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Today's catch from the woodworking store: dovetailing beginner

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Forum topic by Buckethead posted 06-09-2013 07:48 PM 1065 views 1 time favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Buckethead

1921 posts in 522 days


06-09-2013 07:48 PM

I have been threatening to make some dovetails, and have been debating whether to go the power or hand tool route. Cost, along with aesthetics, influenced me to take the hand crafted road.

Okay…. Now that I went down that road, let us just say it was merely aesthetics. Nice hand tools apparently aren’t cheap. ;-)

Following the advice I sought and received, this is what I brought home today for my first attempt at dovetails. I have been a framing carpenter for … Over a decade… (I’ll leave it at that)... So fear/apprehension isn’t really an issue here. Really though, it is tough to admit that I am a beginner as it pertains to fine joinery. I’ve never used a real set of calipers, have no clue what to do with dividers, don’t consider 32nds, let alone 64ths, and although I bought a marking device, only understand the most basic use for it. (I don’t even know the proper name for it.)

Anyhoo…. Enough of that. Below is a shot of my haul, and hopefully I can put together a respectable first set of dovetails before the pot roast is ready.

-- Bucket, any person that spends 10k on a bicycle is guaranteed to be a $@I almost started to like you. -bhog


21 replies so far

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Buckethead

1921 posts in 522 days


#1 posted 06-09-2013 07:51 PM

I left a couple little guys out.

-- Bucket, any person that spends 10k on a bicycle is guaranteed to be a $@I almost started to like you. -bhog

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ScaleShipWright

240 posts in 539 days


#2 posted 06-09-2013 08:04 PM

I think I will follow your way, keep us update, please.
BTW what about the saw and the chisel? Thanks

-- God exists... But relax, He's not you!

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Benvolio

134 posts in 585 days


#3 posted 06-09-2013 08:38 PM

best of luck, bucket head!

your time as a joiner will put you in good stead – you might not be used to the tolerances, but you will know how the wood will behave and what you can expect of it.

as a rule with practising dovetails – use the same wood on both tails and pins, and it will show up flaws. then for your finish pieces, use a dark and light wood together – the contrast does a good job of showing up any gaps!

Can’t wait to see what your first joints look like!

Ben

-- Ben, England.

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Buckethead

1921 posts in 522 days


#4 posted 06-09-2013 10:26 PM

Thanks for the responses!

With apologies to woodworkers everywhere, here is my first attempt at dovetails:

I used white pine (spruce?) which was the flattest stock I had in the garage. Using my new Veritas dovetail saw, I learned that grainy softwoods cause hand tools to tend to yield to the softer grain.

I’m cutting! Feeling FANTASTIC!

My pins went smoother than the tails, as I got the feel for the saw… With one exception… I only bought a 1/2” chisel. I did not allow sufficient room in my layout for insertion of the chisel. I attempted to clean out with the crappy old coping saw I had. Not exactly beautiful…

But never mind that… I have absolutely no idea what to do with a chisel anyway.

I think I need to YouTube a veteran in action. I simply mauled the wood out of the pins. Sorry everyone. My bad.

So… If you squint your eyes, or get the camera out of focus, these resemble rudimentary stone tool dovetails.

Incidentally, the only saws at my disposal today were my new dovetail saw, a big box store major brand cross cutting saw (which had been purchased and used to cut windows and door rough openings in foam insulation during the firring process in CMU structures. (Used with concrete as a guide)

My 2 circular saws were in the one of my guy’s van, to expedite our carpool to a distant job tomorrow. Table saw isn’t worth plugging in. So the end cuts are quite ugly as well.

So… I gained a taste of experience. I will research how to use a chisel. Some might find that funny, as do I, but I now realize I have used a chisel as a prying tool or other such apparatus previously.

-- Bucket, any person that spends 10k on a bicycle is guaranteed to be a $@I almost started to like you. -bhog

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ShaneA

5302 posts in 1252 days


#5 posted 06-09-2013 10:33 PM

You are onyour way. Nice start too. Did you get/use a coping saw? May make it a bit easier to remove some of the waste before chiseling.

