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View Kevin's profile

Handcut Dovetail Problems

by Kevin
posted 744 days ago


25 replies so far

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1276 posts in 1630 days


#1 posted 744 days ago

I would say that you are trying to cut too close to the line for beginning. Also check that you are not angling the base of the cuts. Some people use a guide block to run the chisel against to keep the cuts vertical.

What kind of marking tool are you using to lay them out? I like to use a cutting gauge. It does two things. It marks the baseline but it also defines the first cut. Some people prefer pencil. If you use pencil, cut on the line.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune: http://lowbudgetwoodworker.blogspot.com/

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

4835 posts in 1209 days


#2 posted 744 days ago

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZ8fSSKn0Ls

Keep at it Kevin, practice makes perfect, the video should help ya, good luck
now.

View Kevin's profile

Kevin

445 posts in 1837 days


#3 posted 744 days ago

I don’t have a cutting gauge yet so it’s a pencil.
On the first photo before I cut away some more of the wood those were sitting farily good, only thing is that the pins were not sitting flush with the tails, they were still recessed a litt.e

When you are talking about cutting too close to the line, are you talking about the pings ( i am cutting tails first right now) or chopping the waste out with the chisel? Since i’m using a pencil should I be cuttin on the line?

thanks,

kevin

-- Williamsburg, KY

View Kevin's profile

Kevin

445 posts in 1837 days


#4 posted 744 days ago

Thanks waho6o9,

I’ve watched that video along with a few others many times, lol :) Here is one i’ve also watched a few times over and over also. He’s got some pretty good videos on there of other stuff too.

http://woodtreks.com/how-to-hand-cut-precision-dovetails-%E2%80%94-part-one-the-pins/75/

Yeah, should have seen my first attempt at dovetail. I was using scrap oak and didn’t have sharp chisels at all, lol.

Thanks,

kevin

-- Williamsburg, KY

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

4835 posts in 1209 days


#5 posted 744 days ago

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYW1JQmDa6I

Kari makes some awesome dovetails and furniture as well. I like the woodtrek’s video on dovetails and
watched it many times.
I cut close to the line and then use chisels to make the final fit.
Sharp chisels rock. Water stones make them wicked sharp quick.

View Kevin's profile

Kevin

445 posts in 1837 days


#6 posted 744 days ago

Nice video there. That gave me a few ideas that I will also try tomorrow.
Thanks David and waho6o9!

-- Williamsburg, KY

View Loren's profile

Loren

7425 posts in 2280 days


#7 posted 744 days ago

I cut them out with a fret saw and then pare to the line, making
a shallow pyramid in the bottom of the joint and resting the
chisel point in the gauged line. The just shave the pyramid
off flush with a few more paring cuts.

A pencil line alone is no good. If you don’t have a marking gauge,
pencil your line then cut over it with a knife and ruler.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View Kevin's profile

Kevin

445 posts in 1837 days


#8 posted 744 days ago

Hey Loren,

I do plan on getting a marking gauge and from what I’ve seen a fret saw looks a lot easier than a coping saw. I also need to get me some sharpening stones also.

Thanks,

Kevin

-- Williamsburg, KY

View Tootles's profile

Tootles

686 posts in 1134 days


#9 posted 743 days ago

Remember that cutting deeper as you tried makes the joint loose because of the angle of the joint.

I think, as others have said before, that you essentially have a marking problem.

-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking

View 12strings's profile

12strings

401 posts in 1016 days


#10 posted 743 days ago

For me as I was (and still am) starting out, I marked my baseline about 1/16, or even 1/8 inch too deep on both pieces of wood, that way, I’m ABSOLUTELY SURE to have the tails and pins stick out proud once the joint is together…and then I just plane away the excess. That, and just make sure on your first piece you cut that the baseline is dead flat all the way across. use some kind of straight-edge to check it.

Here is an example from my tool chest, which was the first real dovetail endeavor for me…

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

View Kevin's profile

Kevin

445 posts in 1837 days


#11 posted 743 days ago

Well after my next hand cut dovetails they did come out better. I am going to have to find a better way to hold my board down while I chisel away though, keeps moving backwards on me. I’ve got a piece of oak on top of the board I’m chiseling with two f clamps, but it just keeps sliding backwards on me.

It also seems if I don’t go as slow cutting my cuts come out smoother, is that normal?

Thanks again for the advice.

-- Williamsburg, KY

View JeremyPringle's profile

JeremyPringle

281 posts in 1106 days


#12 posted 743 days ago

Just my thoughts,
The youtube video is a guy that knows what hes doing and is very fast and good at it, but I dont think he takes the time to explain everything in enough detail for a beginner. The woodtrek video I found the guy uses methods that (to me) are very time consuming and unnecessary, making the process too complex. I did a pictoral blog a while ago for half blinds, but everything is almost the same for through DT’s.
http://www.lumberjocks.com/JeremyPringle/blog/29576

One thing that I do for through DT’s, on all the flats that have been chiseled out. Once I have chopped all the waste out between the pins and tails, I set them back in the vice, and I use a pairing motion and create a hollow (very slight), that way you have two high points, the front and back lines. As long as you dont chop past your lines, everything should fit really tight.

Incidently, I do the opposite of 12 strings. I cut them so the tails are as flush as possible, but I cut the pins about 64th shallow, so they dont stick out at all. That way, I dont have anything in the way when I clamp it during glue up. then it only takes a couple passes with the plane to flush it up.

