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Why I cut tails first. Score Tails-6 Pins-1 Either-2

by Dave
posted 03-11-2011 07:02 AM


35 replies so far

View rance's profile

rance

4259 posts in 3215 days


#1 posted 03-11-2011 07:28 AM

Hey, I’m on your side. :) I hadn’t thought about #3. I’ll add that to my list. Thanks. I’m thinking the end grain affects the knife less.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View EnglishDave's profile

EnglishDave

11 posts in 2689 days


#2 posted 03-11-2011 07:46 AM

I was taught to always mark tails, cut them then mark pins from tails, I have not cut that many dovetails over the years but this way round has always worked for me but that’s it really isn’t it? If it works for you do it whichever way…

-- http://dave-perks.artistwebsites.com/index.html

View Dave's profile

Dave

11429 posts in 2894 days


#3 posted 03-11-2011 07:50 AM

thanks guys
tails 2 pins 0
Rance you made me laugh today. thanks twice. [hint, toolbox bathroom]

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are." http://chiselandforge.com

View rance's profile

rance

4259 posts in 3215 days


#4 posted 03-11-2011 08:16 AM

Glad to be of service Dave. :) I’m in charge of humor around here. Self appointed. Take care.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View stefang's profile

stefang

15881 posts in 3389 days


#5 posted 03-11-2011 03:06 PM

Oh, oh, here comes dissent Dave. I used to be a tails first man, but now I’m a pin head. I don’t believe there is a ‘right’ way. It all comes down to personal preference and each person has their own reasons for their favorite way. Here are the reasons why pins first is better for me.

1. I like to leave the marking lines to guide my cutting. When marking with the pins that line will remain on the tails. For me this helps me make more accurate saw cuts (I need all the help I can get).

2. I leave very little space between the tails at the board end, from 1/8” to 1/16”, and I find it much easier to get my knife or pencil in through the pins than I do on the tails while marking out.

I agree that pins first is a lot slower when doing multiples, but I always get a great result with pins first. When I do multiples I usually use my scrollsaw, (which tilts to both sides when I cut the pins).

I think the important thing here is that we are both happy with the way we do it, and maybe for different reasons, but we both get good results. Diversity is good and gives us something to argue about, lol.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

13529 posts in 2748 days


#6 posted 03-11-2011 03:09 PM

I’m a tail guy all the way. The reason: I’ve never cut pins first! Therefore, I have no right to comment other than to say: Tails first! and steal your justification :)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

31723 posts in 2921 days


#7 posted 03-11-2011 03:38 PM

The main reason that I like to do the tails first is that for me it is soooo much easier to position the two pieces for the marking process. For me it is harder and more awkward to hold the pin board vertically to mark the mating board that to hold the tail board horizontally. I simply put the pin board in the vise vertically with the end level with the bench top. I lay the tail board on the surface of the bench and line up everything with my fingers and mark with a marking knife or scribe. It’s so easy to do it this way and keep something from slipping.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles, http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

13529 posts in 2748 days


#8 posted 03-11-2011 03:42 PM

Wreck, this is precisely the reason I’ve always done it this way. One piece in the vise & the other propped on a plane. I’ve got fancy marking knives but I find a sharp tipped exacto knife to work best for me. The pin board always seemed unstable, teetering over the tail board.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Dave's profile

Dave

11429 posts in 2894 days


#9 posted 03-11-2011 05:00 PM

Mike, Al and Wreck I’m learning. I always use a pencil first for layout. I cant see. Then I use a knife and still draw a line over the cut and split the line when I cut. #5. With pins first you have to stand the board up to layout the tails.
Tails-4 Pins-1

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are." http://chiselandforge.com

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

13529 posts in 2748 days


#10 posted 03-11-2011 05:09 PM

SD, I’ve tried using a pencil, even a fine mechanical one, but I always mis-saw. I can’t see either & I have to have a deep line, a thin-kerf saw, and a bright light! I’ve never tried splitting the mark before. By your doves above, whatever you’re doing is working.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

31723 posts in 2921 days


#11 posted 03-11-2011 06:56 PM

Bertha, my knife is not real fancy. I have one that I made from template steel that I heat treated myself but it’s just plain jane. The other is just a small simple carving knife. This is a good topic. Thanks for posting.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles, http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

View Loren's profile

Loren

10476 posts in 3702 days


#12 posted 03-11-2011 08:34 PM

When tails are cut first the pins can be marked by registering a chisel
against the inside faces and giving it a tap with a hammer. I clamp
the tail board with the end flush with the bench, align the cut tails
over it and mark with the chisel.

