Going Galoot #4: In search of the perfect dovetail

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Blog entry by JayT posted 02-17-2014 12:28 AM 2909 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.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

5 comments so far

View lysdexic's profile


5256 posts in 2771 days

#1 posted 02-17-2014 01:06 AM

Wow. That is really good.

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - out_of_focus1.618

View waho6o9's profile


8434 posts in 2725 days

#2 posted 02-17-2014 01:53 AM

Clean looking DT’s JayT, good job.

View BigRedKnothead's profile


8541 posts in 2131 days

#3 posted 02-17-2014 02:24 AM

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.

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View Don W's profile

Don W

18969 posts in 2716 days

#4 posted 02-17-2014 11:44 AM

A little help never hurts.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View theoldfart's profile


10048 posts in 2600 days

#5 posted 02-17-2014 11:52 AM

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

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

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