Critique my first project.

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1275gt

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Hello all,
I've just finished my first dovetails. Just a simple box it was made with the intention of learning how prepare and dimension all my pieces by hand and practice my sawing.
Wood is redwood pine which was PAR but cupped and twisted which I tried to rectify by hand.
I'm after constructive criticism to learn and improve.
Learning points I've identified
I definitely need more practice cutting accurately and transfering my tails.
Stock prep isn't as hard as i thought but easy to take too much.
Watch the chisel when chopping to a line it easily moves in momentary lapse of concentration.
I still have to glue up and plane flush and it's only in clamps so I could get an idea of what it could look like.

All constructive criticism is welcome.

Special mention to @johnnyb who helped me build the bench and without his guidance these would be a lot worse... (I may do a separate post on the bench)

Thank you in advance.
 

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Good first attempt

Just remember which side of the line to cut too.

What dovetail saw if using a tenon saw you really need a dovetail saw for a finer cut.

Cheers James
 
I'll have a go. 1. your stock must have been four square because your first marking gauge lines seem well fitted.
2. I'm assuming you marked everything out together hence it can go together square.
3 just the sides of either your pins or tails are slightly miscut(I learned from Jim kingshot so do tails first)
make sure your tails are cut square across if you do it this way the angle doesn't matter and he normally eyed it as the pins are marked from the tails.
these discrepancies can be fixed OK with dutchmen. slivers glued in.
Great to see your first solo steps san
 
I'll have a go. 1. your stock must have been four square because your first marking gauge lines seem well fitted.
2. I'm assuming you marked everything out together hence it can go together square.
3 just the sides of either your pins or tails are slightly miscut(I learned from Jim kingshot so do tails first)
make sure your tails are cut square across if you do it this way the angle doesn't matter and he normally eyed it as the pins are marked from the tails.
these discrepancies can be fixed OK with dutchmen. slivers glued in.
Great to see your first solo steps san
Yes tails first. "Pinholes " that is - I think of them as pinholes and pins. Cuts going off line: one thing about freehand is that although the angles may vary the cuts are easier to keep straight as you don't have to try to correct them and bring them back to the line. So mark where you want pinholes to be but once started keep the cut straight, even if you've missed your mark a bit
 
Good first attempt

Just remember which side of the line to cut too.

What dovetail saw if using a tenon saw you really need a dovetail saw for a finer cut.

Cheers James
It's an older dovetail saw, 17ppi. I'm not sure if the plate is thicker than its modern equivalents as I don't have one to compare. I'm sure it's probably user inexperience.
 
Fir your encouragement - Here was one of my first attempts which yours aren't far off. This was after I sanded it.

Cheers James
 

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I'll have a go. 1. your stock must have been four square because your first marking gauge lines seem well fitted.
2. I'm assuming you marked everything out together hence it can go together square.
3 just the sides of either your pins or tails are slightly miscut(I learned from Jim kingshot so do tails first)
make sure your tails are cut square across if you do it this way the angle doesn't matter and he normally eyed it as the pins are marked from the tails.
these discrepancies can be fixed OK with dutchmen. slivers glued in.
Great to see your first solo steps san
Yes John, all marked out together. Will definitely make some slivers before glue up. Hope you're well.
 
One thing I'm learning now from your feedback is not to worry too much if I go of the angle. After sawing I tried to pare back to the line on the tails which inevitably gave me a more uneven surface than a sawn surface. Making transfering to the pins more difficult.
 
1.the tails must be carried across square
2.the angle of the sides is almost irrelevant
3. a coping saw and a properly shaped chisel will do a lot to finish the tails nicely.
4.the pins are best marked in what I call a fussy way. ie as accurately as poss so they cannot shift as those lines are sacred and can't be arrived at any other way than marking off the corresponding tailboard.(an easy to follow marking system helps hugely ie tail 1 to pin one etc
 
Depends which side of La Manche you live on.

I do pins first, like most of Europe, then I can stand the board on its pins ontop of the next one and simply draw the tails with a very sharp pencil using one stroke for each line. Then cut out the waste, but it's essential to leave the line on.

