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So this Dovetailing business?...

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Jacob

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it’s hard to know why many masters did this.
It's done on ordinary stuff too.
.......

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.
I use a craft knife with a thin chisel end blade and just tap it with a pin hammer, no knife stroke. Turn it with face side against side of pin hole, bevel on the other. Have to have cut rather than pencil lines with pine, as the surface isn't crisp enough for a fine line
 
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Devmeister

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looking at that saw, first thing I'd do is replace it, look up vintage dovetail saw on ebay and it'll come up with loads of them, spear and jackson spearior are good, that's the one I use, make sure it's not a hardpoint saw then you can easily sharpen it and learn how to do it, another skill that shouldn't be avoided. I like 14-16 tpi for dovetails, 20 tpi is a bit too fine and much harder to sharpen.
Agreed. Also remember you want good surface finish. You don’t want a polished perfect surface as this thing is a glue joint. A bit of roughness helps here. The 10 to 16 TPI rip is an excellent balance here. You can see the teeth for sharpening, you have good speed on the cut, your surface is professional and the glue can bite.
 

Devmeister

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It's done on ordinary stuff too.I use a craft knife with a thin chisel end blade and just tap it with a pin hammer, no knife stroke. Turn it with face side against side of pin hole, bevel on the other. Have to have cut rather than pencil lines with pine, as the surface isn't crisp enough for a fine line
Its about comfort and control. When you find something that works stick with it. I use one hand to hold the first board and the other to mark out. So tapping never occurred to me. But it makes sense.
 

Devmeister

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Lots of good advice above but life is too short for me to read all of it. My advice, as someone who taught children wood work a long time ago, is that practice surprisingly makes make perfect.
The other more useful but dishonest is that if you are making a piece with a lot of pins and tails and you are not entirely sure of your skills, cut the pins and tails a bit long. Then if it all goes together nicely, but still there are a few gaps, you have a bit of extra wood that you can "rivet" with a few judicious taps.
This may have been suggested above already.
Good luck and keep up the good work
Martin
When you do woodworking for a paycheck you often get into fake wood. My last job was programming and running CNC dowel inserters and flat bed routers. Particle board MDF melamine commercial stuff. It sucks cow manure compared to real woodworking.

in my personal shop I do both metal and wood. The most awsome dovetail is the one on English planes like the Norris.

here you have brass sides and steel bottoms. The tails are also double splayed!!!!!

the only way to do this is to use a peening hammer to flow the metal into position on the second splay.

so your suggestion of peening the wood to fill gaps is excellent. You limited to how much you can peen into submission compared to metal but it is a useful trick to stash in your mental toolbox.

I am in the states but I more and more turn to the old English masters before they pass on. Guys like Bill Carter are a walking gem!
 

paulrbarnard

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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.
A coping saw is designed for coping. A fret saw is designed for fret work. Fret saws are generally lighter and finer than coping saws. A fret saw is typically used with a horizontal supporting table.
The metalworking equivalent of a fret saw is a jewlers saw and has an adjustable length.

Of course all three frame types can be used with wood or metal cutting blades.

There is a nice comparison image this site perfect-cuts-with-coping-fret-saws-coping-saw
 

Devmeister

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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.
I have a jewelers saw and a coping saw with a red CNC body. Don’t recall who made it but it was pricey.
I like these saws for small precise work and I got the red saw to help with dovetails.

what I don’t like is the trade off between super precise control of a very fine blade and speed of cut.

I went back to useing my old vintage marples and sorbby chisels. On the straight cuts, I can’t beat the English dovetail saw. Speed, accuracy, surface finish. It’s all there.
 

Kaizen123

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#3 attempt looking better, feeling better and I consider Dovetailing a much less complicated mystery now. Thanks a lot guys! I've learned I need to update my saw, probably invest in a fret saw in the future and I think I've pretty much got the gist of this joint now. The basics anyway. Very very please and very grateful for all your advice!
 

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mikej460

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Getting better 👏 you might want to make the pins a little longer next time and plane or sand them flush
 

Fred48

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Hi Kaizen 123
I personally Mark my tails and pins using a Marking knife. I saw an excellent marking knife and dovetail template in one of your photos. Hope this helps.
Cheers
Fred
 

Kaizen123

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Yes @Fred48 I do have a good marking knife 🔪 and my pencil is not nearly as accurate BUT I have just been trying to get the gist. The next one I do is going to be marked properly on proper hardwood and be proper good and I'll be a proper respectable novice woodworker.... I hope. I have been given a challenge to learn these and I'm having an absolute blast doing so. You've all been so helpful.

@Fred48 would you use masking tape and cut it like has been described by a couple of folks? Seems like a really clear way of marking up for a newbie like me.
 

Adam W.

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Kaare Loftheim gives you lots of pointers on how and what to do in the video I posted. It's not just applicable to mitre dovetails, but for all dovetail joints.

It's worth watching it a few times, to pick up the tips he's offering.
 

