Tiny dovetails - advice ?


I'm cutting some dovetails - jewellery box - and I need them to be _very_ good. They're about 1/2" deep and wide and I want the narrow edge of the pins to be just the thickness of a saw kerf.
Any advice on cutting really fine and quite small dovetails, and giving a good result ?
I normally saw the tails out first, mark the pins form the tails with a knife, then saw the pins. Here I just don't have the space to do that though, even with a fine awl. Should I switch to pins-first and cross-marking, or should I lay both out separately and cut them separately ?
Timber is English ash, so it's pretty well behaved and easy to work.
Thanks
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1) How about grinding, then honing, a one-sided bevel on the end of a utility knife blade (one each direction) and using that as a marking knife? Surely it is thinner than your saw's kerf.
2) If you cut your tails very exactly, particularly as to slope, use an awl to mark as much of the wide side of the pin as you can from the tails, and use your dovetail gauge, bevel, etc. and knife to mark the rest. (This wouldn't work for me, since I am not super-precise in cutting tails, counting on transferring whatever I do cut to the pins. I wouldn't want to count on my tails exactly matching the slope on my bevel gauge.)
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Here's how I get around the "can't reach in there" problem: (assuming through DT's)
1. Mark, cut, chop tails 2. Transfter, not a line, but the point on the external corner of the tail piece to the external corner of the pin piece. 3. Mark square line on face extending out from marked point 4. Mark bevel line out from same point across end grain 5. *With a pencil*, mark the base line 6. Cut sides of pins by hand. 7. "power-assisted" pin waste removal: 7a. Clamp an 'L' - shaped piece of wood and clamp it to your pin piece, flush with the end grain. This will give a bigger surface on which the router can ride. 7b. Chuck up straight bit and set depth just a hair more than tailstock thickness. 7c. Route the majority of the pin waste away. Approach the kerf, but don't try to get everything. 7d. Finish with a chisel
I use the "power-assist" pin method bacause it gives me very accurate clean bottoms to that cut (I have trouble with clean chopping cuts) *and* it does not require that I design the joint to accomodate the tool. (e.g., big pins in a standard DT jig setup).
Cheers,
Steve
wrote:

infrequently.
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Andy,
If you've got it, FWW # 150 (Aug 2001) has an article by Strother Purdy on exactly this subject. The dovetails he cuts require a 1/8" chisel to clean up.
Joe C.

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Andy Dingley wrote:

Could you possibly mark with a X-Acto knife and #11 blade?
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Whyever not? Pins-first works just fine.
Ken Muldrew snipped-for-privacy@ucalgazry.ca (remove all letters after y in the alphabet)
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How about on the bandsaw like David Marks did with his tool box?
Tilt the table, make spacers, the tips could be as thin as the blades set plus a few thousands.
Alan
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I just built the jig that Duginski describes in his bandsaw book. I haven't tested it yet. But I am interested in using it in a 12" by 12" by 12" box with 1/4" thickness.
Has anyone any experience in something like this?
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I cut pins first with an L-N dovetail saw. I actually mark the tails with a pencil using the pins as the gauge. The pins are small enough that I use an 1/8" chisel to cut the waste out. I'll post a picture of a small box with sliding top I made for my club's annual banquet raffle on ABPW.
John
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On Thu, 09 Jun 2005 12:49:09 +0100, Andy Dingley

I did a set once with tails ending at precisely one kerf-width, and eventually used carbon paper (pressing hard) to transfer them to the pin piece. I'd suggest a couple of tests before going on to your good pieces.
You will probably find that you can afford some inaccuracy anyway, as these thin pins will be pretty flexible (mine were in oak, so yours should be even more so).
only one p in my real address / un seul p dans ma vritable adresse
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