I find it easier to rip straight down. The slight angle of the tails is
harder to get on the line for me. With my method I don’t have
to worry about cutting exactly the right angle. When cutting tails my angles vary a bit, so I cut them first and transfer the variance
to the pin board.

The bowsaw is “self-jigging” for cutting dovetails because you can
rotate the blade to whatever angle you want then focus on keeping
the frame exactly aligned with gravity. Then the angle of the blade
determines the direction of the cut. I make the tail cuts going one
way then flip the board and go the other way.

In cutting the pins the bowsaw frame is held at an angle. This is
not hard easier because the wrist and forearm do the correct
angle quite naturally. Angling the saw also allows for long rips
and resawing with it.

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

13529 posts in 2748 days


#13 posted 03-11-2011 08:51 PM

You know, Loren, I’ve never had the guts to mark my pins using a chisel but I’ve thought about it on a few occasions. I’ve also never used a bowsaw to cut dovetails. ‘don’t even own one, as sad as that is. Oh well, add it to the list of projects!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Dave's profile

Dave

11429 posts in 2894 days


#14 posted 03-11-2011 09:32 PM

Al I use a 0.5 and layout the tails. I cut with a dozuki. I will still wander a bit. My dozuki once it starts on a line it stays there. I always pair or use a large rasp to square the saw marks.

Lets say your cutting a 1 in 6. Even if I was off a bit, as long as it is square the eye can’t tell. Mark your pins. And Loren I do like the thought of using a chisel. I have been using a knife and there is human error (Dave). I will drag my pencil lightly over the knife mark. It will leave a light line in the kerf of the knife mark. And then I cut on the waste side. It works out for me.
I have not used a bow saw on the doves. What is the tpi and how wide of a blade?
Oh
Tails-4 Pins-1 Either-1

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are." http://chiselandforge.com

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

13529 posts in 2748 days


#15 posted 03-11-2011 09:49 PM

Dave, that’s really clever using backer boards at your strike line. That’s a helpful idea & serves several purposes. I’ve always wanted a bowsaw. There’s something just “right” about a bowsaw cutting a dovetail.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View rance's profile

rance

4259 posts in 3215 days


#16 posted 03-11-2011 10:05 PM

By using a chisel, you are pushing good wood(not waste) into the pin, possibly creating a gap if you hit too hard. A shallower angle chisel might be in order here. Or just sharpen a putty knife on one side. Just a thought.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Loren's profile

Loren

10476 posts in 3702 days


#17 posted 03-11-2011 11:50 PM

I use a bowsaw I made with a butcher saw blade. I think it’s about
12 tpi but it might be 10 or so. I reshaped the teeth for ripping,
which isn’t hard to do, you just file the front of the tooth. I also
remove most of the set for a dovetailing blade by laying the blade
on a flat surface and grinding the set out with a whetstone, trying
to grind each tooth equally. You really want a saw with very
minimal set.

The butcher saw blade is 3/4” wide but these days I think you can
buy wider blades for bowsaws with rip teeth already. The saw
itself is easy to make to fit whatever blade you can find that seems
suitable.

View Dave's profile

Dave

11429 posts in 2894 days


#18 posted 03-12-2011 12:12 AM

Al those serve 2 purposes, the second when I am rasping it prevents me from cutting to low on the face of the board. I get a little over happy in my elbow action.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are." http://chiselandforge.com

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

13529 posts in 2748 days


#19 posted 03-12-2011 01:00 AM

Loren, thanks for reminding me to build a bowsaw. I’ll probably end up buying a commercial rig with minimal set. Dave, I really like the idea; I don’t own any quality rasps & usually trim up with paring chisels. I’m always looking to buy new tools, though:)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Dave's profile

Dave

11429 posts in 2894 days


#20 posted 03-12-2011 01:16 AM

Al I always buy cheap first. That usually gives me an idea of what I want. I started cutting tails with a marples flush cut saw. The set of rasps I have are from home depot. Now I want one of those Japanese rasps that looks like stretched steel with teeth. I think it’s a shinto rasp.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are." http://chiselandforge.com

View Dave's profile

Dave

11429 posts in 2894 days


#21 posted 03-12-2011 01:48 AM

OK here is another cheat or jig I use cause my eyes aint what they were.

