Dovetail Machine (The Stumpy Machine)

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Project by William posted 04-05-2012 04:19 AM 43254 views 59 times favorited 46 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The Dovetail Machine, except for the hardware and Incra track, is made completely of wood. It was an easy build. I bought the plans from fellow Lumberjock, Stumpy Nubs. It is an easy build as long as you follow instructions. I made a fe changes to the plans, and still finished it in about twleve hours over a two day period. Thee hardest part is the fingers, which have to be right for the machine to be accurate.
It will cut dovetails in material up to thirty six inches wide. The fingers are fully adjustable to make the pins and tails narrow, wide, varied, or any combination in between. The tighteness of the joint is also adjustable by turning a knob in the back that is not shown in the photos.
The last photo shows a test piece that was done just to make sure it worked right before I added all the fingers. I am sure you all will be seeing this machine put to good use in future projects.

You can buy the plans for this machine, along with other designs by Stumpy Nubs, HERE at what I refer to as the Stumpy Store.
You can go HERE and watch Stumpy’s video of his machine in action. I’m sorry I don’t have the equipment to do videos. The only difference though between his and mine is that I made mine wider.
You can read about my build of this machine and see plenty of photos of the build here: Part 1 and Part 2.


46 comments so far

View lizardhead's profile


653 posts in 3719 days

#1 posted 04-05-2012 05:39 AM

Very nice. Have you used it yet—If so how well does it work—It looks great

-- Good, Better, Best--Never let it rest---Always make your Good be Better & your Better Best

View AKAndrew's profile


53 posts in 3653 days

#2 posted 04-05-2012 06:02 AM


View Tomj's profile


204 posts in 3259 days

#3 posted 04-05-2012 08:29 AM

I need to make one of those. Nice job.

View bowtie's profile


990 posts in 3224 days

#4 posted 04-05-2012 09:47 AM

I like it, 36” capacity would work for anything I anticipate building.

-- bowtie,.....jus passin thru....

View A Slice of Wood Workshop's profile

A Slice of Wood Workshop

1110 posts in 4051 days

#5 posted 04-05-2012 11:00 AM

Very nice.

-- Follow me on YouTube-

View mcase's profile


446 posts in 4007 days

#6 posted 04-05-2012 11:35 AM

Patience is virtue and you must have it! Making those fingers would have put me in the rubber room. Great job!

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3720 days

#7 posted 04-05-2012 12:07 PM

Thanks everyone.

I’ve only used it so far to cut the test piece in the last photo. I anticipate using for a project as soon as I can.

That was also my thinking. The plan design is for a narrower machine. I extended it out to 36”. When I done this, my only reason was because the Incra track I got was 36”. After doing it though, I am happy I have the extra capacity just in case.

The fingers weren’t nearly as bad as I feared and I actually didn’t need to make as many as I did. Because I extended the machine, I was guestimating on the amount of fingers and made fifty. There are only twenty four on there in the photos though. I put the rest in a coffee can for safe keeping in case I ever need them.


View Chips's profile


199 posts in 4590 days

#8 posted 04-05-2012 12:12 PM

looking good William

-- Make every day the best day of your life. Chips, Mississippi

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3720 days

#9 posted 04-05-2012 12:16 PM

Thanks Chips. When you going to build one?
I hope you know I’m kidding you.
Seriously though, if you ever get back to having shop time, I think you’d enjoy building one.
You may have seen how I extended the machine to accept wider stock. For you guys with smaller shops, it’d be just as easy to reduce it to make it only for small stock.


View Everett1's profile


229 posts in 3412 days

#10 posted 04-05-2012 12:23 PM

no way! First i’ve seen someone make they’re own Leigh jig, crazy

-- Ev

View DamnYankee's profile


3320 posts in 3440 days

#11 posted 04-05-2012 12:34 PM

Looks good William. Tell me more about making the fingers. Looks like that would be the hardest part.

-- Shameless - Winner of two Stumpy Nubs Awards

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4212 days

#12 posted 04-05-2012 12:37 PM

Great build William! I’m sure you will get a lot of use out of it.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View northwoodsman's profile


379 posts in 4624 days

#13 posted 04-05-2012 12:53 PM

I am assumming that to make the fingers you milled a large block of wood down to the correct shape then sliced them off on a miter saw or table saw. Whether you made 5 or 50 would be the matter of about 2 minutes. Very nice work. This is incredible. Anybody want to buy a slightly used D4R Pro? Just kidding!

-- NorthWoodsMan

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3720 days

#14 posted 04-05-2012 01:01 PM

Thank you all.

I’m not the first. You can watch the video of the machine in action here. That is Stumpy Nubs, a fellow Lumberjock, who designed this.

I thought the fingers were going to be a nightmare. They were not. I actually made them harder than they needed to be by using my table saw instead of tuning my bandsaw and using it like Stumpy suggested. If I’d used the bandsaw I believe they’d have been easier, but even as I done them, they weren’t bad. As with anything that needs to be accurate, there’s a process. Here’s what I done.
1. Cut the stock down to size. If you make the machine the size in the plans, there’s 16. I cut 50.
2. Cut the dado for the fingers to fit over the Incra track. Take your time and sneak up on it. I used my Osbourne. Miter Gauge. I’d have loved to use my Incra sled, but it isn’t set up for dados.
3. Drill holes and countersink them so that you can use machine screws to attach the fingers to the Incra track.
4. Cut the straight guide on one end of all the fingers.
5. Cut the angled side on the opposite end of the fingers. Here is where you may need to rethink things from the design. Stumpy used a 7 1/2 degree dovetail bit I think. I used an 8 degree. The angle on your fingers MUST be the same as the angle of the bit you’re using.
6. Attach you fingers and cut some dovetails. Fine tune as necessary.


View William's profile


9950 posts in 3720 days

#15 posted 04-05-2012 01:03 PM

Yes northwoodsman. I ripped three quarter inch stock the correct width. Then I used the stop block on my Incra sled to just lopped them all off at the correct length. There was nothing difficult about making the blocks for the fingers except I was having a clumsy day and kept knocking them off my table as I stacked them.


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