Dovetail Template

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Project by Eric posted 02-09-2008 02:49 PM 8142 views 5 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m such a novice woodworker that I take pride even in jigs. So here for your viewing pleasure is a little dovetail template that I made. The design came straight from the fine folks at Homestead Heritage, although I modified it a bit. On one side is a square and a 1:7 angle, and on the other are the angles for 1:6 (for softwoods) and 1:8 (for hardwoods). The template is made from Malaysian kempas wood, and was finished with three coats of boiled linseed oil. First time using that, smells nice.

I’ll be using this template to make my wife a dovetailed box (see my blog), so hopefully before too long I’ll have a “real” project to post here!

EDIT 2/10: Now that I’ve actually used the template, I have this to say about it: it will only work if you’re a “pins first” dovetail chopper. If you do tails first, the template (as you might guess if you think it through) will only allow you to layout the one side of the tail. To do the other side, you’d need to whip out your bevel gauge. At least you already have the angles to align the gauge up against, but still, it’s an extra step. I might make another that has both directions of one ratio only.

If you do pins first, should be no trouble – just mark one edge from one side of the board, and the other edge from the other side. Make sense?

EDIT 2/13: No it doesn’t make sense! No matter which side of the end you place the template, the angle is the same. So this template really is kind of useless except for the square. But it’s given me good experience which will help when I build my next one!

-- Eric at

6 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3816 days

#1 posted 02-09-2008 03:15 PM

Hi Eric,

This is a nice jig. It is nice to see jigs that other LumberJocks are making. I will have to add this one to my ever growing collection of jigs.

Thanks for the post.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View RobS's profile


1334 posts in 4301 days

#2 posted 02-09-2008 04:28 PM

Hi Eric, I also went to that class and made the same template. Works great and I really enjoyed the class. Let me know if you are ever going back, its in my neck of the woods and I’ve been considering taking the three day class.

-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3869 days

#3 posted 02-09-2008 08:03 PM

This is great. I believe some of the best jigs are the simplest ones. You should take pride in it. You will enjoy using it.

-- Happy woodworking!

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 3791 days

#4 posted 02-10-2008 03:07 AM

Sweet gauge you’ve got there Eric. Simple and effective…always a good combination!

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 3869 days

#5 posted 02-10-2008 11:37 AM

Good idea writing the ratios on the template.

View dan72385's profile


1 post in 3449 days

#6 posted 12-10-2008 07:03 PM

Eric, get back to me on a template or guide to make this jig. How did you figure out the ratios? It is an excellant idea, I think hand-cut dovetails are the way to go.

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