I hate dovetails

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"patriarch <" wrote:
<snip>

I've used an Adria and didn't like it. In my option the saw was too aggressive making it difficult to start the cut.
I found an old "H. Disston & Sons" 12 tpi back saw at a flea market that I picked up for $5.00 intending to have the saw resharpened rip. After cleaning up the saw I decided to try it out as it was as there was very little set to the teeth. It's great as it is.
-- Jack Novak Buffalo, NY - USA (Remove "SPAM" from email address to reply)
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Well, OK, Jack. I can't argue with a neat old Disston, particularly at that price. But like they say about the lottery, you can't win if you don't play. I've never been a person who likes flea markets. And if I ever find them being sold at a woodworking show, I'll likely break out the crowbar.
I happen to like my Adria quite a bit. It will fight back if forced, but so will every other finish saw I've ever used. Others, far more experienced than I, will have their informed opinions.
Patriarch
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Any saw with a thin kerf and a stiff back, if cutting on the push. I've a Tyzack 8", and it's as pretty as it uses.
If cutting on the pull back stiffening still desirable, use a Japanese dozuki.

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Do dovetail saws have zero set teeth?
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No, a Western dovetail saw has very little set to the teeth, but it's not zero. With too little set it would bind like crazy.
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They often do, but they shouldn't!
Lots of people approach dovetails as "the most awkward thing to cut", so they immediately look for the "most accurate" saw they can find. Sadly this is often the _smallest_ saw, rather than the most appropriate. Lots of people are out there trying to saw dovetails with a gent's backsaw - often with a turned "stick" handle. These have tiny teeth, thin blades and no set.
If you're sawing, you need to let the chips out somewhere. Sawn timber expands when you cut it free - noticeably more with softer carcasing timber than for some hard materials, like ivory or the hardest of turning woods (these are what most gent's saws were intended for). A wide kerf helps here, but there are limits to what you can allow before the saw loses accuracy. Bigger teeth help too, as chip size isn't directly related to tooth size, but the gullet size is. Even the saw blade thickness can assist. For all three of these reasons, that razor-like gent's saw is a pretty poor choice for dovetailing.
Even the "stick" handle doesn't help. One of the major inaccuracies in sawn dovetails is a neat cut that starts well, but sets off at the wrong angle. A saw handle that's extended vertically gives a much better "couple" for controlling this.
Japanese saws are similar to stick handles, but they're an oval handle rather than round, which helps a little. The action is also for the handle to "lead" the teeth, rather than to try and push them from behind. A Japanese saw is thus steered by _moving_ the handle from side to side, rather than trying to grasp it tightly and rotate it.
Iaido practice is on Thursday nights, round at my place. Sword or saw, take your pick - it's all the same wrist action.
--
Smert' spamionam

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On Sat, 23 Oct 2004 16:10:17 -0400, "Owen Lawrence"

Mario Rodriguez teaches dovetail classes here in CT where part of the class involves tuning a $20 saw to work properly for dovetailing.
Barry
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Barry notes:

Also, his article on tuning such a saw is available for a few bucks from FWW on-line.
Charlie Self "When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary." Thomas Paine
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On Sat, 23 Oct 2004 16:10:17 -0400, "Owen Lawrence"

Well, you can probably cut dovetails with any old piece of junk, so long as you've re-sharpened it right.
The question is do you want a saw with a lot of set (easily steered, doesn't cut straight) or a little set (goes where you point it, but you'd better be right straight off). I started out with a Japanese full-backed dozuki. These are excellent and accurate saws and everyone should at least try one. Although they're nominally crosscuts, they rip pretty well. Recently thought I've acquired an old Preston dovetail saw, which is a rip-sharpened traditional English back saw, a lot like the contemporary L-N dovetail saw. I may well switch over.
You don't need a $200 wonder-saw (although I'm sure they're good), because you can build an equivalent for a lot less. But you do need the _right_ saw. My dovetail saw is set up for cutting dovetails, and that's all it gets used for.
I think you could try any old small fine-toothed tenon saw, re-cut and re-sharpen it as a rip saw, then adjust the set so that it saws straight. You'll need a sharpening vice (home built from a couple of bits of scrap wood), a new saw file and a saw set (get the old CK for fine saws, not the Eclipse). There are plenty of web resources on re-cutting and re-sharpening saws. So long as it's a well made and _old_ saw, not a modern induction hardened saw, you can build your own for much less than a L-N.
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wrote:

As usual Andy, I think your comments here are right on the mark.

