first dovetail


Did my first dovetail joint tonight. By hand. Followed the article by Mattia. Went together on first try with just a little cleaning. Not terrible considering it was this horrible finger joint pine i had lying around from some closet demolition. It didn't take to chiseling across the grain very well. My chisels could probably of been sharper.
It took about 2 hours to do 3 pins and tails but a fair bit of that was sharpening chisels. Had to do that by hand too as I don't have a sharpening jig yet. Trying to get my head around this craft before I go spend a boatload on tools. No dovetail saw either. Had to use a backsaw. All in all was pretty pleased. Can't wait to try again with some real tools and wood.
ml
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Softish stuff is not the best material on which to practice, no matter how sharp the chisels.

A look at my web site - Dovetailing Detailed - might be of some help.
Jeff G
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Jeff Gorman, West Yorkshire, UK
email : Username is amgron
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It makes one feel good when you try something for the first time and it works out. Just wait until you've done it a number of times satisfactorily and then you screw it up big time. :)
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On Thu, 12 May 2005 05:54:07 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Congratulations !
Get some decent timber. It's _much_ easier with timber that stays where you put it. Ash or beech (Europe) maybe soft maple (US) is perhaps easiest. Oak isn't too bad, you just have to chop harder. If you're limited to softwoods, then make bigger dovetails.
Saw them accurately, don't chisel (except between the tails). Start out by sawing them inaccurately, but still making them "straight off the saw". As your sawing accuracy improves, then so will your dovetails. If you get into the habit of fiddling at them with a chisel, you'll never improve.
The old exercise of sawing a quick dovetail every morning is a good one. Use a scrap of timber 1 1/2" across or so, hand mark out a single tail and cut tail and half-pins as quickly as possible,
--
Cats have nine lives, which is why they rarely post to Usenet.

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On Thu, 12 May 2005 05:54:07 GMT, the inscrutable snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com spake:

Congratulations! Now pick up the video/DVD by Frank Klausz, "Dovetail a Drawer", and watch how quickly and easily a pro does it.

Pine is nasty stuff, crushing even when using sharp tools. Try it in hardwood. It's a totally different experience.

Yes, learn how to get a ScarySharp(tm) edge and you'll fall in love with the tools all over again.

Do get a jig. Trying to keep a precise angle on a chisel is a lot harder than it looks. A jig takes the guesswork out of it and gives you a precise edge every time. Look in local garage sales and swap meets for the jig. I found a large General jig for $10, and it works for both my plane irons and my chisels.
To check an edge for sharpness, hold it to your thumb- or fingernail at 90 degrees and slide it. If it feels like it digs in with just its own weight on the nail, and if it brings up a scraping when moved, it's sharp. I thought I knew what "sharp" meant until I tried this. Woodworking by hand is MUCH nicer with really sharp tools.

I haven't tried it yet, but my $25.95 razor (Gyokucho Ryoba) saw from The Japan Woodworker (as seen in their magazine advertisements) is an excellent saw and should work well for dovie cuts.
------ We're born hungry, wet, 'n naked, and it gets worse from there. - http://diversify.com Website Application Programming -
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Larry Jaques wrote:

Mr. Klausz covers a lot of ground in that tape - three times. When the tape ends it's easy to think "I got it. Now I'll go do it!" Unless you have an excellent memory you won't actually "got it" I went through the video twice and started putting what I'd seen and heard on paper. Went out and followed what I thought I saw. Missed quite a bit so I watched again, revised the notes and was sure I'd gotten "it". A few more revisions and I finally "got it" on paper that I could take to the shop, put a page on the bench and do what it said/showed. A few more revisions and the inistructions worked - at least for me. So here are the instructions you can download, print at your leasure and take to the shop to try. http://home.comcast.net/~charliebcz/DovetailDrawer0.html
Hope this helps. charlie b
ps - half blind dovetails are actually easier than through dovetails - minor screw ups don't show)
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Congradulations!
Sharp tools are a big help. There are numerous ways and opinions on what to use and how for getting a sharp edge. Find whatever you like and go with that.
As for tools, I know many professional woodworkers that do custom 18th century work with a set of blue handled Marples chisels. They are usually good, and reasonably hard. The nice thing is that they sharpen easy. If you pay attention to how the chisel, or any other edged tool, is cutting, you'll notice when they start to get dull. This is the best time to touch them up on a strop. It only takes a minute or so. If you wait too long, then you'll have to remove more metal then hone/polish to get the edge back. More time than the quick strop.
As for the saw, I use a cheap gent's saw made by Eberle. I'm not sure it they are still made. There are ones by Crown and others as well. Look for one with at least 18 TPI. That's fine enough to get a smooth cut. Almost all of the saws out there need tuning, even the boutique saws (Lie-Neilsen, Adria, etc.). The two tasks needed to tune up a saw is 1) reduce the set, and 2) remove the burr on the teeth.
The easiest way to reduce the set is to squeeze the teeth between two pieces of flat metal in a vise just enough to reduce the set a bit. Planer knives work well for this.
Removing the burr on the teeth is necessary because the teeth are usually stamped out by a press and one side will have a larger burr on it. This also happens if the saw is hand filed. To remove the burr, pass an oilstone over the side of blade so that the stone is resting on the teeth and near the top of the blade near the spine. You only have to do a couple of passes with the oilstone to remove the burr. If you get carried away with it, you'll start removing the set in the teeth too much and the saw will bind in the cut. That's the nice thing with using the cheap backsaws, if you screw it up during the tuning, you're only out $10-15.
Japanese saws are a different animal. I've used them for dovetails, but haven't tried one for a while. I use mine for doing trim carpentry work. Works like a dream in softwood.
Other useful tools are a cutting gauge (marking gauge w/ a blade instead of a pin), marking knife, and a drafting pencil. Paring to a cut line is easier than paring to a pencil line. The drafting pencil is used to scribe the mating half of the joint from the reference half. The pencil marks will leave "rub marks" where there are high spots on the joinery. Remember not to pare the reference joint (pins or tails, whichever was cut first). If you do, then you've destroyed the "reference" part of the reference surfaces. This is a key concept.
The only other tool I'd recommend for any hand tool woodworking is a combination square. Get the best you can afford. Starrett is my choice here, but Brown and Sharpe and a few other machinist tool makers make good ones at cheaper prices. This tool in indespensible for dovetails and mortise and tenons. I use it during many parts of the joinery process.
The first part is to guarantee that the reference face, edge, and end one each board are square to each other. The second is to make sure that the sides of the pins are 90 degrees to the end of the board all along their surfaces. Obviously, they are at an angle when looking at the end of the board. It is easy to pare the pins at this point. Remember to pare across the grain, from one face to the other, and not from the end of the pin. You have more control paring across the grain than with it. Once all of the cut edges of the pins are 90 degrees, fitting the tails is much easier. Also, the pin board is not the "reference" board for the joint. Do not ever go back and pare this board once you've started fitting the mating part. As mentioned before, this will destroy the "reference" property of the part and undo any fitting up to that point.
There's a really good article on this, but I don't have the link with me. I'll post it when I find it.
As for wood, try poplar. It isn't the nicest looking wood, but it is a hardwood and is easier to work with hand tools than many of the other hardwoods. It is also cheap and commonly available. Even the "box" stores have it, at reasonable rates.
-- Blue
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