Hand Tools doings #14: Dovetails - not quite so ugly - but still not so good

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Blog entry by Betsy posted 04-10-2008 04:47 AM 1385 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 13: Dovetails - I'm getting there --- still kind of ugly Part 14 of Hand Tools doings series Part 15: Dovetails - Fit First Time! »

Still trying to get the hang of these things. The joint is deceptively hard to do, but I’m determined to get them.

My biggest problem is still my tools. I’m really going to have to concentrate on sharpening them. So before I get to frustrated with the dovetails I’m going to start working on sharpening a bit more aggressively. But at least I seem to be getting the geometry and marking down. Will be practicing cutting straight lines as well.




Thanks for your encouragement and advise along the way.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

6 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4016 days

#1 posted 04-10-2008 05:57 AM

Looks like you’re getting closer.

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

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3849 days

#2 posted 04-10-2008 11:16 AM


You are improving. You certainly have been an inspiration to me, and I am sure others as well, who are pursuing this too. Struggling with mastering this joinery technique will only make you a stronger woodworker in the long run. :)

Keep up the practice. I really appreciate these posts.

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

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3795 days

#3 posted 04-10-2008 12:17 PM

wow you’ve been making a ton of progress. one hint that i could offer (i don’t know if you’ve been doing this already) is not to make then a slip in fit. if you need to tap it in it is usually a much better fit and you don’t have those little gaps on the side from removing too much waste. but again great job, keep up the good work, and i can’t wait until the next post!

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3923 days

#4 posted 04-10-2008 02:55 PM

Thanks guys. I’m getting there. Patience and practice, patience and practice.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View SteveKorz's profile


2134 posts in 3741 days

#5 posted 04-10-2008 03:16 PM

I’m still practicing too, Betsy. About a year ago, I took a handcut dovetail class by David Marks. One of the things that he did that I really like was to clamp a guide block on the tails piece. For example, in your pic above, on the top board that is horizontal, he would clamp a jointed board with a square edge along your scribe line for the entire width of the tails board. Then the backs of his chisels would ride that guide board and ensure a square cut on the tails board. After he cut the tails, then he would use an exacto knife to mark the pins. He said he never used a pencil or pen, due to the with of the lead. Then he would take a little off at a time and make’em fit. He made it look so easy, and I’m STILL practicing!!!...

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3923 days

#6 posted 04-11-2008 05:26 AM

Thanks Steve. The block idea is a good one. This is definitely a skill that takes practice. I’m going to keep going until I get it though. I’m trying to do more by hand just because of the noise factor and just the pure joy of it. I’ll never be a complete hand tool gal, but I think the hand tools adds a lot that you cannot accomplish with a machine.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

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