Handcut Dovetails (Inspired by Dovetail Jigs)


I nearly graduated from a Keller Jig to Leigh Top of the Line. Instead I went to handcut dovetails by way of the 18th century and videos by Frank Klausz and Rob Cosman and Tage Frid, and I went first class spending almost as much on handtools as I would have for the jig. Not necessary, of course, but who could resist them.
For me, woodworking is no more about making furniture than trout fishing is about eating fish. It is about rejoicing over the craftsman screaming to get out of the klutz. After a month, I make a very respectable through dovetail. The halfblind is much trickier, but it's not that much far behind, and handcut dovetails is fast, quiet, less messy, and the satisfaction of putting down a chisel is in a league of its own compared to the router, and I own four routers. The best part is that the variety of dovetails you can make by hand seems endless.
Again, speaking only for myself, making a dovetail by hand is the equivalent of making music by playing a piano as against turning on a cd player.
If I were a professional cabinet maker, I would be a Luddite, but as a sole practitioner of woodworking, I have discovered the holy grail in my basement.
Even my hands are beginning the look like Roy Underhill's, the true emblem of the wordworker :-)
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I spent a week in Rob's Cosman's basic handtool class and enjoyed every minute of it. Something like 60 hours in there that week. Plotting a return trip this year.
Alan
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Congratulations, you have passed woodworking 101 and are nearing completion of advanced woodworking! --dave (who also has a few routers and jigs, but throughly enjoys cutting DT's by hand)

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