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Tool brand recommendations for dovetails

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Philw

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Looking to purchase a tenon saw, sliding bevel, a couple of new chisels and coping saw to have a go at cutting dovetails in my 160x42mm walnut stock for a bed frame.

looking on axminster there’s a couple of options for tenon saw:
1. The rather pricy Victor tenon saw 300mm £65
2. The much cheaper bahco pricecut tenon saw £15
Bearing in mind I have no way to resharpem the victor, should I go cheap and buy again for now?

My second question is which chisels should I buy? A question I will leave open ended as I am totally unsure.

Lastly, is it worthwhile spending that more on a veritas gauge then a £20 eBay one.

Photos of my walnut stock for reference.

Thankyou all in advance
 

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Jacob

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The best marking gauges are the trad wooden ones. Much nicer to use than the metal ones. £5 or so or cheaper on ebay. It's useful to have several.
The claim on the Veritas site that they are difficult to use is simply not true. - though an absolute beginner might need a few minutes to get the hang of it.
Chisels - one or two narrow firmers for removing most of the waste and at least one fine bevel edge for getting into corners.
Bahco DT saw should be OK.
Any reasonable sliding bevel OK
Coping saw not necessary.
 

Ollie78

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I much prefer Japanese pull saws for dovetails, possibly because I never had a really nice Western style dovetail saw but I am used to them now. The Japanese ones are pretty cheap and very sharp with a lovely thin kerf.
Marking guage is personal choice, I like the wheel ones like you have pictured, whatever style you get make sure they are blade type not pin type. You want to neatly slice the fibres not tear it.
Chisels is personal choice again, you want a profile which is tapered to the edges.
I have some Japanese ones and some much cheaper MHG ones which are a bargain.
Walnut looks great.

Ollie
 

paulrbarnard

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For the large sized dovetails you will make in that size stock pretty much any saw will work just fine. A dedicated dovetail saw is a joy to use with a very fine set to the teeth and possibly even mixed tpi on the length but they are not really necessary.
My preference is for a wheel gauge as I find them to be more controlable. I have 10 of the traditional type and one wheel type and it is the wheel gauge that sees 90% of use and 100% for dovetails.
You might consider a coping saw to hog out the waste before finishing with chisels. Again pretty much any chisel is going to do the job but ones with a good bevel will be better in use.
Just a point on your sharpenning comment. If you get the more expensive Victor it should come sharp and provided you don't abuse it it will remain sharp cutting dovetails for a very long time. Dovetail saws tend to be sharpened rip so very easy to sharpen yourself in a couple of years when it needs it. All you need for that is a suitably sized triangular file.
 

Droogs

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This saw below will meet all your dovetailing needs for the first few years and doesn't break the bank

 

Jameshow

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Save yourself £15 and get the beech handled one!

Cheers James
 

yetloh

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I agree with Ollie about Japanese saws, much nicer to use than any western saw you would be happy with and can get for sensible money. As for guages, you want a cutting guage (with a blade) not a marking guage (with a spike). I like the wheel type. Also, don't bother spending mony on a marking knife, a Swann Morton scalpel is cheap with replaceable blades (but you can sharpen them). Once you get used to a scalpel any knife feels very clumsy and awkward, even the fancy ones like Blue Spruce.

Jim
 

no idea

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If you are cutting dovetails into the rails of a bedframe, consider whether you will actually be able to place the board in a comfortable manner to cut with either a western or Japanese type saw. Pretty much every dovetail video/tutorial etc. that you see will show the pin and tail boards being cut vertically but this is unlikely to be practical with 2m long boards.

If the boards are going to be cut when they are horizontal then a Japanese saw will probably work better. In any case, get lots of practice with whatever you do get before attempting to cut the walnut :)

Presumably you will be cutting fairly large dovetails so things like the Axminster Rider, Narex and other mid range chisels will be fine.
 

Cabinetman

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Save yourself £15 and get the beech handled one!

Cheers James
I have one of these and it’s all good. Ian
 

deema

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Virtually any resharpenable backed saw will be suitable that’s the right length. Ie not a long mitre saw. So, in your shoes I would buy the cheapest saw I could find and use the excess change on a few files and spend a couple of hours restoring and sharpening it. This is straight forward, easy, and quick to do. A while back I did this thread on what to look for and how to restore and sharpen a saw.
 

