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Hand Cut Dovetails and Ashley Iles MK2

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Forum topic by ki7hy posted 07-29-2016 07:58 PM 850 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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ki7hy

493 posts in 201 days


07-29-2016 07:58 PM

Topic tags/keywords: dovetails hand cut ashley iles mk2 bevel angle

Good day,

I have a question that shouldn’t be hard but I am for whatever reason struggling to figure out the answer.

I have an Ashley Iles chisel on the way to assist with the dovetails I’m trying to learn to cut by hand. All is going well except my chiseling to the line perfectly. I am practicing on pine which compresses a lot and whenever I get a chisel close to a corner the pine will dent. It doesn’t even have to touch, that’s how scared the pine is apparently <sarcasm>. The English pattern Ashley Iles I heard are super thin and reasonably priced so I wanted to get a couple but most people are out of sizes I would want so I just ordered the 3/8” and will have to make due for now in the corners.

With that said, the chisels come at a 25 degree bevel I believe which is fantastic for paring but what if I use a fret/coping saw to munch out the main waste and then chop to the line with the chisel. Should I micro bevel the edge on this new chisel to 30 degrees or just try and chop the little waste as it is? Worried about rolling it over obviously.

Looking for thoughts from the pros…also any tips getting the bottoms cut to the line and clean would be good. I of course have watched tons of videos but I still need to keep practicing. I hate to blame the wood but the pine if very unforgiving. It’s cheap though. I figure if I can get it right in pine I can probably do walnut with ease.


16 replies so far

View jwmalone's profile

jwmalone

769 posts in 164 days


#1 posted 07-29-2016 08:06 PM

Pine is not a good practice wood I’m my opinion. Cutting doves or any thing in Hardwood is totally different than cutting in pine or other soft woods, You will learn nothing working pine that will help when you switch to hard wood you will have to learn all over again. I’m no expert on chisels and bevels but what I said about pine vs hardwood I know to be fact.

-- "Boy you could get more work done it you quit flapping your pie hole" Grandpa

View ki7hy's profile

ki7hy

493 posts in 201 days


#2 posted 07-29-2016 08:17 PM

I can agree that it will be different however, I couldn’t see it being harder than working in pine. I’ve worked with hard wood before, not dovetails but have built things. My next project however is a mobile tool chest I am building out of poplar which is soft, and I plan for something like 60 dovetails or more in that project with the inside tills and such. Good practice and a good lightweight tool chest to take with me camping, or up north when I visit relatives and can’t go to my shop and build something (it’s like crack).

Again, I’m not new to the game but new to hand cut dovetails. I’m definitely interested in thoughts on the bevel but also on the wood now. Thanks for the post jwmalone.

View RustyHacksaw's profile

RustyHacksaw

82 posts in 725 days


#3 posted 07-29-2016 08:31 PM

You are hitting the chisel too hard. You have too much meat you’re trying to remove.

When you drive the bevel down in to the wood, it forces itself back against your knifewall. Take much smaller bites, and remove as much waste as possible before finally going after your knifeline.

You can be as exact in your layout as you want; but until this aspect is perfected, there will always be baseline gaps.

View ki7hy's profile

ki7hy

493 posts in 201 days


#4 posted 07-29-2016 08:41 PM

Thanks Rusty, I have been doing better with that and using the saw to get closer and trying not to take more than 1/16” off at a time (only about 1/8” left at it’s thickest anyway). I also started moving the chisel at about 93 degrees toward the line to make the bevel a little more perpendicular with the cut but obviously not completely. I do that for a couple lite taps then move it back to 90 degrees for the final and that seems to help a lot but the pine still seems to compress some. Obviously the sharper I keep an edge on the chisel the better too but chopping down is good practice regardless. I am using some Matsomera (sp?) japanese chisels and love them but they have a decent size edge…I know there is a technical name for that….so something with a thin edge like the ashley iles should help some in the corners.

Thanks for the tips, will definitely keep the taps lite. I will beat this. The dovetails aren’t bad, just not awesome in my eyes yet. My wife thinks they are pretty good but she shops with my paycheck so I think she has to say that stuff.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

13715 posts in 2080 days


#5 posted 07-29-2016 08:54 PM

Smashing pine fibers (and I did the dovetail-a-day exercise with pine, btw) means your chisel should be sharper. If you can’t pare end grain easily, it ain’t sharp.

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

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2192 posts in 943 days


#6 posted 07-29-2016 09:00 PM

There is nothing wrong with pine it is a very common wood for drawer sides.
It is the best wood to practice with because you can get away with a little more relative to tight joints.

I keep a couple chisels sharpened at 20 degrees for soft wood.

The trick is sneak up on it you can even pare out just a little wood to your scribe line to create a little notch.
If there is a deep enough wall and you use light taps, and keep the waste cleaned out, it will get better.

Just take off wood till you get to about 1/32 from the line, and you should be able to pare down without a mallet.

Also, a thicker plane is more apt due to mass. Plus you have to look at the side bevel height which is key to clean tails. I recommend sneak up on it and stay with the AL’s for your dovetails.

Good luck.

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

View ki7hy's profile

ki7hy

493 posts in 201 days


#7 posted 07-29-2016 09:16 PM

Thanks Smitty and rwe. I think I am on the right track, some good points rwe on the bevel angle. I know my jap chisels are to thick on the side bevel so I have the one Ashley Iles chisel coming tomorrow and I’ll keep the lower 25 degree angle on that. I’ll still chop the majority of the waste with the jap chisels and final pare with the shley iles. I’m close, just not there completely. Sawing the sides is dead on ALMOST every time so I don’t worry about that, just tight bottoms and what guy doesn’t like tight bottoms?

