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So this Dovetailing business?...

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isaac3d

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There are many very useful videos demonstrating how to do dovetails by hand on youtube. Some have slightly different techniques for the different steps (some requiring or using different tools), so you may want to look at several of these videos. You will then at least get a good idea for the general steps and what is important.
Personally, I like Matt Estlea's videos. His demonstration of how to make dovetails () is detailed and he shows possible alternative techniques and how to correct small errors.
As has been pointed out, practice makes perfect, so keep at it and maybe even make a few dovetails with scrap wood just as practice or start with a project that is not so important.
Good luck and have fun; it's really satisfying when the tails and pins fit together and there are no significant gaps
 

Kaizen123

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Third time is coming along nicely. Cut too deep at the top but... It's coming.

I'm definitely in team scroll saw I think. I find it ALOT easier for dealing with the meat of the cut, cutting it out in triangular sections rather than chiselling it out. Then shaving it down with the chisel.
 

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pgrbff

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Third time is coming along nicely. Cut too deep at the top but... It's coming.

I'm definitely in team scroll saw I think. I find it ALOT easier for dealing with the meat of the cut, cutting it out in triangular sections rather than chiselling it out. Then shaving it down with the chisel.
I think I agreed with you on the scrollsaw, in fact only yesterday I received my fretsaw from Germany.
Having watched the Cerritos college YT video, however, I quite liked his chisel approach.
 

pgrbff

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Yes. He's saying do what you like. I think mine freehand come out about 1:4. Have a look at old furniture to see how they did it.
Isn't it supposed to depend to some extent on whether it is softwood or hardwood furniture?
 

thetyreman

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I just use 1:7 for everything, it works for me, then there's no messing about with 2 ratio's and to my eye it looks fine in hard and softwood.
 

Kaizen123

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I think I agreed with you on the scrollsaw, in fact only yesterday I received my fretsaw from Germany.
Having watched the Cerritos college YT video, however, I quite liked his chisel approach.
Can I ask what the difference is between a fret and a scroll saw? I've got it in my mind that a fret is like a little metal cutting rope rather than a blade?
 

Jacob

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Isn't it supposed to depend to some extent on whether it is softwood or hardwood furniture?
A bit yes, but the difference between 1:6 and 1:8 is totally insignificant.
What happens with woodwork is that somebody asks about the elusive "correct" method and somebody else comes up with half credible idea off the top of his head, which then becomes gospel and repeated as such for evermore, even though it's not particularly "correct' at all, although not "wrong".
Quick snaps of cupboard I'm sitting close to. 100 or more years old? Was renovated from a wreck which had been outside in a cowshed for years. All softwood. DT ratios look 1:3 or steeper and still in good nick. They are different on each drawer.
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pgrbff

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Can I ask what the difference is between a fret and a scroll saw? I've got it in my mind that a fret is like a little metal cutting rope rather than a blade?
I'm not sure if this is the whole answer but it is possibly used more for metal, but works perfectly well in wood with the right blade, and the saw blade is held in the saw differently, it doesn't have the small pins sticking out, it's completely flat and held with a grub type screw.
I bought it because I feel it is much more precise than a coping saw.
And much finer blades available too on a fretsaw.
 
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Kaizen123

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I'm not sure if this is the whole answer but it is possibly used more for metal, but works perfectly well in wood with the right blade, and the saw blade is held in the saw differently, it doesn't have the small pins sticking out, it's completely flat and held with a grub type screw.
I bought it because I feel it is much more precise than a coping saw.
And much finer blades available too on a fretsaw.
Does it bend through the wood well like a coping saw?
 

Kaizen123

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A bit yes, but the difference between 1:6 and 1:8 is totally insignificant.
What happens with woodwork is that somebody asks about the elusive "correct" method and somebody else comes up with half credible idea off the top of his head, which then becomes gospel and repeated as such for evermore, even though it's not particularly "correct' at all, although not "wrong".
Quick snaps of cupboard I'm sitting close to. 100 or more years old? Was renovated from a wreck which had been outside in a cowshed for years. All softwood. DT ratios look 1:3 or steeper and still in good nick. They are different on each drawer.View attachment 126995 View attachment 126996 View attachment 126997
This another thing I've seen that the tops of the dovetail cuts are SOOOO close together on alot of stuff. Is that for strength or looks or what?
 

Jacob

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This another thing I've seen that the tops of the dovetail cuts are SOOOO close together on alot of stuff. Is that for strength or looks or what?
Slender pins done with single kerf - saw leans one way then into the same kerf to lean the other. Not strong, just easier and looks neat. For a strong DT e.g on a water tank, ammo box etc, tails and pins roughly same size.
 

Cabinetman

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Does it bend through the wood well like a coping saw?
You probably don’t need anything quite as fine as a fret saw for cutting out the waste on dovetails, if you’re struggling with a coping saw which most people do to start with, start off with the coping saw in the cut you have made with the dovetail saw and then pushing it backwards and forwards slowly turn the handle so that it can cut/turn gradually then when you are at the horizontal you can just go straight ahead and cut across. Ian
 

Just4Fun

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Slender pins done with single kerf - saw leans one way then into the same kerf to lean the other. Not strong, just easier and looks neat.
Cutting the tails like that is easy enough but I find it surprisingly tricky to mark out and cut the matching pins. I agree that slender pins look nice but I usually cut pins with a bit more width to them.
 

pgrbff

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Does it bend through the wood well like a coping saw?
It works exactly like a coping saw, just much finer if you want. Some fretsaws have fixed blades but the blade is so fine you easily turn a corner, with other fretsaws you can turn the blade and some have fixed stops, usually at 45 degrees.
Matt Eastlea did a fretsaw comparison in one of his videos.
 

Devmeister

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I confess I haven't read the whole thread yet, but here is someone who makes dovetailing look easy.

Sorry, same person, different post on YT.


Yup that’s Frank! Note why he cuts the pin board first…… no layout of the tails …..Note the importance of the angle .,.. it just needs to be close. Note he has absolute control of saw and where he is wasting the line.

Big issue with fixed router jigs… your bloody half pins! You need them! Not half tails but half pins!

First thing he does is cut two half pins and that gets you one tail! The he makes a series of cuts to divide the tail into three or four tails.

For a general purpose box or case where the tails get covered, this is perfectly good. When the piece is more visable with more scrutiny you may wish to do more precise layout. He is one of the old masters and worth leaning from.
 

Devmeister

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Cutting the tails like that is easy enough but I find it surprisingly tricky to mark out and cut the matching pins. I agree that slender pins look nice but I usually cut pins with a bit more width to them.

it’s hard to know why many masters did this. I think it may have been a means to get more tails. I did a machinist chest years back where I needed two tails on the narrow drawers. Not easy! The machine router jig was not even close. Needed small precise tails.

solved by going to the pin tail. While a standard tail is stronger than a pin tail, it’s not by much. For the loads involved, it’s almost a non issue.

marking out the second board is tricky. Take a deep breath. I also use a long nose chip carving knife here. Razer sharp and let’s you get into the tight space.
 

Devmeister

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In the half lap or blind. It is most often tails first cuz you need to mark out the sockets. If you do sockets first you cannot mark the tails. On a thru, either way works and it’s presence
 
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