Lee Valley Joinery-by-hand course - I sucked

Because of a last-minute cancellation, I was able to get into the course. The instructor and the course were both excellent, but my hand-made dovetails were bloody awful. My eyes were too weak and my eye-hand coordination too useless to make even ONE adequate dovetail. The instructor was even kind enough (diplomatic?) to encourage me to try using the Japanese saw/magnetic dovetail guide setup. It was a little better, *almost* rising above pathetic.
At least I spent only $40 (which goes to charity) to discover that some kind of jig and router is the ONLY way I will ever attempt another dovetail.
Gerry
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Don't feel too bad, handcut dovetails are not my thing either. I did it because I thought it was some right of passage but have discovered that you should do it the way you feel most comfortable and able. Even the Shakers went for power and time saving methods. They used lathes powered by steam and it was a Shaker sister that invented the circular saw blade. Cut them with the router if you want and hold your head high :)
Don

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On Thu, 04 Nov 2004 18:32:49 -0500, "G.E.R.R.Y."
What were you expecting ? If you could do them already, you wouldn't need the course.
Persevere ! They get better.
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I did that course. I sucked big time and felt the majority of students seemed to do much better. None-the-less, I have kept doing them on various shop projects and they have gotten much better as well as faster; incidentally, I ultimately found it easier and better to not use the jig, but YMMV. It turned out that mostly the problem was that I suck at sawing; I spent quite a lot of time practicing sawing tenons to help learn it and then suddenly dovetails were a lot easier...
PK
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Was that your first try? I don't think anyone makes a decent one on the first try. If you are interested in doing them by hand, then you might want to try making at least a dozen of them before throwing in the towel.
Of course if you didn't enjoy it and you'd just rather use a router ... well, that works too.
Cheers, Nate
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G.E.R.R.Y. wrote:

I resonate with the "eyes too weak" - is that really a comment on failing close up vision or some other sort :^) I suffer badly from the real loss of reading vision. I recently got a pair of prescription computer glasses to use at work, and have taken to using them in the shop. I find that they help a lot in the shop in situations where I can keep the work at about arms length - I don't have to get on top of things and squint or look through the lower ranges of my bifocals.
Only problem is, I'm so nearsighted that when I look up I can't see the tools hanging on the wall anymore. Good eyesight is wasted on the young.
JK
--
James T. Kirby
Center for Applied Coastal Research
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wrote:

I have one word for you: "Optovisor". At last count I had three of them in different magnifications for different jobs.
There are other good brands, but don't waste your money on the cheap ones. You don't need the headaches.
--RC
--RC
That which does not kill us makes us stronger. --Friedrich Nietzsche Never get your philosophy from some guy who ended up in the looney bin. -- Wiz Zumwalt
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snipped-for-privacy@TAKEOUTmindspring.com wrote:

I'm only aware of the ones for relatively close up work, like soldering and such. Where's a good place to look for a wider range of focal lengths and stuff?
I have what I think is a good one for soldering, and couldn't live (or at least solder) without it.
Thanks,
Jim Kirby

Optovisor
--
James T. Kirby
Center for Applied Coastal Research
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wrote:

I get mine from jewelry supply stores. Online try someplace like Rio Grande. www.riogrande.com.
Optovisors come with a wide range of magnifications from just over 1 power to 10 power or so. I often keep mine raised slightly so I can see out from under. Kind of super-bifocals.

That which does not kill us makes us stronger. --Friedrich Nietzsche Never get your philosophy from some guy who ended up in the looney bin. -- Wiz Zumwalt
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On Fri, 05 Nov 2004 08:34:00 -0500, James T. Kirby wrote:

Winding sticks are a b*tch with bifocals.
--
"Keep your ass behind you"


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Cheer up Gerry -
I started skating lessons 3 years ago - and still am not a good hockey player...but I have a lot of fun doing it, and am getting much better.
As with anything - it's the practice and development of muscle memory/ hand-eye coordination that will come with time. Lessons are great for familiarization with the correct techniques - and will serve you well as your skills develop.
Cheers -
Rob
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I agree with Rob on this. I try to start off each session in the shop by cutting a few dovetails regardless of what I'm going to be doing that day. Takes just a few minutes and helps to keep my muscle memory tuned up.
david
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Rob, your guys at the Toronto West store are to be commended. First, I only discovered the seminar a few days before the Saturday it was to be on and, even though it was already full, I left a voice-mail message late at night asking for a call if there were any cancellations.
I got a call on the Thursday and the chap booked me in even though I do not use credit cards. He allowed me to pay cash when I arrived on Saturday morning. The course and the instructor, Andrew, were great. However, after 59 years of experience with my strengths AND WEAKNESSES, I *know* I will never have the patience or the dexterity for handmaking dovetails. So, it was $40 well spent for finding out for sure that it's not for me.
You have good guys there. Maybe you should give them a raise. ;-)
Gerry
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I don't have the time/patience for hand-cut dovetails either. I have the leigh D4 which is a spectacular tool. I've made many perfect joints with the d4 and the pc router. My only complaint is the lack of narrowness in the pins. For that I want to try this next:
http://www.taunton.com/finewoodworking/pages/w00120.asp
I think this method is a good compromise between hand and machine cut joints.
brian
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On 5 Nov 2004 08:59:38 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com (brian lanning) wrote:

The new Woodsmith book (Bookcases, Shelves and Cabinets) has plans for a jig to use when cutting them on the bandsaw, as well. For my buck, that seems a little bit safer than cutting endgrain on the table saw. I'm surprised no one has mentioned this method. It's only good for through dovetails, but you can still get that thin pin look. I'm looking forward to trying it out once I get rid of the autumn crud that's going around.

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One of my woodworking teachers made me practice the saw cuts over and over on scrap wood. First do the left-hand cut over and over about 1/4 inch apart all the way down the edge of the board. Then cut off the sawed-up end of the board and do a row of the right-hand cuts. Spend ten minutes or so doing this before each woodworking session. After a while, you will notice the cuts becoming more accurate.

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