Hand Tool Cabinet - Start To Finish #4: Dovetail practice 2

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Blog entry by Holbs posted 06-01-2015 05:06 AM 1995 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Dovetail practice Part 4 of Hand Tool Cabinet - Start To Finish series Part 5: Dovetail practice 3 »

Trying to figure out which saw suites me better: the Veritas Dovetail Saw or Japanese Dovetail Saw. Made 15+ strokes of each to find out. I actually prefer the Veritas because less strokes and less tearout on the frontside (or maybe it’s my sawing technique).

This weekend was set aside to learn dovetail freehand saw skills. I still have a ways to go, but I am getting more comfortable cutting along the lines. I still have a problem when it comes to laying out the pins. Laying the tails on top of the pins all nice and flush, then using my dovetail marking knife, I “lightly” score the top but sometimes, the knife has a minds of it’s own and goes awry. I might resort to using my pencil instead.
I also have a problem keeping flatness between the tails. I use my marking gauge to set a cut line for the chisels so I have a knife wall all set. I even over tilt the chisel slightly to 91 or 92 degrees. To my eyes, it looks flat. But then I assemble and a noticeable gap appears sometimes. I’ll try clamping a 2”x 2” block of wood to assist with keeping 90 degrees.
I know this will be cured after more weeks of practice.
(don’t mind the inaccurate heights and super-gaps, my marking gauge slipped 1/8” and the super gaps were from the false pin knife scores)

-- The Carpenter Bee is derived from the Ancient Greek word wood-cutter "xylokopos/ξυλοκὀπος"

4 comments so far

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2614 days

#1 posted 06-01-2015 10:21 AM

Practice , Practice , Practice ,

At least that’s what they always tell me …

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Roger's profile


21030 posts in 3411 days

#2 posted 06-01-2015 12:59 PM

Whew! My arms hurt just lookin at all those saw marks..LOL

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

490 posts in 2288 days

#3 posted 06-01-2015 03:07 PM

Your sawing exercises really are the best way to get use to how a saw feels. It looks like you did a pretty good job following the face line and I can’t really tell if you are straight from to back which is important for them to fit together right.

Is that pine you are practicing in? I don’t think you do yourself any favors learning to cut dovetails in a really soft wood. I learned on Poplar and it holds up to chiseling a lot better than pine does and is only a little more expensive.

It sound like you know what you need to do you just need practice. One thing I would suggest is make a box not just one corner. Nothing will tell you better if you have layout and cutting down like having to fit four corners together. If you don’t like the results just cut the ends off and make the box a little smaller.

View Holbs's profile


2262 posts in 2636 days

#4 posted 06-01-2015 10:41 PM

I have a 6” engineering square (and yes… it actually DOES help alot). I lay it on the backside to help with alignment.
This wood is premier Alder. My end game is to build a hand tool cabinet with Knotty Alder, so thought it best to work on Alder. I also have a block of mahogany I will dabble with, as I am thinking that for drawer faces.

-- The Carpenter Bee is derived from the Ancient Greek word wood-cutter "xylokopos/ξυλοκὀπος"

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