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Thread: How do you cut dovetails

  1. #46
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Longview WA
    Blog Entries
    Like Norman, my dovetails are tails first. My last few sets have used a wood strait edge clamped to the base line to line it up for marking the pin board. After doing this a few times it has become fairly easy.

    Recently a Youtube video of Rob Cossman mentioned his tip for piston fit drawers by making the front and the back pin boards a bit wide so it could be trimmed to fit. That was given a shot on my last project, Filed But Not Forgotten:

    The drawer seems to slide nice without side to side binding. Besides the dovetails look nice:

    File Drawer Dovetails.jpg

    After many years of functional but sloppy dovetails mine have improved from practice and diligence in figuring out what was needed to get better.

    One of the tips that helped on the half blind dovetails was from Derek Cohen about using a clamp on the pin board to prevent splitting if a tool or piece of metal is used to extend saw cuts to full depth on the half blinds. It may have also been one of his tips to make a saw cut in the middle of the waste to help remove the waste.

    What was learned beyond that is to use a solid clamp like a C-clamp instead of a springy clamp like a quick clamp with rubber pads. Small hardwood pads can be used to prevent marking the work. What one doesn't want is any way for the wood to flex and start a clamp. This doesn't seem to be as much of a problem with soft woods.

    Even though my dovetails are "good enough," that doesn't stop me from reading or watching what others have to offer. Every little bit, piece or tip on the mysteries of dovetail is worth a bit of my time if there is a possibility of improving my work.

    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  2. #47
    I'm very much a hand tool guy with dovetails, but for mass production, I really like using a jig.

    I use Steve Latta's method.

    Cut the tails using a flat top rip blade ground to 7 along with a tall fence and a miter gauge.

    Tilt the blade at 7 and off you go (Bear in mind which way your saw tilts when you get the blade ground).

    You will get super nice clean corners in the tails. If you use a stop and flip the board, the layout is symmetrical.

    To speed it up even more you can gang up sides do them all at once.

    Be sure to scribe first with a cutting gauge.

    Then I do the pins by hand.
    Last edited by Robert Engel; 06-13-2019 at 10:46 AM.

  3. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by Norman Pirollo View Post
    Attachment 411311

    What I have been using for years. It allows accurate transfer of tails to the pin board. I do tails first Afterward, the jig is used to chisel out both tail and pin sockets. Sits against the edge of a workbench and super straightforward to make. If I'm not mistaken I've been using this system since 2005. One additional tip is to glue a strip of sandpaper to the inside edge of both cleats. This guarantees the boards will not slide.

    Good idea. Thanks for posting that jig.

    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  4. #49
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Dickinson, Texas
    Check this link for a good shop made marking gauge.


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