I enjoy things that are contradictory, ironic or just odd. Like these pictures:

A classic and a favorite of mine.

A classic and a favorite of mine.

Or this one:

I think I know what they meant but still....

I think I know what they meant but still….

Freedom sugar. Fat free AND gluten free. Pretty healthy if you ignore the sugar part.

Freedom sugar. Fat free AND gluten-free. Pretty healthy if you ignore the sugar part.

And this one:

No, you park in PARK, dive in DRIVE and go backwards in REVERSE.

No, you park in PARK, drive in DRIVE and go backwards in REVERSE.

With this in mind, in They Don’t Make Dovetails Like This Anymore. For A Reason, I wrote of the perils of cross-grain dovetails as in this example:

Cross-grain dovetail fail.

Cross-grain dovetail fail.

During the Pennsylvania spice cabinet class at 360 WoodWorking, Chuck Bender showed us the retrieval mechanism for a “secret” compartment. It looked something like this except in curly maple:

All right, which is the pin and which is the tail?

All right, which is the pin and which is the tail?

The whole compartment looks like this:

It's not secret anymore.

It’s not secret anymore.

Side view.

Side view.

Top view.

Top view.

And it goes in here:

Second level from the top.

Second level from the top.

The idea is that the grain in the first few inches runs in the same direction as the other dividers to conceal what is actually going on. At the dovetail joint, the grain changes direction to take advantage of the long grain strength to extract the compartment.

Mr. Bender suggested I start the process by leaving extra length on the handle so when the pin/tail breaks off, I have room to start again.

And I did and it did. As I was just finishing my first attempt, one of the pin/tails snapped off. The second failure occurred as I was paring down to the baseline, caught some willing grain and pared off both pins/tails. But very cleanly. For the third attempt, I scribed the baseline gently and was annoyed when one of the pin/tails snapped off. This time I glued it back on and left tape in place until it was all glued to the rest of the assembly.  Apparent success.

Having done it, I do wonder if there was a better way to achieve the goal. Possibly just using a butt joint to glue 2″ of cross-grain on to the long grain handle? You would be gluing long grain to end grain, not the strongest joint. A stronger solution might have been to cut just one pin/tail. Maybe not.

Unfortunately, there is no one left to ask. They’re all dead.