Dovetail Update

Following on the heels of the dovetail/Klausz threads, I've been doing mostly nothing in the shop for a week except make dovetails.
Not boxes. Not yet. Just two pieces of wood that fit together in a variety of ways. By variety, I'm referring to quality.
I had started off with the idea of putting together one set each day,but that doesn't seem to be working as well as I'd hoped, and I'm settling for 2 sets every three days. I may be able to get that up to a set per day as my speed in making one set seems to be increasing.
Luckily for me, so is the quality. Sorta. If I take my glasses off. And turn the lights down a bit.
Inside a week, what have I learned?
1. Overcut the depth of pins and tails. Not by much but make the depth just enough so that the pins/tails run a bit proud. Planing will clean that up later, and it'll look a lot nicer.
2. Even though I have what I think is a decent (not premium) dovetail saw, I still need to clean up the kerf cuts with a chisel. I may have to invest in a a better saw. I have this saw: http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=1&pQ869&cat=1,42884
3. Making very narrow pins, while attractive, is not a good idea for a beginner
4. If you only "think" your chisels are sharp, they aren't.
5. Oak makes nicer, tighter joints than softwood.
6. The more you make of something, the more critical you become, and therefore the better you tend to get. (We likely all know this to be begin with, but sometimes it needs to be re-learned)
7. Frank need not sweat. Not yet.
Tanus
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My perspective may be influenced by the fact that I use a western saw, but it seems odd to cut dovetails with a backless saw. I usually think of a Dozuki(sp?) for a Japanese DT saw. They say this saw is designed for that guide or the equivalent DT guide. Are you using it with the guide or without?
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alexy wrote:

I don't have the line guide, and that may be why I'm getting the rough cut. I've never used a Western d/t saw, and bought this on recommendation from LV as a decent, but more affordable saw. My other option is a backed backsaw, which I may try next for comparison.
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made the saw more likely to wander. Shouldn't affect smoothness.

saws, both crosscut and dovetail(rip) saws, and there are backed western saws of various sizes and tooth patterns. Whichever route you go, you want a rip cut.
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I was referring to the hand miter saw that I use in my miter box.
However, the more I think about this, the more I'm questioning my own technique rather than the tool. I stay mostly along the lines I've drawn, so it's not wandering all over the place. But the cut is still rough. It's easily cleaned with the chisel, but I"d rather eliminate that step. Again, the oak cut was better.
Tanus
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right for the job. In his dovetail saw technique DVD, Rob Cosman shows how poorly a hardware store "dovetail saw" (filed crosscut) cuts, then refiles it rip pattern and it cuts far faster and smoother. And you should check the set of your saw--you want minimal set. Not sure about how much set a Japanese dovetail saw should have, but on my Adria, the blade stock is .0195 thick, while measuring across the teeth, I get .025. S0 I figure that the set is .0025 to .003" per side--pretty tiny. With such a small set, the saw can't wander in the kerf, nor can it vibrate side to side, which would be one cause for a rough cut.

I had a hard time learning to use a relaxed grip (like holding a live bird or a baby's hand, firm enough to control but not tight enough to hurt) and letting the saw do the work rather than trying to press down to get through in fewer strokes.
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alexy wrote:

Interestingly enough, as you were writing that, I was out in the shop trying to accomplish just that - the relaxed grip.
I figured the saw was probably ok, and it was me. So I relaxed the grip, slowed way down and as you say, 'let the saw do the work.'
From the LV site: "The 2" x 8-1/2" blade has 22 tpi and 0.005" of tooth set. The dozuki tooth form is effective in both crosscuts and rip cuts." I think that's close to what your Adria is, although I don't have a measurement on the thickness of the blade.
The kerfs are much smoother now, but still need some improvement. That's ok, cause now I know what to correct.
Even with slowing down, my time/set is decreasing, which I like.
Plus, the joints are getting progressively better.
Tanus
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Get thee one of thos 70 degree side bevel chisels ( 1/8" or 3 mm) and ONE of the joint fit pitfalls can be greatly reduced or eliminated - the bottom corners of the sockets. Normal bevel edged bench chisels won't get back in those corners.
charlie b
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charlieb wrote:

I'll look for one. I like that idea. Thanks charlie.
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After recently learning how to cut dovetails, I tried to cut out a dovetail a day in some scrap to practice and gain proficiency. I couldn't do it. It's not that I wasn't able to, but after doing it one day and getting two pieces of wood joined together at 90 degrees--I released I had just spent a fair amount of time creating a totally useless object. I do realize that the main point of doing something like this is the experience, not what you wind up with. But I just really hate doing "busy work". Likewise, the whole concept of "working out", to my mind, is pointless. Instead I go do stuff so that I'm getting something useful done and exercising. :)
So, instead of cutting out a dovetail a day in some scrap, after which I'd have a useless object, I instead started making little boxes with dovetail joints. Some of those boxes didn't come out so great, some were just okay, but after doing a few the dovetails did get better and the results improved. But even the crappy boxes were still useful, if for nothing else than something to put stray screws into.
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Michael Faurot wrote:

I guess it's all in you look at it. I don't see my joints as useless, cause they go up on a shelf with my observations put on them with a Sharpie. From a purely functional or practical standpoint, they are just two pieces of wood that are held together by themselves, so they're pretty useless that way.
But I see them as a record of how progress is made. In time, they'll end up in the kindling box, but for now they're spurring me on to make better joints. YMMV
Tanus
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