So this Dovetailing business?...

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Kaizen123

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@Kaizen123 That stuff I'm going to send you will be much easier to work and it's a lot thinner.

I think I'll let you plane it flat, as I don't have the time and it'll be good practice.
Thank you!
I am getting the hand of planing I think but I am struggling to set my plane. Its always takes too much off or nothing. I've got a handy jig for sharpening the blade but when it goes back into the block that's when the real trouble starts for me. Poco a Poco I'll get there.
 

D_W

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Absolutely.
Derek's stuff is of course immaculate but not to lose sight of the fact that even ordinary trad furniture at the cheap end of the scale, with speedily hacked out irregular dovetails, cheap materials, has quality and will outlast most modern garbage.
Just a detail - one odd thing about the modern amateur is the reliance on expensive bought drawer runners. Trad solid wood runner design is easy to implement, costs nothing (just offcuts usually), works well and lasts for years.
Bring back the traditional drawer runner!

In kitchens now, it's expected. In furniture, I'd expect not to have it but in manufactured furniture that may not be the case.

I tried to get away with putting fitted drawers in my kitchen cabinets but the prior cabinets actually had no drawer guides and the sides of the drawers had worn out (they were running on grooves in the drawer sides). So the wife said no, and I put in guides. If you don't use guides often, actually fitting them is a huge pain.

The one benefit of the modern bits is if you have a drawer and door slammer like my wife (not out of anger, she's just flippant and rough, and so are the kids), the soft close hardware isn't very expensive if you buy it (I'm sure it's a healthy upcharge if you are buying stuff made by someone else) and it squashes the efforts of the drawer and door slammers.
 

D_W

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As I said at an earlier point in this thread I'm just going to keep on Dovetailing with anything I do if it needs joining for a while and hopefully it's going to sink in and a light bulb will turn on upstairs.

it will. Spend 10 percent of your time making looking at what you're doing and how it turns out and then think of how you will adjust the next time (not with extra guides, extra marking, etc....just extra what you'll do with your hands).

it's the whole concentration thing (density of work). if you do this freehand a bunch in a short period of time, it will become part of you that you walk around with - point and shoot. I think every hobbyist would be far better off if they made a couple of their tools and forced themselves to work 100 board feet entirely by hand each year for the first five years. Minimizing the trouble in dimensioning wood (creeping closer to lines, forcing yourself to learn vertical by feel and eye) makes everything else easier even if you stop doing the dimensioning.

I was talking with a retired professional here about the illusion to people that they would never be able to make anything working entirely by hand. It's true that they wouldn't be competitive in lots of business situations, but also the case that they would be in the shop more with the chance to work by hand because the work engages you more (it just doesn't at the very outset when every single thing seems difficult) and you can be uninterested and go do it whereas going into the shop uninterested in power tools at the very best will result in missed marks and throw-away lost material. Within minutes of planing or sawing, you're alert and fresh instead.

What you make would be different and have different shapes, though - the current les paul project is giving me a slap in the face lesson about trying to do most of the work by hand on something that was designed to be made on machines and roughed with jigs.
 

Devmeister

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The work that Derek has shown demonstrates what is possible. Having worked on literally millions of dollars worth of commercial work, I have seen that world from the inside. I would never buy a set of commercial cabinets from a major manufacturer!!!!!!!! I know the issues and the short cuts.