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DocBailey

385 posts in 1013 days


#6 posted 06-09-2013 10:40 PM

Buckethead – nothing to apologize for
we’ve all seen (or created) worse joints than that.
So good for you for jumping right in, and for bravely showing us your first efforts.

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Buckethead

1921 posts in 522 days


#7 posted 06-09-2013 10:47 PM

Actually I’m in North Florida. My nearest woodworker’s store is about 45 minutes away in Jacksonville. It is called Woodcraft. They have all kinds of toys, and believe it or not I have spent about 4 hours in my only two visits and purchased only these items. My next purchase there is a SawStop contractors saw. I am giddy about that.

Every time I think about a SawStop, for some reason I get emotional. A fine saw is all well and good. I like tools, but then there is a mechanism which can prevent the loss of digits or manual dexterity for the price of a replacement blade and a new brake. I can rave about that thing for hours. I don’t know what the inventor’s name is, but I must say; I love that guy.

-- Bucket, any person that spends 10k on a bicycle is guaranteed to be a $@I almost started to like you. -bhog

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Buckethead

1921 posts in 522 days


#8 posted 06-09-2013 11:09 PM

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ppBwAd7pouU

This guy seems to have it wired. I’m seeing the value in a nice workbench. (My back was aching after just a few minutes.)

Also, that coping saw he has is really nice.

Does anyone know what that saw guide/jig is called and where to get one?

-- Bucket, any person that spends 10k on a bicycle is guaranteed to be a $@I almost started to like you. -bhog

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Buckethead

1921 posts in 522 days


#9 posted 06-09-2013 11:20 PM

And now for the pot roast!

-- Bucket, any person that spends 10k on a bicycle is guaranteed to be a $@I almost started to like you. -bhog

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DocBailey

385 posts in 1013 days


#10 posted 06-09-2013 11:35 PM

The only one I know of …
LV

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Tbolt

65 posts in 504 days


#11 posted 06-09-2013 11:39 PM

Buckethead…Veritas/Lee Valley makes a really nice Dovetail saw guide. Check them out.

-- Fumbling and Bumbling Woodworking Todd

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Buckethead

1921 posts in 522 days


#12 posted 06-09-2013 11:44 PM

Sweet! Thanks guys!

-- Bucket, any person that spends 10k on a bicycle is guaranteed to be a $@I almost started to like you. -bhog

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steve

338 posts in 647 days


#13 posted 06-10-2013 12:31 AM

that looks delicious! (the pot roast)
Try some hardwood next, you’ll find it much more exacting, and easier. Good try.
Sharp chisels are the key.

-- steve/USA

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MrFid

528 posts in 558 days


#14 posted 06-10-2013 12:47 AM

That guy’s name is David Barron from the video. His website, www.davidbarronfurniture.co.uk, along with his blog at http://davidbarronfurniture.blogspot.com/, are both good resources. He’s an excellent craftsman. His dovetail guide that he makes himself can be ordered there. I have been cutting dovetails for a while now, but if I were starting over again, I’d definitely buy his guide. BTW: I have that Veritas saw you got, it’s a good one.
One more piece of advice: although it seems a shame to waste hardwood practicing dovetails, they do come out better if you use quality materials. Also, make sure you have a SHARP chisel, not just a chisel. And a fretsaw helps for hogging out waste. Since you’re in so deep with hand tools, spring for a Knew Concepts 5”. You WILL NOT REGRET it. It’s the one David uses in his dovetail videos.

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

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Tim

1268 posts in 615 days


#15 posted 06-10-2013 01:25 AM

Congrats for just going all in and trying it. And thanks for showing us the results, which aren’t really bad. Cut that set off and try 10 more and I’m sure they’ll be way better. It’s commonly said that we’re all born with a certain number of bad dovetails in us and we just need to get them out. I guess you have to keep trying to get better too, but that’s not most people’s problem, felling bad about not being good enough is.

If you sign up for Paul Seller’s Masterclass, there’s one free project and it’s a dovetail box. He shows a method of chiseling out the waste that’s pretty good instead of sawing it out.

Anyway, thanks again for sharing.

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