I’ve finally took the plunge to hand cutting dovetails. I used scrap 2×4 blocks to work on. The 1st joint’s tail is a bit oversized, but I think joints 2 and 3 worked out fairly well. The satisfaction of having a dovetail joint slip together with a snap is just awesome. Joint 2 went together the easiest and fastest. My goal is to have 10 good dovetails made on scraps before I start building storage chests.
Joint 1 was purposely cut undersized so I could use a rasp to get to the final dimension. However, this is a bad idea. Measure twice, cut once. As you can see, the joint is actually fairly sloppy with gaps.
Below are how Joints 2 and 3 worked out. Much better than Joint 1. They are nice and tight, but don’t need a mallet to seat the joint snug.
You may notice there is a small chip on Joint 2’s tail. That came by an unfortunate accident taking apart the joint and reassembling it for a friend. However, both joints have significantly smaller if not no gaps. The shoulder clearance is a bit of problem still, but that was improved upon in Joint 3.
Joint 3 was an improvement except the tail is a bit too short for the pin.
In hindsight, I think I’ll plane smooth future pieces of scrap. I think my 2×4 scraps had a little cup to them and threw off things like the shoulder spacing and tail length. We’ll see what the future has in store. I was really quite surprised at my progress. Laying out the cut lines are really important and taking your time to cut accurately. This is actually why I prefer hand tools over power tools because I have more control over what the tool does. Error correction is much easier with hand tools than power tools in my opinion. The trade off is time for control.