Reply by jsheaney

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Posted on How do I make this cut?

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141 posts in 5072 days

#1 posted 02-08-2010 07:03 AM

I never have done this before, but here’s what I would try. Route the posts first. The router bit is going to define everything. Start with oversized posts. Make sure the face with the dovetail groove is the final surface. Removing any more material will change things.

Crosscut a bit off the end to use as a marking template for the dovetails. Mark both edges of the board carefully. Use a marking gauge to mark the baseline of the dovetail on both edges and both faces. You want the baseline consistent all around the end of the board. You might want to go over the baselines on the faces with a marking knife. This will help later.

Use a back saw of some sort to establish the shoulder. Stay off the baseline, you’ll want to clean that up last. Just cut down as close to the layout lines for the dovetail checks as you can. In fact, you can probably speed things up by making a series of cuts parallel to the baseline just to remove some waste.

Square up some 8/4 stock. A clean 2×4 is fine. Then cut a bevel that matches the dovetail on one edge. I would run a jointer plane over the bevel face just to make it nice and true. Clamp it on the knife line to use the bevel as a fence. Run a shoulder plane to plane down to your layout lines.

At this point, you have established most of the dovetail cheeks and have a good start on the shoulder. There’ll be a bit of waste to remove between the two. Pare that away with a sharp chisel. You can lay the back of the chisel on the cheeks you’ve established.

Now, the shoulders. Lay your widest chisel into the knife edge and chop straight down. If you want to speed up the process (if it’s a wide board), replace the bevel fence with a nice square one. If you started with square stock for your fence, you can just turn it around and then hold your chisel up against it.

You’ll have to clean out the corners where the cheeks and shoulders meet. Just keep in mind that no one will see this part. The only parts anyone can see are the shoulder lines on the face of the board and the dovetails at the very edges. If you care about how it looks (and I can’t imagine why you would in this application), those are the only areas you need to concern yourself with.

Use the template to check the bevel angle and to check the dovetail while you work. I’m pretty certain this is taking longer to explain than to do. I hope it helps. I almost want to go do it myself to see if it works. :)

-- Disappointment is an empty box full of expectation.

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