Dovetail Tales #1: A Bandsaw Jig For Pins and Tails

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Blog entry by GeBeWubya posted 07-24-2013 08:36 PM 2285 reads 2 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Dovetail Tales series Part 2: The Left-handed Moxon or A Study in Bad Design Decisions »

You might say I’m a bit router-phobic and handsaw challenged. I needed to find a way to use my bandsaw to cut dovetails for a set of small boxes I’m making.

Calling this a jig is a little bit of an exaggeration; I cut a wedge with a `1:7 slope from a 6” 2 X 4. I also added a fence on the blade side of my bandsaw miter gauge.

The wedge laying on the flat rectangular face with one triangular face square against the miter gauge fence makes a ramp on which to lay the workpiece to cut one side of the pins. Turning the wedge 180 degrees (that is, putting the other triangular face against the fence) will set the angle for the other side of the pins. (Note that the right side of the workpiece is not on the table. Oh, also note this is NOT the blade I use for cutting the dovetails. For that I used a 1/4” 10 tpi.)

To cut the tails, turn the wedge so the triangular face is on the table and the rectangular ramp face is against the fence. Putting the end of the workpiece against the ramp with the piece flat on the table lets you cut one side of the tails, and rotating the wedge so the other ramp is against the fence (but with the same triangular face on the table) will give you the angle for the other side.

I know I could have used the miter gauge to set the angles for the tails and I figured out I could cut the tails by reversing the angle on the miter gauge although repeatability might be a problem. Tilting the table to the right would have allowed cutting one side of the pins, and my bandsaw table will tilt a little to the left, but it would involve resetting the horizontal stop every time I did. With this jig, all the cuts are made with the miter gauge set square to the blade and the table horizontal. The system works for either pins first or tails first layout.

-- (- |: \,/

4 comments so far

View pintodeluxe's profile


5654 posts in 2808 days

#1 posted 07-24-2013 09:56 PM

Yes, I have seen them cut on the bandsaw, and tablesaw, but it doesn’t look fun.
Cutting dovetails with a router is pretty basic, and the setup for HB dovetails is genius.
One pass, one setup… Ahhh nice.
If you ever get tired of cutting dovetails with a bandsaw…

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3644 days

#2 posted 07-24-2013 10:44 PM

I actually prefer the bandsaw for cutting dovetails – less chance of tearout/breakout.

I’ll post some pics later of my setup which is based on “the complete bandsaw” book.

curious – does your bandsaw table not tilt? that way you don’t have to use a wedge which seems to me to be unsafe, and raises the board off the table which can produce less than clean cuts.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Loren's profile (online now)


10378 posts in 3643 days

#3 posted 07-24-2013 11:52 PM

I have used Mark Duginske’s method in the past and
found it foolproof. He wrote the book mentioned above.

View abie's profile


874 posts in 3766 days

#4 posted 07-25-2013 03:48 AM

Here is a picture.

Bandsaw DT.jpg

-- Bruce. a mind is like a book it is only useful when open.

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