Gentleman's Valet

This is a gentleman's valet that I build for my sister in law's boyfriend as a Christmas present. It was also a good opportunity to try out my hand tool skills, since I cut all of the joinery by hand.

Estimated Cost
Estimated Time Investment
Day Project (6-9 Hours)
Type of Wood
White Oak, Cherry
Finish Used
Boiled linseeed oil
Recommended Skill Level



Sun, 02/05/2012 - 09:20

Wow, this is gorgeous! Love the rich finish and the dove tail details, and the sliding top tray is so neat. Everyone in the family is going to want one! :) Joanne


Sun, 02/05/2012 - 12:25

This would make a great gift for my husband and all the men in my family...


Sun, 02/05/2012 - 19:12

Kristen you should try it yourself. You'd need to buy a joinery saw, but I just picked up a decent dovetail saw for $13, and a set of good chisels, but for $26 you can get a good set of 4.

My joinery isn't brilliant, but it's functional and doesn't look terrible. I'm pretty sure you could start knocking out some strong joints pretty quickly.

The upside is that it's faster than setting up power tools to make these joints. Hand cut dovetails will always be faster than machine cut, unless you're building a dozen boxes.


Mon, 02/06/2012 - 10:48

From here, your dovetail joints look great! I've always just skimmed past instructions for dovetails thinking I'd never put the time into constructing them. Perhaps I will investigate for future projects. The glue and nail option just goes quicker right now, with the list that looks like it just might take forever in this house!


Mon, 02/06/2012 - 08:35

Those are very tight joints. Slightly too tight in fact. There was a small amount of hairline splitting on the side I didn't show, that I had to fill with glue and sawdust to keep from spreading.

My dovetails aren't bad, just slow for me to cut right now, especially cleaning out the waste. I bought parts for a small bow saw that should make that easier, once I get the thing built.


Tue, 02/07/2012 - 08:35

The short answer is that I built a box, then built another box to go inside of it. A plan with dimensions wouldn't be a very good idea, because I sized this to match the $7 board I'd found at the hardwood dealer. Your lumber dealer almost certainly carries differently sized boards.

I'll think about a tutorial or video though. Box making is fun, rewarding, and can be profitable. Especially since most cabinets are just different variations on the box.


Tue, 02/07/2012 - 09:21

Alright, I will give it a try this weekend. Will let you know how it went! Thank you so much


Tue, 02/07/2012 - 10:44

If you get any results, post some pics. If not here, feel free to put up a link on my blog. Always good to share ideas and results.

Kat Roberts

Thu, 02/09/2012 - 19:17

Your work is gorgeous! I'm definitely stealing this idea for my husband's birthday as well as all the men in my family, who all have birthdays this spring. :) Only thing is, I'm using tools, my hand tool skills are no where near as good as yours.

Also, I appreciate the tips you've posted on other project plans, they really help clarify some of the smaller details overlooked by the designers for beginners like me.
Hope to see some more projects from you soon!


Thu, 02/09/2012 - 20:06

Hand tool skills actually develop pretty quickly, and one of the reasons it's gaining popularity. You can use scrap wood to learn how to make joints. The first ones will be rough but with even a little bit of practice they'll improve.

The tools are also getting cheaper. I just bought a decent dovetail saw for $13 from Tools For Working Wood, and $26 will buy you a decent set of chisels from Narex.

Christopher Schwarz and Logan Cabinet Shoppe are two good sources for hand tools articles, including videos. There are also good books on the subject. My first text was Hand Tool Essentials, but I'm told there are others worth looking into for first books.


Fri, 02/10/2012 - 07:30

The Essential Woodworker is the alternate starting text I was thinking of. I haven't read it yet, but heard it recommended by a few sources as a good place to learn about hand tool woodworking. I just ordered a copy for myself. Amazon sells it too, but for considerably more, and I've heard unpleasant things about the binding on the copies available on Amazon.

If the book turns out to be any good I'll post a review on my blog.

Kat Roberts

Fri, 04/20/2012 - 21:48

Please do!
Thank you for the tips and information, I'll definitely be starting on hand woodworking soon. I love the results of hand vs. machine woodworking, it's just sleeker and has more of a homemade quality.


Sat, 04/21/2012 - 04:56

I did finally buy the book, and I've reviewed it at…

There's also a new video coming out (or maybe it is out), that I wrote about: I've ordered my copy, but I won't have it in hand until next month. I grabbed is specifically for the information on block planes. I own them, but I've had the least consistent results from them of all my tools.

Guest (not verified)

Mon, 04/02/2012 - 18:27

Thank you for posting . I always learn something from you.