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Hand cut dovetails - Progress But Not Complete

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Forum topic by mision56 posted 09-25-2017 04:36 PM 2808 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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mision56

43 posts in 413 days


09-25-2017 04:36 PM

Topic tags/keywords: dovetails hand cut dovetail saw chisel joining

Hi all, I have been woodworkin for about 10 years total but have only really been doing hand tool work for about 1.5 years. I recently decided I was going to bite the bullet and try my hand at hand cut dovetails, thinking this would be a great skill builder even if I don’t actually use them often.

I have had great success in learning to cut (tails first) and am able to get great fits off the saw for the side where the pin is located on the end grain, but am not really making progress on one aspect of the other side. Namely the shoulder cuts. The cheek of the tail looks good, but no matter how hard I try I can’t seem to get a tight fit on the shoulder.

I included a sketchup screenshot below showing where my issue is in case I’m not explaining this well.

Also, I know it is probably tough to determine the cause without seeing my technique, but I’m wondering if this is a common issue with a common fix (ie how I was taught to cut at an extreme angle to ensure the saw follows the line, then moderate the angle to get the other side to match).


14 replies so far

View Loren's profile (online now)

Loren

9606 posts in 3481 days


#1 posted 09-25-2017 04:42 PM

Cut a shallow v on all three sides of the
shoulder using 6 chisel cuts. Use that
notch to register a dozuki saw. Pare any
leftover back to the line with a chisel.

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Mosquito

9095 posts in 2126 days


#2 posted 09-25-2017 04:42 PM

Do you happen to have a picture of some of the dovetails in question? I see the area you’re pointing too in the sketchup, but not entirely sure I’m understanding what the actual issue is.

Is it that there are sometimes gaps between the tail and the pin board at the base? I’ve used a straight piece of wood clamped right on the line before chopping the waste in the pins before to ensure that they were in a straight line, which helped. Same also works for the tail board too.

If it’s just the edge (half tail) that’s cuasing issues, I always mark those out with a marking knife and square. Then start on the line and angle slightly away from the line (into the waste), and pare it to the line afterwards

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - http://www.youtube.com/MosquitoMods - http://www.TheModsquito.com

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Tim

3679 posts in 1795 days


#3 posted 09-25-2017 05:29 PM

Are you getting your stock flat and square by hand or by machine? Any errors there make dovetails harder. And is it just that one spot on the end of the board or is the tail to pin fit off all the way down the pin board?

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mision56

43 posts in 413 days


#4 posted 09-25-2017 06:10 PM

Mosquito,
I only have pictures selectively taken to hide the flaws :) I’ll grab a sample and take one tonight.


Do you happen to have a picture of some of the dovetails in question? I see the area you re pointing too in the sketchup, but not entirely sure I m understanding what the actual issue is.

Is it that there are sometimes gaps between the tail and the pin board at the base? I ve used a straight piece of wood clamped right on the line before chopping the waste in the pins before to ensure that they were in a straight line, which helped. Same also works for the tail board too.

If it s just the edge (half tail) that s cuasing issues, I always mark those out with a marking knife and square. Then start on the line and angle slightly away from the line (into the waste), and pare it to the line afterwards

- Mosquito


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mision56

43 posts in 413 days


#5 posted 09-26-2017 02:26 PM

Hi Loren,
Thanks for the input. Tried it last night, still not perfect but definitely an improvement. I’m curious if there is any difference in technique for a western push saw, as that’s what I have?


Cut a shallow v on all three sides of the
shoulder using 6 chisel cuts. Use that
notch to register a dozuki saw. Pare any
leftover back to the line with a chisel.

- Loren


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Just_Iain

226 posts in 250 days


#6 posted 09-28-2017 11:35 PM

Photos would help!

-- For those about to die, remember your bicycle helmet!

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ColonelTravis

1672 posts in 1727 days


#7 posted 09-29-2017 12:58 AM



I m curious if there is any difference in technique for a western push saw, as that s what I have?

