Dovetail help

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Forum topic by popmandude posted 09-05-2010 09:12 PM 1110 views 2 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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109 posts in 2059 days

09-05-2010 09:12 PM

Hey everybody.
The time has come for me to learn how to cut dovetails by hand. The main thing I just can’t get my head around is how to make things come out even regardless of the width of the stock. If any one knows of a web site that explains the set up process in terms a simple mind can understand, please post it for me.

9 replies so far

View rance's profile


4196 posts in 2199 days

#1 posted 09-05-2010 09:53 PM

Randy, Google for “hand cut dovetails dividers” without the quotes (one link is ). On the other hand, I strongly recommend you just eyeball them. If you want them to look perfectly spaced, use a router jig. Maybe not in the beginning, but I think you’ll eventually agree that if the eye can see that they are not perfectly spaced (within reason), then you’ll like them better.

I also HIGHLY recommend Rob Cosman’s book and DVD on HCD. The best techniques I’ve seen.

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

View lew's profile


10620 posts in 2794 days

#2 posted 09-06-2010 12:15 AM

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2022 days

#3 posted 09-06-2010 12:58 AM

Cool Calculator Lew, Thanks.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View randi's profile


43 posts in 1859 days

#4 posted 09-06-2010 01:26 AM

Wow that calculator with the printable template is a huge time saver. Thank you!

-- "A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history - with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila." ~Mitch Ratcliffe

View rance's profile


4196 posts in 2199 days

#5 posted 09-06-2010 03:39 AM

Two nice links there (blocklayer & diyinfo).

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

View BertFlores58's profile


1648 posts in 1961 days

#6 posted 09-06-2010 04:26 AM

The truth about handcut dovetails…. Any style or size will do but it needs to be fit. I had made dovetail joints in different joints: one of the difficult one is the tapered and the other is when the wood are of different thickness and texture. One thing for sure you must have a sharp chisel and dovetail saw. Here is a photo of the results:

different thickness of a dovetail joint

and here is the tapered joint:

I made a little practical video on cutting the dovetail using the edge of the vise…

hope this will help.

-- Bert

View popmandude's profile


109 posts in 2059 days

#7 posted 09-06-2010 11:34 PM

Great info. Thanks folks

View Rick's profile


19 posts in 2774 days

#8 posted 09-07-2010 08:18 PM

After taking a woodworking class that covered hand cut dovetails – scribe, chisel, dovetail saw, I discovered some youtube videos that pointed out you can use a coping saw to remove most if not all the wood after you make your original cuts on the outlines. MUCH faster, and if you’re careful you can cut right to the line.

View RichClark's profile


157 posts in 2469 days

#9 posted 09-08-2010 05:35 AM

There is some excellent DVDs from a maker in Devon England that teaches you step by step how to make them perfectly… I swear if I ever win the lottery I will study there.. They are not expensive and they are perfect reference.

He is a Maker/Designer…. This guy sells one off chairs for 40-60K…. and the DVD’s are shot in the shop with the apprentices taking notes. He has like 5-6 of them and I have them all they are brilliant.. straight forward and exacting… (key is exacting… they demand perfection!)..

Do a real web search on “DAVID SAVAGE” His bio is like like the tip of the who’ is who’s in fine woodworking…

Or just use a router and hope for the best.

Rich (sorry for the rant..) Its FUNNER to make them perfect by hand! really it is…..

-- Duct Tape is the Force! It has a light side and a dark side and it Binds the Universe together!

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