Actually, he does start sawing, no notches. He aligns the saw with a fore
finger or fingernail and he has the thumb or thumbnail marking the near side
of the cut. Using only 20% of the weight of the saw, he starts the cut with
light strokes and then brings the saw down to the surface, guiding with the
thumbnail for accurate alignment.
It's just something I came to by myself. It takes such little pressure on
the saw to guide it, just the slight touch of a finger nail will do. I tried
using square blocks to make the cut vertical, but that's awkard and really
doesn't work for me. After I learned to trust the saw (to stay in the kerf),
I realized that after I started the cut line was the time to insure the saw
was vertical before the kerf was really initiated. As the kerf is initiated,
the vertical direction of the cut is established.
I hope this not over discussion of the topic. Analyzing the the sequence of
a successful cut helps me with the awarness of what it takes to make a good
cut. I have to stay aware at all times, or my work quality falls apart.
I am sometimes able to make somethig good, but I really have to work hard at
it. The professionals that I have seen appear to throw it up on the bench
and just do it. I know it probably was not always like that for them though
and the techniques they use are done subconsciously.
I'll have to give it a try that way and compare it to my technique.
Same here. I even went to the trouble of cutting various
guide-block "training wheels", but found that I was better-served by
just training myself to do it correctly without the extra stuff.
It sounds like that's similar to my approach. I make the initial
kerf without being concerned about verticality; it's about
establishing the horizontal angle. Once I have just severed the wood
fibers, I can feel that aspect of the cut even without looking. From
there it's about getting and keeping verticality.
We're on the same page. I don't know if this is useful for others,
but it helps me to analyze what I do, and see if there are better
ways. Also, I'm no expert, but I do have certain techniques that I no
longer do totally consciously. The problem is, if it's been a long
time since I've done something like cutting dt's, I need to approach
it from a step-by-step technique. Like you say, if I just go in and
start sawing away, I'm likely to butcher things. So this thread is
sort of a reality check for me, and a reminder.
And this sure beats talking about trolls and Dubya, no? :-)
After trying an awl I tried a very old penknife, was my grandfather's,
might have been his father's. It has a largeish blade, thin at the end
from years of sharpening and is easy to register against the face of the
tails. the size makes it easy to get a good visible line too. Again
though, whatever works for you.
email@example.com (Peter Ashby) wrote in message
Yeah, I used quite a few different marking tools before settling on
the Veritas double-bevel knife. I started with an Exacto type, but
that sort of knife edge didn't seem as precise. I tried an awl, but
it tended to skip at just the wrong time. Then I bought the Crown set
of left and right knives, and they're OK, but it's a pain to have to
switch, and that's one more thing to lose in the mess of tools on the
From there it was on to a Hock shiv mounted in a homemade cocobolo
handle. Great knife, but a bit big for marking some of the smaller
pins I like to cut. I now use it for hand-to-hand combat and skinning
large game animals. ;-) The Veritas just seems like the best
compromise for the way I work. It can be handled like a pencil, which
gives you great control, and the blade is narrow with a flat back and
double-bevel which lets you simply reverse it to get it into tight
If money is not the issue - get it and enjoy. Collecting and using the
toy's is part of the hobby too...
Now if you need to justify it to someone other than yourself - that's a
whole 'nuther story and trust me, we can help you justify the hell out it if
Having trouble marking dovetails and your doing/cutting pins first.
Cut tails first. Reason; when you mark and cut the pins no matter what
angle you actually cut each tail (by hand there are going to be minor
variations) the pin is still cut absolutely straight/vertical. Marking
pins from the tails is totally unobstructed. Finally; marking in the
end-grain is far easier to get a solid visible mark and rarely does end
grain cause your knife to wander. IMHO ... cut tails then pins is the most
repeatable accruate way.
I use a drafting pencil (H or 2H) sharpened to a beveled point and mark with
that. I cut the tails first, since I find it is easier to mark the pins from
the tails. I clamp the pin piece to a vertical edge on my workbench and hold
the tails securely over the pin piece while I mark the pins.
If necessary, I will reinforce the line weight prior to sawing the tails or
I use strong cross lighting to make sure I can see the lines.
Let's don't get into the tails first - pins first argument. :-) Your not
going to change how you do it and I'm sure not going to change. My mind is
closed on the subject. <G>
On 31 Jan 2004 22:30:26 -0800, n firstname.lastname@example.org (Nate Perkins)
if the wood is light colored, make your mark with the knife, then
follow the scribe with a pencil. rub the pencil off of the surface,
and you will have a dark knife mark. if the wood is dark colored, use
white chalk to highlight your scribe.
Thanks to you and all the others for the suggestions.
I think one reason why it's a bit tricky is that I'm doing this
project in mahogany (African, the cheap variety). The grain structure
on the face makes the mark especially hard to see.
In the past I've made some other pieces out of walnut or cherry, and
the lines did seem to be a little more visible in those woods.
I'll try the pencil and the chalk method. I've been trying the
crosslighting (with a little portable 100W lamp), and it sure does
To tell you the truth, it's only recently that I saw well enough that
the precision of the line is the limiter :-P I'm sure I've made
50-100 dovetails (among scrap and small projects), and I'm still
learning the little things I'm doing wrong.
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