I to own a domino jointer and a lamello biscuit jointer and a pocket screw jig. I own at least four power routers including porter cable and two festools. My go to router is a 1960s porter cable.

when making a specialty jig for my 1968 Oliver shaper, I have no issues using pocket screws. Same with router jigs.

what many don’t know is how the Germans perverted the cabinet. In an attempt to be more environmentally friendly they invented melamine. But melamine mass production has its own issues so they re-invented the machines toward this goal. The 32 mm standard. The 32 number stems from it being the tightest dimension that the gearing could handle at the time for multi spindle drills like the Ayens.

then we saw the beam saws and edge banders. On a beam saw I would cut up to seven sheets of melamine on a single program at once. A good beam saw guy can cut a Lory of melamine in a day or less! An entire kitchen worth of parts in an hour or less! Nothing cuts a cleaner more perfect square faster than a beam saw. I even cut exotic Veneer into edge banding quickly and perfectly.

the second generation saw the CNC multi drill router. Both spoil board and pod based point to point. Also new in the second generation was the CNC doweling machine that actually inserts the dowels. Most of my time was spent on Homag machines.

But none of this improves the quality of the workpiece. All these machines were designed to work sheet goods. If you do use the CNC on solid wood, you need to reprogram extra steps with left hand cutters to prevent major blowouts from the standard right hand cutters. Wood is not metal!

Real wood is getting harder to come by. Real mahogany is next to impossible to find. African Blackwood is brutal in cost. Brazilian rosewood is impossible. Walnut is loaded with defects and sap wood.

so doing a real project in solid wood is not cheap and we owe it to the wood to do it right. While I have no reservation to using a domino or biscuit on MDF I would consider it a cardinal sin to use anything but a dovetail or mortise on say English sycamore.

while dovetails were obscene in the 17 th century, I respect that on a reproduction or period piece. But on a contemporary piece, I will give the commercial world the finger and raspberry by making it a prominent design feature.

so an amateur with skills still has a choice. A choice that gets him quality and pride at the expense of personal hobby time. And what price can one place on an activity whose main purpose is relaxation, decompression and in my case mental therapy in getting me thru my divorce/separation or whatever the lawyers call it.
 

Devmeister

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if you haven't done already, I recommend making a dovetail template @Kaizen123 it'll make marking out so much faster and easier.

They do come in handy. Kingshot got one from an English source that is to die for. It was made of naval brass and had interchangeable templates for your various angles. I doubt it works better than a simple shop made one, but holy cow was it sexy. I wish I could remember the name of it.
 

Devmeister

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Couple of common sense points.
1). You need to develop the skill to saw accurately to but not over the gage lines! If you need practice do it. I even do it as a warm up if I haven’t done it in a while.

2). Your chisels have to be BRUTAL sharp. The softer the wood the sharper the chisel. When parring, take light cuts to insure control and clean cuts. Don’t get greedy.

3). When you begin a chop, remember the chisel will want to move backwards. Begin 1 or 2 mm forward to get started. Once you open it up you can work towards a chisel wall to complete the chop. This gage line is critical. You don’t want to go over it. Period!

There are many ways to excavate the waste and many use drills, fretsaws and other techniques. Whatever works for you. I personally love chisels. A super sharp chisel is more carving tool than can opener!
 

thetyreman

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They do come in handy. Kingshot got one from an English source that is to die for. It was made of naval brass and had interchangeable templates for your various angles. I doubt it works better than a simple shop made one, but holy cow was it sexy. I wish I could remember the name of it.

I made my own DT template as one of my very first projects in 2016, it's still being used today, I like to make them for anyone I know who's just starting out in woodworking and have given a few away.
 

Jacob

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I made my own DT template as one of my very first projects in 2016, it's still being used today, I like to make them for anyone I know who's just starting out in woodworking and have given a few away.
I've never used one. Freehand works fine but if I needed a particular angle I'd just use a normal sliding bevel.
 

Jacob

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..... saw accurately to but not over the gage lines! .....
In fact almost all old work show cuts over the gauge line. Saves having to clean out corners.
Higher quality stuff might not show it but I guess the cuts will be over the line for the same reason, but by just a gnats whisker.
 

Fred48

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I made my own DT template as one of my very first projects in 2016, it's still being used today, I like to make them for anyone I know who's just starting out in woodworking and have given a few away.
@thetyreman .
I would be very interested in seeing a photo of your dovetail template if you are happy posting one
 

Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

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Couple of common sense points.
1). You need to develop the skill to saw accurately to but not over the gage lines! If you need practice do it. I even do it as a warm up if I haven’t done it in a while.