I have three saws, all purchased off of Ebay and resharpened and set myself (using the directions on the website of Pete Taran). My favorite by far is a Groves and Sons brass-backed dovetail saw (about 8" long), with an open handle. I also have a Disston #4 (a bit too large for my liking), and an Atkins backsaw that's a closed-handle saw approx intermediate in size between the Groves and the Disston. I think I paid about $40 for the Groves, and around $25-30 for each of the Disston and the Atkins.
I also have tried the dozuki method ... but I'm afraid I learned on the Western style and now it seems much more natural. The dozuki works fine, it just "feels" wrong to me.

Right on. I even have a cheapie Two Cherries gents saw that works pretty well. As purchased, it had way too much set and it wasn't sharp enough. I pressed out most of the set using a vise and resharpened it, and it's now a passable saw.
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Hi Owen,
See your in the neighborhood...
I'm not a believer that it take's an expensive tool to do an acceptable job. Find a saw you "like" to use and then learn to use it and that means "Patience".
I cut my first dovetail with a $12 Bucky Brothers back saw purchased at Home Depot. Recently I bought a stanley mitre box and saw for $29. Both saw's work quite well.
I'd like to try out a japanese saw, but I haven't had the opportunity.
Next thing you need is a nice sharp set of chisels.
Just a suggestion and I'll probably be attending in the near future. Lee Valley "417 to Pinecrest/Greenbank, then one block south to Morrison drive" they run day courses for hand cut dovetails and a number of other wood related seminars. There is a small fee, but they feed you a lite sandwich lunch too. Check out their website for course details.
Obviously they will be pushing their Veritas Dovetail guides and matching Japanese style dovetail saw. Eitherway, the technique is still the same.
Pat
On Sat, 23 Oct 2004 16:10:17 -0400, "Owen Lawrence"

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You know what? That's an EXcellent suggestion! I drive by Lee Valley a couple of times a week--it's hard to keep going past, but I'm going to where I get the money that I'll eventually leave at Lee Valley. (The dovetail guides are stylish and won't drain my bank account; I've had my eye on them for awhile anyway. But I don't "need" them so I haven't bought them.)
From what Mr. Dingley said, it sounds like if your saw meets the minimum standard of fine teeth (how fine?) and stiffness, you can turn it into a dovetail saw. I've never changed the set of teeth before, so we're introducing another educational variable here. I might be better off either being shown exactly what to do (i.e. in a course), or buying the "right saw", because I know I'll just get frustrated if I unknowingly screw up the first step and then have trouble with the second.
- Owen -

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Personally Owen, I'd just get a couple of short, three or four inch wide boards and actually give it a try before you run out and buy fancy dovetail guides.
Don't be afraid of screwing it up, cause that is how you learn and worse comes to worse your going to lose what... an hour of your time.
Go online or get a library book, there are plenty of resources to explain how you layout a dovetail "and the various styles of dovetail" follow the directions. Learn how to lay it out, mark the sections your going to remove, do your cutting and pairing and see what works and what doesn't.
Regardless of whether you use an inexpensive saw or a $200 saw, or a LV dovetail guide or a bevel guage or some other marking tool to lay it out, dovetails "When you first start" are not perfect one cut wonders. They need to be refined and played with. You only get that from experience of actually trying it.
If that's not to your liking..
Like I wrote before take the course at LV. It's a fraction of the cost of their guides, but at least you will get some instruction, and you will get to use their guides and saws, and that will give you some experience with the tools and technique, which you can take and adapt to you, meaning "Do I really need to buy the $200 saw or do I like the $30 Japanese Dozuki. Do I need the LV dovetail guide or can I accomplish the same task using a homemade jig".
I've made three dovetail joints to date. The first was close and a good first attempt. The other two worked, cause I could see what I did wrong the first time. What did it cost - that $12 dollar Bucky Brothers back saw. I already had my chisels.
Before I tried it - I was going to buy the LV guide and saw combo. Now that cash will be put towards something else.
Pat
On Sat, 23 Oct 2004 22:27:44 -0400, "Owen Lawrence"

