While there is a virtual smorgasbord of information on through dovetails by hand, there isn’t much on sliding or stopped sliding dovetails by hand. With the tenon or dovetail saw cut down the line K to the required depth, and carefully pare away the wood with a sharp chisel to the correct shape. I settled on ‘pairing’ in the end, where a vertical cut is made with the chisel on the line, then the fibres are dug out sideways until you get to the bottom of the initial cut. To help ease the joint together, cut a chamfer on the back corners of the tails. I am a were i might have to buy a doveltail jig but for now i plane on cutting them by hand as work increases i probley get a jig.
Now you can learn how to cut and fit dovetail joints with hand tools guru Kate Hawes. Cutting dovetails bay hand used to take me a LOOOONG time to get the fit correct and it was always a frustrating task trying to balance two independent variables. One of the most common variations of the dovetail is known as a half-blind dovetail. In a number of cases the reason for this was that the bottom flat of the front sight had not been properly smoothed. When you are cutting to the ends you will notice that the dovetail will start to curve up away from the bottom of the cut.
When preparing for this class, I purchased dovetail saws from Lee Valley (LV) and Lie Nielsen (LN). Some workers prefer to cut the drawer sides first, and if this method is preferred (and it has its advantages for cheap work) several drawer sides are cut at once by placing four or six behind one another in the vice and sawing them all at one operation. They are usually much, much thinner (like 0.5mm) and have finer teeth, and they cut on pull, which lets you control the saw a lot better. There is nothing wrong with providing hand cut tails if you can justify the time and effort to yourself and your customer. Here the cut is nearly squared and the depth gauge is ready to check depth of the cut.
One tip is to mark each end, of each board, uniquely so you’ll make sure only one set of pins are cut from each set of tails. Instead of that drudgery I lay the piece flat, and use the band saw and router to cut this joint, utilizing the strengths of those machines. And, depending on the jig, it won’t take much longer to prepare a full set of dovetails than it does matching rabbeted corners. There are a few different types of dovetail joints, but the most popular is the half-blind dovetail joint (shown in the photo above) and the through dovetail joint.
Yes, the joints sort of fit together, but wow, aside from the sloppiness of the whole thing, look how thin those half-pins are on the top and bottom! I have subsequently purchased the new015” Lie-Nielsen Dovetail saw, and converted my020” Dovetail saw into a cross-cut saw, by re-sharpening the teeth in the correct orientation. Most veneer is the about same thickness as the kerf of the average dovetail saw.
Even though I can cut pretty good dovetails now, I still do this exercise once or twice a week – as well as sawing vertically and cross cutting at a bench hook. Most case construction is wider than most dovetail jigs so it’s difficult to use a dovetail jig in case construction. When the gun is sighted in you take a center punch and lock the sight in place with a punch mark.
The drawer front is laid flat on the bench after it has been sawn, and with a mallet and sharp chisel the corner of the dovetail is knocked off as shown. The pigs will probably live through this year, as we’re planning on housing some on Cansdell farm later in September or so, but I am putting a cross through learn to cut dovetails”. More recently, with more time to pursue my hobby, I decided to bite the bullet and learn the traditional hand tool way. Join expert woodworker and instructor Kyle Kwiatkowski as he guides you through wood selection and material preparation for through, half-blind and canted joints. After three practice joints today, you should get something as good or better than this.
After sawing the dovetails in this manner the sides are placed in their respective positions on the drawer fronts or backs, and marked with a pounce-bag or by using the saw-blade method. Any slight discrepancy or inaccuracy in one tail (or pin) is transferred to the end of the next board, meaning you then cut to match. Learn how to cut at an angle to the shoulder line accurately and how to make side cuts. Use the safe edge of the file against the outside of the work to be removed and cut from both sides to the inside. If you have marked out carefully, your dovetails will go together with little or no fitting, and very little force.
If I am doing lapped dovetails then I remove most of the waste with my Makita trimmer fitted with a straight cutter. Some makers mark the pins with a scalpel and then cut inside the lines, leaving the scalpel line in place. If you have to crank out a set of kitchen cabinets with drawers in a couple of months, there’s no way you can do all of the work by hand.
Remember the parts will be the same lengths as the drawer width and depth for though dovetails and for blind tails the sides will be the drawer depth minus a distance from the outside face of the front and or back. I noticed on a number of these how-to” dovetail videos (or any drawer joinery videos for that matter) there is no mention of how to hide the drawer base dado from showing at the ends. It is great to see the difference between the first dovetail you make on Saturday and the last dovetail you make Sunday afternoon!
I normally smear sawdust on top of the glued up joints to mask any imperfections in the joints but I chose not to on this project. Again, there’s a lot of waste to remove here, and since the boards are maple I cut most of it away with a fret saw. Use a dovetail marking gage (or a bevel gage set to a 1:6, 1:7, or 1:8 slope) to mark the edges of the tails.
Another method of marking through dovetails is shown at Fig 279 The side is held in position on the end, and the dovetail saw is inserted and drawn out of the saw kerf, thus leaving the exact mark on the drawer-back. Here is how I went about setting out and cutting my dovetails using hand tools and with some practice you can too. You’ll note that he freehands the angles used (probably because he’s done thousands of them), but you can also get dovetail markers to help with your first time. I have to admit, I find it easier to cut my pins first and mark my tails off of them. The joint that Siminoff uses seems a bit bland compared to other joints but it does hold.
Tool needs: A marking gauge for scribing precisely located lines parallel to the ends of the boards, an angle-marking gauge or a sliding bevel, a saw to cut the dovetails, chisels, a straightedge and a pair of clamps to hold the straightedge and the work tight to your bench, and a marking knife. However, if I’m doing a high end piece of furniture, I sometimes cut the dovetails by hand.
Before forcing a fit, pare carefully, test fitting as you go. This is going to take some extra time with the first few hand cut dovetail joints, but with practice, your joints will fit better, and easier, without extra work. So I bit the bullet (wood plug!) and bought a good dovetail saw, marking knife and marking gauge. I tried grinding my safe files to the degree needed so they could rest on the cut out and file to depth.
Yes, you have to start that cut at the angle that was transferred, but once it’s started, all that’s left to do is cut vertically to the shoulder line and clean out the waste. Not in this day and age, but making sure the bigger drawers are one piece sides, half blind fronts, inset doors and drawers, etc. After coming up with this next part I don’t think I’ll be wanting a dovetail plane anyway.
I also believe that while the knowledge to lay out and chop a dovetail joint is important, it is also an outdated process that will lead you into the poorhouse unless you find a sugardaddy/sugarmama who wants to brag about owning such joinery. You want to err on the side of caution here as you can always make the dovetail bigger but you can’t very well make it smaller. The majority of customers don’t know the difference between a dovetail box and a melamine box.