LumberJocks

Hand tool dovetailing

  • Advertise with us

« back to Hand Tools forum

Forum topic by Andybb posted 09-29-2020 01:13 AM 1021 views 1 time favorited 49 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Andybb's profile

Andybb

2884 posts in 1487 days


09-29-2020 01:13 AM

Not really sure what I’m asking here but here goes.

I have been loving watching Rob Cosman hand-cut dovetails and thought I’d give it a try just for snits and giggles. I am a firm believer that having the right tools makes all of the difference in the world BUT, just to try my hand at it I just refuse to pay:

$250 for a saw (I have a few already including the one that @the fridge made for me
$50 for a fret saw (I’ve seen a few posts where someone bought the fret saw but switched back to a fine blade coping saw which is $8 at Lowes)

$30 for his wooden dovetail marker. (I have a plastic one that was $9 on Amazon)

The one item I can’t seem to find a suitable substitute for is his $65 marking knife that has a sawtooth blade. I’m tempted to just buy the blade and make a handle.

I know there are lots of ways to hand-cut dovetails but Rob’s system works and he does a great job of explaining it with 2 or 3 hrs of vids on how to do it and how to refine it.

-- Andy - Seattle USA


49 replies so far

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

3415 posts in 2682 days


#1 posted 09-29-2020 02:17 AM

What’s the saw tooth blade for. His dt saw looks great but it’s too much $$ for me to.

-- Aj

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

6011 posts in 1466 days


#2 posted 09-29-2020 02:32 AM

I’m cutting four mitered dovetail corners every day as part of making my bookcases.

Here are the tools I’m using:

#2 pencil
Stick of wood marked with the dovetail edges for the width of the boards I’m joining
Shop-made dovetail marker
Shop-made square
Blue combination square from the big box, used as a marking gauge for the baseline (with the pencil)
Veritas dovetail saw
Gramercy Tools turning saw
And a small rasp, since I’m dovetailing pine, and it’s easier to file smooth than chisel the baseline.

I’ve got multiple marking knives. I’ll use them if I’m looking for precision or if I’m working in hardwood, but for pine, a pencil is good enough for all my marks. I cut the dovetails tight, and test-fit, then a pass with the rasp fixes things if they’re too tight.

I’ve got a Cosman dovetail saw. I’m using the Veritas more at the moment.

And I could get by without using about half the marking tools if I didn’t mind resetting a gauge or square, but I made a bunch of them myself because I knew it would make life easier when I was making a bunch of dovetails. But the most important thing has been practice. I’ve made 20 boxes, and I’m still finding things I can improve.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View metolius's profile

metolius

243 posts in 1614 days


#3 posted 09-29-2020 02:39 AM

Maybe you are asking why you should pay that much $ to try a grin ?

All you need is a saw, a chisel, a marking gauge and something that holds the work firmly.

Cosman’s a great teacher. Lots of different approaches are out there, for variety I’d recommend Frank Kausz, Paul Sellers, Mike Pekovich + they aren’t all marketing their products.

But… I am sure that saw is super nice.

-- derek / oregon

View SMP's profile

SMP

2668 posts in 789 days


#4 posted 09-29-2020 03:14 AM

The funny thing about Cosman is he will sell you a $600 setup to cut dovetails. But in one of his videos(you can google it) he cuts perfect dovetails with a cheap hacksaw, and a drywall screw screwed into a block of wood as a marking gauge. Its ALL skill. Thats why Paul Sellers can also cut perfect dovetails with whatever used tools he buys on ebay or the ones he tells you to get on his Common Woodworking site.

For budget, this is my list:

Dovetail marker: Veritas dovetail marker saddle square combo- $14(also has the saddle square so you can mark across at the same time)https://www.craftsmanstudio.com/VeritasDovetailMarkers.html

Saw: Lie Nielsen DT saw: $125 or Veritas for $70( for wven cheape get a Gyokochu Dozuki for $45)

Marking: #2 pencil sharpened(or you can splurge and get the $12 Graphgear 1000 mechanical pencil that Chris Schwarz uses. If you are adamant on cutting it then just get the Swann Morton that Cosman resells with the notmal blades for $10 on Amazon(what Matt Estlea uses)

Coping Saw:
$16 for Olson coping saw at Tools For Working Wood. Lifetime supply of Pegas blades is like $6 more
https://toolsforworkingwood.com/store/item/ms-cope.xx/deluxe_coping_saw_(360_degrees)_and_blades

Paul Sellers and some others don’t saw out the waste but chop with a chisel. I find this crushes some kiln dried woods so i cope out most and then pare away.

View Andybb's profile

Andybb

2884 posts in 1487 days


#5 posted 09-29-2020 06:27 AM



What’s the saw tooth blade for.

