View Full Version : Fist Handcut Dovetails

Paul Barnard
08-04-2003, 9:18 PM
As it was raining today the gardening had to wait and I managed to cut and run to the basement. It wasn't long before Alexandra turned up wanting to get involved. She decided that she wanted to make a new jewlery box, I guess she'll be wanting some more jewlery to go in it as well :rolleyes: . She rumaged in the wood pile and produced a length of lodgepole pine. She then set about it with a No5 and flattened one surface. I helped with the winding sticks and did a little bit of fine adjustment. Alex then squared up the edges (By the way is the use of koala bear drawings a recognised face mark?) and thicknessed the board. I helped with the laying out of the sides and ends of the box to maximise the size while avoiding the knots. The next step was sawing the lengths out. Alex did this with the trusty miter saw. I cut a dado to take the bottom of the box using a 55. It's a little unweildy for a 9 year old. Next came what I thought was going to be the difficult bit, laying out the tails. I showed her the Rob Cosman dividers techneque on one end of a board and she did the other 3 corners completely on her own. I set up a scrap board in the vise and Alex did some practice cuts to get use to using the saw. The cuts got progressively straighter as she went. Then it was onto the real joints. The first picture shows her cutting the tails. To make the waste removal easier she used a fret saw to cut out the bulk, that's in the second picture. Onwards to the chiseling, note the square to help with keeping the chisel vertical. The fourth picture shows the first finished tails and a very pleased Alex. The rest of the tails presented no problem. I help with transfering the tails to the pins by doing the line up and clampint the parts as Alex didn't have the strength to hold the tail board still enough. Cutting the pins was a repeat of the tails. Then it was time for the glue up. Due to a mistake by Dad showing how to put the glue on, and using the wrong pair of boards, the glue up was a bit of a rush. The joints were not test fitted simply knocked together in true Rob Cosman fashion. Alex then used a smoother to clean up the joints. The final picture (in a reply to this one) shows the finished result. And an excellent result it is for first ever handcut dovetails! Alex tells me she is going to make a lid for it next time she is in the shop.

Paul Barnard
08-04-2003, 9:19 PM
The finished result

Noah Alkinburgh
08-04-2003, 9:44 PM
Boy am I ever embarrassed by my first attempt now. That is absolutely fantastic! What a great way to spend the day. I hope my daughter will be able to do HCDT that nicely some day. WOW


Marc Hills
08-04-2003, 10:35 PM
Two board feet of lodgepole pine: $7.00

1200 grit wet&dry scary sharp: $1.50

2 broken fret saw blades: $0.75

One-on-one time in the shop with a very special little girl: PRICELESS.

For yesterday's Barbies and Happy Meals, there's Mastercard. For memories that will last a lifetime, there's woodworking.

We can't give you a medal over the internet Paul, so you'll just have to settle for our admiration. That's one lucky kid you have there.

Oh, and make sure you pass along my considered opinion that those are mighty fine dovetails.

Doug Evans
08-04-2003, 10:52 PM
Hi Paul:

Tell that young lady - great job!

Now... I think I am going to head off and have a little cry somewhere - I have not done hand-cut dovetails myself.

I think I wil give it a try at The Durham Wood show this weekend... I have my bench there and I can bring a saw, chisels and layout tools. Should provide some comic relief for folks.

Great stuff there Super-Dad!



Dave Anderson NH
08-05-2003, 9:01 AM
Excellant photo story Paul. Maybe this will convince some of the other folks here on the Creek that it's not exactly rocket science. Some instruction, some practice, some basic tools, and away we go. She did it the hard way though, pine is a tough wood to use for the first attempt. How old is this daughter Paul? I know you've mentioned others.

Roger Nixon
08-05-2003, 9:14 AM
Thanks for sharing this, Paul. What a great expression on that girl's face! Having success like this will surely be encouraging to her.
Congratulations, Dad & daughter.

Paul Barnard
08-05-2003, 9:16 AM
How old is this daughter Paul? I know you've mentioned others.
She has just turned 9. I'm really proud of her, it took her quite some time to do the project but she stuck at it. The youngest, Chrissy, is 7 and she spent part of the day in the shop too. Chrissy is a natural sawyer and may be the woodworker of the two. She came and borrowed a back saw from the till and disapeared around the corner. I discovered her a little while later with an offcut of pine floor board clamped to her bench and some wonderful straight square cuts. A little later she borrowed a 60 1/2. I gave her a little time to get going then poped to see what was happening and she was merrily planing off the tongues from her pile of cut boards. But heres the bit that amazed me. She had clamped a peice of scrap accross the end of her bench and was using it as a planing stop. There she was board on edge makeing shavings like a pro. She may have seen me do it this way but I've certainly never told her about it.

All in all I have two kid's that I'm very proud of. Trueth is that I'd leave the shop to spend time with them if they didn't come to see me.

Kevin Kelly
08-14-2003, 10:54 AM
I can't tell you how much your story and pics did for me today.