- mision56

I’ve switched from Western to Japanese saws for dovetails, the only difference is that one saw starts by pushing the other starts by pulling. Otherwise, saw straight. Don’t rush, take your time, keep checking the back to make sure you don’t go over your line.

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Aj2

1171 posts in 1631 days


#8 posted 09-29-2017 01:10 AM

I have one thing to add. Check the tail board too see if it’s flat if it has developed a cup then your cut line might need to be moved out. Tail board being the maple colored one.
I’m a self proclaimed dovetail expert master. merican yep that’s me.:)

-- Aj

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Derek Cohen

348 posts in 3802 days


#9 posted 10-03-2017 12:32 PM



The cheek of the tail looks good, but no matter how hard I try I can t seem to get a tight fit on the shoulder.

- mision56

This is an issue with marking out. Ensure that the board thicknesses are transferred exactly. Below is a technique I use when using a wheel gauge.

Regards from Perth

Derek

-- Buildiing furniture, and reviewing and building tools at http://www.inthewoodshop.com

View Smirak's profile

Smirak

38 posts in 352 days


#10 posted 10-03-2017 04:38 PM


The cheek of the tail looks good, but no matter how hard I try I can t seem to get a tight fit on the shoulder.

- mision56

This is an issue with marking out. Ensure that the board thicknesses are transferred exactly. Below is a technique I use when using a wheel gauge.

Regards from Perth

Derek

- Derek Cohen

Good post Derek. Make sure that your wheel on your marking gauge has an “inset screw” however…ask me how i know :)

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2710 posts in 1314 days


#11 posted 10-04-2017 06:26 PM

It could be a marking issue, but I notice in that diagram the pins & tails are reversed (not sure if you meant to picture it like that).

With a traditional 1/2 pin top and bottom the only shoulder you need worry about is on the tailboard.

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

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bandit571

18604 posts in 2517 days


#12 posted 10-04-2017 06:44 PM

Meh….

I do pins first. It really doesn’t matter which comes first, anyway. Cut on the WASTE sides of the lines. Usually LEAVE the lines. Then you will have a little extra to pare for the fit.

The only reason I do pins first? Way easier to mark out the tails, using a sharp knife/pencil…..

Then leave the lines, cutting on the waste side.

half pin..half tail? Doesn’t matter….what matters is the cuts. And which ever way you are comfortable in laying the parts out. $$$ Marking guage? Nah, I use a square and a utility knife to mark the base lines.

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

View Derek Cohen's profile

Derek Cohen

348 posts in 3802 days


#13 posted 10-05-2017 02:40 AM

In addition to accurate marking, it is important that there is accurate excavation of the waste. To do this, the baseline must be saved.

Mark lightly on the outside of the board, and then deepen the relevant baselines …

Create a chisel wall ..

I use a fretsaw to remove the bulk of the waste. Saw as close to the lines as possible (less to remove = more efficient) ..

The chisel wall ensures that you do not move it back and create a gap …

There is a full pictorial on through dovetails on my website: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/Furniture/ThroughDovetails3.html

Also, another on half blind dovetail, using blue tape: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/Furniture/HalfBlindDovetailswithBlueTape.html

Regards from Perth

Derek

-- Buildiing furniture, and reviewing and building tools at http://www.inthewoodshop.com

View mision56's profile

mision56

43 posts in 413 days


#14 posted 10-25-2017 05:50 PM

Thanks for reaching out with the pictures and process.

Learning to leave the right amount of waste to balance efficiency has been a huge helper in my hand tool progression,


In addition to accurate marking, it is important that there is accurate excavation of the waste. To do this, the baseline must be saved.

Mark lightly on the outside of the board, and then deepen the relevant baselines …

Create a chisel wall ..

I use a fretsaw to remove the bulk of the waste. Saw as close to the lines as possible (less to remove = more efficient) ..

The chisel wall ensures that you do not move it back and create a gap …

There is a full pictorial on through dovetails on my website: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/Furniture/ThroughDovetails3.html

Also, another on half blind dovetail, using blue tape: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/Furniture/HalfBlindDovetailswithBlueTape.html

Regards from Perth

Derek

- Derek Cohen


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