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Thread: How do you cut dovetails

  1. #31
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    Steven, how are the baselines looking?

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  2. #32
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    Derek, thanks for the tip. Specifically you are referring to the problem I encounter when I put my chisel in the scribed baseline and when I drive the chisel in, the bevel of the chisel pushes my chisel below the baseline. My solution has been to chop enough wood away so the final chop is less than a sixteenth inch, but your method seems to be safer.

  3. #33
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    To jump in for Derek, yes, putting your chisel in the baseline when there is still too much waste will cause the chisel to move back beyond the baseline. Here’s a video from Matt Estlea which shows how he “halfs” the waste over and over until you just have a sliver left at the baseline. That method is demonstrated at about the 20 minute mark. I have found this to work very well.

    https://youtu.be/2hP-QAAhpxQ

    I do like Derek’s suggestion of creating a knife line prior to cutting out the waste as well, although if there is a lot of waste, I would think you would still need to remove it in small increments (Derek, you seem to be very skilled at cutting your waste very close to the baseline...I’m not there yet!).
    Last edited by Phil Mueller; 04-19-2019 at 6:26 AM.

  4. #34
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    Good information & good video Phil. Thanks!

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Mueller View Post
    ... Here’s a video from Matt Estlea which shows how he “halfs” the waste over and over until you just have a sliver left at the baseline. ...
    I agree. This method of halfing works very well indeed. One other thing I did was make the front jaw of my moxon about 1/8" lower than the back jaw. This lets me use a square to line up the 2 boards. Works well for me. I also added a 1/2" hole at the back corner for a flex arm light. Old age sucks - youth is definitely wasted on the young.
    20190309_192213.jpg20190309_192228.jpg

  6. #36
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    I do like Derek’s suggestion of creating a knife line prior to cutting out the waste as well, although if there is a lot of waste, I would think you would still need to remove it in small increments (Derek, you seem to be very skilled at cutting your waste very close to the baseline...I’m not there yet!).
    Thank you Phil.

    The "secret" to cutting the waste close to the baseline "lies in the wrist", as the saying goes. Just relax the hand and grip, as you would a dovetail saw. Let the saw do the work.

    Watch the blade ... try not to let it deflect when cutting ..



    The straighter the blade, the less the tension you place on it. Less tension when cutting - just like a bandsaw blade - and the gullets do not load and the blade keeps sawing straight.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  7. #37
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    I cannot say that I am impressed with Matt Estlea. It is as much the showmanship as his technique. The way he uses the fretsaw he may as well use a coping saw. Clumsy. And he advises you use a jig to saw the tails! But that video has been viewed 400 000 times!

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  8. #38
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    Derek, you do an excellent job on those dovetails.

    Most often I tune the waste depending on the thickness of material. Thicker material I don’t get very close.
    Bumbling forward into the unknown.

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Cohen View Post

    The "secret" to cutting the waste close to the baseline "lies in the wrist", as the saying goes. Just relax the hand and grip, as you would a dovetail saw. Let the saw do the work.

    Watch the blade ... try not to let it deflect when cutting ..
    Two weeks ago, I was cutting a tone of dovetails and I was cutting straight and it felt easy.... then I had to step away for a week or two. Last night, I picked up where I had left off and I had to stay further from the waste because my cuts were all over, compared to two weeks ago anyway.


    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Cohen View Post
    The straighter the blade, the less the tension you place on it. Less tension when cutting - just like a bandsaw blade - and the gullets do not load and the blade keeps sawing straight.
    I had to tread that about four times before it clicked in my head. Indeed, yes, agreed.

    I also realized that the dovetail saw that I was using, was barely cutting. This time I decided that I am going to sharpen it myself. First time sharpening a saw. Nervous, very nervous. I will post back in a different thread.

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Pitonyak View Post
    Two weeks ago, I was cutting a tone of dovetails and I was cutting straight and it felt easy.... then I had to step away for a week or two. Last night, I picked up where I had left off and I had to stay further from the waste because my cuts were all over, compared to two weeks ago anyway.

    I had to tread that about four times before it clicked in my head. Indeed, yes, agreed.

    I also realized that the dovetail saw that I was using, was barely cutting. This time I decided that I am going to sharpen it myself. First time sharpening a saw. Nervous, very nervous. I will post back in a different thread.
    After a long spell of being out of the shop it can be helpful to make a few practice cuts to get the muscle memories flowing.

    One hint on saw sharpening, stay focused on how you are holding the file and the pressure exerted.

    Maybe read the article on sharpening at vintagesaws.com a few times.

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

  11. #41
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    I like to wake up late, drink a pair of coffees, then wander out to the bench. Dust things off, draw my lines, then start my first cut.
    Now- contrary to how most woodworkers prefer to make a dovetail- I like to mess it up at the first opportunity. Then I wonder about how much wood filler is too much while I start also wondering if the box will be OK if it's just a bit shorter or narrower.

    Then I wonder why I am using a dovetail since a well done (and easier) finger joint still eludes me to some extent.

    On the up side, my dear better half is always thrilled by my small boxes and despite her 20/20 vision, is unable to see large bits of putty.

    I could argue that's how I learned so it's how I do it.

    -PD

  12. #42
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    As I had said, I would try to come back and add some pictures of my first dovetails - I am sorry that it took so long.
    20190412_170024-scaled.jpg
    20190419_094633-scaled.jpg
    20190419_094636-scaled.jpg
    20190419_094652-scaled.jpg

    As you can see, my paring still needs work <laughs>

  13. #43
    I don't tilt either. Nowadays I don't tape or use a lot of the other things I used to do a couple years ago. Like you, I am not convinced that my quality or skill has improved, just that I probably wouldn't have fared significantly better taking more time. Also, perfectly cut dovetails don't impress me as much any more.

    I think time has become more valuable to me than perfection these days...

    I also noticed a digital jump in my saw cut quality when I realized that I was pushing too hard on the cut. Pushing (or pulling) slowly through the cut and reducing the downward/forward pressure seems to give me more plumb/straight/line-kissing cuts than before.

  14. #44
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    Let the saw do the work...

  15. #45
    DovetailMarking-800.jpg

    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.

    Norman
    WOODSKILLS

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