- Aj2

He’s got quite a few vids on his process. Here is one of the videos. Can’t really explain it since I don’t do dovetails yet. :-)

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View bandit571's profile

bandit571

26729 posts in 3567 days


#6 posted 09-29-2020 06:29 AM

Seems to be the key is …..how sharp the tools are, and the skill of the user…..more than who made the tools, or how much they cost….

If a $100 chisel isn’t sharp….it is basically…useless. IF no one shows you HOW to use a tool….or keep it sharp….

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View Rich's profile (online now)

Rich

5987 posts in 1473 days


#7 posted 09-29-2020 07:05 AM


Seems to be the key is …..how sharp the tools are, and the skill of the user…..more than who made the tools, or how much they cost….

If a $100 chisel isn t sharp….it is basically…useless. IF no one shows you HOW to use a tool….or keep it sharp….

- bandit571

Yes indeed. Your work shows the importance of the skill of the user.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View Sylvain's profile

Sylvain

1083 posts in 3383 days


#8 posted 09-29-2020 07:47 AM

I have looked at the Rob Cosman video (link above)
I am not at all impressed by his technique.

I will stick with what Paul Sellers teaches.
Plenty of videos about through and half blind dovetails.
https://paulsellers.com/paul-sellers-videos/

No need for that micro-saw.

One can do a dovetail gauge by oneself.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73q-qi4cVYg

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

15158 posts in 2022 days


#9 posted 09-29-2020 12:32 PM

Here is a much cheaper option for the blades.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

5872 posts in 3235 days


#10 posted 09-29-2020 12:44 PM

A dovetail saw with a plastic handle, that is just wrong. For that kind of money you could get a Bad Axe stiletto.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

25333 posts in 3989 days


#11 posted 09-29-2020 12:50 PM

I have cut dovetails by hand and I always like Rob Cosman’s technique but can’t seem to spring for that expensive dovetail saw but I really like the idea of a saw with the different pitch to the blade for marking and fast sawing. I made a 14 degree and and 8 degree template and I used the Japanese draw saw to actually cut the angled cuts and the bandsaw to remove the waste if the piece would fit in there or a scroll saw. i don’t make them very often but like to practice once in while. I will have to look at Paul Sellers technique.

thanks, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View drsurfrat's profile

drsurfrat

157 posts in 70 days


#12 posted 09-29-2020 12:53 PM

+1 w SMP. Grab some scrap and just do it with tools that you have (assuming you have a saw and chisel). In no time you will know what is (& isn’t) an important tool for you.

-- Mike (near Boston) ... Laziness is the mother of invention, necessity is the mother of exhaustion - me

View ChefHDAN's profile

ChefHDAN

1772 posts in 3733 days


#13 posted 09-29-2020 01:16 PM

I don’t recall where I saw the technique, and as a disclaimer I do not frequently use dovetails, but while chasing a youtube rabbit hole I saw a trick with using a simple bandsaw fence jig to cut the tails after which I use the BS to remove most of the waste and pare the tails clean with a chisel, using the tails and an x-acto knife to mark the pins, which I cut close with a pull saw and then clean up with a chisel. I don’t cut enough to bother with the versions that have all the ramps, but a lot of times I use dovetail connections inside of casework where they are more for the strength than the look and it’s very quick and easy. It will also work for half blind and finer joints, which I did in this project, I just have to be a bit more precise with the chisel work.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View controlfreak's profile

controlfreak

1296 posts in 485 days


#14 posted 09-29-2020 01:34 PM

I like Rob’s method but found the marking knife a little pricey too. I found this one for $18.00
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00124QFMA?psc=1&ref=ppxpopdtbasin_title

I settled on the Kats Moses guides and that marking knife. Was using a cheap pull saw but now have the Veritas pistol grip western saw. The fret saw is required if you need to saw into the saw kerf but the cheap coping saw will work if you saw into the waste instead of the dove tail saw kerf.

View Rich's profile (online now)

Rich

5987 posts in 1473 days


#15 posted 09-29-2020 01:46 PM


I don t recall where I saw the technique, and as a disclaimer I do not frequently use dovetails, but while chasing a youtube rabbit hole I saw a trick with using a simple bandsaw fence jig to cut the tails after which I use the BS to remove most of the waste and pare the tails clean with a chisel…

- ChefHDAN

Sorry, but that does not sound like it qualifies as a hand tooled dovetail. We haven’t had a what-constitutes-hand-tooled debate in ages. It’s time for a fresh one:

I hand cut my dovetails. I carefully set up my Leigh jig and skillfully guide my router—by hand—to achieve beautiful results.

Just kidding. That’s not hand tooled either, but the point is, where do you draw the line? Is using anything other than marking tools, a saw and a chisel considered hand tooled? If I use one of the magnetic guides for my saw, is that still “hand tooled?”

Oh, and to further fan the flames—should you cut the pins or tails first?

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

showing 1 through 15 of 49 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com