View Full Version : ????? Re Hand cut dovetail saw

Howard Rosenberg
02-17-2003, 9:59 PM
I'm VERY new to handtools but the elegant simplicity of a hand-cut DT has grabbed me ever since I saw Rob Cosman on the ww show circuit make beautiful DTs over and over again while bantering with the crowd and assembling joints without any trial fit.
Here's my dilemna - while it's an amazing tool, the L-N saw is a bite $-wise. My next choice might be the Lee Valley dovetail kit with their saw and a magnetized jig assembly to keep you on the "straight & narrow". I hate sounding like a snob, but I'd permanently feel I'm relying on training wheels.
After such a long preface, my question is: if I don't want to spend the $ on the L-N saw, does anyone ever use a Japanese puul-type saw with a stiff back? Any limitations? Problems? Anything I should know about? I'd be following Rob Cosman's techniques which obviously work but with a different saw.
All opinions, knowledge and experiences would be very welcome ... I hear a Shaker-style step stool calling my name in time for when the garage warms up enough for glue to work. Thank you. Howard

Pam Niedermayer
02-18-2003, 1:06 AM
I've been using the LV Professional Dozuki for a couple of years, and it's been great for dovetails. So good in fact, that I haven't even gone looking for a better Japanese saw. I'd previously used a Tyzak I bought 20+ years ago.


Jim Fuller
02-18-2003, 9:42 AM
Howard, I have a western style saw that I like a lot, but I also have a japanese saw that does a wonderful job. There is a lot of difference in the price of the two as well. I have a video of Tage Frid (excuse the spelling) using a bow saw. If you are just starting, I would recommend buying, borrowing, or somehow veiwing Frank Klaus cutting dovetails. It is impressive. If I could offer any advise on dovetails, it would be to look for any opportunity to cut them. The more you practice the more you want to.

Ray Thompson
02-18-2003, 9:59 AM
If you can try both. Your own personal technique will tell you which to use. You might even try a cheap version of both and just practice the cuts and see which you like best, before spending the big bucks. The cheap versions won't be quite the same as the expensive ones but you should be able to get a feel for the differences between the saws.


Dennis McDonaugh
02-18-2003, 12:06 PM
Howard, I infrequently hand cut DTs with a Stanley contractor grade dovetail saw I picked up for less than $20. Its got a 15 or 16 tpi crosscut blade and does okay, but not great. A friend of mine had a very similar saw that he had professionally sharpened with a rip profile and man does it cut nice. There's a night and day difference between the two. I'm going to have mine sharpened the same way and for less than $40.00 I'll have a nice DT saw.

Ernie Miller Topeka
02-21-2003, 3:02 PM
Any fine toothe back saw will work as long as it is sharp. they work best if they are sharpened rip. but you may also use a Japanise style saw if you prefer. You can even use a regular saw that is 12-16 TPI if that is all you have. Never let the lack of the perfect tool prevent you from doing perfect work!:D

Woody Leland
02-22-2003, 3:11 PM
Just a thought when considering saws for dovetailing:

I purchased a fairly expensive saw with a thin kerf when I first started cutting dovetails. But I had less success than I did with a $20 "junk" saw from a flea market. The very thin kerf often followed the grain of the wood giving me less than optimal results. In the end, I realized thickness (or thinness) of the kerf is not important, because it is cutting accurately on the line that gives a good fit.

I learned almost everything I know from the Frank Klausz video, followed later by a Tage Frid video of similar information. Both are excellent, but get Frank's first. He teaches habits that will protect you from yourself.

Good luck.

-Woody from South Portland, Maine

Jim Fuller
02-22-2003, 4:04 PM
I also cut dovetails in the same manner as Frank Klaus, I have the Tage video also. I make a point of jointing all my drawers with hand cut dovetails. I actually look for excuses to use the dove tails. Have fun

Woody Leland
02-22-2003, 5:51 PM
I had a chance to purchase a used Leigh Dovetail jig for about half price a year or so ago. When I got it home, I realized I had to make a place for it. So I added a space under an existing shelf, and made a drawer to keep this together. The only problem was I didn't know how to use the Leigh jig....So I hand-cut the dovetails to make the drawer for it. I told Frank Klausz about this, and he said a drawer is a good place for the jig to stay.

When I first got Frank's video, I started making drawers. I used a bunch of junk plywood, then MDF to make utility cases. In two months I made over 90 drawers. I became quite comfortable with hand-cut dovetails. Now, the few times I use that Leigh jig, it seems terribly restrictive.

Within the last 2 weeks, I got a new medium-sized bowsaw from Glenn Livingston (Woodjoy Tools). I really love this saw and will use it the next time I do dovetails.

Just today, I finished modifying two old 1/4" chisels into left & right skew chisels. (As did my friend Dick Shryock) I will use these to clean up half-blind dovetails next time. I'm currently building a dining room table for my son, with two drawers, so it will be soon.

Thanks for the note.

Woody from South Portland, Maine

Dave Anderson NH
02-23-2003, 7:28 PM
Where you been hiding you old pirate. I ain't seen hide nor hair of you for almost 2 years. You and Dick going to Donelley's Nashua auctiona nd tailgate in April?

Woody Leland
02-24-2003, 12:47 PM
I dunno about the Donnelly thing in April. It's not on my radar right now, but who knows by then? Which weekend is it?

I have been lurking around the Pond for months, but didn't make contributions very often. But I've been reading yours. Dick actually found this site, and we both like it quite a bit. Nice to see all the familiar names.

I will try to leave notes a bit more frequently here.......

-Woody from South Portland, Maine

Dave Anderson NH
02-24-2003, 3:02 PM
at the usual location at the Naushua Holiday Inn and the parking lot. Barring anything unusual happening I'll be there for both the tailgate session and the auction too.

John Kidner
02-24-2003, 6:07 PM
Howard, I have both the LV Dozuki and the LN saw that I bought from Rob. I can cut a good dove tail with either but the LN saw is easier to use and more consistant. It seemed like a lot of money at the time but after a year I do not even think about the cost, just the nice results it gives me.

James O'Mara
03-05-2003, 3:36 PM
I know the Tage Frid video is available from Woodcraft but does anybody know where the Frank Klausz video is available?


Woody Leland
03-05-2003, 4:47 PM
Originally posted by James O'Mara
I know the Tage Frid video is available from Woodcraft but does anybody know where the Frank Klausz video is available?


I got a mailing from Woodcraft just this past weekend with both video's on sale. I don't know if it was a local sale or company wide. (My local store is in Portsmouth NH) But anyway, you can get Klausz's at Woodcraft or directly from Taunton.

-Woody in South Portland, Maine

Jim Izat
03-07-2003, 12:17 PM

There are many outlets where one can buy older back and dovetail saws for not a lot of money and then have them professionally set and sharpened. Can't see why you couldn't get an excellent tool that way for about 50 bucks.

Jim Izat

Jim Shaver, Oakville Ont
03-12-2003, 8:57 PM
If you had come to the last HFMS meeting you would have seen Rob Cosman cutting dovetails.

I have the LN DT saw, I really really like it!

Take care,

Glenn Clabo
03-13-2003, 8:58 AM
It can be done with just an old backsaw and sharp chisels. The one I have is an unknown that I've had for a long time. I hand sharpen it like I was taught 40 years ago.

Martin Shupe
03-13-2003, 10:04 PM
Hey Jim!

What is your favorite slope for your dovetails?

They look outstanding!!