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Measuring Dovetail Angles

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Forum topic by tburkhart posted 01-13-2016 06:18 PM 781 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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tburkhart

8 posts in 350 days


01-13-2016 06:18 PM

Hi, I am wanting to jump in and make my first attempt at hand cutting dovetails. However, I do not have any specialized equipment for marking the angles. I have some rulers, combo square, but nothing to set angles… not even a protractor… any ideas? Ive heard there are measurements to draw out a paper (or wood if you make it) template. Im not really sure what angle my dovetails even need to be at honestly.


18 replies so far

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Paul

721 posts in 1028 days


#1 posted 01-13-2016 06:36 PM

Here is a very detailed article to get you started.

https://www.canadianwoodworking.com/tipstechniques/hand-cut-dovetails

Paul

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GregTP

51 posts in 406 days


#2 posted 01-13-2016 06:42 PM

Thats the beauty of dovetails, there really aren’t many tools needed. You can pick up small dovetail markers for $10 on amazon. Or, for only a few dollars you can find a bevel gauge at any hardware store.

Typically your angles are 1:5 for soft woods and 1:8 for hardwoods, or something close to that. You can use the stamped measurements on a typical framing square to set the angle on a bevel gauge and lock it down.

-- From exercise machine warning label: "Step ladders can cause injury and even death; the ROM machine is more dangerous than a stepladder"

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

13720 posts in 2081 days


#3 posted 01-13-2016 06:50 PM

You could just eyeball them. I’ve never marked the angle before cutting. Just cut all the right sides, then all the left sides holding the saw consistenly each time. It’s not hard, and you can jump right in.

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

View bandit571's profile

bandit571

14575 posts in 2146 days


#4 posted 01-13-2016 07:00 PM

I tend to “cheat” a bit. I have an old 1/2” router bit. I trace along the edges to mark out the angles

There is a bevel gauge to help carry the angles to the otherside of the board. A small square for the straight lines needed. Yes, I do use a sharp pencil

Then saw a bit, no need for a fancy saw..

Then some chisel work. Pins can be simple to do..

Then use these to mark out the other half of the joint, saw while leaving the lines in place. Then the chisel thing, again..

Chop in from each side. Pare to fit.

Just practice on scrap until it seems to go like clockwork.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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tburkhart

8 posts in 350 days


#5 posted 01-13-2016 09:22 PM

Thanks for the advise! great pics btw!

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a1Jim

115202 posts in 3040 days


#6 posted 01-13-2016 11:00 PM

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rwe2156

2193 posts in 944 days


#7 posted 01-14-2016 01:22 PM

I agree with Smitty.

My advice is starting out I wouldn’t worry about marking out the angles but if you want to, you need either a bevel gauge, DT angle gauge or a homemade DT marking gauge. A protractor is not needed. For a 1 in 8 DT you simply draw an “L” with the vertical 8” and horiz 1” the hypotenuse is the angle set your bevel gauge accordingly.

Watch a couple videos, see the different approaches, see what works for you.
Learn how to fix mistakes (the parts edited out of the videos ha ha) because they WILL happen .
Learn what good chisels and saws are all about compare to what you’re using.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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WoodNSawdust

1417 posts in 640 days


#8 posted 01-14-2016 01:31 PM

+1 for what Smitty said.

I have a couple of Frank Klaus DVDs and he just eyeballs the angles. He cuts the tails first and then uses the cut tails as a template to draw the pins.

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View bearkatwood's profile

bearkatwood

1202 posts in 475 days


#9 posted 01-14-2016 05:49 PM

I like to use 1:6 for soft woods and 1:8 for hardwoods.
Smitty has a good point, as long as your pins and tails match up well, the 1:6 or 1:8 angle is not super critical, but watch out for the short grain issues like what is shown in bandit571s’ second picture. Excellent dovetails, just watch your angles go with the grain bandit.

Practice will be a great teacher, just remember the saying. “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”

Two things to start with in woodworking are learning how to sharpen yous saws and chisels and keep them sharp and then learning how to chisel and saw in a straight line repeatably. Once you have those two things down the rest is just adding to it, but build on those first and good luck.
Best to all

-- Brian Noel

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bandit571

14575 posts in 2146 days


#10 posted 01-14-2016 06:10 PM


I like to use 1:6 for soft woods and 1:8 for hardwoods.
Smitty has a good point, as long as your pins and tails match up well, the 1:6 or 1:8 angle is not super critical, but watch out for the short grain issues like what is shown in bandit571s second picture. Excellent dovetails, just watch your angles go with the grain bandit.

Practice will be a great teacher, just remember the saying. “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”

Two things to start with in woodworking are learning how to sharpen yous saws and chisels and keep them sharp and then learning how to chisel and saw in a straight line repeatably. Once you have those two things down the rest is just adding to it, but build on those first and good luck.
Best to all

- bearkatwood


Note where the waste is marked out in the above photo. This board is the “Pin” board, as I do pins first on the dovetails I do. Even on these..

Going from this, to this..

A hardwood works better…

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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bearkatwood

1202 posts in 475 days


#11 posted 01-14-2016 10:32 PM

Going from pins or tails doesn’t matter when you are making dovetails on an angle or straight. I was trying to show you that the pins and tails don’t run perpendicular to the angled cut like a squared cut. They will be at two different angles to best run with the grain of the wood. This is done to keep them stronger and eliminate the short grain problem. If they work well for you the way you make them, fine. I was showing the way of constructing angled dovetails that doesn’t have the short grain issues.
In woodworking there are more than one way to get there. Just like golf, if you get the ball in the hole, you did it right.

-- Brian Noel

View paratrooper34's profile

paratrooper34

891 posts in 2415 days


#12 posted 01-14-2016 11:00 PM



Going from pins or tails doesn t matter when you are making dovetails on an angle or straight. I was trying to show you that the pins and tails don t run perpendicular to the angled cut like a squared cut. They will be at two different angles to best run with the grain of the wood. This is done to keep them stronger and eliminate the short grain problem. If they work well for you the way you make them, fine. I was showing the way of constructing angled dovetails that doesn t have the short grain issues.
In woodworking there are more than one way to get there. Just like golf, if you get the ball in the hole, you did it right.

- bearkatwood

Unfortunately there are some who have the “My way or the highway” mentality. Makes for some interesting posts though.

-- Mike

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

5765 posts in 949 days


#13 posted 01-14-2016 11:05 PM

Get yourself a bevel gauge. You can use it for a lot more than dovetails. Just my recommendation.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View bearkatwood's profile

bearkatwood

1202 posts in 475 days


#14 posted 01-15-2016 12:39 AM

I am not the my way or highway kind, just showing something maybe you hadn’t seen. You can choose to learn something new or do it the way you have always done it. It makes no difference to me, I am just trying to help.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pv9fSuVqjKo

-- Brian Noel

View paratrooper34's profile

paratrooper34

891 posts in 2415 days


#15 posted 01-15-2016 12:52 AM



I am not the my way or highway kind, just showing something maybe you hadn t seen. You can choose to learn something new or do it the way you have always done it. It makes no difference to me, I am just trying to help.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pv9fSuVqjKo

- bearkatwood

I agree with you, didn’t mean it to seem like you were that way. Sorry.

-- Mike

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