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The Lie Nielson video on dovetails shows how to set up a saw as well as how to cut the dovetails. Good investment. They also will be glad to sell you a saw if you want one. ;-)

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Thanks for the advice. I actually have tried making dovetail joints, and I wasn't happy at all with the results. I'm not giving up, though. As for the dovetail guide, in my last message I was actually thinking of the marking guages, not the guide. (I just like the way they look; I'm not expecting them to really solve any great problems for me.)
Interestingly, I just got back from the library about half an hour ago. I read Christian B's Aug. 2004 article on dovetail tips in Fine Woodworking while I was there. He didn't have anything to say about his saw (which I noticed has a fancy handle), but he makes it look easy enough.
Blast. I just looked at the Lee Valley website, and I missed the dovetail seminar by 6 days. Even if I'd known about it I wouldn't have been able to attend. Sigh. Maybe next time. I'll catch the one at this year's Wood Show instead. I'm already getting excited; looks like the big crunch at work will be over by then. :)
- Owen -

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I bought the Spehar dovetail saw. Vlad Spehar makes them to fit your hand exactly and the quality is second to none. They are a little steep, I think it was $125 US even though Vlad is in Ontario. I still need a lot of practice but Vlad is great with suggestions and tips as well. I'm so happy with this saw I'm probably going to buy a cross-cut tenon saw from him as well. I've put a link to his website below. As usual, I'm not affiliated with the company in any way other than being a very satisfied customer. You can email me directly if you want a pic of my saw so you can see what it looks like.
http://www.spehar-toolworks.com /
Ed
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So use a drawer joint cut on a router or shaper instead. Your project, your choice.
One-offs by hand are the best way to go. For multiple - gimme a jig every time - and applied fronts.

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calmly ranted:

Write the figures on each piece of the drawer, with circles and arrows and all that fine stuff, D.J.

Try them by hand. Those jigs take longer to set up than it takes to do things by hand for most projects. A COD might take longer due to all the drawers, but that's good practice which won't go away for the next time you need it. Toss the jig and get Klausz' "Dovetail a Drawer" video. It's Neander all the way and you'll never look back.
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<snip>

I dunno - I bought that video about 5 years ago. It's great. Looked at it over and over and over - still trying to figure out the "monkey" analogy. Dense I guess.
It's not totally neander - uses a TS to cut & dado the sides. Something to aspire to tho. I'm always lookin' back at it!
Got a PC dovetail jig - works ok, but it is a PITA to set up and get exactly right (like equal tails on top/bottom/left/right).
I always wanted to get a dedicated router/bit/collar/jig combo to eliminate some variables - leaving only stock thickness to worry about. Since I only do a few drawers a year, I haven't done that.
I keep thinking that I should just get a simple "drawer" lock bit - after all - who would ever know or care?
We all know the answer to that don't we?
Lou
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and articles. Took Forever and a half to make two simple matching drawers with that thing. And it's not like he's short on gear, either. I think he's got one of everything that Incra sells...
The problem is, as someone mentioned earlier, that production methods mean setup times and testing and consistency that the hobby shop user isn't likely to view as an effective use of their time and materials. We're just not doing 300 drawers before the morning break, or working with the setup guides cut to 1/128" accuracy.
All the more reason to design for 'tweakability' in the product we're building.
Patriarch
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