A journey into the workshop. #79: Trying dovetails again, SUCCESS!

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Blog entry by dbhost posted 01-06-2011 05:30 PM 4849 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 78: My 8 piece Stanley screwdriver set finally has 8 pieces again! Part 79 of A journey into the workshop. series Part 80: How did it get so dirty so soon? »

I had a tough time with dovetails when I first tried a couple of years ago, so I set the jig aside, and have been busy working on other projects. But I have a big kitchen overhaul I want to do, and I want to do it soon… So Dovetails are a MUST…

Now mind you, cheap me had tried to practice dovetails in cheap lumber, you know, to keep from ruining good lumber as practice boards… But I thought, solid wood is better than plywood. So I went to the BORG and got some white pine S4S hacked it up, and started cutting dovetails in it, which resulted in blown out tails left and right, and a few pins that were downright ugly…

So the thought process came in the form of scrap plywood, and something the guy at Rockler said to me the other day (which is another story all together) about guys getting blow out in plywood, and just slow the bit down… So I figured, what the heck, I have a piece of scrap, and before I knew it, I had the jig set up, and was cutting perfectly sharp dovetails. Now these aren’t the fancy pants variable spaced dovetails that an Omnijig or similar will produce, but these are nice, evenly spaced, very functional dovetails, in 3/4” construction grade plywood…

Now the whole reason I mentioned Rockler. I was up there taking advantage of a January lumber sale on curly maple. I came home with a little under 10 bd/ft of 6” wide curly maple with some GREAT figure to it… Now I am really wanting walnut as well, but since I live in Texas, Maple isn’t exactly super easy to come by. And I have a few clocks I am wanting to build soon.. So right now, the maple is up on my racks stickered and acclimating to my shop. I wish I had a few hundred that I could have dropped on lumber, but I just don’t right now… The holidays kind of killed my funds…

After I get a few bucks ahead, I am going to have to take a trip up to Huntsville to grab a stack of walnut, and probably pecan. Just load it up and get on back to the shop sort of thing. I am keeping an eye open for any Craigslist deals, but nothing is jumping out these days… A pity too…

Tonight is family time, but this weekend, I should have some shop time, and with that I will spend at least a couple more hours cleaning my shop disaster up. I have a few boxes that are now empty after installing my ductwork and such, so I have a lot of cardboard and other misc stuff that needs to get taken out to be recycled… So much work, so little time…

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4 comments so far

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4245 posts in 3341 days

#1 posted 01-06-2011 05:44 PM

Interesting about bit speed. Haven’t gotten into dovetails yet, but that is coming. Got a link to a wood and tool supplier here in Anchorage that I wasn’t aware of, prompted by Joedcatman, so think I will stop by there today after work, time willing. Couple of surgeries today, the first a csection, and the last is a bad looking oncology case that I am assisting on… might take quite awhile and ruin my afternoon plans.

Have a good one…........21 deg at 0645hrs….....never did learn how to say “you’ll” or whatever it is…..must be a northerners speech impediment thing…...(-:


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3350 days

#2 posted 01-06-2011 05:49 PM

I’m having trouble viewing the pictures. Maybe it’s just me ;-)

Tearout, when using a jig to cut DTs—particularly in ply—is the stuff of legends, and many theories exist about how to reduce/eliminate it.

Most center around either using a backer board (not always easy), a VERY sharp bit, and/or …. using your now-famous disposable (utility-knife-like) cutter to score the line along which you intend to cut the DTs.

Jim: How is it that I look wistfully upon the balmy weather of …. Alaska ? Good luck today. Odd combination of ups and downs, in those cases—probably just another day for you.

Incidentally … (OT) I broke down and ordered some smooth-bore hose, on the total likelihood that I won’t be plumbing my shop in 2011. Figured I’d see what diff it makes. Will report back.

-- -- Neil

View dbhost's profile


5767 posts in 3408 days

#3 posted 01-06-2011 06:27 PM

Yeah Neil, it’s you, the pics look great :-D… (I make myself laugh…)

I need to get to the store this weekend. My batteries on the camera died, and it appears I have no more left… Ugh!

And Jim… Y’all have a great day! (I’m on a roll today!)

The tails on the ply actually went great until I hit a void. (the last 2 tails). I expected that. I guess I could have filled the void with epoxy and let it set before I started, but I was out to prove something to myself…

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View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4245 posts in 3341 days

#4 posted 01-07-2011 06:07 AM

Oh well, big time trouble in the surgery I assisted on this afternoon… never got to the wood and tool supplier…....Monday is the next opportunity….......

Hope things are dovey with you’ll….....(-:


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

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