Workbench Build #7: First attempt (ever) at hand cut dovetails....

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by JL7 posted 06-08-2011 04:11 AM 3275 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: Still working on the top... Part 7 of Workbench Build series Part 8: Still Dovetailing...... »

Not much of an update here – but I will start by saying…...I have contemplated many ways of building this bench without dovetailing the apron into the end caps…..but of course I WANT this essentail feature so invested part of my tax return into a proper saw, and now I am committed. I picked up the Lie-Nielsen saw and and as most of you know, it is amazing the difference it makes in cut control.

Before that…....I cut the dado’s into the end caps and they fit the bench nice and snug:

I know I should practice this technique on other material, but I am kind of stubborn that way and have decided that I will publish the results (good or bad) either way. I AM howver looking for any good advice or links on how to properly proceed from here…...(thanks!)

The front apron is 1-3/4” stock (laminated) by 73” long.

The ceiling height in the basement is 7’ to the bottom of the floor joists. For some reason I decided the board had to be vertical to cut my first dovetail joint, so after much trepidation – I choose this spot to cut the first joints – it allowed me to stand on the step stool and get my noggin between the floor joists and actually make a cut:

Here is a view from the ceiling:

My first 2 cuts were not on the mark – in the pic below it is cut 2 and 3 from the right – the rest were improved. I better understand the importance of aligning and correcting early in the cut.

I should add, once I got the rhythm of the saw, it cut sweet, even tho I had 3+ feet of timber flapping in the air.

Looking for any input on good ways to clean out the waste on these thick tails. I did “Get ‘R Done” but probably
not the most efficient way…..

Thats it for now – next step is cutting the pins into (one) end cap and the starting the process all over on the other end.

Would really appreciate any relevant advice on this process…...

Thanks for looking.


6 comments so far

View Dave's profile


11382 posts in 2107 days

#1 posted 06-08-2011 04:49 AM

Jeff it looks like you are cutting your tails first. I prefer this method because you are cutting the finish side. If you cut your pins first this is harder. Always if you error do it in the waste. And even if your angles are not the same. When you mark the pins it will work out. It looks like you are cutting a few at the same time. Another great reason to be tails first. Those fine looking chisels look to be cutting a nice clean cut. Your shoulders look nice to.
This is the jig I use for my shoulders. My eyes aren’t great.

After I make my cut. I will use a rasp to clean up the saw marks then finish with a pairing chisel. Great job;
Check out this blog.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View JL7's profile


8324 posts in 2232 days

#2 posted 06-08-2011 05:21 AM

Hey Dave – thanks for the tips…..ALWAYS appreciated!

BTW – us lowly folks in MN seem to be at the high temp today of 103 degrees…..............yikes…....sending it south now…......


View SPalm's profile


5225 posts in 3149 days

#3 posted 06-08-2011 05:31 AM

The heat will kill the mosquitoes. Well not really, but it is a nice thought.

Just go for it,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View rance's profile


4217 posts in 2427 days

#4 posted 06-08-2011 06:32 AM

Jeff, If it takes using a ‘jig’ or an ‘aid’, then do it. And don’t feel bad about it. When I say ‘aid’, I’m talking about something to keep your chisel(or saw) at the angle you want. And before you proceed, make for darned sure that your chisels are SCARY SHARP.

As for your sawing, you can either use your saw(which is a good one, that is perfectly capable) as a roughing tool, or use it as a precision cutting machine. From what I hear you saying, I’d say lean towards roughing out with the saw and finish with the chisel. From what I see in the photos, I think with some practice, you could saw pretty much as the final surface. Dovetails are not insurmountable, but it takes the some good technique. Good technique more-so than practice.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Dave's profile


11382 posts in 2107 days

#5 posted 06-08-2011 01:20 PM

103 keep it. Its been 100 to 101 with 70% humidity. hot i mean hot

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View JL7's profile


8324 posts in 2232 days

#6 posted 06-08-2011 01:52 PM

Dave and Rance – good points on using the jigs and such – will defineately work on that aspect…..also a good point about using the saw for roughing only…..I think that would be a good idea with the pins….

Appreciate the input!

And Steve – we can only dream of killing the mosquitos…............not happening!


Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics