Going Galoot #4: In search of the perfect dovetail

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Blog entry by JayT posted 157 days ago 869 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Voices in your head . . . . they're not always evil Part 4 of Going Galoot series Part 5: I came, I saw . . . . . . »

Shop’s log: February 16, 2014

Part of wanting to work with hand tools is learning to cut dovetails. Sure, there are other joint techniques that are strong once glued, but the hand cut dovetail is both a classic tradition and a mechanically strong, beautiful joint that doesn’t rely on glue.

I had started practicing with marking and cutting freehand but was frustrated with the lack of accuracy—mainly due to my poor sawing technique. I finally broke down and bought a magnetic saw guide from David Barron.

I need to make a adjunct to my plane till to house the #45 and #78, so wanted to make what is basically an open dovetailed box. Cut up some 1×10 pine and then marked and started cutting with the guide. The tail boards were stacked and cut together to save a bit of time.

Cut and chopped all the tails and got a couple of the pins done before calling it a night. A few hand tools got used

I have to say, however, that the guide makes a huge difference in accuracy. Here is one of the joints right off the saw, the only paring was to clean up the depth.

The guide has a very short learning curve and impressive results. I’ve used it with both a dozuki pull saw and the re-handled gent’s saw seen here and it works great either way. I think I actually prefer the western style saw. The key is having a saw with minimal set so that the plate rides on the slick tape over the magnet, but doesn’t rub on the aluminum body.

Sometimes you just have to ask for assistance, even if you are going galoot.

-- "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money." Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835

5 comments so far

View lysdexic's profile


4779 posts in 1220 days

#1 posted 157 days ago

Wow. That is really good.

-- It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe. - Muhammad Ali

View waho6o9's profile


4745 posts in 1174 days

#2 posted 157 days ago

Clean looking DT’s JayT, good job.

View BigRedKnothead's profile


4393 posts in 580 days

#3 posted 157 days ago

Cool man. I’ve got the supplies, I get need to get around to making one.

I go back and forth as whether hobbyists like have the time to develop the skill and muscle memory for some of these tasks. Little help doesn’t hurt.

-- Red -- "There's nothin' in the world so sad as talking to a man, who never knew his life was his for making." Ray LamMontagne

View Don W's profile (online now)

Don W

14620 posts in 1165 days

#4 posted 157 days ago

A little help never hurts.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View theoldfart's profile


3893 posts in 1049 days

#5 posted 157 days ago

Nice dovetails made on a really nice vise and bench. great job Jay.

-- "Aged flatus, I heard that some one has already blown out your mortise." THE Surgeon ……………………………………. Kevin

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