So this Dovetailing business?...

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Adam W.

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Agreed. It’s a style thing. I have looked in old literature to find history behind this but have not found anything yet. The problem with time is that time often takes unique skills to the grave. The traditional metal machine world is the worst. We have lost so many older machinists and subsequently their skills. Some of my machines are English wadkins from the 1940s. Restoration is often a struggle as you wonder how The Green Lane Works did things.
There were three major schools of thought. English-Germanic-French. While there was overlap there were also differences. You can see some differences in the workbenches. Rubo versus scandavian versus English. Same with toolboxes. When the American school of thought came front and center, we saw a huge change. The machine mind set. Woodworking moved more towards traditional pattern making. Benches changed, toolboxes went toward the machinist box style and dovetails became more utilitarian if not replaced by the box joint.

so today, we seek design features to capture an allure that tracks one of these historical features. So not only do we need the skills but an ability to apply those skills to obtain the subtle features were after.

In some heavy timber dovetails, you often have one or two heavy tails. In an attempt to increase strength, minor dovetails were added to the larger dovetails. So now you have the hounds tooth dovetail. You see this often on high quality wooden workbenh elements.

Dovetails were originally utilitarian and have now become a design feature. You wouldn't see dovetails on drawer fronts on quality work in the 17th. century. This also applies to secondary surfaces and we've moved to a stage where every component is overworked.

Edit:

The evidence is in the furniture, and not in books by people like Moxon or Nicholson.
 
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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
In looking at your photos I see what your doing. That is not a bad idea at all! That line is critical to getting a good fit. And the craft knife is relatively cheap. Cross man has some interesting ideas but he also sells tools. He had added modern touches like composite handles to his saws. But his tools are no cheap date and they don’t improve your work enough to justify some of the expense. For those who do this for fun, budget is a consideration to be considered.
 

Devmeister

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Dovetails were originally utilitarian and have now become a design feature. You wouldn't see dovetails on drawer fronts on quality work in the 17th. century. This also applies to secondary surfaces and we've moved to a stage where every component is overworked.
Agreed. As I mentioned, end grain was considered “obscene”. So today it’s often overworked or underworked. My last employer just closed this last Friday so I am looking for a new job. We did commercial fitment in PLAM. PLAM is the Formica plastic glued to particle board. Hospitals, jails, hotels etc. our joinery was CNC doweling. The dowels were prefinished with a water activated glue. The CNC machine drilled the hole, injected water into the hole and then rammed the dowels home. The cabinets were like putting lego blocks together. Nothing about it had any traditional elegance. In the time I was there, I didn’t work a single piece of solid timber yet alone a dovetail.
 

Devmeister

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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.

I often used white chalk board chalk to mark out when it’s hard to see. Masking tape works also and I believe this idea came from the guy who works for fine woodworking mag. His name is hard to remember though. He wrote a book on his work and it’s a wonderful book for those who are getting started. Lots of awsome pictures. His YouTube vids are also great. I think he is the art director for fine woodworking magazine.
 

Kaizen123

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@Devmeister you've actually raised a good question. Do I use the biggest possible chisel (out of the provided dimensions of the dovetail) to be able to shave as much surface as possible in one clean push??? I have been using an 8mm and a 10mm chisel but I do have a 16mm too so perhaps that would be better for getting one flat cut? Is that what you guys do?
 

Devmeister

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Dovetails were originally utilitarian and have now become a design feature. You wouldn't see dovetails on drawer fronts on quality work in the 17th. century. This also applies to secondary surfaces and we've moved to a stage where every component is overworked.

Edit:

The evidence is in the furniture, and not in books by people like Moxon or Nicholson.
Absolutely! Moxon and Nicholson had some awsome ideas. They to had an influence on me and how how I view things moving forward.
 

Blackswanwood

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I often used white chalk board chalk to mark out when it’s hard to see. Masking tape works also and I believe this idea came from the guy who works for fine woodworking mag. His name is hard to remember though. He wrote a book on his work and it’s a wonderful book for those who are getting started. Lots of awsome pictures. His YouTube vids are also great. I think he is the art director for fine woodworking magazine.
I would guess there are many woodworking gurus who would claim to have invented the blue tape idea ... I think the guy you are referencing is Michael Pekovich.
 

