My first dovetails... (I admit I'm a child!) this is for Div.

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Blog entry by mafe posted 09-22-2010 10:04 PM 4453 reads 1 time favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My first dovetails…
Yes I’m a child to post this, it’s like to say look daddy I can pee myself, but really I’m happy!

I do not know why, but the dovetails, has been a hurtle, one of those I thoughts I would never get over.
Why? I do not know, probably because I connect this with all the masters of woodworking, and me… just little me, how can I ever get there!

So I have been buying books, tools and reading like a crazy to solve this little wonder ‘the dovetail’, and no matter how much I read I never came closer to it! Yes of course to understand it, but to feel it – NO!

But a series of events pushed me…
I bought one of those wonderful Veritas gauges, an old beautiful bevelbandit, and even a Razor saw, they were all wonderful to use, but they screamed at me – ‘DOVETAIL’!!!
Some comments on Elk, but the final push was when Div wrote me, that I should probably not start with dovetails on this project since pine was not the best wood for dovetails…
Yes, I’m a child, because this was all what was needed – that Div said ‘do not’.
My god I have as an architect build houses on 12.000 square meters, so how difficult can a dovetail be!
So today I was determent, and went to my workshop (after three cups of coffee and a tour at the post office to drag out time a little).
I looked at the wood, and said ‘it’s you or me’!

And here is the result!

Ta taaaaaa…. My first dovetails!
Through dovetails, with a mitered corner.
Honestly I’m quite satisfied, except my mitred corner gaps a little, but that’s fair I think.
I did not even have to sand of the tops, since the fit was so perfect. And I had to use a mallet to gently hammer them together, needed no adjustment.

This is how my work table looked (the Festool MFT table are excellent for this).

My marking up was a mess…
But my little bandit tools a dream.

And here you see a close up! Yes I’m brave, this is where all the critics come, but I love critics.

And the two sides done.

I was this close to mess up! My hopeless marking had left to many lines, so I almost knocked of the one tail… I made the first soft hid, but something inside me said stop, and thank you God for that. (Now I have a little chisel mark to remind me).

The next mistake…
I had not thought of the mitered corner before cutting, this came like an after idea since the groove in the bottom would be visible otherwise, so I had already made the one dovetail cut, so another little special mark to remind me.

And here were the important tools used.
I’ll make a review of the Veritas marker.
Here are a review of the Zona saw I made.

So where do I want to go with this?
Nowhere, just to bring you along on my little travel.
I’ll get back to this when I post my blog on the tool tote / tool box, from where this come.

And yes to say thank you again to all for being an inspiration, and most of all to my brother Div, for pushing me even he had no idea!

Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

26 comments so far

View PurpLev's profile


8551 posts in 4157 days

#1 posted 09-22-2010 10:07 PM

1 down, 99 to go ;)

looks great. but why did you leave the bottom mitered as opposed to through tail? since it’s the bottom, there is no point in ‘concealing’ the joint? (just curious – the practice is good enough reason)

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 4094 days

#2 posted 09-22-2010 10:11 PM

I would say these are very good for pineeing yourself first time .Oh and also pine is not easy to do this as well as you did,as its’ much easier with a harder wood.Kindest regards Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3375 days

#3 posted 09-22-2010 10:14 PM

Mads, I’m so proud of you that I don’t know what to do. Those are great dovetails even for someone that’s been doing it for months. Also look at the wood that you used to do it with. Come on, Mads, get on with some good hardwood and wait to see what you do. You see you have have natural talent with the wood and your tools are extensions of your own hands when you pick them up. Your tools are your friends because you are their friend and you love them. That makes a lot of difference. No more fear for Mads. Never again!!!

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View mafe's profile


12109 posts in 3598 days

#4 posted 09-22-2010 10:16 PM

PurpLev, as you can see on the fifth picture I have a groove in the bottom, and this would be visible if I did not, and when I realized this, I made the mitered corner. On the top, I want a straight look, and a sharp curve, so there I made it ‘just’ normal.
Jorge, thank you a lot! Yes it’s my first!

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View mafe's profile


12109 posts in 3598 days

#5 posted 09-22-2010 10:18 PM

SCOTSMAN and helluvawreck, I’m red in the face now – thank you!
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View swirt's profile


4225 posts in 3480 days

#6 posted 09-22-2010 10:21 PM

Nice work with the Zona saw!! Mitered corners on the bottom of a tooltote … nice bit of style there.

I like the photos you do where you show all the tools used. I keep reminding myself I have to do that… but I always forget to actually do it.

-- Galootish log blog,

View Bluebear's profile


417 posts in 3405 days

#7 posted 09-22-2010 10:25 PM

Very nice dovetails mads :)
you could have fooled me into believing that you have tried this many times before!
it looks great!

-- -- It's only a mistake if you can't fix it.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3624 days

#8 posted 09-22-2010 10:29 PM

even with a ding and a sping here and there …LOL
its look spot on considering its Pine and don´t tell me its the first try you wont convince me or anyone ells

take care

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 3449 days

#9 posted 09-22-2010 10:35 PM


I can’t believe it! My plan worked!

You know Mads, I am exactly like that. If someone tells me I can’t do it, I will go flat out to prove them wrong. Story of my life. So I thought it could work on you, since we have many other things in common…

See, we spend more energy thinking about things, than doing it. Mads, I am so proud of you! Those are the best first dovetails I have EVER seen. In fact they look better than a lot done by so called pro’s.
Not really that difficult, hey? Dovetails has all this hype around it which need not be. Isn’t it basically finger joints at an angle?

For good measure you threw in a mitre as well, you sly fox…

Man, you are gonna have fun in hardwood!

Well done brother Mads, you are a virgin no more!

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4330 days

#10 posted 09-22-2010 11:40 PM

Mafe, I don’t blame you for posting these. If I could cut dovetails that looked that good I would be posting them for everyone to see.

Needless to say mine still have a long ways to go. But this does give me some incentive to get back in the shop and try them again.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View mafe's profile


12109 posts in 3598 days

#11 posted 09-23-2010 12:14 AM

Hi all,
I just made this review of the Zona saw I used:
Scott, perhaps you just need the right saw! Thank you so much, if I can inspre you to do that, the post are a full sucess to me.
The best of thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View popmandude's profile


109 posts in 3529 days

#12 posted 09-23-2010 12:22 AM

I think whatever he had in that pipe helped alot…but still, great job for the first try. Hope my first ones look that good.
who is off to find a pipe

View mafe's profile


12109 posts in 3598 days

#13 posted 09-23-2010 12:30 AM

Yes Randy, a pipe are a really important tool, it makes you calm when you had too much coffee, because you are stressed over dovetails. So go and find that pipe.

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View rivergirl's profile


3201 posts in 3347 days

#14 posted 09-23-2010 12:48 AM

TA DA!! You did it!!!!! :)

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2658 posts in 4035 days

#15 posted 09-23-2010 04:03 AM

Great job! ...but nothing like making it hard on yourself with a dado, a miter and dovetails all on one joint! Great job!

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

showing 1 through 15 of 26 comments

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