So I am now teaching myself how to handcut dovetails. One problem
though, I am having a hard time cleaning up the bottom of the cuts on
both the pins and the tails. The procedure I have been using is to cut
down using a japanese pull saw, then remove as much of the waste as
possible using a coping saw, then chisel out the remainder with a bench
chisel. I am getting a decent amount of junk at the bottom that I can't
then get to cut flush with my shoulder lines. Like the fibers aren't
cutting as much as bending over or something.
Any thoughts? Is this simply a practice problem? My only other guess
was that maybe my chisels aren't sharp enough, so I sharpened the hell
out of them, and still the same problem.
Alright, thanks and I look forward to the advice
You didn't say what wood you're using but I'm guessing
pine? Try cherry or even poplar.
Also didn't mention if or how you're making the "stop line"
for the bottom of the pins and tails. A pencil line will show
you where to stop your cut but won't sever the grain
where you'll chisel to later when getting out the waste
in the sockets. A marking gauge with a round, pointed
pin will tear the grain rather than severing it so you've
got the same problem as the pencil line. A double
beveled knife will sever the grain but leave you a
"V" and you have to figure out if "the stop line" is
on the waste side, in the middle of the groove or
on the non-waste side of the groove. A single
bevel knifed line will sever the grain AND give one
vertical face. If your straight edge is on the non
waste side and the flat bevel is against the straight
edge the vertical face of the groove will be your
finish line. OR - you can plonk out some bucks for
the Tite-Mark marking gauge or the Veritas semi-
equivalent. Both have single bevel wheels with
the flat side on the non-waste side.
This is sort of what you want.
----+ +-- Waste Side -->
Here's some on marking
Also sounds like you're trying to chop out the waste straight
down, square to the face of the stock. Chop at an angle
then pair and you shouldn't get the crushing and bending
This'll illustrate things
The bottom of the sockets don't have to be nice
and flat and square to the face since end grain
gluing doesn't buy you anything and just makes
tuning the fit harder.
hope this helps
I prefer using a marking gauge for the depth, it severs the fibers and
leaves a nice crisp line. The method that works best for me is to start
removing the waste with a chisel about 1/16" in FRONT of the scribed depth
line slightly tilting the chisel away from the waste. Once one half the
thickness is removed, I take the chisel right on the scribed line and pare
with one good hit straight down with a mallet. Then the board is flipped
and this method repeated. It will leave a small v shaped groove in the
endgrain to hold glue and make fitting easier. I can't stress this enough-
be sure your chisels are sharp and the backs are lapped flat. Keep at it,
once you've mastered hand cutting, i doubt you'll go back. --dave
I am working with some oak scraps I have, after finding that the fir
was basically useless for working with. I have a japanese style double
layout marker thing, with single bevel knives I use for both mortise
and dovetail applications, so I think thats ok.
Seems based on the remarks that chopping out more than straight down
for the first trims is a good idea, and that I might need to simply
work more on my chisel sharpening skills.
I have found that the softer the wood, the sharper the chisel needs to be.
The sharper the chisel, the better off any cut. If you can't dry shave your
arm... keep working om your edge......
I still lend out my chisels with one caveate...... "if you drop it, don't
try to catch it...".
That's a hard thing to do, isn't it? Watching an edge you babied to
gleaming more-than-razor sharpness go thocking off the base of your drill
press, and having to fight the urge to do something about it.
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < email@example.com>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
It's a one time thing, though. I caught a razor I dropped while in the Marines.
I have never since reached for anything falling if it even might have a sharp
edge. That lesson has so far lasted more than 45 years.
"One of the common denominators I have found is that expectations rise above
that which is expected." George W. Bush
On 16 Jan 2005 09:20:43 GMT, the inscrutable
firstname.lastname@example.org (Charlie Self) spake:
Ouch! What was the damage? Not your WRITING hand, I'm guessing. ;)
I'm usually quick on my feet, so I keep a foot up to guide the sharp
edge away from the floor. I also have a tendency to stop heavy things
and have come away with a bruised foot more than once. But I've
received no gashes or breaks yet. (Knock on my head.)
Life's a Frisbee: When you die, your soul goes up on the roof.
http://diversify.com Comprehensive Website Development
On 13 Jan 2005 21:16:52 -0800, email@example.com calmly ranted:
That's precisely what's happening. Your chisels need to be sharp
enough to split atoms if you want to eliminate tearout when you
cut the dovies out. To test sharpness, hold the chisel between thumb
and forefinger of one hand so the point it down. _Rest_it_ (no force)
on your other thumbnail and move it on your nail in a scraping
direction. Until it digs in and gives you a scraped shaving, it isn't
sharp. I had no idea what sharp was until I read about that test and
it improved my sharpening threefold.
For dovies, I recommend the Frank Klausz "Dovetailing a Drawer" video
CAVEAT: If you buy it from Amazon, you should be cautioned about the
vendor named "iqbookbubba". I've been trying every few days for nearly
THREE WEEKS to get a shipping confirmation from this arsewipe, all to
no avail. (If there is one thing I won't tolerate in a vendor it's
non-communication.) Amazon says, in effect "wait until it doesn't get
to you after a month, then we can ask him what happened." Grrrrr!
========================================================= I drank WHAT? + http://www.diversify.com
--Socrates + Web Application Programming
I think you may be right about your chisels...the really need to be sharp
for paring out tails....try sneaking up on the shoulder lines a little at
a time, a few light cuts are better than one big chop...There is a web
site dedicated to handcut dovetails...it seems to have a great many
I found it to be a great help while I was (still am..:>) learning about
hope this helps...
Try angling the chisel inwards by a couple of degrees, so that you make the
bottoms slightly concave.
Tearout during the waste chop is invisible, and a little usually happens on
the last chop of the waste anyway. Not a big deal. Remember that part of
the joint is hidden, and that face contributes very little to the overall
strength of the joint.
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