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Hand Cut Dovetail issue.

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Forum topic by Kv0nT posted 01-13-2014 04:11 PM 849 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Kv0nT

84 posts in 1590 days


01-13-2014 04:11 PM

Topic tags/keywords: joinery dovetails hand cut dovetails poplar question tip problem help joint joints

Okay… so I’ve done dovetails way in the past, but I really had no idea what I was doing, and I just kind of lucked out that they looked okay.

Now I’m heading for some more ambitious territory. I am making a blanket chest out of beech (very hard stuff) and I will need to work fast because the wood moves a lot. So in preparation I have been practicing hand cut dovetails in poplar.

I have no difficulty marking out the tails. I have one DT paring chisel so I use that to determine pin size, and I only need one strike to chop out the waste on the tail board. I mark my tails first slightly proud, blah blah blah. After some practice I am sawing very accurately. Then I remove the waste, rabbet the back of the pins by 1/32 to 1/16th and mark the pins. Now here is where things seem to go wrong. I cut the pins fine and they fit very snugly into the tails, however, for some reason the tails will not fully sit on the pin board. There is a very slight gap. I undercut the tails and the pins so I’m really at a loss. Am I not sawing the pins accurately enough? Even with a vise I can’t seem to get the tails to sit properly and they just pop back up when I unvise them anyways.

Just as a note, I am working with 100% accurately square stock. I have a shooting board set up that has given me excellent results, and I check and mark with a precision square.


4 replies so far

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PurpLev

8523 posts in 3112 days


#1 posted 01-13-2014 04:21 PM

are you referring to a gap “behind” the tails? is it possible you are clearing the waste on the pin board with a slight angle outwards to generate that gap? sounds like the back/inside of the pin board is what your tail board hitting and the outside of the pin board is cut smaller/shorter resulting in that gap – try reversing that.

Also – if you need to work fast because the wood moves a lot it may be too wet? why does it move so much?

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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Kv0nT

84 posts in 1590 days


#2 posted 01-13-2014 04:37 PM

I’ll include a picture. And the wood moves just as a matter of it’s species. I am resisting milling it until I know that everything is squared away because I don’t want to give it any extra time to cup or twist. And you may be right about the back and inside of the pinboard, but I undercut them for this very reason, so I’m just not sure what’s going on.

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bondogaposis

4028 posts in 1814 days


#3 posted 01-13-2014 04:44 PM

It looks to me like the inside of your pin board is higher than the outside. Double check the square that you are using, it is not much of an error, a slight adjustment and all will fall into place.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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PurpLev

8523 posts in 3112 days


#4 posted 01-15-2014 05:53 PM

undercutting them usually referring to the middle of the board cut deeper than the edges, but what could be happening is that while the middle is indeed undercut – your inner edge of the board is still higher than the outer edge of the board causing the inner edge to butt against the tail board leaving that gap on the outer edge – try slightly easing the inner edge of the pin board – cut the edge of those tail sockets a bit lower, leaving the outside of that board with the only ‘high’ spot that would butt flush against the tails board.

again though – now sure why beech (or any wood) moves so violently in the shop unless it hasn’t settled and got accustomed to the moisture levels in the shop. if the wood has stresses in it that would cause it to twist/cup, the joinery will only resist it so much. you might end up with a non-square box.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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