LumberJocks

My First Dovetail

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Blog entry by Jeff posted 12-30-2015 05:46 PM 836 reads 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Earlier this week, I decided to try cutting a dovetail joint for the first time. I had bought a Veritas dovetail saw earlier in the year and I had never taken it out of the box. As you can see from the pictures, it was certainly not a success as far as the joint is concerned. I pretty much just started cutting. I had watched a few videos and even seen Frank Klausz cut them up close when he visited Highland Hardware. The good thing is that I now have one under my belt and the next one will be better! The biggest mistake I made was that I cut on the wrong side of the lines when I cut the tails. I also learned that my chisels need to be a whole lot sharper to work with this soft pine.

-- "...building is far more gratifying that consuming" - Chris Schwarz



14 comments so far

View Mosquito's profile

Mosquito

8115 posts in 1757 days


#1 posted 12-30-2015 05:50 PM

Not bad at all, at least not compared to my first set lol

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - http://www.youtube.com/MosquitoMods - http://www.TheModsquito.com

View johnstoneb's profile

johnstoneb

2145 posts in 1638 days


#2 posted 12-30-2015 06:18 PM

Not bad for first time. It probably won’t be the last time cutting on the wrong side of the line. You will find that cutting them in hardwood is easier than pine.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View TiggerWood's profile

TiggerWood

271 posts in 1072 days


#3 posted 12-30-2015 07:27 PM

My first ones, also done in pine, were pretty much the same. As johnstoneb said, the hardwoods are much easier.

View Andre's profile

Andre

1022 posts in 1271 days


#4 posted 12-30-2015 07:55 PM

Poplar is a great wood to practice with.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View David Taylor's profile

David Taylor

326 posts in 552 days


#5 posted 12-30-2015 08:07 PM

At least you cut away the correct wood! I have been known to cut the wood off that was supposed to stay! Good job for your first time out.

-- Learn Relentlessly

View icemanhank's profile

icemanhank

297 posts in 1621 days


#6 posted 12-31-2015 06:13 AM

Well done mate, better than my first attempt!

Not telling you how to suck eggs or anything but David Barron’s videos have been very helpful to me – https://www.youtube.com/user/DavidBarronFurniture/videos?spfreload=10

Happy New Year
David

-- "These are my principles. And if you don't like them, I have others." ... Cheers, David from Sydney Australia

View WhattheChuck's profile

WhattheChuck

223 posts in 3026 days


#7 posted 12-31-2015 06:33 AM

A good start. The tail angle is a little much.

My recommendation for anyone who wants to learn how to cut dovetails by hand is to make a spice cabinet. The drawer sides are necessarily thin, and so you can’t get far off plumb. And after making 13+ drawers, I guarantee you that you will know how to cut dovetails by hand!

-- Chuck, Pullman, WA

View Jeff's profile

Jeff

56 posts in 903 days


#8 posted 12-31-2015 10:44 PM


Not telling you how to suck eggs or anything but David Barron s videos have been very helpful to me – https://www.youtube.com/user/DavidBarronFurniture/videos?spfreload=10


Thanks, I will check this out.

-- "...building is far more gratifying that consuming" - Chris Schwarz

View Jeepin85CJ7's profile

Jeepin85CJ7

40 posts in 901 days


#9 posted 01-04-2016 12:25 AM

It’s funnt because I just got the Lie-Nielsen dovetail saw this weekend and have been practice cutting all weekend. I finally got really close on the 8th try! It’s a lot of fun and it’s so stressful at the same time!

View Jeff's profile

Jeff

56 posts in 903 days


#10 posted 01-22-2016 04:31 PM

Had a chance to give it a second try last night. Her are the results. Still not good. I cut on the wrong side of the line again! Even though I marked the part I wanted to remove.

-- "...building is far more gratifying that consuming" - Chris Schwarz

View JayT's profile

JayT

4783 posts in 1676 days


#11 posted 01-22-2016 04:55 PM

I’m with the others. Your first attempt looks better than mine.

Strong improvement on the second try. The angle is much better and the fit on the left one is pretty good. Now just to figure out what you did on that one and try to do it consistently. The consistent part is always a challenge. I’ll do a set of dovetails and make a couple really well and then screw up the next one.

One question. Are you marking with a pencil or a knife? I’ve found that using a knife give me much better results. The mark is thinner (read: more accurate) and is able to be placed right up against the other board as you are transferring.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View Jeff's profile

Jeff

56 posts in 903 days


#12 posted 01-23-2016 03:14 AM



I m with the others. Your first attempt looks better than mine.

Strong improvement on the second try. The angle is much better and the fit on the left one is pretty good. Now just to figure out what you did on that one and try to do it consistently. The consistent part is always a challenge. I ll do a set of dovetails and make a couple really well and then screw up the next one.

One question. Are you marking with a pencil or a knife? I ve found that using a knife give me much better results. The mark is thinner (read: more accurate) and is able to be placed right up against the other board as you are transferring.

- JayT


Thanks. I used a knife to mark. Yes, the one on the left is the best one. I cut on the correct side of the line on it. Messed up the on the others. Another problem is that I am also a rookie using the hand saw. So I have a lot of work to do before I am able to cut straight every time. I can’t wait to try again. I am going to get this.

-- "...building is far more gratifying that consuming" - Chris Schwarz

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

5765 posts in 951 days


#13 posted 01-23-2016 03:34 AM

When I got my dovetail saw I’d mark boards with just a square and try to cut straight horizontally and vertically. I tried some dovetails here and there but they were just ok at best until I figured how to saw to the line.

Do not cut next to the line and try to pare to it. It may work. More often than not it was 4x the work for marginal gain for me.

Body positioning that contributed to a reliable sawing motion worked wonder for me. Now, it takes me longer to mark them up than it does to cut with a saw.

Poplar and maple are easier to start out on I think. id cut lines. Chop it off on a saw and start over.

Edit: I dedicate a couple mins almost everytime I go out to the shop to cutting left and right of the line.
Good luck and enjoy

When you know what to expect from yourself and the saw you’re almost there.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View JayT's profile

JayT

4783 posts in 1676 days


#14 posted 01-23-2016 03:40 AM


Another problem is that I am also a rookie using the hand saw. So I have a lot of work to do before I am able to cut straight every time. I can t wait to try again. I am going to get this.

- Jeff

I ended up buying one of David Barron’s magnetic guides and am very glad I did. It really helps with that aspect.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

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