TheTiddles

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Any sharp tools will do you fine.
A fine rip saw for dovetails is best.
Knew concepts saws are lovely, but pricey.
A paring block makes chiselling a doddle and massively more accurate.
 

Jameshow

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What's a paring block?
Just a block of wood clamped to stop to chiseling too deep?

Cheers James
 

thetyreman

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you can pick up second hand dovetail saws on ebay for cheap, coping saw does save a lot of time, especially when you have loads of DT joints to cut, you defo don't need one of them knew concept ones, just an eclipse will do the job.
 

thetyreman

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I have used a gents saw for very fine dovetails, 20tpi but my main DT saw is about 14tpi, works perfectly, it's just a spear and jackson one, nothing special but it does have a wooden handle, paid less than £10 for it.
 

Bojam

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What's a paring block?
Just a block of wood clamped to stop to chiseling too deep?
It's not a depth stop. A paring block acts a reference face to register a chisel against so you can pare the workpeice to the set angle or shape you want.
 

Orraloon

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Tools aside dovetails are unusual in bed construction. Another point in bed design is the ability to pull apart (knock down)for moving it. Any bed larger than a single thats a complete unit would need to be built in the room as you have no chance of getting it through the doorway.
As to what saws for dovetails they get bigger as the dovetails get bigger. Often a backsaw just does not have the depth to make the cut and is too slow in large timber as I found out on a recent project. By far the largest dovetails I ever did.
Regards
John
IMG_1681.JPG
 

Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

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Looking to purchase a tenon saw, sliding bevel, a couple of new chisels and coping saw to have a go at cutting dovetails in my 160x42mm walnut stock for a bed frame.

looking on axminster there’s a couple of options for tenon saw:
1. The rather pricy Victor tenon saw 300mm £65
2. The much cheaper bahco pricecut tenon saw £15
Bearing in mind I have no way to resharpem the victor, should I go cheap and buy again for now?

My second question is which chisels should I buy? A question I will leave open ended as I am totally unsure.

Lastly, is it worthwhile spending that more on a veritas gauge then a £20 eBay one.

Photos of my walnut stock for reference.

Thankyou all in advance
Phil, I don't like any of the saws you mention. My personal preference with a dovetail saw is a Western handle. This is just a better ergonomic in my experience (always a personal matter). I do not like “gent” saws (straight handle) for this reason. Perhaps they came about as a cheap option for those who did little such work? A straight handle makes more ergonomic sense when pulling a saw, which is part of the reason for Japanese saws, as you know.

One of the issue you need to consider at the outset is how you plan to remove the waste from sockets. If you intend to chop it out, then all you need is a chisel for this. If you plan to saw it out, then the saw of choice is a fretsaw, where the blade is thin enough to slide down the saw kerf. That will rule out a Japanese pull saw, as the blade creates a very narrow kerf - too narrow for the fretsaw. The alternative is a coping saw, which uses two cuts to remove most of the waste (where the fretsaw does it in one). The advantage of sawing out waste is large, in my opinion, as it reduces the dangers of spelching the baseline.

So, if you are looking for a Western dovetail saw, my recommendation is the Veritas 14 ppi. That is the best bargain in new Western saws.

There are a lot of chisels available, cheap and expensive. If you are starting out, use whatever. A chisel with minimal lands (no side walls, as firmer chisels have) are best to avoid bruising the fronts of the sockets. However, I have a simple method for converting firmer chisels into dovetail chisels (Jacob, you will love this) ...


Marking gauges? Veritas make a decent inexpensive wheel gauge. Do not be tempted by cheap imitations. The blade steel is rubbish.

A small square - something like a 4"or 6" combo square is ideal.

And a sliding bevel, to mark the dovetail angles. Lots available on the used market.

Stanley 0-10-598 utility knife

And a roll of blue tape! :)



Regards from Perth

Derek
 

yetloh

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It's all a matter of persaonal preference, of course. I use a piercing (or jeweller's) saw alongside a Japanese saw. With the size of most dovetails I think saw handle styles are a bit academic although the advantage of a western handle when pushing maybe worthwhile for big ones.

Jim
 
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