First Time cutting Blind Dovetails

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Forum topic by empeg9000 posted 01-25-2013 08:09 PM 985 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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86 posts in 2449 days

01-25-2013 08:09 PM

Topic tags/keywords: joining

I cut blind dovetails for the first time last night by hand. Actually it was the first time I ever cut dovetails by hand period. They are not perfect but I am happy to get it accomplished. I need to get better at marking them out. I need to start using a marking knife and cutting to the line.
My pin board

My tail board

The fit is a little loose.

I think I went awry trying to follow my crappy pencil lines.

Also loose on the backside but again I think it was my marking that was the biggest problem.

Again they are not great but I am geeked up about getting them done. I am building some end tables and I really want to hand cut the drawers.

6 replies so far

View Dan Krager's profile

Dan Krager

4033 posts in 2258 days

#1 posted 01-26-2013 05:21 AM

For a first effort that is great work! You will find controversy over whether to use a knife or a good sharp pencil, like a .5mm drafting pencil. The pencil is easier to see, but the knife makes a kerf that helps align the chisel precisely for chopping, or better, paring. Marking the waste side is key to success. Wit lots of practice you may become good enough to cut to the line on the waste side, but the really precise fits are achieved by cutting a hair proud of the line and shaving with a well sharpened chisel. Skew chisels are particularly useful in cleaning out the corners. A trick used by pros is to undercut the hidden surfaces ever so slightly so the joint “whooshes” together and all the surfaces that show are tight. This leaves a bit more room for glue to prevent squeeze out too.
When you lay out your joints don’t forget to consider the allowance for the bottom panel. You don’t want the dado to poke a hole in your nice work!
Keep up the good work. Get to a class if you can, or just practice practice practice, depending on your learning style.

-- Dan Krager, Olney IL One should always prefer the probable impossible to the improbable possible.

View GrandpaLen's profile


1650 posts in 2296 days

#2 posted 01-26-2013 06:39 PM

A+ for your first attempt at Dovetails.

Getting started on your 1st dovetailed project is the correct path to perfect dovetail joinery.

Practice makes perfect.

Work Safely and have Fun. – Grandpa Len.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View 489tad's profile


3368 posts in 3035 days

#3 posted 01-28-2013 02:01 PM

This may help some. If I lay anything with a marking gage I follow with a pencil mark in the groove so I can see it. I just have to cut to the waste side of the pencil and save the groove from the marking gage to set my chisel.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View empeg9000's profile


86 posts in 2449 days

#4 posted 01-28-2013 02:31 PM

Thanks for the tips guys. I will be going at it again in a day or so. I will post some more pics soon.

View Ted's profile


2873 posts in 2235 days

#5 posted 01-28-2013 02:37 PM

Looks a lot better than my first dovetails, or several tries after for that matter.

-- You can collect dust or you can make dust. I choose to make it.

View johnstoneb's profile


2937 posts in 2196 days

#6 posted 01-28-2013 02:55 PM

For first time they look very good to me. You have already identified ways to improve them keep working. Dovetails are something I haven’t tried yet. I believe dovetails are one of those joints you have to learn to cut by hand before you really understand how to set up a jig. When you learn how to do them by hand why cut them mechanically.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

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