what i've been doing #23: Simple Handcut Dovetails my way.

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Blog entry by Dave posted 04-05-2012 08:45 PM 9039 reads 6 times favorited 60 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 22: The wedge for my krenov plane Part 23 of what i've been doing series Part 24: What a great easter weekend! »

I have been asked to show a short video on my method of cutting dovetails. So here ya go Paul. Now two things, first I am near blind and the board is just some scrap. This is just a short demonstration.
I had a long list of step by step instructions and I don’t think I will post those. I will let the video do all the telling of the story. But a few things. I am a tail first kind of guy. I choose tails first for the big reason that you have the face of the board facing you. So if there are any mistakes in the pass of the saw it will be on the inside of the joint. I use Japanese saws. I like the cut on the pull.
Please ask questions.
Any and all input is welcome.
Can anyone find the big oops in the video?

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

60 comments so far

View William's profile


9950 posts in 2898 days

#1 posted 04-05-2012 09:02 PM

Well I watched it twice and haven’t found the oops moment yet. I’ll be watching to see what other’s say though. I was hoping I’d find it just so I could rib you about it.
Great work as always.
I know how to cut dovetails, but have never been able to make it look as effortless as you do. That’s why I call you the Dovetail Master when I talk to other people.

Well, when I’m not calling you other things.


View geoscann's profile


258 posts in 2336 days

#2 posted 04-05-2012 09:09 PM

Very nice work dave and the fit was perfect i really enjoy watching talented people that do their craft.


-- BIG geo ---Occam,s razor The simplist answer is often correct

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15380 posts in 2674 days

#3 posted 04-05-2012 09:14 PM

Will watch this evening, but glad to know there’s another TAILS FIRST person out there!

Woot! Woot! :-)

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 2896 days

#4 posted 04-05-2012 09:18 PM

Thanks William for some of those complements;) I just don’t like doing 6 sets of drawers. it tends to get a bit old.
Thanks Geo for the kind words. I love the dovetail joint.
Thanks guys again for your time.
Yall can call me anything you want just not late for dinner.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10156 posts in 4108 days

#5 posted 04-05-2012 09:38 PM


Excellent… Very Excellent Job!

I did have to turn the volume down quite a bit though…
... started out over-modulating…
... after that, it was better… LOL

Thank you!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 2896 days

#6 posted 04-05-2012 09:49 PM

Thanks Joe and I will work on the audio.
Thanks again.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View boxcarmarty's profile


16374 posts in 2416 days

#7 posted 04-05-2012 10:25 PM

Either you smacked your finger or your pins are too long…..

-- My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 2896 days

#8 posted 04-05-2012 10:38 PM

There always long. I set the marking gauge a bit wider than the board and sweeten it up with a plane. That way they are always even.
I didn’t harm a finger in the production of this joint:)
thanks Marty

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View JL7's profile


8672 posts in 3021 days

#9 posted 04-05-2012 10:42 PM

Hey Dave – cool vid – but I was going to say you set the marking gauge too deep…...(watched it twice also…) but now you say no…........I give up – they look great!

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View StumpyNubs's profile


7609 posts in 2856 days

#10 posted 04-05-2012 10:50 PM

I noticed that the pins were too long too, but a lot of guys do that on purpose so they can clean them up with a hand plane. So I thought it was as near to perfect as any I’ve seen!

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 2896 days

#11 posted 04-05-2012 10:52 PM

Jeff I run it deep on purpose and clean them up afterwards. During glue up, they are so tight I have to get a hammer and whack the fire out of them, that makes marks. From the saw the end grain is not at its best, them being deep I can plane the end grain back and tighten it up so it will not darken so bad during finish. I am just leaving a bit of over hang for cleanup to make the finish better.
If the wood is really hard I don’t do it as much.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View deleteme's profile


141 posts in 2662 days

#12 posted 04-05-2012 10:58 PM

Sweet video!!! I’m a bit of a visual learner so this helps me out tremendously! I’m honored and blessed for the encouragement my brother! I’m stuck at work tonight but I will give your method a try (or as many tries as it takes until it resembles a dovetail) as soon as I get home tommorrow morning (God Bless My Neighbors and their hearts…lol). I need to go scout out a Dozuki this week. I’ve got plans to practice some Japanese joinery techniques. Perhaps we could go back and forth with videos once you get the package. May God Bless you guys!

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3390 days

#13 posted 04-05-2012 11:03 PM

Great video Dave. I am a pins first guy, but I didn’t see anything wrong with your method. I like pins first because I find it easier to mark out from pins when I have very narrow openings at the ends of the tails. Your reason for tails first is just as valid, as it serves a worthwhile purpose.

I would have turned the pin and tail pieces over to chop out the remaining waste. That said, it is the result that counts and you got a perfectly tight fit and I couldn’t see any breakout on the other sides of the work pieces, a testament to your well sharpened chisels. I also believe that whatever works is correct as far as I’m concerned.

I noticed that you let the pins protrude a bit and I assume the tails do too. This is good practice which allows leveling down to even surfaces after the glue sets.

I am amazed that you can hand cut such good dovetails if you have impaired vision. This was great work and craftsmanship even for someone with perfect vision. It’s clear from the comments that your videos are inspiring others. Keep up the good work!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 2896 days

#14 posted 04-05-2012 11:03 PM

You got it Paul. All it takes is practice. I started with a Marples flush cut saw from the big orange box. I still got it. Thanks for the comments.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View deleteme's profile


141 posts in 2662 days

#15 posted 04-05-2012 11:09 PM

@stefang – I believe it has something to do with super powers… :)

@superdave721 – I may pick up that flush cut saw, but I hear it tends to be unforgiving due to the lack of ridgidity. But who am I kidding? Anything I could use as an excuse for it not looking good is a plus in my book! LOL!

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