Follow Tony’s step-by-step guide and learn to hand cut houndstooth dovetails
In my opinion, the most important considerations (in order) are:
Accurate stock preparation – no planer marks and very square ends
Accurately cutting to the line
I used some maple that a friend gave me as an offcut and some mahogany I got from the old lab benches in my lab at work.
First off, I needed to resaw the wood. After resawing, I thicknessed all pieces before hand planing to final dimensions.
The hand planing is very important on faces and edges as we need to remove all marks from the machining operations to ensure an accurate joint. Rob Cosman says that this is essential and who am I to argue with him?
When planed, look at the boards and choose and mark the outside faces with a pencil.
The ends need to be absolutely square and a shooting board is the best method to achieve this. My board is designed to clamp in the bench vice and to clamp the workpiece and thus allows me to plane using both hands which I find more accurate and much easier
Gratuitous image to show the tools needed for the job – missing the coping saw because I completely forgot.
Set the marking gauge to the thickness of the pin board (sides of box in this project) and run it all around each end of the tail boards.
Next, set the gauge to about 2/3 of the thickness of the pin board and run it across the faces of the tail boards as shown in the photo on the left. Also run it across the end grain on the pin boards.
Set the gauge to the thickness of the tail board and then run it across the faces of the pin boards to set the baseline for the pins.
Make a mark about 6mm in from the edges of the ends of the tail boards and then set the dividers to a third of the gap between these two marks. This is achieved by ‘walking’ the divider across the board without making marks and repeating this until the final point is on the second 6mm mark. When the dividers are set properly, make some marks in the end grain as shown in the photo on the right.
Now set the dividers to half the distance between two of these marks to allow marks for the smaller tails to be made half-way between the main tails.