2). Your chisels have to be BRUTAL sharp. The softer the wood the sharper the chisel. When parring, take light cuts to insure control and clean cuts. Don’t get greedy.

3). When you begin a chop, remember the chisel will want to move backwards. Begin 1 or 2 mm forward to get started. Once you open it up you can work towards a chisel wall to complete the chop. This gage line is critical. You don’t want to go over it. Period!

There are many ways to excavate the waste and many use drills, fretsaws and other techniques. Whatever works for you. I personally love chisels. A super sharp chisel is more carving tool than can opener!

All excellent points!

Especially point #3. There are many recommendations to "place the chisel in the knife line". Now this can work, but not before almost all the waste is first cleared. If there is much waste (more than 3 or 4mm), a chisel struck downwards will travel backwards ... and over the base line (gage line). If there is just 1-2mm, of waste the chisel will travel straight down. This is one reason to either fretsaw away as much of the waste as possible, or to chop it out, leaving just 1-2mm to pare away.

But there is a better way ...

After sawing either the tails or pins, before removing the waste, create a chisel wall along the baselines ...

ThroughDovetails3_html_6ebe88a1.jpg


Now saw away the waste. Aim to leave 1mm above the line.

Here is a very short video I made (a strong coffee will keep you awake) ...



ThroughDovetails3_html_m46d81eff.jpg


This is now easy to chop out, especially with the chisel wall to prevent the chisel being forced back over the line ...

ThroughDovetails3_html_236c5ff2.jpg


ThroughDovetails3_html_2a161e0e.jpg


Regards from Perth

Derek
 

JobandKnock

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I would consider it a cardinal sin to use anything but a dovetail or mortise on say English sycamore.
In which case you probably wouldn't appreciate that sycamore, ash and birch were often regarded as little more than self-propagating weeds by the forestry guys in the UK. In the North of England, where I live, we don't have much beech so sycamore was used a lot for counter tops, draining boards and treen in place of beech. I even visited one timber yard up in Northumberland (30 odd years back) where they were felling it for use as pit props (for coal mines), because so much of it was black heart timber and had no commercial worth
 

D_W

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In which case you probably wouldn't appreciate that sycamore, ash and birch were often regarded as little more than self-propagating weeds by the forestry guys in the UK. In the North of England, where I live, we don't have much beech so sycamore was used a lot for counter tops, draining boards and treen in place of beech. I even visited one timber yard up in Northumberland (30 odd years back) where they were felling it for use as pit props (for coal mines), because so much of it was black heart timber and had no commercial worth

There was also a time where cuban and then honduran mahogany (which works like it's been buttered and seems indifferent to rotten technique) were more or less the choice for high end furniture. There are trees as you describe in the US, though - beech is little used other than treating for railroad ties or internal furniture use in the US because it's poorly behaved unless it's sawn nearly perfectly, and then requires a very slow drying schedule.

one of the members on a US forum had land and described larger beech trees as "something that should be cut and burned - or just left to lay if not - so that more useful timber can get the light to grow". Beech falls in my township and is never even harvested to burn. Red oak is more or less the same thing here as euro beech is in europe (wood that grows fast, and has good hardness and size even when growing fast - except it's better behaved when drying. It's also ugly and utility-ish looking compared to nicer oaks unless it's perfectly sawn quartered, but that's rare).

Mahogany is available here, but it's probably stuff from fiji and at a price that nobody will pay for utility furniture. The mahogany that I've gotten from fiji for guitars is barely more than tolerable (wide rings and even when sawn straight, it moves an awful lot for swietenia macrophylla, but it does still have that under the chisel and behind the saw blade sweetness - as in, you saw it and nothing chips off of the back of the cut, and you chisel it and there are no surprises).
 
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