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Thread: Why the belt sander and not a plane for the hand cut dovetails?

  1. #1

    Why the belt sander and not a plane for the hand cut dovetails?

    When I make dovetail drawers, I use a Keller jig and I made some modifications for it's use on a router table (here is a picture of my jig). Very efficient and they look nice, but really not major skill involved. I make the pins a bit proud and use a random orbit sander to sand them flush. I am now focusing on improving my hand tool skills .... I think I have used sanders and machines on occasions when it would have been better to use chisels and planes. I was thinking one example was where perhaps I should have used a block or other plane instead of my random orbit to get the pins flush. Then... I see this video of a skilled guy who clearly can make dovetails with chisels.... and then he reaches for a belt sander! Huh.



    Dovetail jig.jpg

  2. #2
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    I make the pins a bit proud and use a random orbit sander to sand them flush. I am now focusing on improving my hand tool skills
    Joel, on some projects my pins and tails are made very proud and then shaped with a chisel.

    Skew Chisel on Proud Tail.jpg

    They are rounded over or faceted like gemstones. It looks nice when done.

    Finished Sofa Box.jpg

    This is a box to sit on the sofa to hold our remotes for the entertainment components. It also holds a few other items such as the incoming mail.

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

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joel Gelman View Post
    When I make dovetail drawers, I use a Keller jig and I made some modifications for it's use on a router table (here is a picture of my jig). Very efficient and they look nice, but really not major skill involved. I make the pins a bit proud and use a random orbit sander to sand them flush. I am now focusing on improving my hand tool skills .... I think I have used sanders and machines on occasions when it would have been better to use chisels and planes. I was thinking one example was where perhaps I should have used a block or other plane instead of my random orbit to get the pins flush. Then... I see this video of a skilled guy who clearly can make dovetails with chisels.... and then he reaches for a belt sander! Huh.



    Dovetail jig.jpg
    Joel, trim the dovetails with a wide chisel. Use the edge of the chisel to slice away the waste (not the waste/chisel straight on). Use a skewing motion.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

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    You probably are already set up to deal with noise and dust, but with a chisel or bench plane none of that is a factor. If you are referring to the same video I've seen, I don't think the guy in it is wearing any ear protection or a respirator, his choice I suppose.

  5. #5
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    Unless I left them REALLY proud (I should note that I do not intentionally leave anything proud, if it happens I deal with it, but that's it), it'd be more work IMO to use a belt sander. I'd have to go get it, hook up the dust collection, find my ear protection, get a respirator. Not to mention, the belt sander is heavier, and then I'm worried about it staying flat and not tipping in and creating a divot.
    Last edited by mike stenson; 02-06-2023 at 5:52 PM.
    ~mike

    happy in my mud hut

  6. #6
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qDWkbyZEZQ

    Sorry... this thread would not make sense without the link to the video I was referencing

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joel Gelman View Post
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qDWkbyZEZQ

    Sorry... this thread would not make sense without the link to the video I was referencing
    It looks like more is being done than just removing the proudness of the pins & tails. He is sanding the whole outside of the drawer box.

    Paring the pins works for me.

    Pin Paring.jpg

    No big box holder to make and store. Less dusty and my favorite, less noise.

    The tails were also trimmed. Pare from the outside in to avoid breakout.

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

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joel Gelman View Post
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qDWkbyZEZQ

    Sorry... this thread would not make sense without the link to the video I was referencing
    Joel, I am going to appear very snooty when I say that that video and method by Becksvoort is a poor example of dovetailing and preparing a drawer. I simply cannot imagine that drawer fitting anything but loosely.

    He does not saw to lines but leaves some to pare away with chisels. His chiseling is sloppy. He may be a whole lot better at using a belt sander - and possibly the only one to use this method - but the method must round over edges. The drawer looks reasonable from 6 foot. (A very good driend of mine, Chris Vesper, who is one of the best woodworking tool makers in the world, said to me that he was very disappointed by Becksvoorts drawer fit. Now I know why).

    I don’t claim to be a professional, and I am not under the same time constraints, but I have friends who are high-end pros, and my drawers are up to their standards. It is not a race for me. Perhaps it is unfair, then, to compare how I do it with Becksvoort, who is working against the clock. The point is, you are not a professional doing the same either. There is no need to take shortcuts. What do you want to see when you look back on the work in a few years - a piece reflecting quality, or a memory of winning a speed race?

    Becksvoort’s approach to marking out is very different to my own. If you want to watch videos of a style and method that I would support, watch Rob Cosman. In my own work, there is usually no waste to plane or pare away. This is deliberate. When fitting drawer fronts for a close fit, one does not want to alter their dimensions later (in this case with a belt sander - ugghh!).

    I recently posted on the WoodCentral forum a series of links (on my website) for drawer-making. This may interest you, if only to give you an idea of what goes into the making of piston-fit drawers …

    https://www.woodcentral.com/home/for...6373#gsc.tab=0

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  9. #9
    Thanks Derek and Jim. I just thought this was an interesting video. Here I am as someone who has made drawers using a Random Orbit sander to address proud pins and tails, and I am thinking maybe if I were better at using hand tools that I knew how to get nice and sharp, I would incorporate that more. I was thinking plane or chisel. Then, I look at this FineWoodworking video of this older gentleman in his traditional shop using chisels and saws to hand cut dovetails and he then whips out a belt sander. I was thinking what the heck. I was thinking as I got better with hand tools, I would no longer need a powered sander with risk of roundover. I would not have to make all of these scratches using the course grits where then I need to sand them out. I would just use a chisel or plane and then I would save time and have a nicer finish, no noise etc. So, I was wondering why this guy would use a belt sander.

  10. #10
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    Perhaps a suggestion, as long as the OP is watching videos.....Dial up Paul Sellers Masterclasses sometime....and see how he does dovetail joints...
    A Planer? I'm the Planer, and this is what I use

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    That plywood with the slots at various spacing is awesome. I have to remember that.

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    I do like that tool he uses to help tighten his Veritas hold down. For us over 60 we need all the help we can get. And I like the fact he is sitting while dovetailing. Once again, the aging woodworker. I don't think any of us on this thread makes a living woodworking. I am very impressed Becksvoort has - I he has to put out product to put food on the table. We have the luxury of time and money. I think he has retired after many years.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Zellers View Post
    That plywood with the slots at various spacing is awesome. I have to remember that.
    I imagine that Becksvoort made a few standard sized drawers. His fixture was sized for these. Here is an adjustable version which may be more useful for others




    Link: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/ShopMad...ngFixture.html

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Cohen View Post
    Here is an adjustable version which may be more useful for others …
    Beautiful- way better. Thanks for posting that.

  15. #15
    https://www.barth-maschinenbau.de/en...amping-device/

    I have a Barth bench and a Traditional workbench. I love the vertical clamps for the Barth perforated top (22mm as opposed to the 20mm with Festool). For the workbench, there are only rectangular holes for the bench dogs to use with the vices. I was thinking of drilling holes to use hold downs on my traditional workbench, and was wondering if the above clamp would be as good or better than the traditional hold down. I already have several of the Barth (Bessey makes these), but surely it is not "traditional looking". I tend to favor what works best.

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