DOVETAIL PEOPLE! i have a question for you

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Forum topic by drewnahant posted 03-19-2011 12:58 AM 1199 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View drewnahant's profile


222 posts in 3265 days

03-19-2011 12:58 AM

Topic tags/keywords: jig question

Ok, so I just recently started trying to hand-cut dovetails, I have been looking at the angle marking jigs, and I think I like the design that looks like a crooked try-square, so first off, is this a good type of jig? assuming this is a good setup, I have been using my regular miter gauge, which is basically the same thing once it is set to the right angle. I want to make my own gauge, because I hate buying something I could build better. I figure, I may as well improve on thier design, so I drew up a design and I want to see what you think.


my improvements:

- by extending it to a t-shape, I can position it better on the workpiece, so when Im working near the edge, the body can always be positioned on the long part instead of sticking off the end, and I can do so off of a single edge, so I am always referencing the same edge.

- by adding extra brass edges, it is able to be used to guide the dovetail saw at a perfect 90 degree angle to the piece, and by adding the raised section in the middle, it will rub against the side of the saw, and the kerf will not touch, but the part that sits on the face of the board will still be straight to use a marking knife.

- I used a 1:6 angle, rather than the 1:8 which seems to be the only angle you can get from the manufacturers. this is just a personal preference, not necessarily an improvement.

Since I dont have a lot of experience with hand-cutting dovetails yet, I would really appreciate your input before I build this.

7 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3824 days

#1 posted 03-19-2011 02:10 AM

I sometimes use a little brass and wood dovetail square I
made myself to mark them out, but never as a guide for
the saw.

If you feel you need a guide to actually run the saw against,
I think you’d be happier with one of the magnetic guides
out there.

That said, the fun, risk and reward of hand-cutting joints is
that you get better at making the saw go where you want
it to, splitting lines, managing kerfs, until you reach the point
where your cuts are so close to right on that only light paring
is required to make a neat fit. I’ll argue that if you rely on
crutches to make the cuts your hand and eye coordination
as well as your sense of dovetail geometry may not develop
the point where you can really do them as the old craftsmen
did them.

View drewnahant's profile


222 posts in 3265 days

#2 posted 03-19-2011 02:20 AM

I have been getting good results cutting to the line, I am not worried about the accuracy of my cuts freehand, and you are right that using a crutch makes you reliant and deminishes skill, my thought was just that if I can simply put the saw to it, I can speed up the process by not fully laying out the dovetail, just mark my depth of cut, and my spacing, then put the guage on and cut. skip marking the angle lines, and the square lines and eying up my saw to both of them.

View drewnahant's profile


222 posts in 3265 days

#3 posted 03-19-2011 02:31 AM

I should probably add that I do kinda enjoy doing the dovetails by hand, and would most likely continue to do them the traditional way on small projects, and any time I have an unusual layout or need very precise results etc. , but since I dont have a router dovetail jig, if I want to do dovetails on a whole set of drawers, I will have to do them by hand, and in that situation, time saving will be excellent

View lew's profile


12382 posts in 3931 days

#4 posted 03-19-2011 04:55 PM

Did you see this?

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

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 3016 days

#5 posted 03-20-2011 07:24 AM

As a marking device Its a great device. I do a fair bit of hand cutting. I have a store bought 6-1 L shaped marking device. I don’t see the best anymore and to mark near the end of the board I have to flip the reference side over then that putts it where I cant see as well. I do like the T shape.
Did you ever think why most people pick 6-1 over 8-1? golden ratio maybe

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View drewnahant's profile


222 posts in 3265 days

#6 posted 03-20-2011 07:35 AM

Dave, I didnt even reailize that many people choose 6:1, most of the marking gauges and jigs I have been looking at are 8:1, but I thought that 6:1 looks better, but isnt that funny

View wb8nbs's profile


164 posts in 2868 days

#7 posted 03-21-2011 02:30 AM

I made a bunch of templates by just tilting the blade on my table saw and slicing up a glued up stick of leftover window molding..

-- The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.

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