Jacob

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This my set up for marking from thin pin holes to front of drawer. Drawer front has bevel to be taken off the face which accounts for its apparent thickness.
The "single kerf"pin holes are a saw kerf wide (0.5mm) at the point but the cheapo craft knife (found in a box of odds n ends) is thinner. Just tap it in chisel face tight up to face of the socket, with handy little hammer (thanks Mr Ed). Gives a very precise line very easily. Difficult with a knife, impossible with a pencil.
In the end its as easy/difficult as any other shape of DT.

IMG_4552.JPG


Here's one I did earlier (about 22 years ago in fact):
IMG_4554.JPG
 
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baldkev

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One key take away from frank is “inside of tree/outside of drawer”. This grain orientation allows the joint to tighten as the wood dries and shrinks
That makes sense, good tip!

Here is an example where the joint is an integral part of the design so these were laid out accurately

Nice work! Love the lid!!!
 

Fred48

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Yes @Fred48 I do have a good marking knife 🔪 and my pencil is not nearly as accurate BUT I have just been trying to get the gist. The next one I do is going to be marked properly on proper hardwood and be proper good and I'll be a proper respectable novice woodworker.... I hope. I have been given a challenge to learn these and I'm having an absolute blast doing so. You've all been so helpful.

@Fred48 would you use masking tape and cut it like has been described by a couple of folks? Seems like a really clear way of marking up for a newbie like me.
Hi Kaizen. I have never used the masking tape method. I mark the shape of the tails with a Marking knife and dovetail template.
I try and make the depth of the knife cut around 1/2 mm. (I will return to this again later in the marking out process)
I use a pencil to mark the waste part of the joint.
Next is the hand saw where I cut 1/2 mm away from the knife line, in the waste part of the joint.
I use a jewlers saw to remove the majority of the waste between the 'tails' close to the 'shoulder line'.
Back to marking the 'tails'.
I then use the knife and dovetail template again to make a deeper cut into the wood to a depth of around 1mm.
I would then use a chisel to remove the waste up to the knife line.
Hope this helps
Cheers
Fred
 

Kaizen123

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This my set up for marking from thin pin holes to front of drawer. Drawer front has bevel to be taken off the face which accounts for its apparent thickness.
The "single kerf"pin holes are a saw kerf wide (0.5mm) at the point but the cheapo craft knife (found in a box of odds n ends) is thinner. Just tap it in chisel face tight up to face of the socket, with handy little hammer (thanks Mr Ed). Gives a very precise line very easily. Difficult with a knife, impossible with a pencil.
In the end its as easy/difficult as any other shape of DT.

View attachment 127041

Here's one I did earlier (about 22 years ago in fact):
View attachment 127042
I'm going to try this today.
 

pgrbff

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OMG A 2mm kerf! OMG A tennon saw? Use a metal hacksaw until you can get a dovetail saw.

A dovetail saw has two differences of note. First it has the shape of a tennon saw but it’s cut as a rip saw. Second, the saw set is set very fine for better control and to improve surface finish. A fine set means it cannot clear chips from the kerf as well as other saws but in a dovetail operation that is rarely an issue.

Some dovetail saws have variable tooth pitch. I have never seen this to be an advantage.

In time some ho so far as to sharpen and even make their own DT saws. The Lie Nielsen saw is pricy but it’s based on the independence DT saw which was a copy of an old English saw. Mine is an independence saw which I got prior to LN buying them.

what’s great about eBay UK is that you can find lots of the older English stuff. The English had this stuff down. In the US we have to work harder. LN had been a great help here.
In the UK dovetail saws are sold as both crosscut an rip. I have a Pax crosscut 20 tpi.
 

Just4Fun

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I try and make the depth of the knife cut around 1/2 mm.
...
Next is the hand saw where I cut 1/2 mm away from the knife line
...
I then use the knife and dovetail template again to make a deeper cut into the wood to a depth of around 1mm.
I would then use a chisel to remove the waste up to the knife line.
Fred, that is certainly a safe approach and I probably did it that way when I started. The disadvantage is that it is making work and not really developing skill. It is quicker (not actually important to me) and I find it enormously satisfying to cut straight to the line so the joint goes together with no additional "fettling" of the sides with a chisel. This of course requires accurate saw cuts that nobody can expect to do without practise, but you will never be able to do that if you never try.

Try marking out a series of parallel cuts (angled like on a dovetail) just a few mm apart on the end of a piece of scrap, then saw against the line. I bet when you have done 20 you will be pretty close & consistent. Then try an actual dovetail cut direct from the saw. You may surprise yourself.
 

Jacob

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I might have missed this, sorry - are these skinny dovetails any easier/harder than chunkier ones? Any difference in strength? I'm guessing from the 22 year old ones that they're entirely functional...
Just a particular style and very common. No easier/harder, except you only have to have one straight kerf to start it off, instead of two.
For most purposes strength isn't much of an an issue with DTs unless for heavy loads such as water tanks, ammo boxes and similar, when equal sized pins and tails are presumed stronger.
 
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