Kaizen123

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It's an old fashion - you see it in a lot of old furniture. Sometimes done for trim appearance but also I guess because it's slightly easier to cut a pair of sides together with just one kerf to start off each pin hole.
There's some interesting sites out there, showing the variety, e.g. Drawer Front Dovetail Evolution
I hit on this one this morning:
Maramureș, northern Romania. Dovetail joints on the corner of a traditional old timber house in the village of Botiza

View attachment 127068

These look different to the ones I've been learning. I've been cutting 90° on the tail end grain.... I mean I mark the dovetail down the long grain on one piece and grab a square to mark out the top. This is on one of the pieces and the other is don't in the opposite fashion. Should I not be doing that? These look like they are locking from both the pin and the tail. Might be a dumb question but if I don't ask I don't learn. Have I been doing it all wrong haha?
 

Devmeister

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@Devmeister you've actually raised a good question. Do I use the biggest possible chisel (out of the provided dimensions of the dovetail) to be able to shave as much surface as possible in one clean push??? I have been using an 8mm and a 10mm chisel but I do have a 16mm too so perhaps that would be better for getting one flat cut? Is that what you guys do?
Yes if possible. Otherwise you may have walk the chisel. It’s nice but not always possible to start your chop with a single light tap. Then go and excavate a thin lateral cut to remove a morsel. This keeps the chisel from backing into the gage line.
 

Kaizen123

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I'm giving it a go on Meranti today. Been told it's not the easiest stuff to do it on but it's all I've got for now. It is definitely getting a bit simpler. The method anyway.
 

Jacob

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These look different to the ones I've been learning. I've been cutting 90° on the tail end grain.... I mean I mark the dovetail down the long grain on one piece and grab a square to mark out the top. This is on one of the pieces and the other is don't in the opposite fashion. Should I not be doing that? These look like they are locking from both the pin and the tail. Might be a dumb question but if I don't ask I don't learn. Have I been doing it all wrong haha?
Well spotted. It's a log building. Built by cutting identical 2 way dovetails on each end of each timber and then building them up one on top of the other like interlocking bricks. You could do this for a box I suppose, with alternating laths of different timbers.
 

Devmeister

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I'm giving it a go on Meranti today. Been told it's not the easiest stuff to do it on but it's all I've got for now. It is definitely getting a bit simpler. The method anyway.
[/QUOTE
I'm giving it a go on Meranti today. Been told it's not the easiest stuff to do it on but it's all I've got for now. It is definitely getting a bit simpler. The method anyway.

[/https://youtu.be/7qDWkbyZEZQ]
 

Devmeister

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I thought it was Derek down under!!!🤔🤔🤔
Could be. The cross pollination in this world is great. I live in the states. My Wadkin buddies are in England, Australia, South Africa, Canada. Isn’t it crazy how something like a dovetail can bring us all together? We should send some politicians to wood working school. LOL
 

Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

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I would guess there are many woodworking gurus who would claim to have invented the blue tape idea ... I think the guy you are referencing is Michael Pekovich.

No he did not invent the Blue Tape method! This reference always gets my goat! I wrote about this method, and posted articles on my website and on several fori at least 3 years before the FWW article. I spoke with Pekovich about this, and he was a condescending *******. This was not the first time one of the methods on my website was published on FWW without acknowledgements. Now I know that it is unlikely that someone "invents" a method, but I know I was the first to write about this.

2011: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/Furniture/HalfblindDovetailsinJarrah.html

Regards from Perth

Derek
 

Jacob

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............ Now I know that it is unlikely that someone "invents" a method, but I know I was the first to write about this.



Regards from Perth

Derek
Interesting stuff!
I hereby claim also to have invented Derek's "kerf chisel"!!
It started out as a filed down Stubai craft knife.
I improved on it with this little cheapo craft knife as the blade is even thinner. And it cost nothing I found it in a box of somebody's rubbish after a tidy up.
The hammer was invented by Mr Ed of this parish.

IMG_4552.JPG
 
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