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tools for hand cut dovetails?

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Forum topic by startingfromscratch posted 06-24-2010 06:36 PM 4582 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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startingfromscratch

69 posts in 2660 days


06-24-2010 06:36 PM

So my 3 and 1/2 year old likes tinkering in the shop and watching Handy Many…and suggested I build him a tool box. I’m plan on making a small version of a carpenter’s tool box. And…I’d like to try my hand at hand cutting dovetails to join it.

What do I need for tools? I have a bevel gauge and a marking gauge. I have a set of chisels. My real question is about the saw. I saw a podcast video that walked me through cutting them with a Gent saw (17 tpi and a 22 tpi). There was some discussion about the japanese saws. Suggestions (including any specific saws that folks can recommend)? I don’t want to break the bank, and I would prefer buying stuff that is useful for other things, thought that’s not entirely necessary.


16 replies so far

View Dennisgrosen's profile

Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 2583 days


#1 posted 06-24-2010 07:26 PM

you have what you need basicly
a little lowangle block plane or a realy sharp closemouthed smoothing plane
wood be nice for the last finish if you don´t want to sand too much

about saws you cuold practicly use every kind of a saws you can remember
dovetailsaw , bowesaws, fretsaw, gentsaw,carpenterspanelsaw, japanesesaws,framesaws
hacksaw, bandsaw, etc
you just need to ajust for how much material they remove when you saw the half of the
line away

Dennis

View Moron's profile

Moron

5032 posts in 3361 days


#2 posted 06-24-2010 07:59 PM

cant add to that

I like the Japanese Dozuki fine saw and the Lee Neilson (break the bank) saw

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Dennisgrosen's profile

Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 2583 days


#3 posted 06-24-2010 08:39 PM

hello again S:F:S
just forget to ad this blog where Blake do a tremendus job on a credenza
with handcutting dovetails
follow the blog and look at the pictures there you will see a little helping
device you can use when sawing the dovetails
and don´t forget a real markingknife to transfer lines from one piece of sawn wood
to the next piece of wood that will give you the most precise lines to saw after

good luck with the project
Dennis

View swirt's profile

swirt

2118 posts in 2440 days


#4 posted 06-24-2010 09:02 PM

The gents saw will work fine or even a zona razor saw.
http://www.zonatool.net/razor-saws.html
Japanese style pull saws (dozuki) work well too.

A good coping saw and blades makes it easier to saw out the waste. People swear by the Olson saw with a 18pt blade or just the olson blade in a coping saw you already have.
http://www.toolsforworkingwood.com/Merchant/merchant.mvc?Session_ID=8e17f94ff3a9f9dcb38d95bc0354f971&

As Dennis suggests, a decent block plane can be a big help.

The other key is a way to hold the wood while you work on it. I use a simple method with a pair of handscrew clamps and a pair of F-clamps that is very flexible and very stable if used on a solid workbench.
http://www.timberframe-tools.com/tools/twin-screw-face-vise/
If you don’t have those, you can also do it with a couple of pipe clamps and a section of 2×4 if the edge of your bench is solid. You can sort of see where I have done it like that in this post
http://www.timberframe-tools.com/household/coffee-table-dovetails/

Practice a couple before hitting the actual project. ;)

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

View swirt's profile

swirt

2118 posts in 2440 days


#5 posted 06-24-2010 09:05 PM

Dennis wisely mentions a good marking knife. I have a few of them, but the one I like best for dovetails is one of those retractable ones with the snap off segments. You can keep it short when needed but can extend the blade to get in where it is sometimes hard to get with other knives.

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

View rance's profile

rance

4245 posts in 2628 days


#6 posted 06-24-2010 09:13 PM

Marking gauge with a blade(not a pin)
A saw with as little a tooth set as possible
Bloody sharp chisels
Marking knife
Rob Cosman DVD on Dovetails
(optional) Fret saw for removing waste

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

View NathanAllen's profile

NathanAllen

376 posts in 2612 days


#7 posted 06-24-2010 10:08 PM

Patience
Steady hand
Lots of scrap wood

If you needed you could get away with a hacksaw, rusty chisel a coping saw and a sliding bevel marker.

View startingfromscratch's profile

startingfromscratch

69 posts in 2660 days


#8 posted 06-24-2010 10:42 PM

Anyone have direct experience with those zona razor saws? They are dirt cheap. I don’t have the cash for a serious dovetail western saw and am not too keen on the japanese saws. Are the cheap razor saws usable?

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2466 days


#9 posted 06-24-2010 10:48 PM

I have a love hate relationship with the Japanese saws. I love how they cut. I hate how they last. I am always snagging teeth.

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

View Div's profile

Div

1653 posts in 2408 days


#10 posted 06-24-2010 10:51 PM

Unless you want to do this a lot of times, any tenon saw will do. Even a hacksaw, as NathanAllen suggested. Best thing is to just DO it on some scrap and get a feel for things. Enjoy!

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View startingfromscratch's profile

startingfromscratch

69 posts in 2660 days


#11 posted 06-24-2010 10:55 PM

Okay, one last question…on a carpenter’s tool box, does it matter which way the dovetails face?

Also, I’ve primarily worked in pine and want to branch out to some other woods, but they were all heavy for the little one. I ended up getting some poplar. Any suggestions on some neat wood to use?

View swirt's profile

swirt

2118 posts in 2440 days


#12 posted 06-25-2010 06:09 AM

Chris Schwarz has handled some of the most expensive and some of the oldest saws ever made, this is what he said about the Zona saw.
http://blog.lostartpress.com/2009/05/12/Little+Teeth+Filed+For+Who+Cares.aspx
Not a bad endorsement for something that costs as much as a couple of bottles of glue. LOL

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

View acanthuscarver's profile

acanthuscarver

268 posts in 3180 days


#13 posted 06-25-2010 12:16 PM

Scratch,

If you’re looking for a decent Western saw on a budget, try the Lee Valley Veritas dovetail saw. For the price, it’s a great saw. Excellent starter saw for someone who hasn’t cut a lot of dovetails.

Poplar will work nicely. It’s not much heavier than the pine you’ve been using and it’s a good wood in which to cut dovetails. Unlike the pine, you should be able to chop and cut cleanly to get a good fit. Good luck and make sure you post some pictures.

-- Chuck Bender, 360 WoodWorking, period furniture maker, woodworking instructor

View swirt's profile

swirt

2118 posts in 2440 days


#14 posted 06-25-2010 04:35 PM

It probably doesn’t matter which way the tails face as long as they are end grain to end grain. Sure they are stronger in one direction, but for a toolbox, the glue will be more than enough to make it strong in both directions. So really the decision probably comes down more to which you like the look of better.

I’d probably do the tails on the long sides, but I can’t think of a good reason other than looks.

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

View rance's profile

rance

4245 posts in 2628 days


#15 posted 06-29-2010 09:12 PM

Scratch,

Tail / Pin direction only make a difference on something that is pulled in one direction(like a drawer). So its up to you on your tool box.

IMO, Poplar is MUCH easier to work with than pine. Also try Mahogany. Stay away from Oak until later.

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

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