The previously cut tails are used to layout the pins, this helps eliminate any errors from measuring and ensures a “custom” fit for each pin. The shallow rabbet’s on the inside of the tail boards made this process easy as the lip created from the rabbet will register along the pin board and the whole thing can be flushed with the back of a chisel. This makes sure that everything is perfectly aligned.
A thin marking knife allows you to get close to the walls of the tail and provides a more accurate transfer than a pencil. I do darken the knife lines with a pencil afterward so the lines are easier to see while cutting. From here it’s a simple process of continuing the lines vertically down to the baseline and marking the waste.
And this is where I screwed it all up. Coming home after a long day at work I wanted to get some time in the shop, cutting dovetails wasn’t likely the best use of that shop time. On the first pin I cut I was concentrating so much on making sure the cut was staying vertical that I didn’t pay attention to the angle of the wall and cut into the pin. This wasn’t unrecoverable, I would just be leaving a nice apprentice mark behind. So I continued onto the next cut making sure to pay attention to both my vertical line and the angle of my wall. I must have only been capable of handling one thought at a time this evening because this time I cut on the wrong side of the waste… From now on I’ll be marking my waste with a much larger X.
With these two mistakes the joint was going to be pretty sloppy, luckily this was the first set of pins on the board and by cutting off the end at the baseline this piece could be salvaged for the shelf of the case and I’d get a shot to do it over again. So a new bottom board was cut to length and the pins were again transferred from the tail boards. It was back to cutting the dovetails, this time with a bit more success.