Build Your Own Dovetail Saw #3: Slotting the Saw Back

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Blog entry by ErikF posted 11-02-2013 03:25 PM 5473 reads 7 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Materials and where I got them. Part 3 of Build Your Own Dovetail Saw series no next part

I feel this is the part of making a dovetail saw that holds people back. I first thought that it would require a machine shop or ordering a dovetail saw kit in order to get a good product to use for a sturdy spine. It took some trial and error (still making some errors) but this method is working for me. You will be able to tell by my setup that there is plenty of room for improvement and better jigs, I plan to upgrade my setup sometime soon but right now I am enjoying the build process too much.

Pictured above is the slot cutter, the arbor adapter, and the wooden jig I use to guide the backs past the cutter. It is a very simple design the I clamp to the drill press table and only takes a few minutes to throw together. I cut out a section of the “fence” to allow the cutter through.

The cutter is high speed steel and stays sharp while cutting the brass and copper, it is the carbon fiber that will causes it to dull quickly. It is very important to ensure that your drill press table to parallel to the cutter, mine was a bit off and gave me some trouble early on. I set the speed of the press to 620 rpm to cut the metal, I have found this to work well and the metal does not get hot at this speed. I am able to slide the brass past the cutter without noticing any major warming on the metal.

To avoid drift I only take between a 1/16” and 1/8” per pass. I shoot for a total depth of 3/8”. In order to adjust the cut depth I slide one edge of the jig closer to the blade.
To keep the sawback and the blade mated together I lightly sand the edge of the blade going into the back then epoxy it into the slot. It’s easy to cleanup after it dries and holds well.

As you can see, it’s a pretty easy station to setup. I think I included everything needed to do this, if I missed anything or you have questions leave a comment or send me a message.

-- Power to the people.

4 comments so far

View A10GAC's profile


191 posts in 3048 days

#1 posted 11-03-2013 12:20 AM

Would there be any benefit to adding a feather board to the table just in front of the back to hold it against the cutter? Or is the pressure of such a light cut negligible?

-- Men have become the tools of their tools. - Henry David Thoreau

View ErikF's profile


610 posts in 2213 days

#2 posted 11-03-2013 12:48 AM

I haven’t had any problems with it but I am sure it would make things a little smoother, especially if you wanted to make a deeper pass. I plan to make a few jigs that are more exact and set specifically for different sized stock. I know it makes life easier to use a good jog but I constantly struggle to convince myself that the time is worth it. It’s all on my growing list of things to do.

-- Power to the people.

View A10GAC's profile


191 posts in 3048 days

#3 posted 11-03-2013 10:53 PM

Understood, it’s tough to spend the time modifying/building a new jig if your current setup works for what you’re using it for.

To adjust the depth of cut on your current setup do you anchor one side of the jig and just tap the other to increase the blade exposure?

-- Men have become the tools of their tools. - Henry David Thoreau

View CL810's profile


3778 posts in 2958 days

#4 posted 11-13-2013 11:52 PM

Erik, thanks for this blog.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

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