As for sawing, I am not sure what you mean. The slower you go the rougher the cut is? Makes sense. When you think about it, once you have a kerf established you cant stear the saw anyways, as the saw plate will follow the kerf. How are you holding the saw?

Hope that helps.

View ducky911's profile

ducky911

209 posts in 1421 days


#13 posted 743 days ago

check out my chest project on my site it has pics of some home made blocks that are a big help also you can see how many test runs that i did

View Loren's profile

Loren

7425 posts in 2280 days


#14 posted 743 days ago

I try to make the long grain a little proud. Short grain is too tricky
to pare off flush, especially in softer woods, imo.

The way to get nice dovetails every time is pick a way of doing
it that works with your mental process (makes sense to you)
and for which you can tune your tools. Then work on doing
it the same way every time and your muscle memory takes
care of the aspect of dovetailing that seems so fussy when
you are learning.

There are some good comments on hand dovetailing in Krenov’s
books. He used dovetails in a lot of his pieces and the appearance
was always flawless from what I’ve seen.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View Kevin's profile

Kevin

445 posts in 1837 days


#15 posted 743 days ago

Here is the saw that I currently use. Tell me what you think about it. I know it’s not the best, but all I could afford right now. You don’t realize how much things are until you are unemployed, lol.

http://www.lowes.com/pd_88300-414-BS240P_0__?Ntt=vaughan+8-1%2F2%22+pull+saw+with+extra-fine+blade&productId=1103277&rpp=16

Lots of good comments from you guys. I believe that i’ve almost found my pattern Loren. Up till tonight I was trying different things, I guess to see which I liked the best and was the best fit for me.

Just got through reading your blog Jeremy. Nice blog with lots of pics :)

Nice looking chest there ducky!

12strings, mine is almost up to par with yours with all the help so far :) with the exception of my tails not being perfectly straight which is bugging the heck out of me.

-- Williamsburg, KY

View Loren's profile

Loren

7425 posts in 2280 days


#16 posted 743 days ago

My main comment on saws is that if there is more than just a hint
of set in the teeth, the saw won’t cut so straight. Dovetail cuts
are less than 1” deep so a certain amount of binding of the saw
is acceptable. You can wax the saw sides.

The other thing is that if there are too many teeth the saw cuts
slower in ripping and you’ll get a little tired as you go from dovetail
to dovetail. You get tired and it gets a little trickier to line up
the cut. You can evolve though, so the important thing is
to make them well, no matter how long it takes you to
to do it.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View Loren's profile

Loren

7425 posts in 2280 days


#17 posted 743 days ago

Oh. There’s a dozuki thing I do with those open tails at the edges
where you have your gap. It’s cool.

Get your chisel and chop into the gauged line on all 3 sides of that
open tail, before you cut it out. Then angle your chisel and chop
out a v-cut into the waste part. Then you have a nice notch running
around on 3 sides. Then saw in the notch with your dozuki or
other fine crosscut saw. Then pare the sliver of waste off.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1276 posts in 1630 days


#18 posted 742 days ago

The high dollar dovetail saws are nice but I like the little Zona saws. Can pick them up for a whole $8-$9. They work just fine.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune: http://lowbudgetwoodworker.blogspot.com/

View Kevin's profile

Kevin

445 posts in 1837 days


#19 posted 741 days ago

Well I decided to get a new coping saw blade and try out a different hand saw. I found one at my dad’s garage, a western style with a brass back, rip that cuts on the push. It wasn’t the sharpest so I didn’t take much time at all on this cut. It looks like with a new saw blade and a different type of hand saw my joints improved quite a bit. No chisels were used on this either, just a coping saw as I was in a hurry, LOL.

here is a pic.

-- Williamsburg, KY

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1276 posts in 1630 days


#20 posted 740 days ago

I’d say you got the bugs out of the process. Looking great.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune: http://lowbudgetwoodworker.blogspot.com/

View Kevin's profile

Kevin

445 posts in 1837 days


#21 posted 740 days ago

Thanks David.
Yeah, I think the bugs are worked out for the most part, now it’s just time to keep practicing :)

-- Williamsburg, KY

View Loren's profile

Loren

7425 posts in 2280 days


#22 posted 740 days ago

Good improvement. Looks like you’re getting the hang
of it.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View Kevin's profile

Kevin

445 posts in 1837 days


#23 posted 740 days ago

Hey Loren,

Yeah I’m starting to get the feel for it seems like. Been cutting a few more today with slight modifications, just trying to get in a pattern so it will feel naturally to me.

I think a fret saw might be a little quicker and easier to get the waste out than a coping saw. Let me know if you think that’s the case.

Thanks for all the suggestions and tips all, much appreciated!

Kevin

-- Williamsburg, KY

View Loren's profile

Loren

7425 posts in 2280 days


#24 posted 740 days ago

Oh the fret saw turns a little easier in the kerf but the
coping saw works good too and cuts faster once you get
it turned. In terms of speed they might be equal.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View Kevin's profile

Kevin

445 posts in 1837 days


#25 posted 740 days ago

Yeah, i’ve noticed sometimes in the kerf I don’t get it turned quick enough and I go a hair below the scribed line. I’ve started not going down so far and just pare the waste off. So far it’s produced pretty good results, but there is always room for improvement.

I can see myself hand cutting the dovetails for my cabinet drawers in the garage instead of doing box joints on the table saw with the dado blades.

-- Williamsburg, KY

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