A newbie attempt a dovetailing

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Project by morath posted 05-29-2012 03:50 AM 3238 views 0 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch
A newbie attempt a dovetailing
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Howdy folks. First time post, long time dreamer. I though I’d share my first endeavor, crude as it is. I was repairing a wooden drawer pull and had to move some scrap pine 1x out of the way. I thought, what the heck, I’ll try to cut a dovetail. I think I did fairly well. My woodworking tools are pretty much limited to what I need to make wooden bows and arrows, so this was done with only a pencil, cheap coping saw, and a vise. I just drew and cut. I cut a second one and it came out better.

You can see a little gap problem, but it’s actually a pretty tight fit. I had a problem with tear out on one side. Using a rip blade to crosscut probably didn’t help any. The second time I cut in the other direction and didn’t have any problems. I also apparently let the boards slip when I was transferring the cuts, so the boards don’t line up perfectly.

I spent some time flattening the backs of my new Narex chisels, so maybe I can bring them into play in the next few days. I think I’ll try cutting a dovetail at least once a week just for some sawing/chiseling practice.

Thanks for any advice,


-- My mom says I'm handsome.

26 comments so far

View whitewulf's profile


454 posts in 3113 days

#1 posted 05-29-2012 04:16 AM

Mo, You are off to good start.
From the pics it appears you are doing layout with pencil, knife and or marking gage will help.

-- "ButI'mMuchBetterNow"

View Ted's profile


2873 posts in 2387 days

#2 posted 05-29-2012 05:15 AM

Looks a lot better than my first try (and my second try, and my third…) Practice makes perfect, and I think you have the right idea by doing one once a week. I can use some practice too. I don’t do dovetails very much, mostly because I’m not very good at it. Welcome to LJ! I’m new here too. :)

-- You can collect dust or you can make dust. I choose to make it.

View Tugboater78's profile


2757 posts in 2368 days

#3 posted 05-29-2012 05:33 AM

Good job! I personally have never tried doing dovetails myself. It is on my list though, got people wanting me to fix their broken furniture. I can do some nifty box joints though!

-- "....put that handsaw to work and make it earn its keep. - summerfi" <==< JuStiN >==>=->

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18380 posts in 3852 days

#4 posted 05-29-2012 06:46 AM

You’re off to a good start on your dovetailing. Now, go for smaller pins and you’ll get there.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 2790 days

#5 posted 05-29-2012 07:02 AM

John, Welcome to LJ!,its all in getting it down with practice you will find a lots of very good wood workers here that will aid you .

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View stefang's profile


16066 posts in 3510 days

#6 posted 05-29-2012 07:54 AM

Good work for a first John. It seems that the entry fee to woodworking continues to be dovetails. Most of us have done the same. It does teach the need for accuracy to get a good result.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View EMVarona's profile


437 posts in 3012 days

#7 posted 05-29-2012 07:57 AM

Good job. I find what you did more interesting than the more mechanized and hi-tech methods. I am an avid fan of the dovetail joint. I also have simple tools only.

-- Ed "Real happiness is one that you share."

View amagineer's profile


1415 posts in 2773 days

#8 posted 05-29-2012 12:23 PM

Welcome to LJ”s John, and we look forward to your future projects.

-- Flaws are only in the eye of the artisan!

View KnotCurser's profile


2026 posts in 3245 days

#9 posted 05-29-2012 12:55 PM

Nice first try!

I think if you would try this with a marking knife and much thinner stock you would be very surprised at how good it would look.



-- Robert Rhoades WoodWorks / Email: /

View Juriathe's profile


142 posts in 2695 days

#10 posted 05-29-2012 01:02 PM

I’m with Ted..LOL…much better than my first, second, fifth…rofl ! Welcome to LB, John, where we inspire each other. You’ll improve with practice but remember this warning: it’s addicting . Once you get into this you’ll find yourself looking at items and thinking ” I could make that ”. Then the second addiction starts forming…TOOLZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Love the toolzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. to make more things, of course !

-- I'm so busy I don't know if I found a rope or lost a horse...

View Johnnyblot's profile


319 posts in 2452 days

#11 posted 05-29-2012 02:12 PM

Well done. You are officially ‘up & running’ lol

-- Gossamer shavings just floating around the back yard….-Bandit

View helluvawreck's profile


32087 posts in 3043 days

#12 posted 05-29-2012 03:28 PM

Just keep practicing and practicing and you will get better and better.


-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Oldtool's profile


2732 posts in 2367 days

#13 posted 05-29-2012 09:13 PM

They look pretty good to me, nice job, especially on the first attempt.
Tails or Pins first?

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View GenerationWW's profile


521 posts in 2426 days

#14 posted 05-29-2012 10:02 PM

Welcome, I say for your first attempt you did well. I bet if you stay with it every week, you will impress yourself at the end of of June! Keep it up.

-- list your handcrafted treasures @ for free!

View towtruckmafia's profile


7 posts in 2701 days

#15 posted 05-29-2012 11:45 PM

Just mark them, and cut them and mark them and cut them. Pine is cheap, and fairly easy to work with. Love that part about it.

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