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

5765 posts in 948 days


#8 posted 07-30-2016 12:16 AM



Smashing pine fibers (and I did the dovetail-a-day exercise with pine, btw) means your chisel should be sharper. If you can t pare end grain easily, it ain t sharp.

- Smitty_Cabinetshop

Yep.

25 good for softwoods. 30 is good for hardwoods but a sharp chisel will cure most ills.

Don’t like pine myself. I’d get some maple scraps. Pine IS a lot more forgiving but when you try the same thing in hardwood you will problems. I think if you can get pretty tails in maple you can get it in just about anything.

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

View bandit571's profile (online now)

bandit571

14561 posts in 2145 days


#9 posted 07-30-2016 12:29 AM

Chisels I use are either by Butcher, or came from Aldis

I chop from both sides of the board, angling in a bit, to create a hollow in the center. Last chop is right on the knifed line.

These were done in Menard’s “Value” boards…

Sooo, how do you saw the lines?

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

View ki7hy's profile

ki7hy

493 posts in 201 days


#10 posted 07-30-2016 03:14 AM

I use a jap saw for the lines then coping saw to hog out waste then chisel to the line on both sides.

My dovetails are ok. Just not awesome. Honestly I think I just need to sharpen more often as mentioned and then practice more which in doing. I think I do get sloppy in the corners though. My 1/4” chisel isn’t beveled on top and my slots aren’t wide enough for the 3/8” which is beveled. Of course now I have a 3/8” cabinet mkii on the way that’s really thin. I’m just been copying my lines from a single board but will have to draw new ones to fit a larger chisel in the pin holes (tail side). If any of that makes sense.

Mainly I was wondering if I should use the 25 degree angle the Ashley isles chisel will come with. Lol all the help is greatly appreciated though. I want to get good at this.

This was typed on my phone so sorry for any grammar or spelling.

View ki7hy's profile

ki7hy

493 posts in 201 days


#11 posted 08-02-2016 06:15 PM

Update:
I had cut a bunch of squares to keep practicing on the hand cut dovetails. On one of the squares I marked out the spacing for the tails which has saved time going through this. So I’ve been using that. I found my major issue this past weekend, it was the chisel I was using. I was using the 3/8” Matsumura bench chisel I had because it fit in the space and seemed fine. Well, there aren’t beveled edges on the sides of these chisels when they get to 3/8” or below. So….Saturday the mail person brought an English pattern Ashley Iles chisel and it’s flat, very flat. I honed it and cut with that and I don’t tear the corners or compress the wood for lines at the bottom. I think I’ll order a few more sizes of these, it’s a nice chisel. I kept the 25 degree bevel, no microbevel because I wanted to see if it would roll or have issues. So far so good. Dovetails look good enough to put into a project now, although I think I’ll still practice for another week or two to make sure I’m consistent.

Thanks for the tips.

One other question, I cut tails first although it doesn’t matter, when I line up to mark pins should I make sure the wood is dead even or should I over/underlap the wood line up to mark my pins? (does that even make sense?) I do find that now the lines are dead square on the bottom and cut to the line, I still seem to get a small even gap along the entire piece when assembled and the piece is flexed a little (could be easily closed when glued). I’m just nitpicking at this point probably.

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

5765 posts in 948 days


#12 posted 08-02-2016 06:22 PM

Right on the line. Or I cut a small rabbet on the tails board to the baseline sometimes.

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

View ki7hy's profile

ki7hy

493 posts in 201 days


#13 posted 08-02-2016 06:54 PM

Perfect, thanks Fridge.

View marshallmosby56's profile

marshallmosby56

18 posts in 142 days


#14 posted 08-10-2016 06:41 PM



Good day,

I have a question that shouldn t be hard but I am for whatever reason struggling to figure out the answer.

I have an Ashley Iles chisel on the way to assist with the dovetails I m trying to learn to cut by hand. All is going well except my chiseling to the line perfectly. I am practicing on pine which compresses a lot and whenever I get a chisel close to a corner the pine will dent. It doesn t even have to touch, that s how scared the pine is apparently . The English pattern Ashley Iles I heard are super thin and reasonably priced so I wanted to get a couple but most people are out of sizes I would want so I just ordered the 3/8” and will have to make due for now in the corners.

With that said, the chisels come at a 25 degree bevel I believe which is fantastic for paring but what if I use a fret/coping saw to munch out the main waste and then chop to the line with the chisel. Should I micro bevel the edge on this new chisel to 30 degrees or just try and chop the little waste as it is? Worried about rolling it over obviously.

Looking for thoughts from the pros…also any tips getting the bottoms cut to the line and clean would be good. I of course have watched tons of videos but I still need to keep practicing. I hate to blame the wood but the pine if very unforgiving. It s cheap though. I figure if I can get it right in pine I can probably do walnut with ease.

- ki7hy

You should consider keeping the beveled edge towards the part you are going to cut off. That is first use coping saw for the tapered sides of wood and then chisel away the part with the beveled edge outwards. I hope you get what I am trying to convey.

-- :)

View ki7hy's profile

ki7hy

493 posts in 201 days


#15 posted 08-10-2016 06:58 PM

I fully understand Marshall. I actually believe it was a chisel issue. My 3/8” Jap chisel doesn’t have beveled sides. The one Ashley Iles 3/8” I purchased does and it made all the difference, especially the cutting bevel set to 25 degrees to top it off. Dovetails are good now unless I curve the saw cut a little but that is getting more rare now.

Thanks for chiming in.

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