I can’t for the life of me cut a square shoulder. Its either lack of skill or eyesight. But I set my chisel in the marking gauge line, pull this fence up to it and use it for a cutting fence.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are." http://chiselandforge.com

View Dave's profile

Dave

11429 posts in 2894 days


#22 posted 03-12-2011 02:30 AM

Loren first thanks for your input. I would like to purchase a bow-saw. I don’t yet have the skill set for saw blade manufacturing. Is there a good starter bow?

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are." http://chiselandforge.com

View rance's profile

rance

4259 posts in 3215 days


#23 posted 03-12-2011 03:03 AM

Dave, you are scaring me. I drew up that very jig in SU just last night.

For me, it is wobbly hands, not the eyes(yet). I figured I could use it with the saw and a chisel.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Dave's profile

Dave

11429 posts in 2894 days


#24 posted 03-12-2011 04:28 AM

uhh I got a glue up jig to. Because I like to just push in on the tailboards. It makes a tighter glue-up. You aint drew one of those yet have ya?
Whata ya no a woodwrker sykick;)

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are." http://chiselandforge.com

View bigike's profile

bigike

4052 posts in 3343 days


#25 posted 03-12-2011 04:39 AM

me I always get mixed up doing either but after I look a second time I wanted to do the tails first but end up doing a mix of tails and pins on the same board this is after trying to do it by hand twice though. Witha jig like the leigh I’m all good to go till I try the HB dovetails then they come out loose or something or other. Thanks for the post though I have to practice a lot just to get the one side cut right first.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://www.icombadaniels@yahoo.com

View Loren's profile

Loren

10476 posts in 3702 days


#26 posted 03-12-2011 05:32 AM

There’s a guy on ebay selling bowsaws set up for dovetailing.
Judging from his descriptions he knows what’s what:

http://cgi.ebay.com/Handcrafted-14-Woodworkers-Bow-Saw-PremFigured-Maple-/190506866753?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2c5b181841

View Dave's profile

Dave

11429 posts in 2894 days


#27 posted 03-12-2011 06:06 AM

Great Bigike thanks. I’ll count that as either.
Loren great link. I think I will get one. Tails-4 Pins-1 Either-2

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are." http://chiselandforge.com

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

18313 posts in 3730 days


#28 posted 03-12-2011 06:43 AM

I cut tails first because Roy showed me how and it works well ;-))

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

View Dave's profile

Dave

11429 posts in 2894 days


#29 posted 03-12-2011 06:51 AM

thanks Topamax ;) Tails-5 Pins-1 Either-2

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are." http://chiselandforge.com

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

13529 posts in 2748 days


#30 posted 03-12-2011 02:56 PM

Loren, thank you for that link!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

13529 posts in 2748 days


#31 posted 03-12-2011 04:37 PM

Loren, I just ordered one of those bowsaws. Once I receive it, I’ll write a review & certainly thank you for pointing it out to me!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View OutPutter's profile

OutPutter

1199 posts in 4045 days


#32 posted 03-19-2011 02:24 PM

I have a WoodRat and I always do tails first. I don’t follow the recommended method in their tutorials. I just clamp up a board, eyeball the end cut, rotate the board, cut again, flip the board, cut, rotate, cut, go to the other board. Then, I just move the board over till it looks good and make a tail cut, duplicate all around, etc.

Since I don’t have a good vise on the bench yet, I always struggle with the pin marks, grrrr. I’m making a small “Benchtop Bench” (check Fine Woodworking) to solve the problem. Once the pins are marked, hogging out the waste is a breeze on my Rat. The only slop I ever have is “hurry up, this is boring me, oooppss, did it again” type stuff. Do they make a jig for that?

Best,

-- Jim

View Dave's profile

Dave

11429 posts in 2894 days


#33 posted 03-19-2011 04:14 PM

Jim I have seen the wood rat in action on the internet. That is one ingenious wall mounted router device. I have thought considered purchasing it. I am glad to see another method of cutting tails and you are cutting them first. Is there an advantage that cutting the tails first on the rat?

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are." http://chiselandforge.com

View OutPutter's profile

OutPutter

1199 posts in 4045 days


#34 posted 03-20-2011 06:20 AM

The advantage to cutting tails first on the WoodRat is that the pin gap can be a very slim one router bit width. If you were to do the pins first, you’d have to be very precise about the measurement of the pin sizes before cutting them to make sure they match the actual size if the bit you’re using. Not worth the trouble to me.

-- Jim

View Dave's profile

Dave

11429 posts in 2894 days


#35 posted 03-20-2011 06:52 AM

Thanks Jim, Score Tails-6 Pins-1 Either-2

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are." http://chiselandforge.com

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