I have decided on my first woodworking project. It's a box that I have designed. It will have through dovetail joints along the 4 edges, and some other features. I am wondering if people generally do a mockup of their projects with cheaper woods first. Since this would be my first project, and since I want to do as much as possible by hand, I'm wondering what type of cheaper wood I should get for the mockup. And my last question: my book suggests that dovetail joints are difficult to create by hand. Do you all find this to be the case?
Just jump in and try it, Allison! Everybody who mastered dovetails had to start with a first set sometime. Poplar is a 'mock up' wood I'd recommend for this practice. In some schools, the instructor has people try 'Five-minute' dovetails for practice, using small blocks only 3"x5" and doing both sides then testing for fit. Frank Klausz, a master, does them by eye without any measuring, and debunks all the 'fuss' over dovetails, so don't be intimidated or let anyone say you shouldn't try them. Hand cut dovetails will make a truly beautiful box, and any woodworker wil be amazed it was your 'first' project. -Barb S.
I agree with Barb on the dovetails, When they will work I use 2x4 that I rip,plane,join, for mock ups. And I don build mock ups of all new things i try, and at only $2.00 for 2x4x8 you can get alot of stock out of a single board.
What I relized a while ago is practice. The more you do the better they look. Just about anything is difficult the first time you do it. Cutting a straight line with a hand saw, is taken for granted but if you have never done it before....
I still have the first set I cut hanging in the shop, I just can't part with the croocked thing.