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30 hand cut dovetails in 30 days

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Forum topic by CharlesA posted 03-31-2015 02:44 PM 2303 views 3 times favorited 51 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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CharlesA

3022 posts in 1262 days


03-31-2015 02:44 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tip jig maple chisel dovetail saw

Until 6 days ago I had never hand cut a dovetail. Found a blog post by Chris Schwarz in which he writes that he learned to hand cut dovetails by cutting one a day for 30 days. I decided to use my new Dave Barron dovetail guide and learn to hand cut dovetails. I have improved dramatically in five days (I’ll cut today’s sixth dovetail later today), but still have a ways to go before they’re great. I can get them tight now, just need to get rid of the gaps. It’s a great learning experience. I’m cutting each joint off after finishing and dating them so I can mark progress and learn from my mistakes.

Here’s number 5:

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson


51 replies so far

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JayT

4783 posts in 1676 days


#1 posted 03-31-2015 02:58 PM

Looking good, Charles. Those David Barron guides are a real time saver and make the process much more enjoyable for me.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

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WillliamMSP

747 posts in 1069 days


#2 posted 03-31-2015 03:03 PM

Very cool. I’ve been thinking that I need to do some similar muscle memory practicing.

-- Practice makes less sucky. (Bill, Minneapolis, MN)

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hotbyte

842 posts in 2440 days


#3 posted 03-31-2015 03:08 PM

Neat. Having the 30 day progression should be really cool. Would be interesting to “score” them 1-10 and see what the curve over time looks like :)

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CharlesA

3022 posts in 1262 days


#4 posted 03-31-2015 03:32 PM

Oh, I laid these out with dividers—something I’d never done before.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

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iminmyshop

259 posts in 1459 days


#5 posted 03-31-2015 03:38 PM

Are you also using an offset along with the Dave Barron guide? It makes a very big difference.

Dave Barron video of use of an offset with his guide
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=df47iISSQFQ#!

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johnstoneb

2145 posts in 1637 days


#6 posted 03-31-2015 03:41 PM

Those are looking good. It just takes practice.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

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CharlesA

3022 posts in 1262 days


#7 posted 03-31-2015 03:43 PM

I had not seen his offset trick. I have been doing that informally to tighten them up. Wonder why he doesn’t do that in his basic instructional video?

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

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JayT

4783 posts in 1676 days


#8 posted 03-31-2015 03:52 PM

I hadn’t seen the offset video, either. For me, I line the metal part of the guide exactly on the marked line and let the thickness of the slick tape over the magnets provide the offset. I had to take a little bit of set out of the teeth of the primary saw I’m using for dovetails (one made by Wally331 received during last year’s swap) to get it to line up well, but works like a charm now.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

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CharlesA

3022 posts in 1262 days


#9 posted 03-31-2015 04:32 PM

well, I think I’ll try my feeler gauge instead of spending $50 for the Drake offset gauge! Jay, did you make a dovetail board? It looks convenient.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

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SuperCubber

870 posts in 1749 days


#10 posted 03-31-2015 04:51 PM

Looks great, Charles. That 30-day process does seem like a great way to learn.

-- Joe | Spartanburg, SC | "To give anything less than your best is to sacrafice the gift." - Steve Prefontaine

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CharlesA

3022 posts in 1262 days


#11 posted 03-31-2015 05:38 PM

I’ve now looked at a number of David Barron videos. Each one contains some helpful techniques, particularly with square shoulders, my current area of need.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

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ElChe

630 posts in 801 days


#12 posted 03-31-2015 05:42 PM

I’m like the beginner golfer that practices and practices without stepping onto the golf course because he wants to be a scratch golfer on his first round of golf. I practice cutting to lines for the pins and tails. I practice making straight cuts to a line. I practice on 1/2” and 5/8” stock. I’m getting pretty good at cutting with a Western saw. But, I can’t bring myself to cut a freaking dovetail. I like this idea. I’m going to go for it. Thanks. Tom

-- Tom - Measure twice cut once. Then measure again. Curse. Fudge.

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HornedWoodwork

222 posts in 679 days


#13 posted 03-31-2015 05:44 PM

Practice, practice, practice. It’s my number one tip. No one got great by sheer force of will. Good job and post a video or slideshow about your progress.

-- Talent, brilliance, and humility are my virtues.

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CharlesA

3022 posts in 1262 days


#14 posted 03-31-2015 05:48 PM

Tom, it is a lot of fun, and it doesn’t take very long. I’m trying to be careful, but I’m also not obsessing over each one since I’m in a learning curve and I want to learn to cut them quickly. Takes about 15 minutes or so per attempt.

My first few efforts when I was slower on the sawing and chiseling, I didn’t lay them out carefully but just make random sizes. Now that I’m more efficient with the cutting, I’m working on the aesthetics as well.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

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JayT

4783 posts in 1676 days


#15 posted 03-31-2015 06:00 PM


Jay, did you make a dovetail board? It looks convenient.

- CharlesA

No, I didn’t. I use my benchtop bench for dovetailing and just clamp the board to be marked in it flush with the top, lay the other on, square it up and mark. I know a couple of other guys who use the magnetic guides use an alignment board and I may make one in the future.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

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