When I cut the pins I do one side of all the pins and change the angle of the saw and go the other way, this keeps the pin angle roughly the same and I eyeball the spacing of the pins and their angle because I'm lazy.

As for a saw, whatever is to hand with fine teeth. It's the hand and eye, not the saw which causes most of the problems.

If your box doesn't flap around and is solid, you've done a decent job. Historically dovetail joints were standard stuff to be hidden and nothing special, but they're a bit of a fetish these days, but it looks like a good box and is something to use for sure. Once you've glued it and planed it, it'll look fine and dandy.

Next time try to cut it so that you don't need to glue it and still have it tight.
 
Its mostly all been said so the only thing I will add is some of the tails look a tad short. I mark the base line out a smidgen more than the stock thickness so they are a tad long and plane down after glue has set. I always feel better about mine after they have been trimmed up with the plane. All up a pretty good first go and its one of those things that gets better with practice. Pine also adds another layer of difficulty due to the hard and soft grain layers when doing the chisel work. A nice crisp hardwood is easier to work with. A few more and you will have it in the bag.
Regards
John
 
Did you know, that the continental method of cutting dovetails is to first cut the tail sockets, before you cut the tails ?. I think it's actually the French method.
 
Did you know, that the continental method of cutting dovetails is to first cut the tail sockets, before you cut the tails ?. I think it's actually the French method.
It's easier the other way round, mainly because you can cut the pin holes in two sides clamped together, in one operation.
Pin holes first is the only way if you want to do fine single kerf pin holes (a.k.a."London pattern" for no good reason).
Easy to verify if a drawer has been cut this way - the cuts on drawer sides will match, a mirror image with the same variations and minor errors. Can't say I've ever done this with a French drawer - I will do at the next opportunity!
Terminology is simpler if you forget "tails" and stick to "pins" and "pin holes". It can get confusing with tails / tail sockets / pins / pin sockets
 
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Some recommendations, Rob Cosmans first dovetail DVD, read Alan Peter's method of cutting dovetails, it is on the internet if you search for it, sawcut to sawcut joinery and an excellent method of marking out using dividers, this is the method Cosman uses in his DVD, I believe David Charlesworth also uses this method.
Good first attempt, keep practicing, you'll get better results in no time at all.
Stock preparation is very important, it must be accurate to achieve the best results.
Mark.
 
All constructive criticism is welcome.
I think you have made an excellent start, and I hope you feel encouraged to keep going. The more you cut the better you will get. I found that making sure the wood for the tails is in the vice at the angle you need to cut so you perfect you skill at sawing down vertically and square to the vice, which is the key to all hand cut joints, as far as I'm concerned. But from the pictures you are well on the way.
Good luck
Martin
 
I agree with most of the other's comments especially it's a great first effort. I encourage you to keep going. It'll get better and easier. I always make my pins and tails a bit longer than needed (only half to one mm) so I can trim them back flush with the sides. Makes it much neater. One other point I will make: once you've marked it all out but before you start sawing clearly mark which is the waste material to be cut out. It helps you to cut on the waste side of the line - don't ask me how I know.
Above all have fun.
Martin
 
Good first effort, once glued and planed off everything will look much better. For your next go
Try a slightly thinner material. Suggest around 15mm and use a more uniform grained hardwood. Chestnut is excellent
Mark the depth of teh pins and tails about 1mm longer than thickness of the material
Cut tail first. This is less critical as pins are marked to fit
Mark the pins with a knife as this gives a much more definite line than a pen or pencil (use the pencil to mark the waste to be cut out). Some people put masking tape on and then mark onto that as it can make it easier to see

Good luck. practice and you will really see the improvements
Ian
 
good for a first effort! I'd say use a very thin pencil line and with pine cut dead to the line but not over it with the saw, try and get used to cutting them straight from the saw, pairing away up to the line makes it take far longer than it should and is often what causes the gaps.
 
Thank you all for the replies. I'll make sure to post a picture of the joints once they have been planed and sanded. I'm going to make some slivers and fill the gaps.
Definitely going to use this thread as reference the next time I cut them. ( Which I will post.)
 

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