couldn't figure it out, or just figured it was too much of a hassel. i didn't know what to say to him, so i just left. does any one know how i can approach this. i don't want to screw him over, but the only reason i went to him was so they would be done right and look professional. i haven't paid him anything yet. does someone agree that that would be considered an incorrect job, or is not doing it how he showed me ok. if you can picture 3 dovetails on a board that big, would you say thats right?  
thanks for your input, im in the dark w/ dealing w/ woodworkers and this kind of stuff  
8/20/2000 8:10 PM
Randall Aiken

All I have to say, having been through a rough time trying to find a decent cabinet builder, is that you should beware! It seems very difficult to get a responsible cabinet guy who will do a good job and do it in any sort of timely fashion. The good ones charge a lot, but if you can find one, they are worth it. You can waste a lot of time and money on the wrong guy, believe me.  
Your $125 for four pieces of wood sounds way excessive, to me, particularly if the job is done poorly as you say. You can get an entire cabinet made, tolex covered and all, for a bit more than twice that. Three dovetails in an 11" board is wrong. Next time you may want to ask for finger-joints instead of dovetails, and I'd definitely shop around for another cabinet guy.  
Randall Aiken
8/20/2000 8:39 PM
Peter S

FWIW, I do all my own cabinet work for this very reason. BTW, I just switched to using dovetails, from a doweled tongue in groove butthead joint, and my head cab is 8" from front to back and I used 1/2" dovetails, which long great and seem to be very strong.  
Peter S
8/20/2000 9:47 PM
Randall Aiken

If I knew how to properly do the woodworking without hurting myself, I'd do it! :)  
I have the utmost admiration for guys like you and Bruce, who can do it all without having to rely on outside sources for your cabinets.  
Randall Aiken  
"A man's got to know his limitations" - Clint Eastwood
8/20/2000 11:33 PM

i talked to him and he basically laughed. i told him that the joint wasn't right and that 3 tails on 11" board was not right. the pics ive seen of dovetails being done show that they are really tight (put them together w/ a mallet) and stay together w/ no glue. with mine, when i looked at the unglued cut wood there was space b/w the wood and it looked like it would of fallen apart if i picked it up. to his credit, it isn't done yet, so maybe i should wait to be critical. he says that it will be tight once he glues it up and clamps it down. isn't the point of dovetails that its so strong you don' have to do that? i tried to argue that besides not looking right, that it didn't look as structurally sound as it could be and for the high price im paying. he also said that if you did more dovetails that it would be weaker. he challeged me to bring in any woodworker or thier work. i don't really know how to argue w/ him since i don't know that much about dovetail construction. thanks for your help guys. does anyone have any ammo for me i could use to make an argument, or should i give him the benefit of the doubt?  
he says he spent 3 hours cutting the boards to length and the dovetails (no glue/sanding etc. yet) sound right?
8/21/2000 1:36 AM
Peter S

I'm far from a woodworking expert. I just did my first Dovetail joint a week and a half ago. The pins and tails are 1/2" and they seem mighty strong. I bought a Dovetail jig to use with a router, spent an hour setting it up and practicing on some scrap, and spent another hour cutting four boards to length and routing out the Dovetails. When I put the pieces together I had to use a mallet and when I was done, they were a tight press fit with no gaps. Then I hammered the whole thing apart and glued it together with titebond. The whole process from "man this looks like it's going to be a challenge" to "wow man, these Dovetails look great" took about 2 hours, including cleanup.  
Peter S
8/21/2000 4:16 PM

Three hours doesn't sound off to me.  
But, if it isn't right or what you wanted, don't buy.  
ANY cabinet maker worth a salt knows what you ment by dovetailed sides!!  
Here's a couple pictures of a half blind dovetailed 2x10 cab I built, using my Leigh dovetail jig.  
Pictures are before and after covering in an art deco sea foam green vinyl...  
I didn't like the original medium dark brown Nubtex vinyl (old VOX style) on it the first time so I ripped it off and redid it with the sea foam color.  
The results were, you can see the dovetails clearly before recovering and after covering, it stands out in a crowd!  

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