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Hand Tools doings #3: My first dovetails - warning - kind of ugly

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Blog entry by Betsy posted 2313 days ago 1514 reads 0 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: 2nd stab at hand cut box joint - a touch better Part 3 of Hand Tools doings series Part 4: Second try at hand cut dovetails --- picture heavy »

Well it’s taken several attempts but here is my first set of dovetails. I realize that it’s only two tails and one pin—- but a girl has to start somewhere.

The first pic is after the cutting. Not so good.

Photobucket

This second photo is after a little paring. Actually a little to much. But hey it fits. Sorta, kind of….

Photobucket

Frank Klaus has nothing to worry about with me. But I’ll catch him yet. Just wait and see. :-)

-- Like a bad penny, I keep coming back!



22 comments so far

View Paul D's profile

Paul D

2122 posts in 2331 days


#1 posted 2313 days ago

I’ve never hand cut a dovetail but might just give it a try one of these days. I think you did fine for a first attempt and you definitely learned a few things now about hand cutting dovetails.

-- Paul D - Lawrenceville, Georgia

View Chris 's profile

Chris

1866 posts in 2574 days


#2 posted 2313 days ago

You’ve gotten further than me… I have not yet tried hand cutting dovetails.

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View Betsy's profile

Betsy

2913 posts in 2478 days


#3 posted 2313 days ago

Paul and Chris – you should give it a try. It’s one of those things that when you finally are on the right path is pretty neat. And it’s not a bad way to spend an afternoon twiddling in the shop.

-- Like a bad penny, I keep coming back!

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 2404 days


#4 posted 2313 days ago

Betsy,

I am glad to see that you are making progress. I have been working on these off and on (but mostly off) for the past two or three weeks (time flies when we are having fun) and I can honestly say yours are much better than mine. Maybe Gary was right when he said that with practice your technique will improve. It seems to be working for you.

Maybe I will go in and try another set tonight after finishing these posts.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Thuan's profile

Thuan

203 posts in 2400 days


#5 posted 2313 days ago

Betsy,

Unfortunately, your pins are up-side-down, you need it to lock into the tails, other than that, looks like a good start.

-- Thuan

View Betsy's profile

Betsy

2913 posts in 2478 days


#6 posted 2313 days ago

Thuan——- YOU WIN!!!! This was a test of the emergency dovetail warning system. :-)

Knew something was wrong. Paring is not going to help that. Now all you other guys should not feel so bad.

I’m laughing at myself. Geez I thought I at least had the concept.

Thanks for being honest with me Thuan.

-- Like a bad penny, I keep coming back!

View teenagewoodworker's profile

teenagewoodworker

2727 posts in 2351 days


#7 posted 2313 days ago

ya dovetails are really hard to cut. i often have trouble with them in all my attempts too. i guess that the only way to get better is practice. keep up the good work and keep us posted on your progress.

View Betsy's profile

Betsy

2913 posts in 2478 days


#8 posted 2313 days ago

Wait – now I’m confused. Isn’t the pin supposed to be bigger on the bottom and smaller on top and the tail bigger on the top and smaller on the bottom?

-- Like a bad penny, I keep coming back!

View GaryK's profile

GaryK

10262 posts in 2571 days


#9 posted 2313 days ago

Thuan is correct. look here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Joinery-throughdovetail.gif

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Betsy's profile

Betsy

2913 posts in 2478 days


#10 posted 2313 days ago

Thanks. Guess it’s back to the shop to try again.

-- Like a bad penny, I keep coming back!

View Lakey's profile

Lakey

97 posts in 2355 days


#11 posted 2313 days ago

Regardless of which way they are supposed to go, you did a darned good job on your first try – especially considering it looks like oak – oak is pretty hard and unforgiving when it comes to paring and the like. Try some in poplar, or cherry – you’ll be surprised at the difference.

-- "No Board Left Behind"

View Betsy's profile

Betsy

2913 posts in 2478 days


#12 posted 2313 days ago

Thanks Lakey. I obviously missed out on a point to two. Trying to learn on m own is tough. I’m a visual, you show me, I can do it, type of learner. I’ll be glad when my vacation comes and I can get to my hand tools class in Kentucky. Maybe I will learn something to turn on the light bulb.

-- Like a bad penny, I keep coming back!

View Woodshopfreak's profile

Woodshopfreak

389 posts in 2325 days


#13 posted 2313 days ago

I had the same results. Part of the problem is I don’t have the right tools. I was useing a hack saw, and a dull chisle. lol. This is one skill I belive will be very hard to learn for me. I am not good with the hand cut dovetails. I always screw something up amd make it look terable. I am going to get some nicer chsles and that might change the results. Good luck. May post what my dovetail attempt looked like.

-- Tyler, Illinois

View Eric's profile

Eric

873 posts in 2366 days


#14 posted 2313 days ago

Betsy, I think there are two rites of passage for every Dovetail Cutter: doing their first one, and posting pictures of it. So well done, you’ve passed through the gauntlet.

-- Eric at http://adventuresinwoodworking.com

View Mark Mazzo's profile

Mark Mazzo

352 posts in 2495 days


#15 posted 2313 days ago

Betsy,

Just saw this. Bravo on your first set of dovetails – it’s the first step in trying that’s a doozie!

With that said, I believe that Thuan is correct. At first I could not tell whether I was looking at the pin or tail end of the board in the photos. The tail cuts across the thickness of the board should be straight across. Only the pins are angles across the thickness.

Without getting into any religious wars over which is right to cut first, I’m interested in what you cut first? I have done both and I seem to get better results when I do tails first (that’s also the way I first taught myself to do them). I think that it may be easier, visually to see the tails when you mark them on the board and then mark and cut the pins from them. However, there are other advantages & drawbacks to each method. I am just kind of a visual learner and when I can “see” the tails, I can visualize the joint.

I recently blogged about dovetailing the drawer onthe table I’m making. While it was not meant to be a complete tutorial, it might benefit you to see the basics of how I went about it.

One other thing. If you scale your pins (i.e. the space between the tails when you marke the tails out) to be smaller it will look much better and it will also scream hand cut because there are no router bits than can cut pins as small as those available by hand. Above all else, keep practicing and you will get better!

-- Mark, Webster New York, Visit my website at http://thecraftsmanspath.com

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